Over 80 environmentalists killed in Mexico since 2012

“MX” for Borderland Beat

People gather to protest the murder of environmentalist Samir Flores Soberanes
The Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) informed in a recent publication that 83 environmentalists were killed in Mexico between 2012 and 2019, making Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmentalists.
In 2019 alone, the CEMDA registered 39 violent acts against environmentalists; 15 of them were homicides. Between 2012 and 2019, the CEMDA reported 499 violent cases and 83 homicides.

The sector that observed the most attacks was the energy sector with 20.5 percent. Violence spiked in 2013 after President Enrique Pena Nieto pushed to reform Mexico’s energy sector. In December 2013, the Congress of Mexico made several amendments to permit private and foreign investment in this sector for the first time in decades.

Background and details

CEMDA’s publication was compiled by using over 200 print and digital publications from local and national media outlets across Mexico since 2012.
According to the report, the following attacks were reported for each of the years: 2012 (24 attacks); 2013 (64 attacks); 2014 (78 attacks); 2015 (107 attacks); 2016 (85 attacks); 2017 (54 attacks); 2018 (49 attacks); and 2019 (39 attacks).
The states in Mexico with the highest number of violent cases were Oaxaca (79 attacks), Sonora (49 attacks) and State of Mexico (48 attacks).

Impunity remains the norm in most of these cases. Though it is very likely that environmentalists are threatened for economic or political interests, very few crimes are ever solved and investigations are left unanswered. As generalized violence is normalized in Mexico with the ongoing drug war, killings of environmentalists are becoming the norm, too.

Notable murder cases
One of the most notable cases was the murder of environmentalist Samir Flores Soberanes, as reported by Borderland Beat. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had stated prior to the murder that the environmentalist group that Samir belong to opposed the creation of a thermoelectric plant that the Mexican government wanted to build in Morelos, Samir’s home state.

On 20 February 2019, Samir was shot twice in the head outside his home. His death drew thousands of people in protest across streets in Mexico City. “Samir didn’t die, the government killed him”, protesters cried. His murder is currently unsolved.
Two months ago, in 22 January 2020, monarch butterfly activist Homero Gómez González was kidnapped in Michoacán, as reported by Borderland Beat. He was found dead two days later. His corpse was found floating in a well and had visible signs of nature.
Homero dedicated his life to protect monarch butterfly habitats. Environmentalists said his death may be been triggered over logging and land disputes. The forests where the monarchs live are threatened by illegal logging and avocado farmers. His murder is also unsolved.