On the night of 28 September 2018, an unidentified man knocked on Jesús Javier Ramos Arreola’s door and, without a word, shot him in the head. Jesús later died from his injuries. Jesús, 59, was an activist and opposed the construction of the New International Airport for Mexico City (NAIM for its Spanish acronym).
A few months previously, the forestry engineer had joined the Organizational Platform against the New Airport and the Aerotrópolis. His experience told him that the infrastructural work created a real risk for the surrounding land, which is why he decided to join the Platform.
Jesús had lived in the municipality of Tlalmanalco for 30 years. He had arrived from Chihuahua to carry out his social service and decided to stay in the State of Mexico to start a reforestation project. Later he became involved in defending Tenayo hill, one of hundreds devastated due to the construction of the new airport.
Before he died, he allegedly filed a complaint with the State of Mexico’s Public Prosecutor detailing a possible misappropriation of funds to the sum of 500 million pesos in Tlalmanalco. It was alleged in the complaint that the Ejidal President, José María Alfaro Reyes, was involved in selling stone materials, which had come from Tenayo hill, to a company, Coconal, to use in the construction of the new airport.
Jesús’s friend and fellow protestor, Jesús Cervantes, was certain that Jesús had the necessary evidence to prove that the Ejidal President had committed fraud, which is why he believes that one of the lines of investigation into his death should be in connection with the complaint made by Jesús.
According to Cervantes, Jesús’s murder resulted in the loss of “fundamental evidence for the Tenayo fight” and for the protection of the water estuary in the North, North East and North West of the State of Mexico.
Jesús’s murder is added to a series of attacks against the defenders of Texcoco lake which began in 2002 when the then President, Vicente Fox Quesada, announced the new airport megaproject.
According to José Antonio Lara Duque, president of the Zeferino Ladrillero Human Rights Centre, Jesús’s murder forms part of a “17-year-long history of physical and sexual attacks and loss of life that has the Atenco massacre in 2006 as the tip of the iceberg”.
The human rights organization has urgently called on the authorities to investigate and take into consideration the threats received by Jesús after he made his complaint in August so as to stop the cases of violence against human rights defenders in the area, which have been rising since July 2018.
From January to July 2018 the Zeferino Ladrillero Human Rights Centre had received two urgent requests for protection from those opposing the new airport. After the presidential elections, the number increased threefold.
Lara Duque explained that the attacks are taking place in the context where the new government may possibly cancel the new airport, which increases the pressure and the conflicts of interest thereby increasing the risks of opposing the megaproject.
The attacks against the inhabitants in the East of the State of Mexico have been increasing: from physical attacks to arbitrary detentions to loss of life, as is the case for Jesús Javier Ramos Arreola, who just one month prior to his death joined the opposition front.
“They thought that murdering Jesús was the least costly politically,” explained Lara, who sees the case in the context of “death and repression”.
The president of the organization believes that continuing with the project has strong social implications which are “hidden” but which should be considered to cancel the project. “If the construction of the New Mexico City Airport is not cancelled, this airport will be built on the lives and blood of human rights and land defenders”.
On 1 October 2018, Zeferino Carpinterio Human Rights Centre sent a formal request to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to guarantee the life of Mexicans who defend land, water and the environment.
Source: Sin Embargo