PBI-Mexico expresses concern about the murder of Fidel Heras Cruz, a defender of the Verde River in Oaxaca

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 25, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project posted: “From PBI Mexico we express concern about the murder of Fidel Heras Cruz, community defender of Paso de la Reina and the risk situation of people defending land and territory.”

PBI-Mexico adds: “We urge the authorities to clarify the facts and ensure that this unfortunately loss does not remain in impunity. We express our full support to the defender’s family, organizations and individuals with whom he worked.”

Heras Cruz was killed on Saturday January 23 in Santiago Jamiltepec, Oaxaca.

He was the president of Ejidal Commissariat de Paso de la Reyna and a member of the Council of United Nations for the Defense of the Green River (COPUDEVER).

This article in Excelsior reported that COPUDEVER is opposed to the construction of the Paso hydroelectric dam, that Heras Cruz was active in the defence of territory, against the exploitation of natural resources, and that just days prior to his death had given a report on the exploitation of stone material from the Verde River by a family of cattle ranchers that lacked an environmental impact permit.

El Universal further noted that COPUDEVER “maintains an active resistance against the Paso de la Reina and Río Verde hydroelectric projects, which the federal government intends to build in the area.”

That article adds: “Since 2019, the Council of United Peoples for the Defense of the Verde River has maintained the defence of this body of water against the claims of the mayor of Santiago Jamiltepec, Celia Rivas Márquez (PRI) to extract stone material.”

“Despite the resistance of the community, an extraction agreement was reached that in August was breached by the municipality, which sought to increase the volume of extraction, without environmental permits or the corresponding payments, according to the ejidal authorities.”

It also notes: “After the crime against the defender, organizations such as the Red de Defensoras y Defensores Comunitarios de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (Redecom), Servicios para una Educación Alternativa (Educa), Ecosta Yutu Cuii and the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (Ucizoni ) condemned the attack and demanded a thorough investigation and that the crime not go unpunished.”

Sin Embargo has reported: “Due to the murder of Heras Cruz, the Governor of the entity, Alejandro Murat, was requested to intervene ‘to follow up until the facts are clarified and provide attention to those who make this complaint.’”

“They also requested that the Oaxaca State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) have an investigation folder, and that they not rule out any of the causes mentioned by COPUDEVER.”

And La Jornada reported: “For its part, the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca (DDHPO) condemned the crime of the community defender and member of the United Nations Council for the Defense of the Verde River (COPUDEVER) and requested precautionary measures. The autonomous body initiated the file DDHPO / CA / 022 / (09) / OAX / 2021, and asked the FGE to dictate the necessary protection measures to the people who are direct and indirect victims, to guarantee their integrity.”

PBI-Canada joins with PBI-Mexico in extending its support to the family, friends and all those who worked with Heras Cruz to defend territory and nature.

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