I recently watched the film “Flight of the Butterflies,” and I considered how consistent it was that I had known about the film, but I had only recently learned about Mexican conservationist Homero Gómez González. For years of my adult life, the monarch butterfly has been on the endangered species list, and though most of us know that it spends time in Mexico and that there is a UNESCO site where they reside, few of us know about conservation in Mexico or how that conflicts with the Mexican dominant narrative. There are still indigenous communities that have managed to hold onto their cultures and their languages despite massive interference because much of Mexico is largely unoccupied due to navigability and migration trends. However, because the United States is a greedy empire that destroys countries without remorse, we might just be the reason that Mexico destroys itself in our favor.
Interestingly, Gómez González came from a logging family, and was skeptical about conservation at first based on the livelihood of many generations. He studied to become and agricultural engineer, and despite the degradation of agriculture, he transformed to be dedicated to conservation and helped create a sanctuary to generate income. For a time, he was a politician, in hopes that obtaining some power might sway more people to support conservation, but he understood the the dominant narrative would not stop its quest to control nature. Thus, he directly concentrated his efforts on opposing illegal logging, which was convenient since he understood profit motivations and was more persuasive. He was joined in his efforts by Raúl Hernández Romero as they preserved the sanctuary and fought against insatiably greedy businesses. Unfortunately, both were found dead in January 2020, the supposed year of awakening for many people to the devastation of racism. It appears to be no accident that a man who protected butterflies was previously dedicated to possibly controlled destruction, but transformed into a steadfast conservationist, so much so that he was sacrificed to the dominant narrative in the end.
One crucial part of the Mexican dominant narrative is that when people from imperial countries like the United States want to migrate, the Mexican government has been wildly receptive due to the North American Free Trade Agreement. In addition to our entitled depletion of many of their natural resources, we have also given ourselves nonstop permission to recreate life in the United States in Mexico, even when Mexico thwarts our efforts. Thus, we demand the right to have suburbs, malls, and countless chains take over a nation which we had already disrupted due to our entitlement to virtually free labor. Embracing conservation in Mexico would mean that we would have to stop inviting ourselves to carry our pointedly obnoxious lifestyle to another country so that there might be a chance not to destroy the habitat of beings we claim to cherish.
* Image taken by Tomás Castelazo