A community leader and environmental activist was killed in Peru in a suspected repression tactic earlier this week, local media reported Monday.
Hitler Ananias Rojas Gonzales, 34, was struck by five bullets in his hometown Yagen in northern Peru, the Indigenous rights portal Servindi reported.
Rojas Gonzales was an adamant opponent of dam constructions on the River Marañon carried out by the Brazilian corporation Odebrecht.
According to critics, the construction projects will have catastrophic environmental consequences for the Amazon and would force the displacement of thousands of people from their lands. The dam projects pushed by Odebrecht stretch out over 20 different towns and would flood 32 square kilometers of land, destroying the source of livelihood and local communities of thousands.
In the lead up to his death, Gonzales was long subjected to threats and intimidations, including lawsuits alleging him of illegal possession of weapons and attempted murder and kidnapping, according to environmental group Grufides.
The assassinated leader was the president of the autonomous peasant patrols and was recently elected mayor of his town. There is no known suspect behind the killing and the community has demanded clarity and an independent investigation into the case.
Gonzalez leaves behind five children.
State and corporate repression – including raids, use of tear gas and harassment – against the local communities who surround River Marañon has been common in recent years since their opposition have stalled the construction projects.
“For us, the Marañón River is a source of employment, livelihood, a way of life,” a resident of Yagen told the organization International Rivers.
“For generations it has not only helped to feed our people, but also it has provided sustenance for the regions of Cajamarca and Amazonas. We have been offered a number of projects such as roads, which we know the company needs to move its machinery and turbines to build the dam. They say the roads will help get our products out of the Marañón, but this is useless if the productive valleys is flooded,” she added.