MEXICO CITY – A Raramuri indigenous leader was fatally shot earlier this week in northern Mexico’s Sierra Tarahumara mountains, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said on Thursday.
Juan Ontiveros Ramos was killed by a fellow Raramuri and police are searching for the shooter and an accomplice, the AG Office said in a statement.
Ontiveros and his brother were driving to Los Flacos late Monday when they were intercepted by two armed men in a pick-up truck, according to the statement, which cited an account from the brother.
The assailants asked Juan for the whereabouts of his son-in-law.
When Juan told them he didn’t know, they ordered the Ontiveros brothers to get out of their vehicle.
Juan’s brother told investigators that he heard shots fired as he ran from the scene, the AG Office said, indicating that the shooter murdered the indigenous leader to avenge the killing of his son by Ontiveros’ son-in-law.
All Rights for All, a national network of civic organizations, denounced the murder of Ontiveros and demanded that authorities “take measures to protect the indigenous communities of the Sierra Tarahumara.”
The network also disputed the AG Office’s version of events, asserting that Ontiveros – the police chief in his community – was kidnapped on Monday and killed the next day.
In the days prior to the murder, Ontiveros attended a meeting with activists from the Alianza Sierra Madre, the Women’s Human Rights Center, and other groups to discuss security threats in the region, the network said.
Oliveros’ murder comes a little more than two weeks after the slaying of Isidro Baldenegro, a 2005 recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts to protect the forests of the Sierra Tarahumara.