PBI-Mexico joins the call for forcibly disappeared environmental defenders Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz to be returned alive
On January 30, PBI-Mexico tweeted: “See our January 2023 Bulletin: Starting the year with challenges for the defense of human rights. We underline the disappearance of #human rights defenders Antonio Díaz Valencia and Ricardo Lagunes Gasca. We join the call for their appearance alive.”
They also recently tweeted: “Alarm for violence against #Defenders in #Mexico. In the first 20 days of 2023, there have been 4 murders 12 arbitrary arrests and #RicardoLagunes and #AntonioDíaz have been disappeared in a context of opposition to the mining extractivist model #AppearanceNow”
And their bulletin notes:
“2023 has begun with significant challenges for human rights defenders in Mexico, including the forced disappearance of human rights lawyer Ricardo Arturo Lagunes Gasca and Professor Antonio Díaz Valencia, leader of the indigenous community of Aquila, Michoacán. 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.
PBI joins the voices that demand the appearance of both defenders alive, and that all instances of the government and international institutions be present in Mexico to guarantee the right to defend human rights and the security and integrity of individuals, communities and defense organizations.“
Two weeks ago, The Guardian reported: “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 a 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 join with PBI-Mexico, accompanied defenders and many others to call for the safe return of Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz Valencia.