SOLIDARITY with Mother Earth
Multinational corporations continue to extend their reach into new territories to satisfy growing demand. Those who rely on this land for food, shelter and cultural identity are all too often disregarded. Those who defend their water and wildlife are at the frontline of environmental protection and must be able to continue their work in secure conditions.
"There is no other way to live in this world than loving Mother Earth, respecting each other and collaborating collectively. This view of how we build our lives collectively is so important because we are not alone in the world, we are here together." Silvia Villaseñor
Sylvia Villaseñor works for the Mexican Institute for Community Development. She previously lived with indigenous communities in Puebla, Mexico and helped cultivate their land; now she defends their territorial rights. Mining and hydroelectric companies are appropriating indigenous lands and threatening the lives of local inhabitants with the blessing of the Mexican authorities. She argues that "the aggression against native peoples is an aggression against all."
"I want to enjoy all the wonders of Mother Earth because I am part of her. They can’t kill me. I will give up my life defending life." Silvia Villaseñor
"You can only see the mountain, but what is inside are the memories of our grandparents" Kevin Ramírez
Kevin Ramírez is an environmental activist who lives in the community of El Listón, Santa Barbara, the area of Honduras with the most hydroelectric and mining concessions. Kevin wasn't always an environmental activist, he lived in remote area of Honduran's resource-rich mountains, cultivating the land with his family just as his ancestors did before him. In 2013, work began to build a hydroelectric dam in the area and Kevin took it upon himself to inform and help the community. He co-founded the Association of Defenders of Common Goods in Quimistán (ASODEBICOQ), an organisation that helps communities to self-organise and informs them of their rights in the face of mega projects.
"They are the ones who inspire us to continue defending what they have left for us" Kevin Ramírez
"I love when people stay with me in a protest even when they are hungry" Kevin Ramírez
On the 4th of January 2016, Leonardo Amador woke up to bulldozers uprooting the land surrounding his community in Choluteca, Honduras. He took a stand against deforestation to defend his land; to protect the forests, water and local wildlife. He and his neighbours came together and set up a resistance camp to repel the extractors. Undeterred, the company behind the project tried to sow division within the community by bribing local leaders. And election was held after the conflict that ensued, which saw Leonardo elected as President of the council. He has vowed to continue fighting deforestation by photovoltaic companies setting up solar farms in his and other communities in Honduras.
"As an older person, I have my family, children and grandchildren. I have to think about these new people who are growing up, what their life will be like. And this is what keeps us in the struggle despite the conflicts and humiliations we have suffered. We gain our strength from each other, united in the fight to continue this defence of our lands." Leonardo Amador
"Both the corporations and the government are ignorant about Colombia’s wealth, not in terms of the exploitation that they are planning but in terms of its biodiversity." Rosa Maria Mateus
Rosa Maria Mateus is a human rights lawyer and co-ordinator of The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CCAJAR), which works to defend human rights in Colombia. She deals with cases of reparation for victims of state repression and armed conflict and works with indigenous, peasant and Afro-Colombian communities on collective land rights and environmental protection.
"The companies and the state have no knowledge of Colombia’s greatest riches: cultural and traditional riches, the riches of their indigenous and African descended communities. " Rosa Maria Mateus
"They are ignorant of what the communities are trying to tell them: that this model of development is not good for the country. It’s not good for the people." Rosa Maria Mateus
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