Mexico Seminar: Water, Violence, and Yaqui Rights: A Conversation with Mario Luna


Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 6:00pm to 7:30pm

For a recording of this video, click here.

Speaker: Mario Luna, Spokesman for Vícam, Sonora; Human and Indigenous Rights Defender for the Yaqui
Moderated by: Gabriela Soto Laveaga, Professor of the History of Science and Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, Harvard University

Join Mario Luna, spokesman for the Yaqui of Vicam and water activist, as he talks about today's water and indigenous rights. Since the 19th century the Yaqui have been fighting for their right to water from the Yaqui River. Since the 1930s they gained legal support from the federal government, support which often has not translated to change on the ground. Last week, in the name of Mexico the president asked the Yaqui for forgiveness for centuries of oppression and attempts at extermination. Come join Mario Luna in conversation with Gabriela Soto Laveaga and learn about the Yaqui’s centuries-long struggle for land, water, and social inclusion, and what the tribe is doing against new challenges such as climate change and the incursion of organized crime in their territory.

Mario Luna Romero is spokesman for the traditional authorities of Vícam, one of the Tribu Yaqui’s towns in Sonora, and a defender of the human and indigenous rights of the Yaqui tribe. He also serves as director and anchor at Namakasia Radio, an independent community radio station. In the context of the Yaqui struggle to preserve its legally recognized water rights, Luna and members of his family have been threatened, attacked, detained, and kidnapped, and several of his closest collaborators detained and even killed. Mexican and international human and indigenous rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch, Artículo 19, Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Amnistía Internacional, and Fundar—have called attention to the multiple violations of Luna’s, his collaborators’, and his family members’ rights in their struggle to defend the Yaqui tribe's rights.

Gabriela Soto Laveaga is Professor of the History of Science and Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests include modern Latin America, the intersection of science and culture, public health, and scientific and medical exchange in the Global South. Her first book, Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects and the Making of the Pill, won the Robert K. Merton Best Book Prize in Science, Knowledge, and Technology Studies from the American Sociological Association. Her second monograph, Sanitizing Rebellion: Physician Strikes, Public Health and Repression in Twentieth Century Mexico, examines the role of healthcare providers as both critical actors in the formation of modern states and as social agitators. Her latest book project seeks to re-narrate histories of twentieth century agriculture development aid from the point of view of India and Mexico. She has held numerous grants, including those from the Ford, Mellon, Fulbright, DAAD, and Gerda Henkel Foundations. Most recently she was a member at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, 2019-2020.

See also: Virtual, Mexico