Yaqui indigenous communities in disagreement over a proposed natural gas pipeline clashed yesterday, leaving at least one person dead.
The confrontation involved close to 300 people from the neighboring Yaqui communities of Loma de Bácum and Loma de Guámuchil in the state of Sonora. The former community is opposed to the pipeline project, while the latter is in favor.
The Yaqui from Bácum filed and won an amparo against the construction, which resulted in the temporary suspension of all activity in the area, but the construction company started work again last Saturday, allegedly with the support of government officials and the Yaqui of Guamúchil.
Those from Bácum have accused Guámuchil leader César Cota Tortola of being “close to the state government” and receiving “millions of pesos” for his support for the project.
The refusal of those from Guámuchil to abide by the amparo was what sparked the violence between the two communities, which reportedly started late Thursday night and climaxed about noon yesterday.
Officially the clash left one fatality, but Yaqui tribal authorities claim there was another. Eight more individuals suffered injuries and 13 vehicles, belonging to people from Bácum, were torched.
Teódulo González López, a member of the Yaqui tribal authority, blamed IEnova, the company building the pipeline, and the state government for the confrontation between the two communities. IEnova is a subsidiary of California-based Sempra Energy.
The violence was contained by Army personnel and federal and state police, who later mounted an aerial preventive operation.
The state Secretary of Public Security deemed the confrontation as an “internal issue concerning members of the Yaqui tribe,” stemming from the construction of the pipeline, which is projected to cross eight Yaqui communities.
It is intended to deliver natural gas from Arizona to fuel power plants in Sonora and Sinaloa for the Federal Electricity Commission.