Throughout Mexico, extractivist projects by companies in mining, tourism and forestry are invading communal and ejido territories. And throughout Mexico, the defenders of these territories are assassinated, disappeared, accused, criminalized. But they never stop resisting.
With the release in April of the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the time is ripe to celebrate a breakthrough by Indigenous Peoples in participation on the scientific advisory board that guides global warming policy for 195 U.N. countries. Opinion leaders should push the envelope for more of the same.
In Central America communities are being thrust into life and death struggles against powerful interests to ensure clean water and health for future generations.
Indigenous Peoples in Latin America are facing a profoundly grave situation. They are on the losing end in the gap between the development of national and international normative standards for the protection of their rights and their lack of implementation on the ground. They not only face the State’s force, imposing “development” projects and dispossessing them from their lands; but also illegal armed groups that dispute their territories with deadly force.
In the Indigenous Yaqui territory of the Mexican state of Sonora on the northern border, water defenders who oppose pipelines have to choose between self-exile or the likely outcome of imprisonment, kidnapping, disappearance, and murder. The defenders have called for ‘cease-fire’ in the long-running water war.
The March 2, 2016 murder of Honduran indigenous rights defender Berta Cáceres, Coordinator of the Lenca organization COPINH, provoked indignation in Honduras and around the world. Berta was murdered while supporting Indigenous Lenca communities in opposing the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project that was being advanced through a public limited company created for the project, Desarrollos Enérgeticos S.A. (DESA).
On March 2, 2016, the world suffered the murder of land defender Berta Cáceres. From that moment, those of us who took on the fight for justice pointed out that this act was aimed at stopping the struggle of the Lenca people in defense of the Gualcarque River.
As the Vice President seeks to remedy root causes of migration, she should vow to dismantle neoliberal rules that have been devastating for rural and Indigenous peoples.
During these pandemic times, everything seems to indicate that the socio-environmental crisis is getting worse in Latin America, especially in the Amazon.
The Escazú Agreement is the first treaty in the world to contain specific provisions on human rights defenders in environmental matters.