Members of the Yaqui tribe closed the Rio Yaqui aqueduct in Sonora for 12 hours Tuesday night, leaving 80% of Guaymas and neighboring Empalme without water.
As a result, Sonora’s Water Commission (CEA) announced it would file a complaint against whoever was responsible, and that it considers leaving thousands without water during a health emergency a criminal act.
CEA executive Sergio Ávila Ceceña said protesters arrived at a pumping station number two, turned off the water and then relinquished control of the station in the morning without incident.
“We don’t have the authority to remove anyone, much less by force, nor do we have the faculty or the capacity to do so,” Ávila said. “As of now, we do not have names. Obviously the people who arrived did not identify themselves with a voter ID, they only stated that they came from of the Yaqui ethnic group,” he explained.
Water supply to Guaymas and Empalme is gradually being restored, officials said.
Yaqui tribal leaders were looking to pressure Guaymas Mayor Sara Valle Dessens to intervene in their dispute with the federal government as they seek compensation for ceding tribal land for the construction of various infrastructure projects.
They are also seeking to force the federal government to fulfill social development commitments for its eight Yaqui towns: Cócorit, Bácum, Vícam, Pótam, Tórim, Huírivis, Ráhum and Belem.
Last week protesters blocked federal Highway 15 and railway tracks in Sonora, stranding 2,176 rail cars.
Adelfo Regino Montes, head of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, was sent to Sonora by President López Obrador to negotiate with the Yaquis, who have demanded the presence of Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich Arellano and Mayor Valle at talks.