3rd environmental activist killed this year in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.N. human rights office in Mexico issued a statement Monday condemning the killing of an environmental activist in the violent Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Adán Vez Lira was shot to death on April 8 while he rode his motorcycle in the township of Actopan.

Vez Lira was a longtime supporter and organizer at the La Mancha bird-watching reserve on the sparsely populated stretch of coast north of the Veracruz state capital.

“Adán Vez Lira was a recognized environmental activists whose voice and leadership had played a notable role in several environmental defense causes in Actopan,” the office said.

Mourners who posted messages on the reserve’s Facebook page said he also was active in opposing mines and preserving wetlands. The area is noted for its tropical forest and coastal lagoons.

He was at least the third environmentalist killed in Mexico this year.

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said at least two other activists have been killed in 2020.

In late March, unidentified gunmen shot to death Isaac Medardo Herrera, a lawyer and activist who defended a rural tract against development near the Mexican city of Cuernavaca.

His neighborhood activist group in Jiutepec, Morelos posted a statement saying the killers knocked on the door of Herrera’s home and shot him, before fleeing.

Herrera had led a fight over at least four years to stop plans to build a housing development on the Los Venados tract, an environmentally sensitive woodland area in Jiutepec, just south of Cuernavaca. The development was halted and the area was supposed to be used as a nature reserve.

The Mexican Center for Environmental Rights reported that 15 land defenders were killed in Mexico in 2019. Morelos, the state where Jiutepec is located, was the third most dangerous for environmental activists in 2019.