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16 Jan 2024

Mexico: Nahua community defenders disappear hours after meeting with Ternium mining company representatives

SinEmbargo

On 15 January, Antonio Díaz Valencia, a community leader from Aquila, and Ricardo Lagunes Gasca, a lawyer from this Nahua community in Michoacán, disappeared. They were travelling to Colima in a pick-up truck and were last seen at around 6:50 pm. A few hours later, the vehicle was found on the federal highway with bullet wounds.

On the same day, the community leader and the lawyer had participated in a meeting with the mining company Ternium about the company's activities at the Las Encinas mine. The Michoacán Nahua community of Aquila claims that the mining company is not complying with the established agreements, which determine, for instance, the payment of compensation to the community. They also allege that Ternium is using land for purposes other than those established, such as the exploitation of a property that they had agreed to use as a waste deposit.

The IACHR condemned the disappearance and demanded that the Honduran State guarantee the life and personal integrity of the activists and conduct a diligent investigation. The organisation Global Human Rights Defence stated that it will file a complaint with the UN about the disappearances and argues that Ternium has an obligation to rescue the defenders following the due diligence principle.

We invited Ternium to comment on the disappearance of the two defenders and the allegations of non-compliance with the agreements with the community. The company provided two responses and both of them are available.

Updates

Community members from Aquila affirmed that the defenders Antonio Díaz Valencia and Ricardo Lagunes Gasca had been threatened by Ternium executives a month before their disappearance.

The BHRRC invited Ternium to comment on the new allegations. The company replied to our contact, but forwarded only the notes sent about the first concerns raised about its activities, which were already published on our website, without referring to the new allegations.

Company Responses

Ternium View Response
Ternium View Response

Timeline