Environmental activists concerned over escalation of crimes against social leaders in Latin America
Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC) expresses its solidarity with the family of Marlon Lozano Yulan, a youth leader of the Ecuadorian organisation Tierra y Vida (Land and Life), who was murdered on 20 July in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Marlon Lozano Yulan, courtesy of Twitter. We, as members of ATALC, are seriously concerned about the wave of persecutions and murders of social leaders in Latin America.
We expresses solidarity with Marlon Lozano Yulan's family and repudiate this new assault against the life of a social leader, something which, unfortunately happens too often and with total impunity in Latin America.
Meanwhile, we express our most heartfelt solidarity with all the comrades of Tierra y Vida, and other Ecuadorian organizations that go through similar atrocities on a regular basis.
On July 20, two hired hooded assassins fatally shot Marlon Lozano Yulan in downtown Guayaquil. Tierra y Vida's acting Secretary, Raquel Silva, told Friends of the Earth's Real World Radio that the deadly attack was addressed at the organisation's legal advisor, Milton Yulan, who is related to Marlon.
Tierra y Vida focused its work on defending the right to ownership of the peasants in Guayas province over lands that used to belong to estate owners and bankers until the 2000 banking crisis, when they were confiscated.
Tierra y Vida suspects that sectors opposed to land distribution, which defend land concentration in the hands of corporations and economic groups were involved in the murder of the young activist.
In response to these incidents we call on the social movements and grassroots organizations of the region to strengthen their solidarity. We also demand the Ecuadorian authorities carry out the necessary investigations into the murder of Marlon Lozano Yulan, and punish those who are responsible.
An alarming trend
We also call on the Ecuadorian and regional authorities in charge of enforcing human rights, the judiciary and human rights organisations to implement the necessary mechanisms to prevent acts like this, which go against the right to peaceful protest.
On May 24, producer Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo, were murdered. They were known in Para state for their struggle for land and defense of the Amazon forest.
Three days later, in Rondonia state, Adelino Ramos was also killed while he was selling vegetables in the state's capital. He had exposed the actions of big wood corporations in the border between the states of Acre, Amazonia and Rondonia. Hundreds of Brazilian environmental activists have received death threats according to the Land Pastoral Commission.
In Central America, the death threats and persecution of social leaders have become part of the daily reality. The case of Honduras, with a government that succeeded the dictatorship, is the most concerning one.
On July 14, Nery Jeremias Orellana was murdered. He was a 26 year-old journalist who worked with social movements and who was a member of the Broad Front of Popular Resistance. In 2010, 14 people working in the media were murdered in Honduras.
We are on alert over the current violence against social movements in Ecuador and the region and will continue to speak out against abuses whenever we hear of them.