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5 Jul 2022

Mexico: Human rights defender involved in blocking access to ESMex toxic waste dump in Atitalaquia is killed


On 20 June, activists from the group "No to the Atitalaquia Regional Landfill" who were blocking access to the Regional Urban Solid Waste Treatment Centre in El Cardonal, Hidalgo - built and operated by the company Ecológical Solution México (ESMex) - suffered an armed attack that resulted in the murder of human rights defender Jesús Bañuelos Acevedo.

A week earlier, citizens of the municipality of Atitalaquia had filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of the State of Hidalgo (CDHEH) against Mayor Lorenzo Agustín Hernández Olguín and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Hidalgo (Semarnath) for putting their health at risk by authorising the installation and operation of the dump, which would be contaminating the groundwater in the region and causing the proliferation of flies and mosquitoes, as well as, according to the protesters, having been executed without having consulted the community.

The activists had been blocking access to the dump for a month, demanding its permanent closure.

The Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the murder of Jesús Bañuelos and called on the state and federal authorities to "conduct a prompt and impartial investigation to clarify this crime".

Following the crime, the Federal Attorney General's Office for Environmental Protection temporarily closed the site for causing damage to health and the environment. Days later, the town council of Atitalaquia revoked the concession for ESMex's waste deposit service.

The BHRRC invited ESMex to comment on the murder, but the company did not respond.

Company Responses

Ecological Solution México (ESMex)

No Response