“Mariano Abarca” Award and Environmental Defense Forum

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
November 27, 2019

On November 27, 2019, it will be ten years since the assassination of Mariano Abarca Roblero, a human rights and environment defender from Chicomuselo, Chiapas, México. He fought against the social and environmental impacts of the mining operations in his community, which belonged to Canadian company Blackfire Exploration, believed to have been involved in his assassination. Since this time, his family and numerous organizations have undertaken a long journey to demand justice and that those guilty of this crime be held responsible. This includes pressuring for investigations in Canada and Mexico over evidence of corruption, acts and omissions of the Canadian Embassy that could have contributed to Mariano’s assassination, as well as the Mexican state’s responsibility for creating a state of impunity, with ongoing cases before the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Despite Mariano Abarca’s assassination, across the country and especially in Chiapas, many defenders continue to struggle in defense of land and territory, for life and Mother Earth, and against the policies, politics and megaprojects that threaten the natural commons. These megaprojects pose a threat to the culture, identity and lives of Indigenous peoples, campesinos, and even urban populations.

We will commemorate the tenth anniversary of Mariano Abarca’s tragic death by presenting the first “Mariano Abarca” Award for Environmental Defense in Chiapas. We aim to thank, recognize and bring attention to other collective struggles and organizing efforts of those who, moved by the spirit of Mariano that he planted in the heart of many processes of resistance, energetically defend life, the environment and collective rights, ultimately to the benefit of humankind.

The 2019 “Mariano Abarca Award” will be presented to the Indigenous organization, Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (MODEVITE by its initials in Spanish), which has a presence in eleven municipalities in Chiapas. This award will be presented on November 27th in the Bellas Artes Auditorium in the historic centre of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Representatives of supporting organizations, national and international networks, as well as the Abarca family will participate.

The “Mariano Abarca Award” will be an important occasion to share experiences of other collective struggles in defense of land and territory, for which reason we will also present the “Mariano Abarca” Environmental Defense Forum at the same time. Representatives from processes of resistance from the northern, coastal and highland regions of Chiapas, as well as the struggle in the Mountain and southern Coast of Guerrero, will participate. Speakers and specialists will also join the forum to share their analysis of the context of violence facing environment defenders in Mexico in order to enrich this collective exchange.

Convened and Supported by:

  1. Mining Justice Alliance, Canada
  2. Friends of the Earth – Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Mining Justice Action Committee, Canada
  5. Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL), Canada
  6. Regional Council of Agrarian Authorities in Defense of Territory (CRAADT), Mexico
  7. Council of Canadians
  8. Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)
  9. Rights Action, Canada & U.S.
  10. EntrePueblos, Cataluña
  11. Social Justice Fund – Public Service Alliance of Canada
  12. Steelworkers Humanity Fund, Canada
  13. Common Frontiers, Canada
  14. Mariano Abarca Environmental Foundation (FAMA), Mexico
  15. Due Process of Law Foundation, U.S.
  16. International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Canada
  17. Mexican Institute for Human Rights and Democracy (IMDHD)
  18. Inter Pares, Canada
  19. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  20. MiningWatch Canada
  21. Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4)
  22. Observatory of Multinational Corporations in Latin America – Peace with Dignity (OMAL), Basque Country
  23. Otros Mundos Chiapas, Mexico
  24. Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) – Global Economy Program, U.S.
  25. Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN), Canada
  26. Pesticide Action Network – Latin America (RAP-AL)
  27. Pesticide Action Network – Mexico (RAPAM)
  28. Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), U.S.
  29. Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA)
  30. Mexican Netwok of Mining Affected People (REMA)
  31. American Jewish World Service (AJWS)
  32. United for Mining Justice, Canada