Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Environmental Defenders

Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world to be an environmental defender. But this doesn’t stop activists, territorial guards, Indigenous communities, and environmental associations from doing their job.

Policymakers have taken some steps to address the violence. The Escazú Agreement was adopted to facilitate access to information and increase justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2022, the first ever UN Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders took office with a mandate to enforce the protection of environmental activists by their national governments, and the E.U. is voting on due diligence supply chain regulations that would require companies to avoid human rights and environmental violations.

This article series documents some of the work of environmental defenders in different Latin American and Caribbean countries, highlighting both the dangers they face and their achievements in defending their habitats and communities.

We aim to inform, motivate, and connect an English-speaking public with the inspirational stories of grassroots defenders’ work in Latin America and give defenders from countries where their battles are under-reported a greater voice.

We are working in partnership with trusted Latin American independent outlets. Find a full list, as well as further details of the series, here.

Help us bring these stories to a wide audience by sharing them widely on social media.

Have you got a story for us?
We’re looking for stories which document the work and amplify the voices of grassroots EDs in Latin America. We’d like to show a geographical diversity in our reporting. Tone: inspirational, motivational, accessible. See our full pitching guide here.


FILM: The Future is in our Territories

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In a new LAB film, environmental defenders discuss their territorial work and the Americas-wide alliance for racial and climate justice

Paraguay: the Paĩ Tavyterã and the changing climate

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Paĩ Tavyterã Indigenous communities are employing ancestral knowledge and advocacy against the impacts of climate change

Bust of Berta Cáceres shows ‘lack of respect’

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A bust of Berta Cáceres was installed in a square in Tegucigalpa's civic centre, next to a bank owned by the Atala family, who have been accused as one of the masterminds behind her murder. This piece was originally published in Spanish by Contracorriente.

Mexico: guardians of the cenotes

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The Kanan Ts'ono'ot collective is making history in Mexico by demanding that cenotes be granted legal status and the Maya people named as their guardians against threats posed by industrial farming.

Belo Sun Mining seeks to criminalise Amazon defenders

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The Canadian gold mining company’s criminal lawsuit attempts to silence and intimidate defenders of the Volta Grande do Xingú, including community leaders, Amazon Watch, and other environmental and human rights activists.

Yasuní National Park under threat once again

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Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa now plans to continue oil extraction in Yasuní National Park – in defiance of the August national referendum result. Leonidas Iza, President of CONAIE, denounced the proposal as illegal and authoritarian.

Colombia: courageous fight against oil polluters

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Interviewed by Mongabay, Yuly Velásquez, a local fisher and president of an environmental organization, has spent years documenting water contamination and corruption linked to the Ecopetrol refinery in Colombia and she faces consistent threats and attacks.

Suriname has 93 percent forest cover; we want to keep it...

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Suriname is the most forested country on earth, with 93 percent forest cover. At COP-23 in Bonn, the Suriname government pledged to work towards keeping 93 percent forest cover, forever. The Forest93 campaign is leading the way.

Mexico: the indomitable women of the lagoon

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The community of San Juan Bautista struggles against a gas pipeline and in defence of their lagoon, their land, and their existence as an Indigenous people. This is the story of the women embodying their resistance.

Leydy Pech: the Mayan Beekeeper who took on a corporate giant

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Ledy Pech Martín is a Mexican Indigenous beekeeper who led the fight against the multinational giant, Monsanto, and won. She is an environmental defender who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness over pesticide use and its effects on the natural habitat of bees, as well as the honey supply that is crucial to the livelihoods of indigenous Mayans in the Yucatán peninsula. 

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