The Man With the Goldman Touch
Rodolfo Montiel, a Mexican environmentalist who is now in prison as a result of his activism, today will be awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, perhaps the most prestigious award given to environmentalists. In 1995, Montiel began fighting against logging of virgin forests near his village in the mountains north of Acapulco, some of which was being conducted by Idaho-based Boise Cascade. In 1998, Montiel organized peasants to block roads in order to stop the logging, an act that enraged some wealthy landowners and generals. Since then, gun-bearing thugs have killed several members of Montiel’s rural ecological organization, and last May soldiers seized and tortured Montiel and locked him up on apparently trumped-up drug and weapons charges. One of the human rights lawyers defending him has been kidnapped twice. Last Friday, Amnesty International declared Montiel to be a prisoner of conscience, provoking a flood of letters to the Mexican government.