SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 13, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Center for Sustainability of the Sierra Nevada Incalli Ixcahuicopa

Region & Country:Americas | Mexico

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 13, 2023, a group of unidentified individuals attacked Álvaro Arvizu Aguiñiga, an environmentalist activist and researcher at the Sierra Nevada Research Center housed at the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), and two others. He died at the hospital on June 19, 2023.

The attack took place at the headquarters of the environmental collective Center for Sustainability Incalli (CENTLI) in Tlalmanalco de Velázquez, Mexico. The perpetrators reportedly beat and tied up his wife, Rebeca López Reyes, as well as Carlos Vargas Cabrera – the two directors of CENTLI, along with Aguiñiga. They then attacked Aguiñiga. Reyes and Cabrera survived the attack. This is the second death of an environmentalist in the Popocatépetl Iztaccíhuatl volcanic region in the past two days (see report).

The attack is apparently connected to Aguiñiga’s work defending water in the Popocatépetl volcanic area, which helped expose illegal water trafficking. CENTLI, which Aguiñiga co-founded, has fought for many years to preserve the region’s water systems and has been promoting the enactment of the new General Water Law for more than a decade. In addition to his work with CENTLI, Aguiñiga also taught many sustainability courses, focused on topics such as composting, greenhouses, and agriculture.

The attack occurred just hours after an attack on another environmentalist, Cuauhtémoc Márquez (see report), who worked in the same area. The two attacks may have been connected, according to a statement made by the Zeferino Ladrillero Human Rights Center.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the targeted killing of a researcher and sends condolences to Mr. Aguiñiga’s family, colleagues, and community. Authorities should take reasonable steps to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators responsible, in accordance with international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the victims, lethal violence of a university researcher undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

Sources:
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
https://aztecreports.com/mexican-environmentalists-murdered-near-mexico-city/3811/
https://greenwire.newsx.agency/eco-activist-beaten-to-death-after-exposing-water-trafficking/
https://www.proceso.com.mx/nacional/2023/6/20/matan-dos-investigadores-agroambientalistas-en-tlalmanalco-edomex-309151.html
https://elpais.com/mexico/2023-06-21/asesinado-el-defensor-del-agua-alvaro-arvizu-en-el-estado-de-mexico.html
https://thenationview.com/world-news/194578.html
https://piedepagina.mx/asesinatos-de-investigadores-universitarios-en-el-edomex-encienden-la-alerta-de-amenazas-contra-defensores/
https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=614592347429072&set=pcb.614592440762396

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El 13 de junio de 2023, un grupo de individuos no identificados atacó a lvaro Arvizu Aguiiga, activista ecologista e investigador del Centro de Investigación de Sierra Nevada, con sede en la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), y a otras dos personas. El activista murió en el hospital el 19 de junio de 2023.

El ataque tuvo lugar en la sede del colectivo ecologista Centro para la Sustentabilidad Incalli (CENTLI) en Tlalmanalco de Velázquez, México. Al parecer, los agresores golpearon y ataron a su esposa, Rebeca López Reyes, así como a Carlos Vargas Cabrera, los dos directores de CENTLI, junto con Aguiiga. A continuación atacaron a Aguiiga. Reyes y Cabrera sobrevivieron al ataque. Esta es la segunda muerte de un ecologista en la región volcánica del Popocatpetl Iztacchuatl en los últimos dos días.

Al parecer, el ataque está relacionado con el trabajo de Aguiiga en defensa del agua en la zona volcánica del Popocatpetl, que ayudó a sacar a la luz el tráfico ilegal de agua. CENTLI, de la que Aguiiga es cofundador, ha luchado durante muchos años para preservar los sistemas hídricos de la región y lleva más de una década promoviendo la promulgación de la nueva Ley General de Aguas. Además de su trabajo con CENTLI, Aguiiga también impartió numerosos cursos sobre sostenibilidad, centrados en temas como el compostaje, los invernaderos y la agricultura.

El ataque se produjo pocas horas después de otro contra otro ecologista, Cuauhtmoc Márquez, que trabajaba en la misma zona. Los dos ataques podrían estar relacionados, según una declaración del Centro de Derechos Humanos Zeferino Ladrillero.

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a member of the Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA), and partners with CAFA on Americas-focused monitoring activities. Relevant incidents, with factual details translated into Spanish, appear on both SAR and CAFA websites.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) es una institución que integra la Coalición por la Libertad Académica en las Américas (CLAA). SAR trabaja junto con la CLAA en el monitoreo de situaciones en las Américas. Los incidentes relevantes que reportamos, con descripción de hechos detallados en español, aparecen tanto en los portales de SAR como de la CLAA.