Activist Murdered as 10th National Meeting Against Dams and for Rivers Kicks Off
Thirty year old Noé Vazquez Ortiz was stoned to death while preparing for the opening ceremony of the 10th meeting of the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and For Rivers (MAPDER) on Friday, August 2, in Veracruz, Mexico.
The event was due to open with a ceremony giving thanks to the soil and water – two key life-giving elements – to welcome attendees with an illustration of the local love for nature.
Noé was a craftsman who promoted culture through his work. He worked to raise awareness about the degradation of nature in the high mountains of Veracruz with Colectivo Defensa Verde and MAPDER.
The conference organizers immediately took steps to protect the safety of the participants. Tensions have been running high in host state Veracruz because of the construction of dams and concessions granted by the state authorities. Resistance to the dams has been strong in Amatlan de los Reyes where the meeting is taking place.
MAPDER's press release following the murder highlighted that hydroelectric dam projects have increased since 2010 in Veracruz. Attempts have been made to install 112 private dams so far. Protests opposing hydroelectric and mining projects have been met with an atmosphere of intimidation.
Gustavo Castro, member of Otros Mundos Chiapas/ Friends of the Earth México is one of the 200 participants who were already in Amatlan de los Reyes when the activist was killed. He told Real World Radio that he was very worried about the State’s role in the incidents because the municipal, state and federal governments, as well as human rights authorities were told about the event and were still unable to provide adequate security. This concern is even stronger considering that nowadays “the government is criminalizing any mobilization against mining, dams and other megaprojects”.
The two murderers of Vazquez Ortiz were caught and, despite the tension in Amatlan de los Reyes, organizers decided not to cancel the meeting, but to dedicate this 10th Meeting of MAPDER to the memory of Noe Vazquez Ortiz.