Photo credits: Reforma
During the past few months, PBI along with other national and international organisations, has called attention to the extraordinary risk people defending their territory against economic projects are living through in Mexico and across the whole region of Latin America. During the past weeks these warning have become a reality in Mexico, and unfortunately, the situation we foresaw is beginning to take place.
Mexico, as in many countries in the region, has an impressive richness of natural resources, and the neoliberal policies that privilege the exploitation of these resources over the rights of indigenous people to their lands, has provoked conflicts and violence in many parts of the continent. Although there are differences between countries and their governments, the tendency of the increase of territorial conflicts is reflected throughout the continent.
In the morning of 20th February 2019, Samir Flores, náhautl human rights defender, community communicator from the municipality of Temoac and member of the People´s Front in Defence of Land and Water in Morelos, Tlaxcala and Puebla was killed by two gun shots. Samir Flores was a leader of the opposition against the Integral Morelos Project, that consists of the construction of a pipeline and two thermoelectric installations by transnational companies. The communities in the region have opposed the construction of this projects for the negative environmental and health impacts that it´s construction implies. In this framework, the communities reject the initiative of a consultation about the project by the government.
This assassination takes place in the context of increased attacks against defenders since the new government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador came into power, as well as defamations against human rights defenders who are labelled "opponents to development" and to the projects that the government proposes for the territories. PBI promotes a positive narrative about the important input of human rights defenders to democratic and peaceful societies where human rights are protected and respected. Without human rights defenders, there are no human rights.
According to the Espacio_OSC, 14 killings of human rights defenders and journalists have been registered since December 2018 until today. PBI expresses profound concern for the situation and urges Mexican authorities to take measures to ensure that those who defend their land and territory can continue to do so in secure conditions.