Newsweek

Climate of Terror

A mix of powerful landowners, cartel hit men and unsolved killings has made Mexico one of the most dangerous place in the world for environmentalism.
Isidro Baldenegro López, an activist and leader of the indigenous Tarahumara people, endured numerous threats as a result of his work protecting the Mexico's ancient forests from illegal logging. In January, he was shot six times in the chest, stomach and legs, and died a few hours later.
03_24_Mexico_01 Source: Pablo Aneli/AP

“I’m in shock,” says José Trinidad Baldenegro. “In despair.”

On the phone from the city of Chihuahua in Mexico’s arid north, he’s telling me about his older brother, Isidro Baldenegro López, an activist and leader of the indigenous Tarahumara people. For years, Baldenegro had endured numerous threats as a result of his work protecting the country’s ancient forests from illegal logging. But one stormy afternoon in January, standing by a goat pen outside his uncle’s house in the village of Coloradas de la Virgen, Baldenegro was shot six times in the chest, stomach and legs. He died a few hours later.

His killing fits a deadly pattern across the region: Latin America is now the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists, according to a 2016 report by Article 19, a British human rights group. More than 122 activists were killed in the region in 2015, one of the deadliest years on record, according to the most recent study from Global Witness, another nongovernmental organization.

Mexico has emerged as one of the most perilous countries in the region. Organized crime, state-sanctioned intimidation and near-total impunity

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