Latest blog posts

Water for Life

On 22 March, World Water Day, CONIC, Christian Aid and CREAS launched an online training course for faith communities in Brazil: 'Water for Life. The idea for this came from the Alternative World Water Forum 2018. Water is part of the Creation, and as such, it needs to be protected and cared for, like all living beings; there is no possibility of life without water, therefore, the protection of springs, rivers, glaciers, seas, mineral water sources and aquifers should be understood by Christians as a consequence of a coherent practice of their faith...

Brumadinho: a gallery of destruction

On 25 January 2019 a huge tailings dam at the Feijão iron ore mine, near Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, collapsed suddenly and catastrophically. The resulting wave of toxic sludge engulfed part of the mine workings, a packed workers' canteen, and rushed down into the Paraopeba river, washing away houses, cattle, mine personnel and people living close to the river banks. The number of bodies identified stood at 212 as of 21 March, with a further 93 still missing. Christian Aid is supporting communities and providing emergency aid through local partners such as ...

Mexico: more than 800 socio-environmental conflicts since 2006

A project called 'Talking to Goliath' has mapped social and environmental conflicts across the length and breadth of Mexico, caused by the development, expansion or operation of mining, oil exploration and drillling, wind-power and hydroelectric projects. FLACSO Mexico, in partnership with De Montfort University, Leicester, UK has produced a detailed map of Mexico with coloured markers to indicate the site of each conflict reported in the press since 2006. The map is based on a comprehensive database of all conflicts identified. The project ('Talking with Goliath:...

Bolivia: land rights victory for Tsimane people

Even though Bolivia has had a progressive government for more than a decade (one of the last remaining in the region), indigenous rights are still under threat. Deforested clearing made by illegal settlers. Photo: Ricardo Gutierrez Illegal settlements, mining and timber companies are occupying indigenous territories causing tremendous environmental impact and provoking migration to the nearer cities. Indigenous organizations and indigenous leaders have been blackmailed, threatened and persecuted by the government. Many indigenous organizations are losing the strength and capacity to fight back for their lands. However, other organizations have...

Venezuela: the alternative of a coalition government

This article is based on a letter submitted in February 2019 to the European Commission and to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The author is Victor Álvarez R., a Venezuelan economist and winner of the Premio Nacional de Ciencia 2013. He was Minister of Basic Industries and Mining during the Chavez presidency The English translation has been revised by Mike Gatehouse for LAB. The political elites in Venezuela are committed to mutual extermination, for better or worse. The extremists at both sides await the grand final battle, hoping to defeat and impose a humiliating and unconditional...

The first family, the generals, the oranges and the Cheshire cat

25 February. It’s less than two months since Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as president, but so much has happened that it seems like six months. In January Brazil was hit by a series of tragedies, all of them avoidable if safety precautions had been taken seriously. Instead we watched in sadness and horror as helicopters flew back and forwards to the small town of Brumadinho in Minas Gerais with, swinging below them, the body bags of those recovered from the avalanche of mud that swept all before it when an iron ore tailings dam collapsed.   No warning sirens sounded,...

Chile: Challenging broadcasting laws to defend community radio

Chile's broadcasting laws criminalise broadcasting without a licence. For six years Radio Aukan, has been unable to get a broadcasting licence. https://youtu.be/XU0OKZHlp38 Radio Aukan is a vibrant community radio station collective which reports on topics including indigenous rights and the environment. In 2015 Radio Aukan's equipment was been seized and Francisco Orellana, a member of staff, was charged by the public prosecutor for broadcasting without a licence. The potential sentence is up to three years in prison and a large fine. Chile’s broadcasting laws have been heavily criticised by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights as incompatible with international human rights standards. Francisco...

The two faces of Norway’s rainforest policies

Norway gives billions to Brazil to save the rainforest. At the same time, Norsk Hydro’s operations lead to large emissions of greenhouse gases and the destruction of rainforests. NRK-2, TV Channel NRK-2 of the (government-owned) Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation published this article on 6 January 2019 about Norway’s double standards with respect to rainforests. You can read the original, in Norwegian, here. LAB partner Christian Aid works with quilombola communities affected by bauxite mining, especially in the Oriximiná area. You can read other related articles here and a four-part series here. If you could see everything the mining has...

Bem Viver: the inspiring role of young people

Rios de Encontro (Rivers of Meeting), is an eco-cultural and socio-educational project based in the community of Cabelo Seco, Pará, Brazil. The project spent the last two weeks of November in national and international activities to celebrate the role of young arts-educators who, in the midst of worrying and uncertain times, are searching for creative ways to promote social and environmental change. Our AfroRaiz (AfroRoots) collective took part in a Bem Viver forum in Moeda, Minas Gerais, presenting the reality of afro-descendant people in Marabá. The venue is near Mariana, the site of the worst environmental crime in Brazil’s history...

Brazil: The toxic impact of bauxite mining in Oriximiná

In a book released by the Comissão Pró-Índio de São Paulo this week, the affected population reveals the socio-environmental consequences of 40 years of bauxite extraction in Oriximiná, Brazil. The book “Antes a Água era Cristalina, Pura e Sadia – Percepções quilombolas e ribeirinhas dos impactos e riscos da mineração em Oriximiná, Pará”  discusses the consequences of bauxite extraction from the point of view of the impacted population. The study gathers testimonies selected from 47 interviews carried out with residents of Quilombo Boa Vista, and the Boa Nova and Saracá riverine communities who report impacts on watercourses and reveal a...

To end Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

In November-December 2018 Christian Aid promoted a Month of Awareness of Gender Based Violence, working with its partners in the region, around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December). The Latin American and Caribbean region has the highest rates of violence against women, girls and LGBTI population in the world. Not coincidently, it is also the most unequal region with different layers of intersecting inequalities. In Central America, 2 out of 3 women who die violent deaths are killed because they are women, and in half of all...

The Mad Hatter’s tea-party: Bolsonaro chooses his cabinet

São Paulo, 3 December:  During the election campaign, president-elect Jair Bolsonaro boasted he would pare the number of cabinet ministers down from its present total of 29 to a mere 15, but he has been overtaken by reality and the number is 22 and counting. The new government includes generals (and an admiral), Cold War warriors, climate deniers and Chicago boys.  Add to the mix the three Bolsonaro sons, Flavio, Eduardo and Carlos, who, although elected on their father’s coat tails, respectively senator, federal deputy and municipal councillor, behave more like the arrogant children of an absolute monarch, making...

A repudiation of all who preach human rights violations

Bernardo Kucinski is a highly respected Brazilian journalist and writer. After decades in journalism, he recently turned to literature, writing, among other works, a widely acclaimed short novel, entitled “K”, based on the ‘disappearance’ of his sister during the military dictatorship. On 25 October of this year Bernardo gave a public address in the Tucarena Theatre, São Paulo, on being awarded the prestigious Vladimir Herzog Prize for Human Rights and Amnesty, journalism category. This is a shortened version of what he said, translated from the Portuguese by Sue Branford: Good evening everyone. I understand that I was chosen to receive...

Brazil on the threshold

‘Remember Germany, 1934,’ my moderate brother advises, ‘and be explicit’. For forty years, I have written from the threshold between resistance and liberation. I never imagined we would live on the threshold between ‘the least worse’ and fascism. My eyes brim with tears. I don’t want to leave the House of Rivers. ‘In times of fake news and seamless editing,’ I reply, ‘I affirm the intelligence of the readers of my stories, to create space for the most diverse, active interpretation. How else will we nurture new methods capable of responding to the radically unprecedented questions of our time?’ Sunday,...