In a little-noticed decision with possible national repercussions, Mexico’s high court has come out in favor of an indigenous community in the state of Chihuahua. In a ruling publicized this month, Mexican Supreme Court justices determined that the community of Huitosachi has a right to participate in the decision-making of the Copper Canyon Trust Fund, an organization spearheading tourism development in Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara region.
Huitosachi’s leaders earlier went to court to protect their lands from development in a zone adjoining the small indigenous community. Two federal judges initially ruled against Huitosachi before the Mexican Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in 2011.
The Supreme Court justices declared that the Mexican Constitution guarantees the participation of indigenous communities in the type of projects that would affect Huitosachi. The high court’s members also stated that relevant national law is similar to the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 169, which protects the rights of indigenous communities and tribal peoples. Mexico is among 22 nations that have ratified the international agreement. The United States is not one of them.