Mexico: Veracruz environmental activist murdered

Mexican environmental activist Noé Salomón Vázquez Ortiz was murdered the early afternoon of Aug. 2 in his hometown, Amatlán de los Reyes, in the eastern coastal state of Veracruz. The killing came one day before the town was to host the Tenth National Meeting of the Mexican Movement Against Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER). Vázquez Ortíz and a minor were gathering flowers and seeds for a floral tribute to be used at the conference when a group of men appeared, ordered the minor to leave and began stoning Vázquez Ortíz. His body was found later with the hands and legs bound and the throat slit. State police arrested four men the day of the murder; they reportedly said they had personal differences with the murdered man.

Vázquez Ortíz, a construction worker who also painted pictures and created handicrafts, started doing environmental work while in high school. During the last two years he was active with the organization Green Defense: Nature Forever and fought against construction of a local dam by Hidroeléctrica El Naranjal SAPI de CV, a company owned by Guillermo González Guajardo. Vázquez Ortíz also worked in opposition to another hydroelectric project, the Bandera Blanca Project. 

“This wasn’t a common crime, or about a quarrel,” Rosalinda Hidalgo, an activist in The Veracruz Assembly of Environmental Defense Initiatives (Lavida), said at Vázquez Ortíz’s funeral on Aug. 3. “The killing follows a series of threats against other Green Defense: Nature Forever members; we’ve documented at least 10 in the area.” She added that the four men arrested had been watching Vázquez Ortiz’s home, had visited his family’s store and were seen right before an informational meeting by the group. Lavida and MAPDER spokespeople said the conference would go ahead as scheduled. (La Jornada, Mexico, Aug. 3, Aug. 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, August 4.