Mexico has grown increasingly more dangerous for environmental activists in recent years, according to the organizations Amnesty International and Global Witness.
The latter says the spike began in 2017 when the number of murdered activists rose to 15 from three the year before. In 2018, the organization documented 14 murdered environmentalists.
In the first nine months of 2019, Amnesty International has documented at least 12 murders of people working to protect the environment in Mexico.
Amnesty International’s Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said “the brave defenders of the land, territory and environment face constant danger in Mexico.”
She called for President López Obrador to publicly recognize activists for “their invaluable contribution to the protection of natural resources,” and insisted that the government take forceful action to guarantee them safe working conditions.
On the anniversary of the murder of Rarámuri activist Julián Carrillo, the organization made an official statement to the government pleading for action.
“One year after the death of indigenous Rarámuri leader Julián Carrillo, the Mexican authorities should carry out an exhaustive investigation to determine who is responsible for his death and in all cases of attacks against [environmental activists],” it said in a press release.
Carrillo was murdered on October 24, 2018 in his hometown of Coloradas de la Virgen, Chihuahua. He had previously been threatened and harassed for defending ancestral land in the Sierra Tarahumara, and at least five of his family members had been murdered in previous years.
“After a year, the Mexican authorities still haven’t tried those responsible for Carrillo’s death. As of now, two people have been detained and are being investigated, but they still haven’t determined responsibility,” said Amnesty International.
The organization’s executive director in Mexico, Tania Reneaum, said Carrillo was murdered despite being ostensibly protected by a Mexican government program that offers protection to human rights workers and journalists. She said the situation is serious and that the mechanism needs reviewing.
“The fight for the rights of the land and against indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, carried out by defenders of land and territory, deserves all of our solidarity and support, given our fundamental obligation to leave a healthy environment for future generations,” she said.