The Prisoner's Dilemma
Rodolfo Montiel Flores, a poor Mexican farmer and environmental activist who was arrested in May 1999 on what enviro and human rights groups say are trumped up charges, was sentenced yesterday to nearly seven years in prison. A district judge in the Mexican state of Guerrero found Montiel guilty of drugs and weapons crimes, though human rights groups say he was tortured into signing a confession to the crimes. Montiel, the leader of a small environmental group in a rural area of southwestern Mexico, claims that he was arrested because he led locals in protests aimed at stopping the excessive logging of old-growth trees, which was causing widespread erosion, crop losses, and declines in water quality. Montiel’s lawyers promised to appeal, and outraged enviros pledged to keep fighting for the release of the activist, who earlier this year was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.