As the following stories illustrate, land defense is dangerous. When we speak about the war being waged on the planet, we do not speak of a metaphor. With guns and machetes, with chainsaws and poisons, with nuclear waste and bulldozers, the living world is being dismembered, and those who fight to defend it often find themselves risking life and limb. We must become aware of this war in order to better participate on the side of the forests and of life. Be careful, be prepared.
Featured image: Monarch butterflies in the El Rosario reserve, home to fir forests whom monarchs visit each winter after their multi-generational migration from the north. Photo by Charlie Marchant, cc-by-2.0.
Six Murdered, Ten Kidnapped in Armed Attack on Nicaragua’s Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
Reuters — February 3rd
About 80 armed men killed six indigenous people on an isolated Nicaraguan nature reserve in an attack linked to raging land disputes, the indigenous Mayagna community said on Thursday, with 10 other Mayagnas kidnapped in the raid.
The men stormed a Mayagna commune about 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of capital Managua, deep in the north-central Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, the second-largest rainforest the Americas after the Amazon.
The raiders were part of a group of “settlers” in the area who do not belong to the indigenous communities that make up about 14% of Nicaragua’s 6.2 million people, according to a Mayagna lawyer from the region.
Missing Mexican Monarch Butterfly Defender Homero Gómez González Found Dead
Jessica Corbett / Common Dreams — January 30th
Mexican conservationist Homero Gómez González was found dead Wednesday, about two weeks after he was reported missing, provoking a wave sorrow from allies and advocates worldwide as they honored his work running a butterfly sanctuary in the state of Michoacán.
As Common Dreams reported last week, human rights advocates have expressed fears that Gómez González may have been targeted because of his activism by those involved in the local illegal logging industry, and the 50-year-old butterfly defender’s family told the media that he had received threats from a criminal organization.
A Global Witness report from last year named Mexico the world’s sixth-deadliest country for eco-defenders, part of “a worrying global trend” of environmentalists risking their safety by facing off against “governments, companies, and criminal gangs [that] are routinely stealing land and trashing habitats in pursuit of profit.”
Human Rights Advocates Call for Investigation Into Death of Second Monarch Butterfly Defender in Mexico
Julia Conley / Common Dreams — February 3rd
The body of Raúl Hernández Romero was found at the top of a hill in the El Rosario butterfly sanctuary on Saturday, one day after the manager of the preserve, Homero Gómez González, was buried. Gómez’s body was found last Wednesday after a two-week disappearance.
El Rosario sanctuary provides a home for millions of migrating monarch butterflies each year and draws thousands of tourists annually. But the reserve has also drawn the ire of illegal loggers in Mexico, who are banned from cutting down trees in the protected area.
Before the ban, more than 1,000 acres of the woodland were lost to the industry between 2005 and 2006.
Hernández’s family told the BBC that before he disappeared on Jan. 27, he had been receiving threats warning him to stop campaigning against illegal logging. Forensic experts said the activist appeared to have been beaten with a sharp object and had a deep wound in his head.