Monday, April 22, 2024

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.


Honduras: Deaths of environmental activists reopen wounds in Aguán Valley

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In January, four social activists were murdered in Honduras within a period of 11 days. The deaths of two environmental defenders from Guapinol were followed by the murder of a peasant leader and his father-in-law.

The Assassination of Eduardo Mendua

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The killing of Ecuadorean indigenous leader Eduardo Mendua provides a text-book example of how extractive projects such as oil drilling divide communities, with often fatal results. The first of a series of articles in which Linda Etchart will 'follow the money' flowing from big oil and mining.

Indigenous Comcaac serve up an oceanic grain to preserve seagrass meadows

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The Indigenous Comcaac community of northwestern Mexico is working to preserve eelgrass and promote the renaissance of the grain they obtain from it.

Chico Mendes an inspiration in India

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LAB's 1990 book Fight for the Forest - Chico Mendes in His Own Words is being translated into Bengali by a group in Kolkata, India, campaigning to save a historic avenue of trees. The translator outlines their experience and describes some of the historic envirionmental campaigns in India.

Crimes against Guapinol defenders reflect neglect from Honduran government

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'The Government is responsible for these two murders, and Xiomara Castro must provide an explanation,’ declared ERIC-SJ researcher Joaquín Mejía Rivera, in the wake of the killing of two environmental defenders in Guapinol.

El Salvador: water defenders arrested

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Five water defenders from Santa Marta, Cabañas, El Salvador have been arrested in connection with the 1989 murder of a woman in their community. However, their active membership of an organisation opposed to mining and strong signs that the government wants to subvert the country's mining ban suggest another motive for their persecution

The plunder of Bolivian gold

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Chinese companies are behind rapid expansion of gold mining in the Mayaya region of Bolivia, and are invading the Madidi National Park. Bolivian journalist and LAB correspondent Sergio Mendoza travelled by canoe down the Beni and Quendeque rivers, witnessing how the illegal mining activity is hidden by Bolivian mining cooperatives and supported or permitted by the government.

Xinka people (re)born to defend their territory

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Threats against ancestral land sparked a resurgence of pride in Xinka identity in eastern Guatemala. Leaders exemplify permanent resistance and empowerment through their use of legal strategies and tools to preserve their culture.

The deadliest place for environmental defenders

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The latest report from Global Witness confirms the rising trend in killings of environmental defenders, with Mexico becoming the most dangerous country in a very dangerous region which now accounts for over 75% of lethal attacks in the world.

Guatemala: environmental defenders of Lake Atitlán

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The women of Tz’ununya’ Collective have struggled for eight years to defend and conserve Lake Atitlán by pushing for local authorities to stop the deterioration of the lake.

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