According to Global Witness, Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for environmental activists. World-wide, in 2020, 227 activists defending their lands, their forests and their rivers were murdered. Two thirds of these killings took place in Latin American countries.
Long before climate rebellions became commonplace in Europe, land and environmental rights campaigners in Latin America were taking action, confronting the corporations that threatened their livelihoods and risking their lives to protect their communities. Rather than defending the communities whose rights are being abused, the state offers protection to the corporations that are the perpetrators of human rights abuses. Many of these are renewable energy corporations which rely on the support of military forces. There are contracts worth millions between these corporations and state forces. This makes it difficult if not impossible for the communities to mobilise and to organise protests.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is a central demand of climate activists and a key strategy for a Green New Deal. But massive solar farms installed in the Global South against the wishes of rural communities is not the answer. Green energy must not reproduce existing patterns of exploitation.
The work of environmental activist is essential. Their determination, tenacity and commitment is inspirational.
Commissioned by Extinction Rebellion UK and Lewes Climate Hub with the collaboration of Peace Brigades International UK (PBI UK) and funded by the PBI UK and the contribution of many through crowdfunding which we specially thank here.