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In the fight to save the environment, activists face death in Mexico

In 2019, 24 activists and human rights advocates were murdered in Mexico. 70% of them were environmentalists

In the fight to save the environment, activists face death in Mexico
Environmentalists have a fundamental role in democracy - Photo: Photo: David Crigger/AP
English 29/02/2020 09:43 Alexis Ortiz Mexico City Actualizada 10:10
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During last year, 24 activists and human rights advocates were murdered in Mexico. 70% of them were environmentalists, as reported by the Front Line Defenders organization.

Through its Global Analysis 2019, the international organization said that the construction of megaprojects was a determinant factor for the murder of these environmentalists.

President López Obrador’s promise of fighting against poverty implies investing in extraction projects, while advocates oppose them, they face huge risks due to the powerful corporative interests and the possible profits in the game,” reads the report.

Recommended: Environmental activists are at risk in Mexico

The NGO stressed the case of Samir Flores, who was murdered in Morelos after opposing the construction of a thermoelectric plant and piping due to the problems it would cause by using and contaminating water sources.

“The murder took place three days before the referendum proposed by the president of whether the power plant should go on. López Obrador had opposed to the plant before becoming president,” expressed Front Line Defenders.

The study also informed that only 11 investigation files were opened for the murder of environmentalists and they are still open, so impunity, just as in the whole Latin American region, is still the rule in our country.

Recommended: Samir Flores, activist and radio host, murdered in Mexico

Likewise, it is known that firearms were used in 60% of these homicides.

To the murder of activists, we must also add the criminalization of indigenous people or those who protect their communities from megaprojects.

“Environmental advocates, protectors of indigenous lands, are the group that faces the most criminalization and, at the same time, are the groups who have the fewer resources and possibilities to have access to justice,” mentioned Sandra Patargo, local coordinator of Personal Protection of Front Line Defenders.

The expert reminded about the cases in which environmentalists have gone to prison after defending their community. She referred to Pablo López Alavez, who was imprisoned in Oaxaca for protecting the water of his community, Miguel López Vega, who was arrested and released this year for opposing an industrial water network, and six advocates in Tlanixco, State of Mexico, who were imprisoned for over 10 years although there were inconsistencies in their legal procedures and there were no elements to prove the homicide for which they were accused.

Recommended: U.N. urges Mexico to protect journalists and activists

Jesús Peña, the representative of the Mexico Office of the Human Rights High Commissioner of the United Nations, was also present at the report an urged Mexican authorities to protect activists and human rights advocates since their role is essential for democracy.

“Due to this fundamental role and the powerful interests that they affect with their work, they have become the target of threats, attacks, and retaliation, so it’s essential for them to be protected by the State,” said Jesús Peña.

Recommended: Environmental activist Homero Gómez found dead in Michoacán

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