What happened to Homero Gómez? | The butterfly activist featured in The Guardian of the Monarchs

What happened to Homero Gómez?

The new Netflix documentary, The Guardian of the Monarchs, delves into the disappearance of Homero Gómez González, a Mexican environmentalist who served as the protector of the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacán.

Gómez, a tireless campaigner of butterfly preservation, went missing on the 13th of January 2020. More than two weeks later, he was found dead. 

So, what happened to Homero Gómez? Was he murdered? Let’s take a closer look at his story.

Who was Homero Gómez?

Homero Gómez González was an environmental activist, an agricultural engineer, and a politician. He was also the manager of El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Michoacán, Mexico, where he worked hard to keep loggers away from the region.

His mission was to protect the monarch butterflies who lived in the area, so he worked with the government to increase the stipend that local farmers received to preserve trees. (source)

Interestingly, Gómez had been a logger himself, as were members of his family. But he stopped logging in the early 2000s when the impacts of deforestation became apparent. 

What happened to Homero Gómez?

Homero Gómez vanished on the 13th of January, 2020. He was last seen on this date by his brother who saw him at a fair with Ocampo mayor, Roberto Arriaga Colín, and other municipal officials.

After Gómez was reported missing the next day, around 200 volunteers joined the search to find him.

More than two weeks after his disappearance, he was found dead, floating in a well. An autopsy revealed he had suffered a head injury before his death. Gómez was 50 years old at the time of his passing.

So, what happened to him? 

At the time of writing this article, it is still unclear. However, another activist connected to the Butterfly Sanctuary, Raúl Hernández Romer, was also found dead a few days later. 

Are the two deaths connected? This is unknown but it doesn’t seem coincidental that the two men were found dead days apart from one another. It’s believed that their deaths may be related to disputes over illegal logging, but as for who killed them, nobody knows for sure. 

Their deaths came at a time when the murder rate in Mexico was growing. According to an article in The Guardian, environmental defenders, human rights workers and community activists were (and perhaps still are) routinely targeted for their work.

Gómez devoted his life to protecting the Monarch butterflies but in the end, nobody could protect him. 

Homero Aridjis, an environmentalist, poet and longtime defender of the butterfly reserve, called his death “worrisome.” In an interview with the Associated Press, he said:

“If they can kidnap and kill the people who work for the reserves, who is going to defend the environment in Mexico?” (source)

More information about the disappearance and murder of Homero Gómez will be revealed in the Netflix documentary, The Guardian of the Monarchs, which will be available to watch from May 9, 2024. 

What do you think about this case? Let us know in the comments below. 

2 thoughts on “What happened to Homero Gómez? | The butterfly activist featured in The Guardian of the Monarchs”

  1. Hi Ed, if you Google the name of the sanctuary, there is a contact number on the search page. I tried the official website and got a 404 error but if you search the web, you may find more contact info for the preserve.

  2. The Guardian of the Monarchs was an excellent documentary. Thank you Netflix.
    How can I contact the Monarch preserve in El Rosario Michoacán?
    Who regulates the importation of Mexican timber at the border with U.S.?

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