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The Secretary of the Environment who fought against glyphosate suffered a white powder attack at his home

Víctor Toledo, still as Secretary of the Environment.Andrea Murcia / Cuartoscuro

August has been a difficult month for the biologist Víctor Toledo. First, a recording was leaked where the then Secretary of the Environment criticized the contradictions within the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “All our vision [ecológica] that we share, it is not at all in the rest of the Cabinet and I am afraid that it is not in the head of the president either, ”said the official. Then details of his state of health began to emerge, the heart attacks he had suffered. His ability was questioned and this week he resigned. What was not known is that in this context someone sneaked into his home, in Morelia, in the state of Michoacán and dumped white powder on the roof of his garden.

This has been confirmed by López Obrador this Friday. “They went to throw chemicals into the yard of his house and we protected him, it is very uncomfortable for those who are not used to having protection, but we consider it necessary, they were given protection.” Although the president did not mention the name of the chemist, anyone who has been watching the Toledo case these weeks thought about glyphosate.

In the 15 months that he was in charge of the Environment, Toledo fought to eliminate glyphosate in Mexico. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is associated with transgenic crops and the World Health Organization pointed out its carcinogenicity in 2015. At first glance, glyphosate is a white powder. By opposing the herbicide, Toledo has fought against the interests of the agricultural industry in Mexico, protected by some sectors of the López Obrador government. “[La secretaría de Agricultura] it is aimed fundamentally at agribusiness ”, criticized Toledo in the leaked recordings,“ it is against agroecology and tries to impose the whole mission that exists in the world with the big corporations ”.

Between the broadcast of the audios and Toledo’s resignation this week, someone broke into his house and threw white dust on the roof of the garden. The information came out from an article he published The Day this Thursday. The Day has published the Biologist Columns for years. In its note, the newspaper explains that “unknown persons broke into Toledo’s house, took documents and emptied sacks of the herbicide glyphosate on the roof.” The Day points out that Toledo reported the matter to Alfonso Durazo, the federal government’s security secretary. Durazo then assigned two agents of the National Guard to guard Toledo.

Hours after the publication, Víctor Toledo’s wife, the ecofeminist activist Patricia Moguel, partially denied the information. In a letter posted on his Facebook wall, Moguel explains that “no one entered our house to steal documents.” Moguel admits, however, that strangers entered the property and “deposited a white powder on the roof of our garden.” Although, he clarifies, “a chemical test was never carried out in which it could be verified that it was glyphosate.”

EL PAÍS has contacted Moguel to deepen the information he gives in his letter, but has not received a response. To questions from this newspaper, the Michoacán Prosecutor’s Office assures that no one has approached to denounce the strange case of white powder. At the moment, the investigating agency does not plan to act ex officio in the matter.

Whether the herbicide or not, the simple fact that someone has gone to the trouble of faking an agrochemical attack on the home of a high-ranking government official illustrates part of the country’s ills. The high rates of impunity that Mexico suffers left the executors free, they will act under the interests of whoever.

It is no secret that in the leaked audios, Toledo expressly pointed out the Secretary of Agriculture, Víctor Villalobos, and Alfonso Romo, head of the Office of the Presidency. Toledo said that Villalobos obeys the orders of Romo, who “has acquired enormous profitability and power within the Government” and is dedicated to “blocking” agroecology. “Alfonso Romo has summoned me to three meetings with Villalobos to pressure because there was the problem of glyphosate,” says the former head of the Environment on the tape.

Faced with Toledo’s resignation this week, López Obrador said that the biologist “is an honest person, a first-rate professional, but he is in poor health. In addition, public service produces stress. Before I thought that stress was a delicacy of the petty bourgeoisie but no, it does exist. And not all of us are made to resist pressure ”. Given the case of white powder, perhaps Toledo’s stress was more than justified.