By: Brianna Ferrante
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
CHIHUAHUA, Mexico – Julián Carillo, long time defender and advocate of Mexico’s indigenous, was killed by a group of unidentified attackers some time after midnight on Wednesday, October 24th.
Carillo was a Rarámuri indigenous defender and leader of the indigenous community known as Coloradas de La Virgen, located in Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico. The community has a demonstrated history of turbulent legal battles involving both the Mexican government and private entities. The encroaching forces often threaten infringement on the community’s ancestral territories as well as exploitation of its natural resources.
Three weeks prior to the killing, members of the community had made a formal report to government authorities regarding an intrusive mining coalition in their lands lead by private individuals.
The community exhibits high levels of crime, poor security, and a distinct absence of basic social services. Multiple organized crime groups occupy the region and constitute a steadily growing presence. Carillo frequently met with Amnesty International in recent years and shared concerns about locals being pressured to appropriate lands to criminals, whom utilize it for cultivation of poppy and cannabis. In an attempt to seek assistance from a distant police force, the former landowners were met with threats or for some, assassination.
Reports from Amnesty International demonstrate nine land-reclamation related murders have taken place in the past two years. Five of these victims have been among Carillo’s own family members.
Approximations from the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders & Journalists, 16 human rights defenders have been killed in Mexico since January. The budget for the mechanism is also scheduled to be defunded in the upcoming year. Carillo and his family have been under the official protection of the government’s ‘Protection Mechanism’ since 2014.
Such efforts have proven to be inadequate, and it is eminent that similar risk may exist for other advocates currently working under the same government granted protective measure both in this region and the country at large.
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