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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tabasco/ Chiapas: Environmental Activist Assassinated

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: RadioFormula y Zonafranca
                        Environmental activist killed in Tabasco, Facebook: José Luis Álvarez

The man was 64 years old and was originally from the municipality of Emiliano Zapata, Tabasco
By: Blanca Cortés Martínez   June 11, 2019

On Monday the lifeless body of activist and ecologist José Luis Álvarez Flores was found, in the region of Los Ríos, which is located on the border between Tabasco and Chiapas .

According to the first reports, his body had several gunshot wounds and the murder occurred around 12:25 hours, at kilometer three of the Ejido Calatraba road , in the municipality of Palenque, Chiapas. .
José Luis Álvarez was in charge of the Environmental Management Unit (UMA) Saraguato -Mono , ( a rare maya or howler monkey) that predominates in the area and which he sought to protect from road accidents. In addition, at various times he made accusations about illegal extraction of sand in the Usumacinta River.

Derived from these works, he received several threats , therefore, users of social networks claim that those who threatened him are responsible for his death.

"El Tío Saraguato", protector of monkeys, alerted the authorities about  the theft of sand from the Usumacinta River banks...... and they killed him for it.

In 2011, José Luis Álvarez founded the UMA Saraguato in the southeast of Tabasco, on the Usumacinta river bank, to conserve the howler monkey, the green iguana and the tiger heron, which are in danger of extinction.

The renowned environmentalist in Tabasco,  José Luis Álvarez Flores,  "El Tío Saraguato" , accused  the federal authorities of the  National Water Commission (Conagua)  and the  Federal Office of Environmental Protection (Profepa)  two weeks ago of "overlapping" the  banks of illegal sand extraction  in the Usumacinta river region, refuge for the Saragossa monkeys in danger of extinction.
"The federal authorities, which in this case are Profepa and Conagua, which do not close the illegal activities that have been carried out for a long time [...]that which  overlap Park boundaries. They do not make their mitigation measures, nor do they have Permits , they do not pay taxes or anything," he said on May 20 in an interview posted on their networks.

Hours after learning about his murder this week, José Luis received several messages on his Facebook profile where his relatives recognized his altruistic work and  demanded justice from the authorities.

"I send you a big hug to the sky where an army of monkeys, jaguars and other friends of the animal world will honor you", wrote a user who identified himself as his friend.

According to data from the United Nations (UN) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in the first four months of 2019 there were 10 murders of activists and human rights defenders, of which 8  were indigenous persons.

This figure represents a significant increase in violence against this sector, since in all of 2018, 13 cases were documented.

On the ranch of his property, located in the town of Chablé in the municipality of Emiliano Zapata, southeast of Tabasco, José Luis founded the first UMA Saraguatos in Mexico in 2011.

It is a unit on the bank of the Usumacinta River of 345 hectares "to preserve for the moment, at least,  the monkey, the green iguana and the tiger heron," he explained in a video under a monkey hanging from a tree. "We are eager".
             Saraguato monkeys in branches of a conservation tree. Photo: UMA Saraguatos.

Álvarez, a native of Mexico City, noted that these monkeys - also called "maya" or howler - are the best seed dispersers in the region, so they have expanded the endemic plants that attract birds such as the capulín.

Eight years ago they started with 74 monkeys in the reserve and in May they already had about 300, according to their census. The UMA, which does not have government support, receives free visits and asks for donations for maintenance.

Pedro, an environmentalist who met him when several associations sought to form the "Tabasco  Roja OSC", said in an interview that the Saragosses were "his biggest concern", because in the area of ​​the 150 kilometer VHSA-Palenque highway there were monkeys being run over by dozens.

"He asked the federal government for pedestrian bridges to prevent more deaths of the species and had positive results," he said.
The UMA, he said, went on to receive visitors from all sides and created ecological awareness for the prevention of endemic species. "A beloved character, he moved with his means and performed the tasks he needed to maintain the UMA. He said:" I was already where I wanted to be, " Alvarez described.

For one of his close friends, he was doing a great work for Tabasco. "Your altruism no one will forget because you gave a great example to the Tabasco society of Emiliano Zapata, Chablé and their ties," he wrote.

"El Tío Saraguato" also managed the civil association Conservación de la Biodiversidad del Usumacinta (COBIUS). In a recent interview he published in his networks, José Luis accused the illegal extraction of sand in the Usumacinta River on Profepa and Conagua, for letting it continue right in front of their eyes.

"He intended to preserve the Usumacinta River, the 'Great Blue Monkey'. In the Mayan legends, the father of the Saraguatos, protectors of the jungle," said Pedro, an activist who met him this year. "That's why they killed him," he added after a pause.

The Saragosamo monkeys are in danger of extinction due to deforestation, agricultural expansion and human infrastructure. In Tabasco there are the only two species of monkeys in Mexico: the mantled howler monkey and the black howler monkey. The areas mainly of the lower basin of the Usumacinta River constitute a priority region for its conservation.
               A green iguana, also preserved in UMA Saraguato. Photo: UMA Saraguato.

"He made a public statement, among civil society organizations, he commented at meetings. But here we are all of 'pure spirit', so nobody believed that he would be in real danger of being killed, " said Pedro.

Another Facebook user of the environmental sector claimed that he had been killed "with premeditation, treachery and advantage, for denouncing depredations and illegalities", for which he demanded that "a real and thorough investigation be carried out, and that the guilty parties be punished" ; they need to  stop murders of the people who fight to preserve the fauna and the flora, like the "Tio Saraguato".
For his part, the president of the UMA condemned the "cowardly murder, demanded justice, to protect his family and other defenders who were threatened."

In addition, he stated that the protector of Saragosses had requested protection from the authorities for the death threats received on various occasions, however, they never supported him.


  1. Thanks Yaqui: It pains me to think of all the World lost in the murder of this accomplished good man. History repeatedly shows how we Homo sapiens have a penchant to be short sighted, self destructive and cruel.

    1. 4:43 homo sapiens did not kill this activist,
      local caciques and warlords did it.
      He may have collected their names in his denouncements.
      Of course, nothing will be done to bring anybody to justice for one more murder, the environment is nobody's priority anywhere where it should matter, they are hard at work fucking up the Amazonia, special with a greedy neoliberal "capitalist" as their presidente. While Africa gets transformed into a Chinese land barren of animals and vegetation.

  2. A huge loss to world conservation actions by this man. The pedestal of man and nature's relationship.
    May God bless his soul and welcome his commencement.


    1. Thank you both , just heartbreaking; every time I just feel another piece of my heart and soul wither.
      I, myself, ie, have been involved in conservation issues, both in the US and Mexico, for years........successes are one slow show with infinite setbacks. What the indigenous peoples face is also overwhelming;
      All we can do is keep the faith and put one foot in front of the other, the nearest crisis is often hiding in plain sight.
      I agree, humans have a penchant for fouling their nest.

    2. 5:32 not all "humans" Yaqui.
      There is a mistake in pooling "the humans" together under the same umbrella of guilt when the murderers and their puppeteers are the ones to be sought, found, and punished, a few people, probably named by the victim before his death.
      Blaming humans would send the investigations to some far away lands, specialty of some mexican lawmen, somebody there must know who are the outlaws that have been mining SANDS, ask tabasqueno presidente AMLO.

    3. Unfortunately, man is driven by power and profit. A shameful quality of mankind which I am not proud of.

      Good article despite its unfairness of transparency.


  3. 🙇 This was stunning and heartbreaking to me.... there was a message with his body. If I were to guess then my money is on the feds being behind the murder of this wonderful soul. As in most crimes against activists in the region. 💔

    here is a slide show

  4. aqui and Chivis: Thanks... Terrible loss to the world!

  5. Cjng killimg environmentalists now.

  6. That ruins my day more then any bloody picture of a criminal.
    He did a great work and i hope some people will follow in his path. Mexico is so beautiful from north to the south and it’s a shame the local and federal government is acting.
    I don’t think that his killers got any jail time, not expecting justice from the government.
    I hope they get killed by el narco, even if it’s years later.

  7. So incredibly tragic. What do you think will happen with UMA and his life's work? Will Pedro take over and keep a low profile or will people leave?

  8. Time for Usa to send elite troops into Mexico and clean the crap place up!. Mexico can't do it

    1. Just liek you did in Iraq and Nam?clean your mess first. start with your junkies.

  9. Why do humans have to be so f****n mean to other humans?

  10. The relatives demand justice from the authority, unfortunately the authority, wanted money in thier pockets for illegal thefts of sand. Therefore he was getting on the way, and somehow they had him killed.

    1. The authority is going to make them disappear if they keep bothering them.

  11. What will it take to bring sanity and the rule of law to this land?

  12. 12:49 "El Mamito" Z7 Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar's home town has been inundated by crime and criminals from a long time ago, but governor Andres Granier Melo who defrauded the state of Tabasco for $20 000.00 million pesos, about 1 billion dollars, has been released, not one of about 11 saqueadores has been convicted.
    "Todos Son Inocentes; Libres los 11 Saqueadores".
    Tabasco Hoy, by Josue Perez Hernandez
    --and no wonder, they don't want whistle blowers and journalists poking their noses where they shouldn't...
    --Rodolfo Rincon Taracena periodista de Tabasco Secuestrado, torturado, asesinado, mutilado, incinerado y desaparecido en 2007 por reportar zetas, crimen organizado, y trafico de drogas en Tabasco desde su comienzo en 2005.


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