Monday, June 17, 2024

Brother-in-law of slain water activist killed in Baja California

The brother-in-law of an indigenous and water rights activist in Tecate, Baja California, who was murdered Thursday evening has also been killed, family members report.

Daniel Sotelo, the brother-in-law of Óscar Eugenio Eyraud Adams, was murdered in a store where he worked on Friday afternoon, a close friend of both victims said.

“We fear for our lives,” the friend said. “We plan to bury [Eyraud] directly and not hold a wake for fear by the whole family.”

Although few details are available related to the most recent killing, new information is emerging about Eyraud’s death. No motive in either killing has been officially determined.

A member of the Kumeyaay indigenous group, Eyraud had been an activist for years on issues of ethnicity and environmental injustice, a family member said.

Last month, Eyraud publicly denounced the lack of water in his community in an interview with Reforma and warned of cultural consequences to come if transnational companies were provided with water at the expense of indigenous communities.

On Thursday night, at least five men clad in tactical gear and armed with pistols and high caliber weapons pulled up at Eyraud’s home in two white SUVs, authorities say.  

Eyraud lived in the house with his uncle, who said Eyraud stepped out to go shopping around 6:30 p.m.

Police say the 34-year-old man was chased down the street and tried to return home to take refuge but the gunmen shot him in the back in his front yard. As his body lay face down on the patio, the men also shot up the house. Thirteen casings from four different caliber weapons were found at the scene. 

A neighbor told the prosecutor’s office that she had seen a man dressed in camouflage clothing with his face covered carrying a machine gun and later heard several shots ring out.

Eyraud was the cousin of Tecate Mayor Zulema Adams Pereyra, who lamented the crime but clarified that the two were not on speaking terms. 

“The municipal government sends its condolences and stands in solidarity with the family and friends of Óscar Eyraud, an activist always concerned about a better quality of life for the Kumeyaay community. We join in the request for the clarification of these unfortunate facts,” the mayor said in a statement.

The organization Agua Para Todos [Water for Everyone]called on the government to put a stop to the killings of activists in Mexico.

“Decisive government intervention is urgently needed to prevent names from being added to the already long list of comrades from communities and organizations killed for defending water and nature and demanding their legitimate rights,” they wrote in the statement.

At least four other activists have been killed in Mexico this year, and the country is one of the most dangerous in the world for those who publicly condemn environmental injustice, according to Amnesty International. Fifteen activists were killed in Mexico in 2019.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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