Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday offered an official apology to the Yaqui indigenous people for crimes committed by the state against their ancestors.
“The Mexican state must never again allow marginalization, abuse or injustice against the Yaquis or any other ethnic or cultural group,” he said at a ceremony in the northern state of Sonora.
Lopez Obrador asked for forgiveness for abuses, such as those committed under dictator Porfirio Diaz’s 1884-1911 rule.
“We’re here to try to repair as much as possible the damage that has been inflicted on the Yaqui people,” added the Mexican leader, who in May also apologized to the indigenous Maya people for past abuses.
The government is committed to a “justice plan” that will return land to the Yaquis, guarantee them water rights and establish a comprehensive welfare program, he said.
Mexico on Monday marked the 200th anniversary of independence from Spain, but many indigenous people say that poverty, marginalization and territorial disputes mean there is little for them to celebrate.
“The justice plan is not a gift. It’s not welfare,” Yaqui representative Jesus Patricio Varela said at the ceremony
“It seeks to give us back what is ours: territory that was taken from us, the water that has been limited to us, the dignity that they have wanted to steal from us,” he said.