Mexico’s Indigenous communities are on the front lines of ecological preservation. Many still live on their ancestral lands and struggle against development projects that would destroy some of the world’s most precious ecosystems that they call home.
Their resistance has taken the form of protests, blockades of major highways, and the occupation of government buildings.
These communities are showing us how the fight against climate change begins at the local level. They also have valuable lessons to teach us about maintaining plants, fauna, and species native to their lands. But Mexico has become the deadliest place in the world for environmental and land activists protecting Indigenous territories, according to the nonprofit Global Witness, which says 54 environmental and land defenders were killed in Mexico in 2021. We need to protect Indigenous people from increasingly violent threats, if we are to also protect our fragile environment.
As journalists, we have seen what communities are facing. We recently traveled to Paso de la Reina, a town where six Indigenous environmental activists have been killed over two years for defending their pristine Rio Verde River. The activists had protested against the construction of a hydroelectric dam and excessive sand and gravel mining on the riverbed, and set up a blockade on the road leading to their town and the Rio Verde.