Two environmental defenders disappeared after attending an anti-mining meeting in Coahuayana, Mexico

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Human rights lawyer Ricardo Lagunes and Nahua community leader Antonio Díaz Valencia were disappeared on January 15 while en route from Coahuayana, Michoacán to Tecomán, Colima.

The Guardian reports: “Fears are mounting for the safety of two missing Mexican land rights activists after their vehicle was found ridden with bullet holes.”

The article continues: “Ricardo Arturo Lagunes Gasca, a human rights lawyer and environmentalist and Antonio Díaz Valencia, leader of the Aquila Indigenous community in Michoacán, were last seen on Sunday evening travelling toward the neighbouring state of Colima after attending an anti-mining community meeting.”

And it notes: “Lagunes, a high profile environmental and land rights lawyer who has faced multiple death threats over the years, is representing the Aquila community against mining operations which have generated a myriad of environmental, health and social harms.”

The Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists has been notified given Lagunes had protection measures.

This petition demanding their safe return also highlights: “It should be noted that Ricardo currently carries out legal accompaniment in the indigenous community of Aquila, where there is a great mining activity that is generating great impacts in the area.”

While the mining company is not named in any of the news reports, we are mindful of the level of Canadian mining activity in Mexico. Reuters has reported: “Nearly 70 percent of foreign-owned mining companies operating in Mexico are based in Canada, according to Global Affairs Canada, the country’s combined foreign and trade ministry. The value of Canadian mining assets in Mexico totaled C$19.4 billion ($14.4 billion) in 2015.”

In September 2022, Global Witness documented that 200 land and environmental defenders had been killed worldwide in 2021.

Their report specified: “Mexico was the country with the highest recorded number of killings, with defenders killed every month, totalling 54 killings in 2021, up from 30 the previous year. …Over 40% of those killed were Indigenous people, and over a third of the total were forced disappearances.”

We express our concern about the safety of Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz Valencia.

Photo: Comuneros.

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