Academics and colleagues demanded an investigation Thursday into the slaying of Mexican researcher and environmentalist Álvaro Arvizu, who was killed with an axe or hatchet earlier this month.
Colleagues said the slaying appeared to be in retaliation for Arvizu’s work defending forests and water resources in the mountains that ring Mexico City.
Official reports initially suggested he was killed during a robbery June 13 at an environmental educational center where he worked near the Iztaccihuatl volcano, which is not far from the more famous Popocatépetl volcano.
Pedro Moctezuma, the founder of the environmental research and education center where Arvizu worked, disputed that idea.
“We are certain that this was a planned, pre-meditated attack,” said Moctezuma, who is now a reseacher at the Autonomous Metropolitan University, a public institution that finances tne center.
Two of Arvizu’s colleagues were badly beaten in the incident. A state official has said the three attackers wanted money and arms, and took a small-caliber rifle that Arvizu used to kill gophers.
But colleagues dispute the idea it was a robbery, noting that valuable scientific equipment was not taken. The center suffered robberies before, but colleagues said that would not explain the bloodthirsty nature of the attack.
The center gives courses on composting and other agricultural techniques, but it is also involved in opposing excessive water use and timber extraction. Its phone and electricity lines were cut just before the attack.
A day before Arvizu was killed, another environmentalist who ran a similar center nearby was also slain. That activist, Cuauhtémoc Márquez, a beekeeper, had also been active in campaigns against water pollution and extraction and had reported receiving threats.
The state official said Márquez was shot in an attempted robbery June 12 near his home.
The two killings were the latest in a string of slayings and disappearances that have made Mexico the deadliest place in the world for environmental and land defense activists. According to a 2022 report by the nongovernmental group Global Witness, Mexico saw 54 activists killed in 2021, the highest number in the world.