Article by PBI-Canada

Isela González of ASMAC with members from the community of Coloradas de La Virgen, including Otón Portillo and Celestino Carrillo (Julian’s son).

In this feature article published in Spanish, Mongabay Latam reports:

Throughout February and the first days of March this year, the voice of some 20 displaced indigenous people, and some still living in Coloradas de la Virgen, was first heard in a courtroom. They witnessed the trial for the murders of Julián Carrillo Martínez, which occurred on October 24, 2018, and his son Victor, recorded in February 2016.

Julian and Victor are two of at least ten inhabitants of Coloradas de la Virgen who have been killed over the last decade for defending their territory and forests. On that list is also the name of Isidro Baldenegro López, a Rarámuri who in 2005 won the Goldman Prize, an award considered the environmental Nobel prize. He was killed in January 2017.

Since October 2018, at least 50 families have been forced to leave this community located in the Sierra Tarahumara.

The long history of violence came to a turning point when, on March 12, 2021, a trial court in the state of Chihuahua issued the sentence for the murder of Julián Carrillo and his son Victor: 48 years in prison for one of the material perpetrators of the killings.

The judges went further: they established that the Mexican state failed to provide protection to the defenders of the territory and that it now has an obligation to repair the damage to the people who have been displaced from Coloradas de la Virgen.

In addition, [the Mexican state] must ensure the conditions for families to have a dignified and safe return to their community.”

“What was originally going to be an accusation like any other, where only the affectation of families was to be taken into account, was finally an interrogation with cultural relevance […] It sets a precedent in documenting the damage to the community and families,” says Isela González, director of Alianza Sierra Madre, an organization that accompanies the struggle of Coloradas de la Virgen.

For her, the trial was a message of no to impunity for the killings of land defenders. [But] González [also] stresses that fear that has been sown in the community, which led to mass displacement, aims to strip the community of its natural resources and territory.

That article also notes:

“On 11 March this year, during a forum organized by Peace Brigades International, with the participation of a representative of Amnesty International Canada, several people who for three years have been displaced from Coloradas de la Virgen mentioned that they already want to return to their community but that there are still no conditions to do so.”

To read the full Mongabay Latam article in Spanish, click here. To watch the PBI/Amnesty International webinar, click here.

PBI-Mexico has accompanied the Sierra Madre Alliance (ASMAC) since 2018.