09 April 2008
CNDH backs Huichol exiles
The National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, demanded the Jalisco government better protect indigenous Huicholes, who have been expelled from their communities for not following traditional religious practices.
The CNDH also admonished the state attorney general’s office for failing to take action on legal complaints of religious intolerance filed by Dagoberto Cirilo Sánchez, a Guadalajara missionary, on behalf of the expelled residents. The first complaints were lodged in 2003.
“This national organization has no proof that shows the government of Jalisco has taken actions that would restore the victims’ properties or help them purchase other lands,” the CNDH said in a press release issued on April 7.
The CNDH press release added that Huicholes residing in the municipality of Mezquitic in northern Jalisco state were banished by an elders’ council after joining the Seventh Day Adventist church.
Nearly 300 Huicholes departed Mezquitic in August 2005, when they reported having their houses burned down and lives threatened. Many of the converts stopped participating in rituals that involved drinking tejuino – a fermented corn beverage – and consuming peyote, a hallucinogenic plant harvested in San Luis Potosí state by Huicholes fulfilling community obligations.
The expelled Huicholes are now living in Nayarit state near the Agua Milpa dam. The CNDH described their living conditions as “deplorable” due to a lack of basic services and an inability to participate in a local fishery, which an ejido, or communal farm, has the right to exploit.
The Huichol, who are famed for their artwork and colorful clothing, are known to be reclusive and live in the dry sierra of Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas states. Many of their communities are not accessible by roads.