On Tuesday a group of masked men kidnapped at gunpoint Anabela Carlon Flores, a lawyer for the Yaqui tribe, who are facing increasingly violent repression in their fight against the cross-border Agua Prieta pipeline in Northern Mexico.
Anabela Carlon Flores told reporters she was driving with her husband to a community meeting in the Yaqui community of Bacum on Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m. when their car was stopped by a group of armed masked men. She and her husband were blindfolded and put in another car where the human rights lawyer was told to “stop fucking around." She was later dropped on the outskirts of nearby Ciudad Obregon, while the kidnappers held on to her husband, Isabel Lugo Molina, who remains captive. Carlon Flores said she fears for his life.
The incident is the latest in a series of escalating attacks on members of the Yaqui Tribe who are opposing the construction of the Texas-based Sempra Energy pipeline project, which aims to bring natural gas from Arizona to the Mexican state of Sonora, crossing Yaqui territory.
On Oct. 21, a Yaqui encampment set up to block construction was attacked by an armed group of pipeline supporters leaving one killed. Some Yaqui Tribe members from neighboring communities support the project, but those protesting the project say they are simply acting on behalf of the government and pipeline company. Teodulo Gonzalez, commissioner for the defense of land, water and human rights of the Yaqui tribe, said at the time, "It was a provocation by the state government and the IENova company (the Mexican partner of Sempra Energy) to finish with the defense of the territory."
In November, with the help of Carlon Flores, the community won a temporary moratorium on pipeline construction, successful arguing that the project, undertaken without full, prior, and informed consent of the Yaqui people, is a violation of Yaqui sovereignty, which is also protected under Mexican law. Despite the moratorium, construction activities reportedly continue.
Despite her kidnapping and fears for the life of her partner, Carlon Flores remained defiant, telling reporters on Wednesday, "I think no company and no public servants are interested in respecting Mexican law. What interests them here is to do business, no matter the rights of Mexicans and even less of Indigenous peoples."