This article was first published on 11 October 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).
Translator’s Note: Atilo Román led the communities displaced by the construction of the Picachos reservoir in Sinaloa. He was imprisoned on trumped up charges by State Police in 2012 and 2013 when the Picachos communities were in ongoing protest against the government of Mario López Valdez of the PRI concerning the development, construction, and effects of the Picachos reservoir in Sinaloa. This summer he opened and promoted the new 750-person Picachos ecotourism community to a security-conscious clientele of Mexican and U.S. fishermen, stressing that the Picachos region was unscathed by violence between organized crime and government forces. Recently Atilo Román had returned to protesting corruption in the state government’s fisheries agency because it had failed to issue commercial fishing licenses to Picachos community members.
SILENCING DISSENT IN MEXICO: Atilano Román Slain, Leader of the Picachos Community
By Miriam Ramírez (RIODOCE.COM)
A shot to the face from two armed men killed Atilano Román, leader of the Picachos community. The men burst into the station belonging to newspaper El Sol de Maztlán.
The attack took place at 10:40 in the morning just as he was being interviewed in a studio in the station. The two men came in carrying handguns; one of them shot Atilo Román point blank.
Seriously wounded, Atilo Román was taken to a hospital in Rafael Buelna Avenue where he died.
Local investigative agents of the Attorney General’s Office are currently in the southern region. They are investigating and questioning witnesses to the murder including reception area workers who allowed the alleged attackers to enter.
Recently the members of the Picachos Reservoir community, led by Atilo Román, had returned to demonstrations because of delays in licensing commercial fishing in the reservoir. CONAPESCA failed to deliver these licenses.
Atilano Román had complained about the interests of CONAPESCA officials for granting licenses to people outside the Picachos community.
In February 2013 the community’s leader and several of its members were arrested and arbitrarily imprisoned by officers of the State Prosecutor’s Police. They had announced they would enter the Carnival procession to stage a parody of Governor Mario López Valdez. They accused the governor — who belongs to the PRI, Mexico’s ruling party — of not fulfilling promises towards those communities displaced by the reservoir.
After those arrests the Human Rights Commission of the state of Sinaloa warned that the State Attorney General had abused the community members’ rights by detaining them without legitimate reasons and only to stop their demonstration during the Carnival.
But this wasn’t even the first time they had been arrested. In May 2012, the leader of thirty community members –- men, women, elderly people –- were detained by officers from the State Prosecutor’s Police as they walked down the Culiacán to Mazatlán highway in protest against the Governor of Sinaloa, López Valdez.
The community members have been fighting for more than five years, ever since construction began on the Picachos Reservoir. It displaced six towns in the Mazatlán and Concordia mountains.
The communities’ members have staged countless demonstrations. They have been imprisoned for demanding the state government provide compensation and fulfilling its promises.
Journalist Miriam Ramírez reports for Riodoce in Culiacán, Sinaloa. This article first appeared under the title, “Asesinan a Atilo Román, Líder de los Picachos,” available at: http://riodoce.mx/gob-politica/asesinan-a-atilano-roman-lider-de-los-picachos.
Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons. The MxJTP has a Facebook page: like it, here.