Butterfly conservationist disappears in Mexico

The State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) in Mexico’s west-central state of Michoac谩n is exhorting authorities to intensify their search for a campesino ecologist and advocate for protection of the world-famous monarch butterfly habitat, who has “disappeared.” Homero G贸mez Gonz谩lez went missing Jan. 13, one day after he posted a video of himself on Twitter聽standing amid a swarm of butterflies at their wintering grounds in the Michoac谩n highlands, hailing it as a “patrimony of humanity.” He has long served as administrator of Ejido El Rosario, an agrarian community of the Mazahua indigenous people in Ocampo municipality, which overlaps with El Campanario Sanctuary, part of the UNESCO-recognized Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve. The Michoac谩n prosecutor’s office, the Fiscal铆a General, announced Jan. 20聽that 53 police officers from the municipalities of Ocampo and Angangueo have been detained in relation to the disappearance. Family members say G贸mez Gonz谩lez told authorities that he had received threats from local organized crime networks.

Narco gangs in Michoac谩n broadly overlap with local mafias that illegally exploit timber on protected lands, and have co-opted the state’s avocado industry to launder illicit proceeds and maintain a legal cover for land-grabs, leading to warnings of聽“blood avocados.” (La Jornada, Jan. 21;聽La Voz de Michoac谩n, Jan. 15, LAT, Nov. 20)

Mexican authorities say that over 60,000 have “disappeared” in the context of Mexico’s drug war over the past two generations.

Photo:聽La Voz de Michoac谩n

  1. Body of missing ecologist found in Michoac谩n

    The lifeless body of missing environmental activist Homero G贸mez was found in a well in El Soldado community, Ocampo municipality,聽Michoac谩n state judicial authorities announced Jan. 30. There was no sign of violence to the body, so he was presumably thrown down the well alive. (BBC News,聽El Heraldo de Mexico)

  2. Second monarch butterfly sanctuary worker slain in Mexico

    A second worker at Mexico鈥檚 famed monarch butterfly sanctuary has been found murdered, sparking concerns that the defenders of one of the country’s聽most emblematic species are being slain with impunity. The body of Ra煤l Hern谩ndez Romero, a part-time tour guide, was found on Feb. 1, showing injuries apparently inflicted by a sharp object. Hern谩ndez had been reported missing on Jan. 27 in the town of Angangueo, in the heart of the federally protected Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. (EIJ)