The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Environmental Defender Murdered in Mexico Days Before Vote on Pipeline Project
An indigenous environmental activist was killed in Morelos, Mexico Wednesday, three days before a referendum on the construction of a gas pipeline and two thermoelectric plants that he had organized to oppose, the Associated Press reported.
Samir Flores Soberanes had challenged the words of government representatives at a forum about the so-called Morelos Comprehensive Project a day before his murder, The Peoples in Defense of Land and Water Front (FPDTA), the group Soberanes organized with, said in a statement.
"This is a political crime for the human rights defence that Samir and the FPDTA carried out against the [project] and for people's autonomy and self-determination," the group said in a statement reported by The Guardian.
The Morelos state government, however, challenged whether Soberanes' murder was politically motivated. State prosecutor Uriel Carmona said that the murder was not related to the upcoming referendum and that investigators were considering the involvement of organized crime.
Soberanes and the FPDTA opposed the energy project, which would have run a pipeline through Soberanes' home village of Amilcingo, because of concerns about how it would impact the health, safety and water of the largely indigenous communities in the surrounding area, the Associated Press reported.
Newly elected Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador called the murder "vile" and "cowardly," but said the vote would take place when planned.
"I'm very sorry about the murder," López Obrador said, as the Associated Press reported. "The consultation we have to continue because it is a process that was already agreed to."
The FPDTA said Soberanes had been murdered Wednesday morning around 5 a.m. after two vehicles parked outside his home. The people inside the vehicles called to him to come out and then shot him when he emerged.
Soberanes was an indigenous Náhuatl, a community radio producer and a human rights activist, The Guardian reported.
The project he opposed was first proposed in 2011, but had been recently taken up by López Obrador as a means of reducing electricity prices. The new president has also called for referendums on major projects like a new Mexico City airport and a train in southern Mexico. The airport project was defeated and the train, between Cancun and Tulum, was approved, The Associated Press reported.
The FPDTA wrote a letter to López Obrador warning him that the referendum would lead to violence in their community.
López Obrador promised to address the frequent murders of human rights and environmental activists in Mexico. However, he also made remarks about civil society Tuesday that concerned some activists, calling it "conservative" for opposing his projects and planning to militarize the police.
"All those who oppose the [project] … we are for López Obrador radical ultra-conservatives," FPDTA told The Guardian.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Corbett
The World Health Organization on Friday raised the global risk of the new coronavirus to its highest level and reiterated the necessity of worldwide containment efforts as U.S. President Donald Trump continued to face widespread criticism over how his administration has handled the public health crisis so far.
Low-income and minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. They tend to be the most affected by extreme weather events, by air pollution, and by chemicals in drinking water. House Democrats put forth an environmental justice bill yesterday to help marginalized communities that have been ignored in the Capitol, according to The Hill.
While keeping track of the new trends in the diamond industry can be hard, it is still an essential task of any savvy consumer or industry observer. Whether you are looking to catch a deal on your next diamond purchase or researching the pros and cons of an investment within the diamond industry, keeping up with the trends is imperative.
By Andy Rowel
The British government's plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050 conflicts with its long-standing plan to level a village to expand Heathrow Airport, one of the world's busiest airport hubs. Now an appeals court in Britain has ruled that the expansion is illegal since the government did not take into account how building a third runway would jibe with the government's commitment to fight the climate crisis, according to The Guardian.