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  • Mapuche funeral.

    Mapuche funeral. | Photo: Anticapitalistes.

Published 5 February 2019

Latin America has experienced horrific genocides of the Indigenous peoples since the 1500s. 500 years later there is little sign that these senseless killings will cease. 

It seems that every day a heartbreaking tale emerges whereby a member of an Indigenous community in Latin America is murdered because of greed for land resources. Sunday, Feb. 4 was no different, as eight members of the Me'phaa community in Acatepec, Guerrero, Mexico were gunned down by unidentified armed individuals.

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Roberto Álvarez Heredia, spokesman of the State Coordination for the Construction of Peace in Guerrero, confirmed that seven men, and one woman were slain on a road that connects communities of Plan de Ayala and Barranca Piña, with a further two taken to hospital with "serious" injuries.

Heredia speculated that the reason for the multiple shootings was the desire to monopolize water in the area, with the Me'phaa tribe having conducted a rain request ceremony at the time of the attack.

Mexican publication Animal Politico reported that the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero - together with the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) and the Guerrero Public Security Secretariat, were investigating the incident.

Earlier in the week, the star of the Oscar-award winning drama, Rome, Yalitza Aparicio, had spoken to Sinembargo about the need to reach out to the indigenous communities in Mexico, and recognize them for their important attributes and rich cultural heritage. 

I'd love for us to start (helping the vulnerable population), even if it's only a little bit. But let's start to respect each other. There have been many cases where among ourselves we discriminate, and if we work from us things would start to change."

Even though Rome's depiction of classism and discrimination against the lower classes was intended as a flashback to the civil unrest of the 1970s, it can be seen as a metaphor for the very-real repression of the indigenous peoples some 50 years later.

"It is a sad thing to discover that after so many years things have not changed as many of us considered," Aparicio reflects. "It is sad to know that we still do not learn to be human or that we have lost many values, and that I wish they could be rescued."

Alfonso Cuaron, director of "Roma" and nominee for Best Director, holds a nominee plaque as he poses between Marina de Tavira and Yalitza Aparicio at the Directors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Sunday's murders come one day after the mysterious death of Chilean Marcelo Vega, who was president of the Association of Indigenous Communities of Chan Chan. Vega was found in the mouth of the Lingue River of Chile's Mehuín region, despite his pickup truck only being halfway submerged. 

Vega had recently been embroiled in a feud with Celulosa Arauco-CELCO company, who had been planning to install a pipeline to dispose of waste into the river. The mystery behind the demise of Vega was that he possessed excellent diving skills, and could have swam to safety.

Earlier this week, Colombian Cxhab Wala Kiwe, of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), called for Colombian President Ivan Duque to demilitarize their territories, and respect territorial sovreignty. 

Kiwe also called for the systematic murders of indigenous leaders all across Latin America, who, she said, are down to the rejection of drug trafficking, land reclamation by third parties, and the implementation of peace agreements, according to publication, Desinformemonos.

Speaking of the injustice and brutality the indigenous peoples have suffered over the last 50 years, Kiwe remarks that their particular community would bury their loved ones in the ground in a way to rejuvenate their sovereign territories. 

"We returned their bodies to Mother Earth so that her strength could accompany us. Likewise, some families made the sad decision to leave their homes to protect their lives, but many of us chose to remain and defend our territory with courage."

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