An Indigenous leader accused “provocateurs” of inciting violence in a Yaqui community in the northern Mexican state of Sonora that is at the heart of a conflict over the construction of a hydrocarbon pipeline that will cross their territory.
Teodulo Gonzalez, commissioner for the defense of land, water and human rights of the Yaqui tribe, said a group of people descended on a site where land defenders have set up a camp to prevent the construction of the pipeline and started a physical confrontation.
The clash reportedly lasted three hours and ultimately left one dead and eight injured. AP reported the man was killed as a result of gunfire.
“It was a provocation by the state government and the IENova company to finish with the defense of the territory,” Gonzalez told Proceso magazine.
State security officials descended on the community but according to witnesses did nothing to contain the violence.
Adolfo Garcia Morales, head of public security in Sonora, said the clash, involving a total of 400 people, was between members of the Yaqui people.
Mario Luna, a spokesman for the Yaquis, told AP that disagreements within the tribe have been ongoing, with some communities refusing to allow the pipeline to cross their territory.
“They have the agreement from the majority of the towns. However, here the decisions are not made by a majority, but rather by consensus,” Luna told AP.
The clash took place in Loma de Bacum, one of the holdout communities, where leaders have opposed the pipeline over safety and environmental concerns.
The concession to build the pipeline was granted by the Mexican government in 2012.
The proposed pipeline, being built by IENova for Mexico's Federal Electric Commission, is designed to bring natural gas from across the border in Arizona to the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa.