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Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates
April 27, 2021 to May 27, 2021
Did you know that 80% of IRTF's revenue comes from individual donors, with an average gift of $50? Please consider contributing to IRTF this spring. We’ll put your gift to work right away to address long-standing structural injustices and bolster our across-borders solidarity movement, uniting so many people like you who are passionate about our common goals of justice, of mutual care, of human rights…of dignity for all. Your generosity is critical to carrying out our vision of a world of peace in which all beings live with dignity and in mutual relationships of solidarity. Thank you.
April 22, 2021
Rivas Beaches in Good Environmental Condition: The results of an UNAN research study indicate that the environmental quality of the waters of the bays on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast are between optimal and suitable for recreational activities and the preservation of flora and fauna. But there is contamination by microplastics in the beach sand and large variations in acidity and temperature that compromise conditions for organisms such as oysters. So there are still actions to be taken for the conservation of marine resources in the area. The study provides information for decision-making that will lead to sustainable management of the marine-coastal areas. A group of researchers from the Center for Research in Aquatic Resources of UNAN-Managua in conjunction with the Paso Pacífico Organization carried out five environmental studies in the south Pacific Coast area of Nicaragua in the period 2011-2019. Read this and 10 other news briefs from this week.
April 10, 2021
As we continue to face a refugee crisis on the U.S. southern border, it is imperative to address the destabilizing threat posed by environmental degradation in Central America. In particular, climate change and illegal cattle ranching—often by organized crime and narcotrafficking entities—is driving forest destruction and lawlessness within Central America’s largest wildernesses, directly imperiling the physical, cultural, food and water security of local communities and Indigenous peoples.
Environmental Human Rights: 25 Organizations Call for an End to U.S. Support for Aerial Herbicide Fumigation in Colombia
March 30, 2021
Summary: Colombia’s government is moving closer to reinstating a program, suspended in 2015, that would spray herbicides from aircraft over territories where coca is cultivated. The country’s highest court has required President Duque’s government to meet a series of health, environment, consultation, and other requirements before reinstating the aerial fumigation program. Colombia’s defense minister is now saying that the spraying could restart in April. Urging President Joe Biden to avoid US support for a renewed fumigation program, 25 organizations from the US and Colombia have signed a letter that succinctly lays out the reasons why this would be an unfortunate and harmful policy mistake. The letter was shared with the White House on March 26.
March 25, 2021
Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante, age 41, was president of the Nueva Granada Board of Trustees and a leader of the local Lenca indigenous community in his hometown of Chinda, Santa Bárbara Department. On March 21, unknown assailants fired 40 shots at him in front of his children as they were returning from his mother’s house in the village of Nueva Granada, municipality of San Antonio in Cortés Department. Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante led Communities United of Chinda, a local group opposing the “El Tornillito” hydroelectric dam that is being constructed by HIDROVOLCÁN (Hidroeléctrica El Volcán Company) in hamlets near the Rio Ulúa. This dam, which will be the second largest in Honduras, will mean the disappearance of ten communities of an indigenous Lenca population because the livestock, crops and houses of these two municipalities would drown, and their inhabitants would be forced to move.
March 24, 2021
For the past few years, residents of El Guapinol have been organizing against the operations of an iron ore mine that is contaminating the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers, water sources for populations across three departments in northern Honduras. Eight environmental defenders have been held in "pre-trial detention" since September 2019. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stressed that there is no legal reason to hold these eight men in pre-trial detention and that there is no legal reason to prosecute them. The UN Working Group also recommended that those responsible for the illegal detention should be investigated, suggesting that the State is punishing them for exercising their legitimate rights in defending the environment.
March 22, 2021
A Honduran Lenca Indigenous activist who helped led a fight against the construction of a dam has been killed. Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante led a local group called “Communities United,” which was active in hamlets near the Rio Ulúa and which opposed the El Tornillito hydroelectric dam. He was shot dead in front of his children. “We condemn the killing of yet another comrade and activist,” said Betty Vásquez, the coordinator of the Santa Barbara Environmental Movement. “It is not conceivable, it is not right, that they criminalize people, persecute people and later kill them for defending the land. We consider this a political assassination.”
La Lucha Sigue: The Struggle Continues. A film festival in honor of World Water Day, presented by SOA Watch
March 20, 2021 to March 21, 2021
SOA Watch presents a 2-day film festival as a celebration of World Water Day and the communities that put their lives on the line to defend it. Each film will be followed by a community specific panel with fierce Indigenous and Black women leaders. A large group discussion with all the women warriors together will close out the festival. Join us to hear directly from the visionary frontline leaders that are building a global movement to protect the earth, put health over wealth, and show people that another world is possible. Greed and destruction is not our destiny. Free: www.soaw.org
March 16, 2021
President Biden has taken steps to address some urgent needs in the immigration system, but deportations and expulsions continue. Previous and current administrations have failed in their legal duty to protect the human rights of all migrants, particularly Indigenous peoples. The Biden administration needs to recognize, consult, and directly engage with the leadership of Indigenous and Black migrants.
Thank you NISGUA for the petition and image.
Environmental Human Rights: US-based Aura Minerals/Minosa continues harmful mining operation in Honduras
March 16, 2021
Héctor Antonio Trigueros, community and environmental defender from Azacualpa (La Unión, Copán), suffered an attack in which his motorcycle was seriously damaged, while he was unharmed. Hector is one of the main community defenders in Azacualpa, a place where the US-based mining company Aura Minerals has been cyanide-leaching, open-pit mining for years, and where it intends to mine the El Cemeterio hill – local inhabitants are fully opposed to this. Threats, contaminations, explosions, lead poisoning have all resulted. This mining project is supported by President Juan Orlando Hernandez's regime