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Tabasco environmentalist José Luis Álvarez. Tabasco environmentalist José Luis Álvarez.

Environmental activist who fought illegal mining murdered in Chiapas

'This is abominable, he was a nice person, his fault was to fight against the illegal extraction of sand'

An environmental activist from Tabasco who worked to preserve the habitat of howler monkeys was found dead yesterday in Chiapas.

The body of José Luis Álvarez Flores was found in Calatraba, a community in the municipality of Palenque. The 64-year-old was reportedly shot at least five times.

Álvarez established a 345-hectare sanctuary for the howler monkey in the Tabasco municipality of Emiliano Zapata in 2012. Around 100 monkeys as well as iguanas and bare-throated tiger herons call the sanctuary home.

More recently, Álvarez denounced on several occasions the illegal extraction of sand and stones from the Usumacinta River.

Tabasco environmental official Miguel Pérez told news the agency EFE that the activist had asked authorities for protection after receiving death threats but none was provided. Messages threatening Álvarez’s family and other environmentalists were left with his body, he said.

“This is abominable, he was a nice person, his fault was to fight against the illegal extraction of sand, that was his struggle,” Pérez said.

“We condemn this cowardly murder, we demand justice and the protection of his family and two other [environmental] defenders who were threatened.”

Álvarez is the first environment activist from Tabasco to be murdered but 125 environmentalists have been killed in Mexico in recent decades, according to the international NGO Global Witness.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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