Chiapas: MODEVITE Receives Recognition for Environmental Defense in Chiapas

December 4, 2019


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)


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: Megaperegrinación del Movimiento en Defensa de La Vida y del Territorio (MODEVITE) en Tuxtla Gutiérrez (21 de agosto de 2019)

Chiapas : Creciente polarización en Chilón ante posible cambio de modo de elección, del sistema oficial al por usos y costumbres. (15 de agosto de 2019)

Chiapas: Expresiones de solidaridad y preocupación ante los hostigamientos a integrantes del CEDIAC y de la Misión Jesuita de Bachajón (20 de junio de 2019)

Chiapas: Modevite ratifica su rechazo a la construcción de la super carretera entre San Cristóbal de las Casas y Palenque (2 de mayo de 2019)

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)

Chiapas: Movement in Defense of Life and Territory 12-Day Pilgrimage Ends in San Cristobal de Las Casas (December 2, 2016)

Chiapas/National: March and Press Conference for International Day to Eradicate Violence against Women

December 4, 2019

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On November 25th, within the framework of International Day to Eradicate Violence against Women, several civil and collective organizations, including the Chiapas Center for Women’s Rights (CDMCH in its Spanish acronym) and the Movement in Defense of Land and Territory (MODEVITE in its Spanish acronym), held a march in San Cristobal de Las Casas. On their way from the Municipal Administrative Unit to the Plaza de la Paz they made a stop in front of the Women’s Hospital to report cases of obstetric violence and cases in which women with little knowledge of Spanish were pressured into being sterilized by doctors. They gave the floor to several women, including women from Tseltal and Tsotsil peoples, who shared their experiences on how they were treated in hospitals.

In addition there was a pronouncement from MODEVITE at the subsequent rally in which they pointed out that according to data from several feminist organizations and groups there were 166 violent deaths of women, of which only 76 were classified as femicide up to October 31st.

They demanded that “the corresponding investigations of femicides be carried out and all cases be judged with a gender perspective, to grant justice and non-repetition. The developmental programs that reproduce machismo in our communities and increase the violence experienced by women be eliminated. That the militarization of our communities and ejidos be stopped, the criminalization against human rights defenders cease,” they finally declared.

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At the same time there was a press conference called by Mujeres Libres COLEM, an organization that has worked on the issue of femicide violence for more than 30 years and together with the National Citizen Observatory of Femicide (OCNF in its Spanish acronym) among other organizations has achieved a Gender Violence Alert Declaration in Chiapas in 2016. It was noted that since that statement there have been 355 cases of violence in the state of Chiapas, of which 139 are obvious femicides. “This year the account goes over 140 cases: Femicides 53; Possible femicides 9; equated femicide 2; accident 12; homicide 8; suicide 6; other violent deaths 2; plus 48 cases that qualify as an attempt,” said Martha Figueroa Mier, a member of COLEM.

She also said that “[…] and from the current governor Rutilio Escandon Cadenas, he has counted 144 records from which 53 have been femicides, which contradicts his unfortunate statements that there are no femicides in Chiapas”, referring to a video from Suceso Chiapas del Gobernador published in February.

I also affirm that many of the authorities still do not consider many of these deaths as femicides although Mariana Lima Buendia’s family, violently killed by her husband, fought up to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN in its Spanish acronym) so that the criterion of that “Every violent death of women be investigated at the beginning as femicide.”

According to data collected by the National Bank of Data and Information on Cases of Violence against Women (BANAVIM in its Spanish acronym), more than 406,000 aggressors of girls, adolescents and adult women in Mexico have been identified in the last 12 years, figures that indicate that aggressions are not isolated cases but are a structural problem.

“Violence is a continuum, women suffer both in the public and private spheres and in all areas of their lives. The origins of this violence are discrimination and gender inequality,” warned Natalia Calero, a program management specialist at UN Women in Mexico.

BANAVIM also observed that 372,687 of the 406,000 attacks, that is to say 91% percent, were committed in the family environment. It should be noted that it is not only about physical violence but also psychological, economic, sexual and patrimonial violence.

For more information in Spanish:

Exigen más acciones para erradicar la violencia contra las mujeres (NVT Noticias el 26 de noviembre de 2019)

“No hay feminicidios en Chiapas”: Rutilio Escandón (Voces Feministas el 20 de febrero de 2019)

For more information from SIPAZ:

National: Demand for Resignation of Head of National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (CONAVIM) (October 16, 2019)

National/International: Spotlight Initiative against Gender Violence Launched in Mexico (June 6, 2019)

National: Over 424,000 on Mexican #Me Too (May 7, 2019)

National: Presentation of ‘Emergent Plan to Guarantee the Integrity, Security and Life of Women and Girls in Mexico” (March 14, 2019)

Nacional : OSC denuncian omisiones en investigación y combate a feminicidios (August 16, 2018)

National/International: “Final Observations on the Ninth Periodic Report from Mexico, the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women” Published (August 6, 2018)