Authorities investigate femicide of Indigenous leader in northern Mexico

The Attorney General’s Office of the Mexican state of Sonora announced Wednesday that it is investigating the femicide of the governor of the Cucapah ethnic group, Aronia Wilson Tambo, and that it has a suspect in custody.

The crime occurred on Tuesday in the binational indigenous community of Pozas of Arvizu, in the municipality of San Luis Río Colorado, next to the border wall between Sonora and Arizona (United States), in northwestern Mexico.

The preliminary expert report dismissed the connection between the crime and the Indigenous leader’s political or social activities.

The investigation is now focusing on femicide, the murder of women and girls because of their gender.

Aronia, 64, was a city councilor, but also a defender of the culture and traditions of the Cucapah people and one of the few speakers of their language.

“It has been established as a working hypothesis that the crime is related to her personal environment and the line of investigation points to her immediate circle,” the prosecutor’s office reported.

According to the police report, her body was found under some burned clothing, and the Public Ministry affirmed that the alleged killer tried to burn the body to hide the evidence.

“The investigating authority has detained a person of interest and is investigating his possible participation in the events, waiting for various testimonies and expert examinations to be revealed,” added the Public Prosecutor’s office.

The Cucapah community, which lives on both sides of the border, expressed its dismay on social media.

“We are saddened to announce the death of Elder Aronia Wilson Tambo, leader of the Cucapah community in Pozas de Arvizu, who fought to keep the Cucapah tradition and language alive in her community,” the message read.

According to the Sonora Code of Criminal Procedure, authorities must treat the murder of a woman as a femicide throughout the investigation.

The Cucapah community belongs to the group of Yuman peoples. They live in Mexicali in Baja California, in San Luis Río Colorado in Sonora, and in Somerton in southwestern Arizona, all close to the border between Mexico and the US

By Ch Fahad Khan Janda