On November 27th, the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Chiapas environmentalist Mariano Abarca Roblero, who defended the rights of nature in the municipality of Chicomuselo from the year 2007 when he saw the socio-environmental effects of the Canadian mining company BlackFire that extracts the mineral from Barita, was remembered in that same municipality. After several threats by company workers he was killed. Since then, his family has carried out a long process with the support of various organizations demanding justice and punishment for the culprits.
In commemoration of his murder, relatives of the environmentalist as well as 32 national and international organizations convened the “Mariano Abarca” Environmental Defense Forum in Chiapas, which was held on November 27th, 2019 at the Sala de Bellas Artes in San Cristobal de Laa Casas.
In the framework of this event, the “Mariano Abarca Award”, the first recognition of environmental defense in Chiapas, was also given to the indigenous organization Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (MODEVITE in its Spanish acronym) that is present in 11 municipalities of the state populated by Tseltales, Tsotsiles and Ch’oles from the area of Los Altos and La Selva and which is also part of the Believing People of the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas. The prize that was awarded must recognize “year after year the community, collective or organization of the State of Chiapas, Mexico, that with their struggle for the defense of the rights of nature they defend their peoples, and they defend us all, dignify life, make us not lose hope that Other Worlds are possible” as indicated in the blog dedicated to the “Justice for Mariano Abarca” campaign.
Gustavo Castro of the Other Worlds organization stressed that “the first recognition of the environmental defense in Chiapas 2019 granted to MODEVITE means that we see it, accompany it, make it visible and thank you for your struggle for the good of all peoples.”
The forum was also an important occasion to share experiences of various groups and organizations in defense of land and territory. In the first part, the Movement for the Defense of Life and the Territory (MODEVITE), the Popular Front for the Defense of Soconusco “June 20” (FPDS in its Spanish acronym), Somos La Maya, Zoques in Defense of Life and the Territory (Zodevite), a representative of the Pascacio Gamboa Community, Ixtacomitán and the Regional Council of Agricultural Authorities in Defense of the Territory (CRAADT), an active organization in the Mountains and Costa Chica area of the state of Guerrero participated.
In addition, specialists and panelists from different human rights organizations and institutions were invited. Norma Gonzalez Benitez of Amnesty International attended with an analysis on the criminalization of human rights defenders and the environment in Mexico, Edgar Cortes of the Mexican Institute of Human Rights and Democracy (IMDHD in its Spanish acronym) who spoke on the Mechanism for the Protection of Defenders of Human Rights and Journalists and finally the Swedish Movement for Reconciliation (SweFOR) shared their experiences on the accompaniment work of human rights and environmental defenders and their situation in Chiapas.
For more information in Spanish:
MODEVITE recibirá Reconocimiento a la Defensa Ambiental “Mariano Abarca” (Chiapas Paralelo el 20 de noviembre de 2019)
Exigen justicia a 10 años del asesinato del activista Mariano Abarca; Modevite obtiene premio con su nombre (Proceso el 27 de noviembre de 2019)
PREMIO A LA DEFENSA AMBIENTAL (Justicia para Mariano Abarca el 27 de noviembre de 2019)
Entregarán el primer “Premio Mariano Abarca” al MODEVITE (Educa el 27 de noviembre de 2019)
PRIMER RECONOCIMIENTO A LA DEFENSA AMBIENTAL EN CHIAPAS 2019 “MARIANO ABARCA” (Otros Mundos el 19 de noviembre de 2019)
La minera canadiense Blackfire en Chiapas contra defensores de los territorios y de la vida (REMA el 18 de octubre de 2017)
For more information from SIPAZ:
Chiapas: realizan foro sobre Libre determinación(10 de agosto de 2018)
Chiapas: MODEVITE Mobilizes in Defense of Mother Earth and Self-Determinationm (November 24, 2017)