Herrera was working to stop a housing development. Herrera was working to stop a housing development.

Activist who defended Morelos nature reserve is murdered

Isaac Medardo Herrera led efforts to halt development on his municipality’s only protected land

Defending the natural world from private interests has once again proven to be a dangerous job in Mexico. Environmental activist Isaac Medardo Herrera Avilés was shot to death in his home in Juitepec, Morelos, on Monday night.

Herrera worked to defend the Los Venados (The Deer) nature reserve located within the municipality. His murder brought politicians, lawyers and social activists together online to call for an end to the violence in the state and to bring his killers to justice.

Herrera acted as legal representative for 13 Morelos communities that launched a legal battle to save the Chihuahuita spring from development in 2007.

Real estate developer Casas Ara wanted to construct housing near the spring, threatening the municipality’s only protected land. Herrera’s team petitioned then-governor Graco Ramírez to expropriate the land and return it to the control of the Juitepec municipal government.

Although he agreed to do so, Ramírez never followed through before the end of his term. Development at the site resumed, for which Herrera and other citizens filed a complaint with state authorities just weeks before his murder.

Nongovernmental organizations Amnesty International and Global Witness warned in October of last year that Mexico was getting more dangerous for environmental activists.

The assessment has only appeared to be backed up by the recent murders of Michoacán butterfly reserve activists Homero Gómez González and Raúl Hernández Romero.

Tropical bird activist Tracie Willis continues her conservation work in Nayarit despite being attacked by bird poachers in January.

State authorities have yet to release a statement or any other information about Herrera’s murder or any pertinent investigations into it.

Source: El Financiero (sp)

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