According to a study by Mexico’s Center for Environmental Rights (CEMDA), 88 acts of aggression were perpetrated on environmentalists between July, 2016 and December, 2017.
Of those 88, 29 are reported to be homicides.
“Our country remains an extremely dangerous place for protectors of the environment,” said CEMDA founder and president Alanis Ortega, whose study found that the main perpetrators of violence against pro-environmentalists were people acting on the behalf of all three main levels of government, with those employed by the state making up 57 percent, followed by agents of municipal and federal governments, with 26 and 17 percent, respectively.
As stated in CEMDA’s study, the industries most associated with violence towards eco-activists in Mexico are mining, infrastructure projects, hydroelectric projects, public works, genetically engineered seed, renewable energy and illegal logging.
Breaking down the country by region, the report identifies the State of Mexico as having the highest rate of attacks against environmentalists, followed by, in descending order, Oaxaca, Puebla, Chiapas and Sonora.
According to Alejandra Leyva, legal counsel for CEMDA, opponents of environmental protection often seek to de-legitimize the work of activists by claiming they are anti-economic development, anti-employment, and anti-investment. Failing the success of such rhetoric, a smear campaign is often abandoned for – or supplemented with – violence.
“The main problem revealed by the report [a lack of protection for environmentalists], needs to be addressed immediately,” said Ortega. “This violence against environmental activists needs to stop now.”