Mexico is the 4th most dangerous country for environmental activists


Gustavo Sánchez Valle, chairman of the Mexican Rural Forestry Organizations Network (MOCAF) claimed that Mexico had become the fourth most dangerous country for environmental activists facing interests of private companies.

According to Global Witness’ 2018 report, the private sectors that contribute the most to the criminalization of environmental activists are the agricultural and mining industries. In most cases, government officials are negligent concerning the protection of small communities against big corporations, even going as far as colluding with them, Sánchez Valle stated.

He considered that one of the main actions to undertake, which could have a great impact in terms of prevention, is the ratification and effective implementation of the Escazú Agreement, which was adopted in March of last year in Escazú, Costa Rica. The binding agreement forces several Latin American governments to provide protection for environmental activists and territories.

Activist Homero Gomez killed one month ago in Michoacan (Archive)

“Negotiated by and for the region, with significant participation by the public and with the support of ECLAC in its role as technical secretariat, the Escazú Agreement aims to reach the most vulnerable, marginalized, and excluded sectors through affirmative measures, and it aspires to remove the barriers that impede or hinder the full exercise of rights. This is a faithful expression of the last goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to not leave anyone behind,” stated the UN through a press release.

Gustavo Sánchez explained that the agreement was a right step towards the protection of natural resources and defenders of human rights in environmental matters.

He explained that the forestry sector required immediate action and investments in different areas that cover the establishment of new forest areas, as well as the handling and protection of existing ones, including natural forests and farms, the preservation of forest biodiversity and the provision of environmental services and value chains that generate employment and contribute to the well being of rural communities.

Through a press release, the chairman of MOCAF assured that a comprehensive policy for environmental protection should take into account the promotion of several aspects that are often at odds with a lacking design of public policies.

Activist Homero Gomez funeral (El Universal)

As an example, he mentioned the management and utilization of native forests, the preservation of forest biodiversity, and the provision of environmental services.

Sánchez Valle also recommended the revision and harmonization of programs and policies implemented by the Environment (SEMARNAT) and the Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) ministries.

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