On August 2, 2013, Noé Vázquez Ortiz was stoned to death by unidentified individuals in his hometown of Amatlán de los Reyes in the Mexican state of Veracruz, with no response from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Noé had gone out early that morning to gather leaves, seeds, and flowers for the opening ritual of the 10th Anniversary of the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER). MAPDER seeks to protect the rights of communities in the face of an onslaught of hydroelectric dam projects in Mexico. Noé was a craftsman. Through his work he promoted his culture and raised awareness about the destruction of the environment, especially in the mountains of Veracruz.
The local, state, and federal governments had been notified of the 10th Anniversary celebration, and the governor of the state of Veracruz had guaranteed its security. Since Noé’s murder there have been numerous problems with the investigation, including the refusal of the Amatlán’s Public Ministry to receive the initial report filed by Noé’s family on the day of the crime.
Since 2010 the number of hydroelectric projects in the state of Veracruz has increased dramatically. Currently there are plans for 112 privately-funded dams throughout the state. In Noé’s town, the hydroelectric dam project El Naranjal threatens not only Amatlán, but also at least five other municipalities in the region, and would affect an estimated 30,000 residents of the area.
Threats and violence against community leaders have become more commonplace in Mexico as minimally-regulated private capital, promoted by NAFTA and the Mesoamerica Project, rushes to construct megaprojects such as hydroelectric dams, wind farms, and mines in communities without respecting their fundamental right to prior consultation. The Mexican Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal found that the Naranjal dam project violated the right of prior consultation of six municipalities in Veracruz. It also reported that coercive methods were used to acquire property where construction is to take place.
NAFTA opened the floodgates for transnational investment in Mexico; in Latin America, Mexico is the number one destination for foreign direct investment. Of the more than one hundred changes that were made to the Mexican constitution prior to NAFTA, one of the most devastating was opening up formerly communal land to privatization. One of the consequences has been the construction of a wave of megaprojects, like the Naranjal dam. The rights to land use are typically granted by the federal government without consulting the communities beforehand, even though the land belongs to the communities and they are most directly affected by the projects. Let’s honor Noé’s legacy by supporting the right to land and self-determination.
Tell the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to support justice for these crimes, and promote steps that will protect, not victimize, activists like Noé. Click on "Select this Recipient" next to the picture of the Ambassador (below the Spanish text), edit your letter to your preference, and enter your information to send the letter.
El 2 de agosto, 2013, el activista ambientalista Noé Vázquez Ortiz fue asesinado a pedradas por sujetos de identidad desconocida en su pueblo natal de Amatlán de los Reyes, en el estado mexicano de Veracruz, sin respuesta alguna de la embajada estadounidense en México. Por desgracia, el asesinato de Noé no fue una anomalía. Las amenazas y la violencia contra l@s líderes comunitarios se han vuelto más comunes en México mientras que capital privado poco regulado, promovido por el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN) y el Proyecto Mesoamérica, fomenta la construcción desenfrenada de megaproyectos como represas hidroeléctricas, parques eólicos y minas en las comunidades sin respetar su derecho fundamental a la consulta previa.
Dígale a la embajada estadounidense en México que insista en la justicia para estos crímenes, y que promueva medidas que protejan, y no victimicen, a activistas como Noé. Haga clíc en "Select this Recipient" al lado de la foto del embajador, edite su carta (en inglés) según sus preferencias, y ponga su información para enviar la carta.