Pact Protecting Environmentalists Suffers Threats in Mexico
Emilio Godoy - Inter Press Service
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February 15, 2023

Activists from the southern Mexican state of Puebla protest the activities of a water bottling company. (Emilio Godoy/IPS)

In 2021, there were 200 murders of environmentalists around the world, a slight decrease from 227 the previous year, according to a report by the London-based non-governmental organization Global Witness.

Latin America led these crimes, accounting for 157 of the killings, with a slight decline from 165 the previous year. Mexico topped the list with 54 murders, compared to 30 in 2020. Colombia ranked second despite the drop in cases: 33, down from 65 in 2020, followed by Brazil (26 vs. 20), Honduras (eight vs. 17) and Nicaragua (13 vs. 12).

The attacks targeted people involved in opposition to logging, mining, large-scale agribusiness and dams, and more than 40 percent of the victims were indigenous people.

In Mexico there are currently some 600 ongoing environmental conflicts without a solution from the government, according to estimates by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

The most recent case was the Jan. 15 disappearance of lawyer Ricardo Lagunes and indigenous activist Antonio Díaz, an opponent of mining in the western state of Michoacán, which the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has demanded be urgently clarified.

One year after it came into force, the Escazú Agreement is facing major challenges, especially in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, where environmentalists face particular risks.

Olimpia Castillo, coordinator of the non-governmental organization Communication and Environmental Education, said the context sends out a warning.

“It is a very interesting round, because article 10 (of the agreement) refers to highlighting the participation of the organizations. That article could be violated, which would mean a major limitation. These are things that as a country we are going to have to face up to,” the activist, who participated in the negotiation of the agreement as a representative of civil society, told IPS.

In Mexico, compliance with the agreement has already faced hurdles, such as the November 2021 decree by which López Obrador declared his megaprojects “priority works for national security”, thus guaranteeing provisional permits, in contravention of the treaty.

Read the rest at Inter Press Service

Related: Opacity Surrounds Fossil Fuels in Mexico (IPS)

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