5 success stories of environmental activists in Latin America

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In Latin America, civil society, through environmental activists, has managed to organize to stop activities that can have great social and environmental costs. We tell you about some success stories

Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narvaez and Fracking in Vale Do Juruá

Photos: Goldman Environmental Prize, ejatlas.org

LatinAmerican Post | Julián Andrés Pastrana Cuéllar

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Leer en español: 5 casos de éxito de los activistas ambientales en Latinoamérica

Throughout the extensive territory of Latin America, deep environmental conflicts have been unleashed that have put communities in check, but there are several cases in which these same human groups have known how to mobilize and work together to overcome these obstacles. Next, we are going to list five success stories, led by community environmental activists in the region.

1. Goldman Prize 2022 For An Indigenous Movement In Ecuador

The threat of gold mining in their territory led Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez, two indigenous people belonging to the Cofán ethnic group in Ecuador, to lead a social mobilization of their community that yielded an unprecedented victory: in October 2018 the courts of Ecuador ordered the cancellation of 52 gold mining concessions that had been delivered illegally. This legal victory earned Lucitante and Narváez the prestigious Goldman 2022 award. It is an award given since 1989 that represents the highest distinction "for environmental community activists" as explained on its website.

We recommend you read: Indigenous leaders activists against climate change that you should know

2. Resettlement Of A Community In Brazil Affected By The Steel Industry

Another success story involved the community of Piquiá de Baixo in Brazil. For years the 1,100 inhabitants of this neighborhood endured the effects of living surrounded by five iron and steel industries. After a decade of relentless struggle to achieve resettlement, in 2018, the expected solution finally arrived: the start of the adaptation of a new point to relocate these 380 families. In this regard, the community indicated that "the process could have been more agile if it were not for the resistance of the companies to recognize their responsibility and participate effectively in the composition of the resources for resettlement."

Regarding the efforts of the community of Piquiá de Baixó to defend their right to a healthy environment, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Justiça Nos Trilhos group promoted a campaign aimed at warning about the damage that for 30 years mining and steel companies have caused the inhabitants of this settlement nestled in the Brazilian Amazon. This campaign received the silver medal of the Epica Prize.

3. Rejection Of The Local Population To The Corpus Christi Project On The Paraná River

Since the 1960s, the construction of a hydroelectric plant on the Paraná River between Argentina and Paraguay has been projected. In 1996, 88.96% of the inhabitants of the province of Misiones, in Argentina, expressed their rejection of the mega-project through a binding referendum promoted by environmental organizations and supported, among others, by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez. dodge. The popular mandate was ratified by Law 3294.

Opponents of the project allege effects such as the displacement of residents of the area, and an increase in disease vectors, in addition to the loss of infrastructure and productive land. In this regard, the Argentine organization CTT A Misiones has given as an example of what happened with nearby works such as "the Yacyreta dam, which drastically affected our Paraná river and its coastal zone, as well as a mega scam for the population because it was built with the promise of cheap energy and industrial development for missions, and ended up being a 'monument to the corruption that displaced and uprooted thousands of families…”. Those who are in favor of the work, in turn, maintain that thanks to it, Argentina would obtain energy at a lower cost, while Paraguay would obtain economic benefits derived from the sale of energy to Argentina and Brazil.

In 2014 the voices for and against the initiative faced each other again in a new referendum in which once again the no vote won with 96%. Although the consultation was declared non-binding, the Corpus Christi project remains unfulfilled.

4. Suspension Of Shale Gas Exploitation Through Fracking In Vale Do Juruá, Brazil.

In 2013, the possibility of exploiting shale gas through the hydraulic fracking technique in areas located in the Vale Do Juruá region, Brazil, generated great concern among social and environmental movements and civil society. The fears were not minor considering that the aforementioned exploration would be carried out on the Juruá aquifer, one of the most important in the Brazilian Amazon, in addition to the fact that two indigenous communities are settled nearby.

A mobilization was then initiated by the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC), the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), and anti-fracking organizations such as Coesus, which soon gained the support of civil society. Said mobilization achieved the suspension of explorations in the mentioned areas.

5. Colombian Community Opposes The La Colosa Mining Project

La Colosa is a project of the AngloGold Ashanti company that intended to exploit a gold deposit located 14 kilometers from the urban area of the municipality of Cajamarca in the department of Tolima, Colombia. According to the Observatory of Environmental Conflicts of the National University, the aforementioned project would lead to the destruction of "strategic ecosystems (páramo, sub-páramo, and high Andean forest), contaminating the water sources of the region, compromising the water supply for domestic and agro-industrial uses. …”.

In 2017, the residents of Cajamarca participated in a popular consultation through which they were able to express whether they were in favor or against mining projects in their municipality. Finally, 97.9% of the voters expressed their disagreement with this type of activity due to the social and environmental effects that it could mean. As a result of the overwhelming victory of the no, Cortolima, the highest environmental authority in the region, annulled the water concessions that it had granted to the mining giant AngloGold Ashanti.