The Mexican Environmental Law Center (CEMDA) announced that, between 2009 and 2012, 51 environmental activists were attacked in Mexico. 23 of those cases were murders and two are of forced disappearance.
Andrea Ulisse Cerami, responsible for Defense and Public Policy at CEMDA, also mentioned: “We have a record of cases but we believe there might be many more of them, because several defenders do not even report those aggressions. We believe that there are more; there are cases of persons that come to us and express that they are afraid to denounce. “
These attacks occur when communities oppose development projects of different types. The projects are imposed in their territories without consulting them, although they may imply the sale or abandonment of their lands.
According to Andrea Ulisse Cerami, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for environmental defenders, and it is among the 5 countries that have received the most complaints. The states with the highest number of reported assaults are Guerrero and the state of Mexico. The cases of Oaxaca and Chiapas, both rich in natural resources, are also notable. “There has been a number of complaints, mainly related to mining. The case of Mariano Abarca Romero, defender of indigenous peoples and anti-mining activist who was killed [in Chiapas], is one of them.”
Finally, the representative of CEMDA emphasized the failure to investigate and punish the perpetrators, “which is the main preventive measure that can be given.” “In the case of murders in recent years, none of them has been clarified. There is the problem of access to justice for environmental defenders. In fact the lack of punishment of those responsible is another measure that encourages new attacks because nobody seems to mind about them.”
For more information (in Spanish)
El CEMDA reporta 51 ataques a activistas del medio ambiente en tres años; hay 23 asesinados y dos desaparecidos (Sinembargo, 5 de junio de 2014)