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Environmental Defenders

No-one embodied the courage of those defending their land, the natural environment and the future of their people and the planet, more than Berta Cáceres, Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader, who was murdered in March 2016, a year after winning the prestigious Goldman Environmental prize.

Out of 227 land and environmental activists murdered in 2020, according to Global Witness, at least 163 of these killings were in Latin America, with Colombia (65) the most dangerous country.

This new blog series will document some of the work of environmental defenders in different countries, highlighting both the dangers and the achievements.

The series is curated for LAB by Katie Jones, who lived and worked in Mexico as an English teacher in the state of Puebla. Until the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, she was teaching in Costa Rica and was an active member of a local NGO aiming to assist the quality of education for children in an underprivileged barrio. She worked as an investigator for InSight Crime, a foundation specialised in the study of organised crime in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is currently studying a masters in Latin American Studies at the University of Oxford.

Dom and Bruno – Bolsonaro’s victims

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Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were murdered in a remote area of the Amazon – almost certainly by or on the orders of those who run the illegal trade in fish, timber, drugs and minerals. President Bolsonaro has fuelled lawlessness by his rhetoric.

Blood River: the life and murder of Berta Cáceres

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Honduran environmental defender Berta Cáceres was brutally murdered in 2016 because of her opposition to the construction of the Agua Zarca dam, which threatened indigenous Lenca communities. This podcast series examines her life and death.

Guatemala: water defenders’ 10-year resistance

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An attempted assassination, criminalization, and violent eviction in 2014 didn't stop the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya in Guatemala, which won legal action suspending harmful mining activities.

Nicaragua: The invasion of autonomous land

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Indigenous people along Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast face constant danger as they seek to defend their autonomous territories against invasion by colonos and government claims that these are 'empty lands' available for development.

Guatemala: defending land and water

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In Guatemala, environmental defenders are criminalised, evicted, beaten, imprisoned and sometimes killed. It is one of the most dangerous places in the world for those who seek to defend their communities, lands and environment.

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