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Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Disappearance of Nahuatl Indigenous Activist Sergio Rivera Hernández

Posted by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: TeleSur

       Indigenous Nahuatl and lands rights defender Sergio Rivera Hernández has vanished.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in Mexico are subject to intimidation, legal harassment, arbitrary detention, death threats, acts of physical aggression, enforced disappearances and killings as a result of their activities in defence of human rights and the exercise of freedom of expression and journalism.

Just after 6 p.m. Aug 23, 2018 Sergio Rivera Hernández disappeared while traveling on  his motorbike from his home in Coyolapa to the community in Tepexilotla, in the municipality of San Pablo Zoquitlán, Puebla, 20 minutes away. Approximately one hour later, some members or the community stated that they had identified a white pick-up truck speeding away from Tepexilotla. 

Another person from the community reported seeing the human rights defender’s motorbike abandoned near the road with some white pieces of papers lying around it, however they did not see the community activist.

Sergio Rivera Hernández is a human rights defender of indigenous Nahuatl origin and member of Movimiento Agrario Indígena Zapatista (MAIZ), a national organization working since 1996 on environmental, indigenous and lands rights in different regions across Mexico. He has also been active in protecting the rights of indigenous communities in the region who are exposed to human rights violations as a consequence of the construction of Coyolapa-Atzatlán hydroelectric system in the Sierra Negra region of the state of Puebla, a project consisting of two dams lead by the Mexican company Minera Autlán.

Sergio Rivera Hernández has previously been subject to several threats and attacks in relation to his work as a human rights defender.

On 29 June 2018, he was beaten by four men linked to the municipal government of Zoquitlán, who told him that the attack was a consequence of his role in opposing the Coyolapa-Atzatlán hydroelectric project. 

Some days earlier, he received a death threat via a Whatsapp voice message. He was also threatened by a relative of the Zoquitlán Mayor, who, before the local elections held on 1 July 2018, told him “pray to god that the PRD (Revolutionary Democratic Party) does not lose. I will make sure something happens to you, I know people in Coyolapa”. 

On 9 February 2018, while returning from an advocacy trip in Mexico City with a number of other defenders, armed men burned the bus they were traveling in after evacuating it at gunpoint.

Three people have been arrested over Sergio Rivera's disappearance, but his whereabouts remain unknown.  Mexican authorities have arrested three suspects in connection with the disappearance of an Indigenous activist who has been missing for more almost a month.  

Police arrested Victorino N., Antonio N. and Rogelio N., after being alerted by witnesses, during an operation in the Coyolapa, Ixcatla and Tepexilotla communities of Puebla’s Sierra Negra.

Rivera, originally from San Pablo Zoquitlan, is a leading figure in his community’s resistance against the Autlan mining project promoted by the state energy secretary.

Witnesses say he was on his motorcycle on the road between Tepexilotla and Tepetolonzi, in the Sierra Negra de Puebla, when a black pick-up truck started following him.

His motorcycle was later found near Coyolapa.

Fernando Rios, from the All The Rights For Everybody Network (RED TDT), told the local newspaper Contralinea that the community believes the mayor is involved.

On September 18, the victim's family protested outside the state prosecutor's office, while a simultaneous protest was held at the general attorney's office.

“We are not aware that the authorities are doing anything to investigate his disappearance,” Consuelo Carrillo Leon, the victim's wife, said a day before the arrests.

“People have testified and we have presented evidence of threats he got from mayors and former mayors, but they have not done anything yet.”

Rivera's family has an audio recording of a nephew of Silvestre Martinez, former mayor of Zoquitlan, threatening  to kill Rivera for his work against the Coyolapa /Atzatlan hydroelectric project, which will benefit the Autlan mine.

Rivera had been threatened multiple times before, surviving physical attacks and attempted murder because of his environmental activism.

On June 29, he was assaulted by four men linked to the municipal government of Zoquitlan, who told him the attack was a consequence of his role in the movement opposing the hydroelectric project.

Several social and environmental organizations are demanding his immediate safe return, including the Zapatista Indigenous Agrarian Movement (MAIZ), Frontline Defenders, the EZLN-backed National Indigenous Congress (CNI), the All Rights For All Network.

The mining company issued a statement denying any responsibility: “The company reaffirms it has no link with this unfortunate event and has no relation whatsoever with Mr. Rivera Hernandez. Autlan, in its 65-year trajectory, has always operated under the existing law and rejects any conduct that is against the law.”

Despite the arrests, Rivera has yet to be located.

On August 30, Adrian Tihuilit, Rivera’s partner in the struggle against the large-scale project in Puebla, was fatally shot in the head in his home municipality of Zacapoaxtla.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the disappearance of human rights defender Sergio Rivera Hernández and believes the attacks he has been subject to are retaliatory measures for his role in denouncing human rights violations linked to the Coyolapa-Atzatlán hydroelectric project, which is affecting both his and others’ communities in the Sierra Negra region, Puebla. 

Front Line Defenders expresses further concern over the lack of a safe environment in Mexico for human rights defenders to carry out their valuable work.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Mexico to:

1. Take all necessary measures to determine the whereabouts of Sergio Rivera Hernández and guarantee his physical and psychological security and integrity, as well as that of his family and community and the members of MAIZ;

2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of Sergio Rivera Hernández, as well as the threats and attacks against him, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

3. Cease all forms of harassment by local authorities against Sergio Rivera Hernández, as it is believed that it is solely related to his legitimate human rights activities.

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Mexico are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Extra Info from: FLD


  1. wow refresh and story pops up right away. good read👌

  2. Thx yaqui for this. Its again sad news from Mexico. I dont care if criminals get killed or corrupted ppl. But gob. Going after the natives...time to fight back. Hope they find him alive.

    1. De nada........sadly, there are plenty more out there. Seems like the indigenous are the only ones left with real ties to Mother Nature and a few responsible ranchers; everything else is about exploitation and the bottom line instead of sustainability.

    2. 3:08 The Winners' Circle style of American Way of Life is affecting Mexico like it affects all the world...
      --put minera Autlán executives, and the mayor and his team involved on the fight for lands and dams and hydrolelctrics in prison until Sergio Rivera Hernandez is returned alive, THAT will work, not capturing a dozen sheepherders to blame this on.

    3. Chichimeca descendants The Nahoas or Nahuas are a people, Nahuatl is their language, they came from Aztlán, land of the 7 gulls, according to legend.

  3. Another disgusting story of ripping off los pobre indigenas nativos. Racist Mexico! This kind of genocidal behavior has been going on for generations and is not likely to end.

  4. Mexico needs an intervention, any kind will do wonders.

    1. 12:33 an intervention would be done by the bosses of the criminals that kidnapped Sergio, moreover, the US already has its hands all over Mexico like all over the world, and nothing has ever got fixed because newcomers always want to exploit some more and leave behind nothing but the mine shafts, empty oil wells, corruption and poverty, because sadly business is business...
      --Mexican businessmen selling pumpkin seeds are not behind this shit you can blame on company directors and associates.

    2. I know, it’s all the American’s fault.
      It couldn’t be because Mexico is populated by a greedy, violent, and stupid people, could it be?


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