Nine environmental defenders killed/disappeared in Mexico, two in Honduras, while criminalization increases in Guatemala

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Otros Mundos AC: “Eustacio Alcalá Díaz, another murdered victim of the extractive mining model.”

The Guardian reports: “At least two dozen defenders have been murdered, disappeared and jailed across the region [Mexico and Central America] so far this year, according to research by the Guardian.”

In three countries where Peace Brigades International accompanies environmental defenders, the article notes:


“On Wednesday [April 5], the Indigenous rights and anti-mining activist Eustacio Alcalá Díaz was found dead in Michoacán, Mexico, three days after he was abducted by armed men while traveling with Catholic missionaries. Díaz, who spearheaded a legal campaign to stop a transnational mining company – and won – was the ninth defender murdered or disappeared in Mexico so far this year.”

(Several media reports including by Mexico New Daily indicate the Luxembourg-based mining companies are ArcelorMittal and Ternium.)

“[Before this murder] Amuzgo Indigenous rights defender Remigio de la Cruz was shot dead at his home in Guerrero on 1 January.”

“Twelve days later, members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel ambushed and murdered Isaúl Nemesio Zambrano, Miguel Estrada Reyes and Rolando Magno Zambrano, community guards in Santa María Ostula, a Nahua community in Michoacán that since 2009 has tried to defend their territory against criminal gangs.”

(The Chiapas Support Committee has noted that mining companies, including Ternium, have 40,000 hectares under concession within this territory.)

“On 15 January, in the same coastal-highland region of Michoacán, lawyer Ricardo Lagunes Gasca and Indigenous leader Antonio Díaz Valencia were abducted by armed men after attending a community meeting against mining.”

(Pie de Página reports they were also opposing Ternium. The car the men were travelling in was found riddled with bullet holes.)


“The Bajo Aguán region in northern Honduras is the region’s most deadly, where six men associated with an entrenched land struggle between African palm conglomerates and poor campesinos have been murdered since late December.”

“Two water protectors have also been killed in Bajo Aguán this year. In January, Aly Domínguez, 38, and Jairo Bonilla, 28, co-founders of the Guapinol community resistance against an iron ore mine [Inversiones Los Pinares] owned by one of the country’s most powerful couples, were shot dead in broad daylight.”


“In Guatemala, there has been an exponential rise in trumped-up criminal charges against community and Indigenous leaders opposing environmentally destructive projects, according to data collated by the Protection Unit for Human Rights Defenders Guatemala – known by its Spanish acronym Udefegua.”

“Jorge Santos, coordinator of Udefegua [says] ‘Today in Guatemala, the principal repressive strategy has changed from physical violence and murder to killing people civilly.’”

PBI-Guatemala accompanies criminalized environmental defender Bernardo Caal Xol.

To read the full article in The Guardian, click here.

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