Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Murdered ‘guardian’ of the butterflies will be focus of Netflix series

The 2020 murder of Homero Gómez González, a world-renowned monarch butterfly activist in Michoacán, brought attention to dangers faced by environmental activists in Mexico. Now, Gómez will be the subject of a new Netflix series honoring his work.

Gómez’s brother, Amado Gómez González, announced that the series had begun filming on Wednesday from the municipality of Ocampo, Michoacán, where he currently serves as mayor.

Homero Gómez was often called “the butterfly guardian” because of his work in Ocampo’s El Rosario butterfly sanctuary, and most agree that he was killed for was his conservation work there. The new series will also be named El Guardián in honor of his work.

A local from the Ocampo community, Gómez was a dedicated defender of the area’s migratory monarch butterfly population and their habitat, which spans almost 140,000 acres across Michoacán and México states and hosts over a billion butterflies each winter along their migratory journey back to the United States and Canada.

Butterflies at El Rosario sanctuary.
Butterflies at El Rosario sanctuary in Michoacán.

Gómez denounced the organized crime groups that used the forest for illegal logging, avocado farming, and other illicit activities and worked with local groups and communities to reforest much of the land devastated by logging in the sanctuary. He was an outspoken critic of anyone that harmed the sanctuary as well as a champion for those who worked in the forests, defending their rights to just working conditions. In the end, most people believe his activism was behind his murder, but his death is still considered unsolved.

Gómez disappeared on the afternoon of January 13, 2020, after leaving a regular meeting at the sanctuary. Local authorities and community members searched in vain for him for the next 16 days, pressured by the state Human Rights Commission, whose spokesperson Mayte Cardona said that Gómez was “surely affecting the interests of the people illegally logging in the area.”

After it was announced that he was missing, Gómez’s family received several calls claiming that he was being held for ransom, claims that authorities assessed to be false. His body was found on January 29 at the bottom of a 6-meter-deep well. While at first authorities said that there were no signs of torture on the activist’s body, they later confirmed that he had suffered a trauma to the head before drowning at the bottom of the well. Forensics reports confirmed that Gómez had been dead for at least two weeks. Despite interviewing over 50 local police officers suspected of being involved in the crime, no one was prosecuted for his murder.

Now Netflix will pay homage to the man, his life, and his activism in the new series, a point of pride for the Ocampo community, for Gómez’s family and the entire country, as messages across social media have relayed in the past several days.

With reports from Infobae, El País and El Financiero

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