Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Raúl Hernández Romero, a tour guide who worked at El Rosario butterfly preserve in Michoacan state, Mexico, was found dead on Saturday. He was the second conservation advocate connected with the sanctuary found dead in the past week. (Photo: Sylvain Cordier/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

'Horrific': Human Rights Advocates Call for Investigation Into Death of Second Monarch Butterfly Defender in Mexico

Raúl Hernández Romero's family says he received threats regarding his work campaigning against illegal logging in the weeks before he disappeared.

Julia Conley

Human rights defenders on Monday demanded a full investigation into the death of a second conservation activist in Michoacan state, Mexico, after the body of a tour guide in one of the country's largest butterfly preserves was found several days after the man went missing.

The body of Raúl Hernández Romero was found at the top of a hill in the El Rosario butterfly sanctuary on Saturday, one day after the manager of the preserve, Homero Gómez González, was buried. Gómez's body was found last Wednesday after a two-week disappearance.

"Like Homero Gómez, Raúl dedicated his life to the protection of the monarch butterfly in Michoacan," tweeted Amnesty International Mexico in Spanish on Monday. "We demand the immediate intervention of the authorities!"

The global human rights group's U.K. office added that the news of Hernández's death was "horrific" and pledged to investigate.

Hernández Romero's death, "along with the death of Homero Gómez, demands immediate investigation and full accountability," tweeted Richard Pearshouse, head of crisis and environment at Amnesty.

El Rosario sanctuary provides a home for millions of migrating monarch butterflies each year and draws thousands of tourists annually. But the reserve has also drawn the ire of illegal loggers in Mexico, who are banned from cutting down trees in the protected area.

Before the ban, more than 1,000 acres of the woodland were lost to the industry between 2005 and 2006.

Hernández's family told the BBC that before he disappeared on Jan. 27, he had been receiving threats warning him to stop campaigning against illegal logging. Forensic experts said the activist appeared to have been beaten with a sharp object and had a deep wound in his head. 

Mexico's murder rate has gone up in recent years, with more than 34,000 people killed in 2019—the highest annual number ever in the country. Between 2010 and 2016, fewer than 6% of murder cases led to convictions. In 2018, at least 14 eco-defenders were killed in Mexico, according to a report by Global Witness.

Last year, Amnesty International's Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas told Mexico News Daily that "the brave defenders of the land, territory, and environment face constant danger in Mexico."

Guevara-Rosas demanded a thorough investigation into the deaths of Hernández and Gómez on social media Monday.

"Raul, like Homero, had also denounced illegal logging," she tweeted. "Their deaths cannot go unpunished."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo