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New report denounces violence against environmentalists in Yucatán

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Environmentalists in Yucatán and across Mexico are coming under ever-increasing levels of violence. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The not-for-profit environmental organization CEMDA has outlined eight recent attacks against environmentalists on the Yucatán Peninsula. 

The attacks have ranged in severity, but the group has chosen to not disclose details because litigation is pending. 

The environmental advocacy group acknowledges that several cases are likely to have gone unreported due to intimidation. 

Such cases of violence have been recorded in Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo, but the Riviera Maya and Cancún area are among those of greatest concern for violence against environmental activists. 

The organization is also raising alarms in several other states in the country, including Baja California, Nayarit, and Puebla. 

Violence against environmental activists is nothing new in Mexico. In 2020 the murder of two men connected to butterfly reserves in Michoacan made headlines around the world. 

“In the past few years, we have seen an increase in attacks against people standing up for the environment across the country. We are here to raise awareness and help empower activists to not stay silent,” said Margarita Campuzano, public relations director of CEMDA.

Earlier: Mexico has no plan to undo environmental devastation from Mayan Train project

Most cases of violence against environmentalists come as a result of issues stemming from rampant development in protected areas.

Much of the time the violence is committed by organized criminals looking to protect their investments, but violence traced back to construction companies or private citizens is not unheard of.

The problem of violence and intimidation against environmental activists is made even more complicated when the perpetrator is the government itself.

“We have been threatened on several occasions for opposing the Mayan Train. We live far out in rural communities that don’t even have cell phone access. Simply put, we are sitting ducks for anyone who wishes us harm,” said Manuel Uk, who lives in a small village near Kantunil along the path of the Mayan Train

Indigenous leaders have suggested that the Mayan Train’s 170-billion-peso budget be allocated to build hospitals and provide essential services for people living in poverty across the region.

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