PBI-Mexico accompanies Educa Oaxaca in the struggle against structural violence targeted at environmental defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: In August 2019, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project attended Educa Oaxaca’s 25th anniversary colloquium ‘Challenges of the social and popular movement in the times of transformations in Mexico 1994-2019’.

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project accepted a request from Educa Oaxaca for accompaniment in May 2013, though PBI-Mexico’s relationship with Educa began in 2001 with occasional accompaniments.

PBI-Mexico notes: “Educa currently accompanies various community processes which defend territory from energy-based megaprojects, such as the silver mine in San José del Progreso [owned by Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines Inc.], the gold mine in Magdalena Teitipac, and the wind farms on the Isthmus of Tehuántepec.”

“Since 2006, it advises five municipalities and more than 25 communities along the Oaxacan coast, all of whom are defending their territory and community from the construction of the hydroelectric dam, Paso de la Reina.”

“The organization [also] accompanies processes to highlight the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of indigenous peoples, such as the right to free, prior and informed consent on projects affecting their territories and ways of life.”

Yesterday, Open Democracy published an article by Demetrio Romeo titled: Environmental human rights defenders in Mexico: The issue of structural violence.

Romeo notes: “In 2019, 39 environmental human rights defenders were victims of attacks in Mexico. Of these, 15 were killed.”

Among the key points in his article:

1- “According to the most recent report by the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, between 2012 and 2019, there were 499 attacks on land and environment activists that took place across the vast majority of states.”

2- “United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst contended in his report on the situation of environmental human rights defenders in the world that the cause of systematic violations of environmental human rights defenders lies in the imbalance of power between the State and local communities.”

3- “According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur in his report on the situation of human rights defenders in Mexico, among the most criminalized are those who protect and promote environmental rights, in particular indigenous leaders whose activism is related to extractive and energy projects.”

4- “Mexico has a federal law that provides national protection and prevention mechanisms to protect the right to ‘life, integrity, freedom and security of people who are at risk as a result of defending or promoting human rights.’ However, the State does not fulfill its obligation to promote a safe and favorable environment for the defense of human rights – in its individual and collective aspects – because the numerous aggressions respond to a pattern that stigmatizes and criminalizes environmental human rights defenders.”

5- “Conduct that suppresses the right of association and assembly and false or unfounded accusations of alleged crimes against public safety presented by the authorities against environmental activists lead to victimizing acts, such as offenses against honor, judicial harassment, denial of due process, double jeopardy, arbitrary detention, forced disappearance, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

As noted in PBI’s most recent annual review, 30 per cent of the 51 organizations PBI accompanies defend land and environmental rights, 12 per cent defend economic, cultural and social rights (which includes the right to free, prior and informed consent) and 52 per cent defend civil and political rights (which includes the right to life against police brutality, the right to participate in civil society, and freedom of assembly).

You can find Educa Oaxaca on Twitter, Facebook and its website.

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