Mexico: Death of environmental activist raises serious questions for Mexican government

A United States-Mexican citizen described as a much-loved community and environmental activist was found murdered in his home on Thursday May 4 in the municipality of Teocelo, Veracruz.  

The U.S. Embassy confirmed on May 9 the death of 58-year-old Gordon Louis Strom Diaz and declined to comment further out of respect for his family.

According to some media reports, Gordon Strom, also known by close family and friends as ‘‘El Gringo’’ was killed during what appeared to be a robbery on his ranch on the Teocelo-El Zapote highway. There have been many cases in Mexico where the killings of HRD’s have been disguised as random acts of criminal violence.

An employee of Strom discovered his body and reported that his hands and feet were tired and that he had been beaten.

According to the newspaper La Jornada, Gordon arrived in Teocelo six years ago from California and participated in environmental conservation projects such as recycling and water filtration, ran a meditation group for children and adults and advocated for urban gardening and water rights.

Gordon Strom’s wife Yvette told Mexico News Daily that her husband “loved the community of Teocelo with all of his heart,” and always looked for ways to improve the community’s standard of living.

In 2015, Gordon founded the organisation Amigos de Teocelo in the hope that the people of Teocelo could ‘‘have faith and trust’’ in their community. A retired US contractor, Strom was instrumental in persuading the community of Teocelo to get behind a project that sought to repair local roads by hiring a construction firm without first seeking the approval of local authorities.

Yvette Strom said her husband worked tirelessly on various projects in the community and described her husband’s death as senseless

We have little of value in our home, and he was bound, beaten and murdered for a few, valueless things.”

The circumstances surrounding the death of Gordon Strom require a full and independent investigation. The killing of the environmental rights defender highlights the dangers faced by environmental and land rights activists across Mexico.

Mexico News Daily and Associated Press