The Earth is our flesh; the rocks, our bones;
The rivers are the blood of our veins.
Huichol Shaman



PRESS RELEASE

On Monday, March 16, 1998, a group of Huichols returning from their pilgrimage to the sacred land of Wirikuta in the Mexican State of San Luis Potosi were detained by the Mexican military. The peyoteros consist of 2 women, 4 men and a child. They were detained when they arrived at a military check point in the sierra monitored by the 51st paramilitary batillon under the command of Subteniente Jesus Ugel de Campos.

The Huichol pilgrims were arbitrarily stopped, searched and arrested for carrying peyote with them. Other pilgrims from their temple group had gone off on the ritual deer hunt, puttiing these Huichols in charge of taking the peyote back to their native temple in San Andres Cohamiata. At the moment they are incarcerated in the Huehuquilla el alto, Jalisco and may be transported to Guadalajara for sentencing.

The detention and arrest of these Huichols, who were practicing their ancient religious beliefs, is illegal. According to the Vienna Agreement signed and ratified by Mexico on June 24, 1975, and Mexico4s Agreement regarding Psychotropic Substances stated in the 4th paragraph of article 32, that indigenous communities that traditionally use wild plants containing psychotropic substances are exempt from this drug law. In addition, Artile 5 of the Mexico Agreement 169 recognizes and protects the social, cultural, religious and spiritual values and practices of Indian communities.

This situation is not only a violation of legal rights but a violation of the cultural rights of Huichols. Having gone to Wirikuta, they remain in a sacred state, both spiritually and pysically until they return home. The Mexican government, via their military and legal actions, have sacriligeously violated the rights of their indigenous citizens and ruptured their sacred space.

If this can get into the international press it would help the Huichols. The more eyes watching, the better. There is another temple group that needs to go to Wirikuta, they fear that the same may happen to them.

Thank Leo. My e-mail address here in Guadalajara is: schaefer@irisp.dsp.udg.mx