Over four years ago now, our Indigenous Yaqui compañero Fidencio Aldama was arrested by the Mexican government and locked in a prison cell in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, in northern Mexico. In a blatant frame-up, he was charged with murder without a shred of evidence and railroaded through the justice system, sentenced to fifteen years and six months. His punishment, however, has less to do with a crime he did not commit than with the steadfast commitment he and his community of Loma de Bácum have shown in their resistance to a natural gas pipeline trespassing on their lands without their consent.
San Diego-based Sempra Energy, operating through its Mexican subsidiary IEnova, has used all manner of shady tactics to try and push their Sonora Pipeline project through Yaqui territory. After failing to buy off the traditional authorities of Loma de Bácum, as it did in the other seven surrounding Yaqui communities, the energy company turned to physical violence, sending an armed group into Loma de Bácum on October 21, 2016, to break the community’s organization and resistance. During the attack, one individual was killed. Fidencio was arrested six days later when he voluntarily came in to be interviewed about his version of that day’s events. The state paid no mind to the fact that, as a member of the Yaqui traditional guard, he carried a different caliber weapon than the one that inflicted the wound, nor to other evidence contradicting the charge. The message was meant to be clear: accept the pipeline or face violence, intimidation, imprisonment, or even death.
In the last few years, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his administration have attempted to use their signature strategies of cooptation and clientelism to green-light neoliberal extraction projects not only in Yaqui territory, but nationwide. Currently, the government is promising to restore traditional Yaqui territories to the tribe, while Fidencio Aldama remains in a prison cell in Ciudad Obregón for defending those same territories against destruction. AMLO’s regime, with its empty “Fourth Transformation” progressive rhetoric, is clearly intent on strengthening state control and expanding capital accumulation in Yaqui territory, all the while undermining Yaqui self-determination.
The Guaymas-El Oro section of the Sonora Pipeline, which seeks to traverse Yaqui territory, is part of a larger network of pipelines and energy infrastructure moving natural gas extracted from the US into Mexico. Gas extraction and transportation throughout the border region is part of the ongoing dispossession, plunder, and destruction of multiple Indigenous territories upon which both the United States and Mexico were illegitimately founded. While Fidencio’s imprisonment and the struggle in Loma de Bácum may seem localized, they have profound regional and global ramifications.
As a contribution to that struggle, we are excited to announce the launch of a new bilingual Spanish/English website to expand solidarity efforts with Fidencio Aldama, his family, and the community of Loma de Bácum. Here you can find information and updates on Fidencio’s case and the ongoing work to obtain his freedom. You can also write Fidencio a letter, download text and visual material related to his case, or donate money to his solidarity fund — a direct way to help with legal costs and to provide material support for Fidencio and his family. This call goes out to people across the globe to get involved, and to make the struggle for Fidencio’s freedom your own.
Stay in touch by following the website, subscribing to our announcements list, or emailing us with thoughts, questions, or ideas.
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This post is also available in: Spanish