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Homero Gómez González

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Homero Gómez González
Homero Gómez González.png
Mayor of El Rosario [Wikidata]
Succeeded byMiguel Angel Cruz
Personal details
Bornc. 1970
DiedJanuary 2020 (aged 50)[1]
Ocampo, Michoacán, Mexico
ResidenceEl Rosario, Michoacán, Mexico
Alma materChapingo Autonomous University
OccupationEnvironmental activist, agricultural engineer, politician

Homero Gómez González (1969/1970 – January 2020)[1] was a Mexican environmental activist, agricultural engineer, and politician. He was the manager of El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve, a component of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Gómez served as mayor and commissioner of El Rosario [Wikidata], Michoacán.

Career

Homero Gómez González grew up in El Rosario [Wikidata] in western Michoacán.[2] He came from a logging family and was a logger before becoming an environmental and anti-logging activist. He was a skeptic of conservation efforts, fearful that ending logging activities would lead to poverty.[3] He studied at Chapingo Autonomous University and became an agricultural engineer.[4] Gómez later saw the potential for tourism and formulated the idea of a sanctuary. He collaborated with conservationists at the World Wildlife Fund and scientists.[3]

By the early 2000s, Gómez stopped logging and convinced others when the impacts of deforestation became apparent. Logging is now illegal in Rosario.[5] He became the mayor and commissioner of El Rosario and was succeeded by Miguel Angel Cruz.[3][5] Gómez managed and served as spokesperson of the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve, a component of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.[3][6][7]

He used social media to share images of monarch butterflies.[3] Gómez was a prominent butterfly activist. He led efforts to keep loggers out of the reserve and organized marches, demonstrations, and anti-logging patrols.[8] He worked with the government to increase the stipend local farmers could receive for preserving trees. Gómez managed 150 hectares of reforested land. He encouraged 260 communal land owners to reforest corn fields.[8] He was a representative of the ejido in El Rosario.[9]

Personal life

Gómez resided in Ocampo, Michoacán, with his wife, Rebeca Valencia González.[10] They had at least one son.[11]

Disappearance and death

Gómez was last seen alive on 13 January 2020 attending a meeting in the village of El Soldado [Wikidata].[12] His brother stated he was last seen on 13 January at a fair with Ocampo mayor, Roberto Arriaga Colín and other municipal officials.[13] His family reported him missing the next day.[12] They received phone calls from individuals claiming to have kidnapped him, asking for ransom payments,[3] which human rights activist Mayte Cardona said the family paid.[14] Over 200 volunteers joined the search for Gómez. The entire police force of Ocampo and Angangueo were detained for questioning.[12] More than two weeks after his disappearance, his body was found in an agricultural reservoir in Ocampo.[8] He was 50 years old at the time of his death.[1] Because of his work combating illegal logging, it has been speculated that he may have been targeted by organized criminals.[12] Gloria Tavera, an official with the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas stated they believe Gómez's death was not related to his activism.[3] Michoacán state prosecutors initially found no sign of trauma and suspected drowning; a detailed autopsy revealed evidence of an asphyxiation and head injury.[10][15][16] State prosecutor, Adrián López Solís reported that robbery does not appear to be a motive as nearly US$500 (more than 10,000 pesos) in cash was found on Gómez's body.[11] A call to his family demanding money was determined not to be credible.[15]

Shortly after Gómez's body was recovered, the body of Raúl Hernández Romero was found. Hernández was a tour guide at the same reserve as Gómez; it is unknown if the two deaths are connected.[11]

Reactions

Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo expressed hope that Gómez would be found alive.[17] Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called Gómez's death "regrettable" and "painful".[8] Poet and environmentalist Homero Aridjis stated to the Associated Press that "if they can kidnap and kill the people who work for the reserves, who is going to defend the environment in Mexico?"[2]

The director of the World Heritage Centre, Mechtild Rössler [Wikidata], as well as Miguel Clüsener-Godt, director of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, both expressed sadness and concern after the death of Gómez.[7]

References

  1. ^ a b c Stubley, Peter (22 January 2020). "Missing butterfly conservationist 'may have been targeted by illegal loggers'". The Independent. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b Agren, David (30 January 2020). "Mexico: defender of monarch butterflies found dead two weeks after he vanished". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Sieff, Kevin (29 January 2020). "Homero Gómez González, Mexico's monarch butterfly defender, found dead". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Encuentran el cuerpo sin vida del activista Homero Gómez defensor de la mariposa monarca". Univision (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b Luzmila Caraballo, Ecleen (31 January 2020). "Mexican Environmentalist Homero Gómez González Found Dead After Weeks Missing". Remezcla. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  6. ^ "As many as 11 million monarch butterflies might have died due to unsual snow storm". The Yucatan Times. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Sadness and concern at the death of Mr Homero Gómez González". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Stevenson, Mark (30 January 2020). "Mexican Butterfly Activist Found Dead Near Forest He Protected". Time. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ "750 volunteers plant trees for the monarch butterflies". Mexico News Daily. 1 August 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b Sagir, Ceren (31 January 2020). "Mexican anti-logging activist's death suspected to have been murder". Morning Star. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Wamsley, Laurel (3 February 2020). "Sadness And Worry After 2 Men Connected To Butterfly Sanctuary Are Found Dead". NPR. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d "Homero Gómez: Missing Mexican butterfly activist found dead". BBC. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Butterfly conservationist's family victims of extortion". Mexico News Daily. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  14. ^ Kahn, Carrie (24 January 2020). "Well-Know Mexican Advocate For The Monarch Butterfly Has Disappeared". NPR. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b Press, Mark Stevenson | Associated. "Mexico: Forest guardian suffered head trauma and drowning". www.abqjournal.com. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  16. ^ Holcombe, Madeline; DeMoura, Helena (31 January 2020). "Body of Mexican butterfly conservationist found in well". CNN. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  17. ^ Smith, Jeanette (30 January 2020). "Homero Gómez González, Mexican Defender of Monarch Butterflies Found Dead". Guardian Liberty Voice. Retrieved 31 January 2020.