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Home World News Washington Post World News Report: 200 environmentalists killed worldwide in 2021

Report: 200 environmentalists killed worldwide in 2021

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MEXICO CITY — In 2021, some 200 environmental and land defense activists were killed worldwide, including about 54 in Mexico, which ranked as the deadliest country in the annual report of the non-governmental organization Global Witness.

More than three quarters of the homicides took place in Latin America, where Colombia, Brazil and Nicaragua also recorded double digits.

It was the third consecutive year of increases for Mexico and a jump of 30 such activists killed in 2020.

“Most of these crimes take place in places that are far removed from power and are inflicted on those with, in many ways, the least amount of power,” the report said.

Global Witness takes its report as a baseline, noting, “Our homicide data is likely an underestimate as many homicides go unreported, especially in rural areas and in certain countries.”

The victims died in struggles against resource exploitation and in land disputes. Conflicts over mining were linked to 27 deaths worldwide, the most for any sector.

Fifteen of those mining-related murders took place in Mexico.

In the state of Jalisco in western Mexico, José Santos Isaac Chávez was murdered in April 2021. He was running for local office and had made opposition to a long-running mine a central part of his campaign. Days before the election, he was found dead in his car, which had driven off a cliff, and his body showed signs of torture. Gunmen had dragged him out of his house and driven away in his own car.

In April 2021, Sandra Liliana Peña Chocué, an indigenous governor in southwestern Colombia who had fought to eradicate the coca crop in Caldono, Cauca, was murdered near her home by gunmen. Her murder was condemned by the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and foreign governments.

Overall, the number of homicides of environmental activists in Colombia fell from 65 the previous year to 33 in 2021. The Philippines also saw fewer such homicides in 2021, 19 compared to 30 in 2020.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, all eight registered victims were killed in the Virunga National Park.

In November, Brigadier General Etienne Mutazimiza Kanyaruchinya, 48, was killed when 100 heavily armed men, believed to be former members of the rebel group M23, attacked a patrol post near the village of Bukima in Congo’s North Kivu province.

Virunga Park is home to some of the world’s last mountain gorillas, but armed groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by the French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly compete for control of its natural resources from Eastern Congo.

Global Witness called on governments to enforce laws that protect activists and require informed consent from indigenous groups, while also requiring companies to be accountable in their global operations and have zero tolerance for attacks on land defenders.

“Activists and communities play a vital role as the first line of defense against ecological collapse, as well as being frontrunners in the campaign to prevent it,” said Mike Davis, CEO of Global Witness in the report.



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