An environmental activist dies in southern Mexico

MEXICO CITY (HPD) — Activist Filogonio Martínez Merino was found dead Wednesday in a remote region of the southern state of Oaxaca considered one of the most dangerous for environmental defenders.

The body of Martínez Merino, who was a staunch defender of the Verde River for more than a decade, was found near the town of Piedra Blanca in the municipality of Santiago Jamiltepec, state of Oaxaca, the state Attorney General’s Office confirmed to the HPD, which opened a homicide investigation.

Martínez Merino’s body showed no signs of violence, according to the autopsy, although the authorities were waiting for other evaluations to determine the causes of death, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

Martínez Merino was the ejido commissioner of Paso de la Reyna from 2008 to 2011 and defender of the Río Verde against the Paso de la Reina hydroelectric project.

Local media indicated that Martínez Merino had requested collective protection measures for the community of Paso de la Reyna after the murder of five defenders of the Council of United Peoples for the Defense of the Verde River.

Mexico became the most dangerous country for environmental activists last year, reaching a record of 54 murders, according to the annual report by the non-governmental organization Global Witness.

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