President Vicente Fox Orders Interior Secretariat to Review Cases of Environmental Activists Imprisoned in Guerrero State

Article excerpt

President Vicente Fox has ordered the Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB) to conduct a full review of the cases of environmental activists Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera to determine whether they are being held unjustly.

The two campesino leaders, who launched a campaign to stop multinational corporations from conducting logging operations in the Guerrero state forests, are serving 10-year prison sentences on controversial drug and weapons charges. Human rights advocates claim that federal and Guerrero state authorities fabricated the charges against Montiel and Cabrera because of their anti-logging activities. They said the men were tortured while in prison.

In 1998, Montiel formed the Organizacion de Campesinos Ecologistas de la Sierra de Petatlan y Coyuca de Catalan (OCESPCC) to prevent Costa Grande Forest Products, the Mexican subsidiary of US paper company Boise Cascade, from cutting down forests in a region of the Sierra Madre del Sur known as Filo Mayor. At that time, Montiel said the OCESPCC became concerned because massive logging was causing area rivers and streams to dry up (see SourceMex, 2000-04-12, 2000-09-13).

Activists receive award from Sierra Club

Their efforts earned Montiel and Cabrera awards from the prestigious environmental and human rights organizations the Goldman Foundation and Amnesty International last year.

Those awards were followed by the presentation of the Chico Mendes award from the international environmental organization Sierra Club in February of this year. …