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Voices of Latin America Webinar Series: The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples



Building on LAB’s Voices of Latin America book published in January 2019, the authors are back to provide an update on Latin America’s new activism through the testimonies of activists from the front line. Latin America Bureau invites you to the third instalment of our Voices of Latin America webinar series: The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples.

Mining has grown exponentially in Latin America in the last three decades. Massive new mining projects have had major socio-environmental effects, including pollution, appropriation and contamination of water supplies, division and co-optation of communities, and in some cases their forced relocation. 

Similarly, hydroelectric power was seen for decades as the solution to Latin America’s energy needs. However, serious questions have arisen over its long-term viability. While ecologists warn of the potentially catastrophic impact of dams on the Amazon basin, the most complex network of river channels in the world,dams have also had hugely damaging impacts on indigenous and riverine communities. Moreover, major hydro projects have been plagued by massive corruption.

However, communities affected by mining and hydro projects are learning how to resist. Some have successfully challenged government and company claims that large-scale mining projects can be safe, sustainable, and socially beneficial.

Digging deeper into these issues, LAB presents the next webinar, The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples (8 May, 15:00-16:30).

The webinar will be presented by Tom Gatehouse, author of the Mining and Communities chapter and editor of the Voices of Latin America book, and Marilene Cardoso Ribeiro, co-author of The Hydroelectric Threat to the Amazon chapter. They will be joined by activists from the front line of the struggles for environmental and indigenous rights:

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  • We’ll hear from Dário Kopenawa Yanomami, indigenous rights activist from the Yanomami people in Brazil, and Vice President of Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY). Dário will talk about how hydropower projects are devastating nature, the Yanomami territory, and their way of life. Dário will also join us for the live Q&A.
  • We’ll also hear from Aronor (Leondardo Batista), who was resettled as a result of the Belo Monte dam in Pará, Brazil, and who featured in the Voices book. He’ll update us on the impact of hydro power projects in his community. 
  • We’ll introduce the new voice of Marcos Brito Uriana, from the Wayúu community in Colombia. A community leader, activist and social communicator, he tells us how the Cerrejón mine has impacted his community’s health and the mining company’s failures to fulfil their promises. 

Book your place here.

About the series:

Building on the Voices of Latin America book published in January 2019, the authors are back to provide an update on Latin America’s new activism. From Bolsonaro’s presidency and Chile’s estallido social to Colombia’s peace process and regional migratory caravans, we will be discussing Latin America’s developments from the past few years and talking about how social activists have adapted to these new challenges.

The testimonies of activists will be at the heart of the seminars. We will catch up with the activists and leaders featured in the book as well as hearing from new changemakers in pre-recorded interviews. Each seminar will be followed by a Q&A with the speakers and an activist from the ‘front line’.A note: We have taken the decision not to make the COVID-19 pandemic the focus of these seminars. The pandemic has indeed infiltrated every aspect of life during the past year and has taken a disproportionate toll on the underprivileged communities of Latin America. Here, however, we seek here to talk about other ongoing and long-term issues that Latin Americans face. LAB is currently producing a Voices project specifically about the impact of COVID-19, which will be publicised and made available in due course.