“Nothing has advanced: he’s dead, they killed him, but who ordered him killed?” he said. “It’s exasperating.”
Sometimes environmentalists simply vanish. In the Yaqui community alone, eight people went missing last year, and if they were murder victims, finding them might be difficult. Bodies are often hidden or destroyed, leaving little evidence of the crime. The practice is known as forced disappearance, and in Mexico it is widespread: More than 100,000 people are considered disappeared since 1964, according to government figures.
Global Witness recorded 19 forced disappearances of land rights activists in Mexico in 2021, including Irma Galindo Barrios, an environmentalist, who had faced intimidation from local officials because of her work defending forests in the southern state of Oaxaca. She went missing last October and has not been seen since.
The violence has continued this year. In March, an Indigenous environmental activist, José Trinidad Baldenegro, was killed in the northern state of Chihuahua. His brother, Isidro Baldenegro, a prominent environmentalist, was murdered in 2017.
Despite the perils, many environmentalists remain committed to preserving their land and resources.
“From when you’re a kid, they teach you that you have to fight for the interests of the tribe, the water, the land,” said Mr. Jiménez, the Yaqui activist. “We keep going with the people, the people are the ones who make us strong.”
Christina Noriega contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia.