Jairo Mora Loved Sea Turtles. They Killed Him for It.
Lindsay Fendt - The Daily Beast
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April 25, 2016



It’s not only the drug cartels that use deadly violence to eliminate their enemies. When environmentalists stand up to big business they’re liable to be killed.

On the night of May 30, 2013, conservationist Jairo Mora saw the last sea turtle he would ever try to save. That night, Mora and four foreign volunteers slipped out of the butterfly-wing gates of the rescue center where they worked on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast and took a drive down the notoriously dangerous Moín Beach. The next morning, police found Mora’s beaten body facedown in the sand. He had been dragged back and forth across the beach until he suffocated.

At the time of his murder, Mora was working to protect the eggs of the endangered leatherback sea turtles that nested on Moín, but his conservation efforts did not sit well with the local poachers who sell the eggs, a rumored aphrodisiac, on the black market for a sizable profit. Before he was killed, Mora had been threatened and assaulted, but he continued to save eggs until his murder.

Mora's slaying was not seen as unusual in Latin America, where more environmentalists are killed than anywhere else in the world. From the Amazon in Brazil to the deserts in Mexico, activists continue to be murdered at a record pace. Just last month, Berta Cáceres, a prominent Honduran activist, was killed in her home after years of protesting against a hydroelectric dam project. In 2014, 88 other activists were killed in the region.  

With its reputation for environmental friendliness, Costa Rica had long stood out from its neighbors as a safe haven for environmentalists, and for many, Mora’s murder was seen as evidence of the expanding violence against activists. Now, despite the blemish on Costa Rica’s image, the country’s handling of Mora’s case stands as a rare positive example.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

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