This special was carried out in partnership with Consejo de Redacción. The objective of this journalistic special is to make visible the panorama of the Escazú an Agreement in 12 countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Panama.
On April the 22nd, the most important environmental treaty that Latin American countries have signed came into force. Although only eleven have ratified it, many hope that, it will be an essential instrument to prevent the assassinations of environmental leaders and to allow (contrary to what has happened in the last two decades) the protection of the environment.
Colombia: Procrastination Strategies and Disinformation Campaigns: What’s Behind the Bad
Environment for the Agreement?
By December the 12th, 2019, hundreds of thousands of Colombians had been protesting against the mismanaging of the country for several weeks. While in la Casa de Nariño, President Iván Duque had just formalized the signing of the Escazú Agreement. A promise that had been made days ago at the open dialogue tables; Consequence of the social uprising generated by the National Strike on November the 21st.
The people, in the photo, lead the Alliance for the Escazú Agreement, a coalition of civil society organizations born in 2019 with the aim of promoting the signing and ratification of this regional environmental treaty in Colombia. Said Treaty was negotiated for four years by 24 Latin American States and seeks to guarantee citizens’ access to environmental information in a timely and adequate manner; in addition to participating in a meaningful way in environmental decisions that affect their lives and their environment. Finally, allowing them to access justice when these rights have been violated.
Venezuela: An interested absence
Experts and environmental organizations agree that Venezuela has not signed the Escazú Agreement because it is in disagreement with the actions and projects of the three principles of this continental shelf in favor of the planet: access to public information, citizen participation and access to justice. They consider that the current Venezuelan government is not willing to be held accountable for its information opacity, administrative corruption and the extractive economy that depredates the environment and attacks indigenous communities.
Brazil: The Latin American giant disdains the agreement
The country’s population is facing the perfect components for storm among which are counted: a far-right government, advancing in the destruction of nature, an explosive health crisis, and economic recession.
In the states of Roraima and Amazonas, the lands of the Yanomami have been invaded by garimpeiros (miners) since 1987. Approved a year later, the Federal Constitution of 1988 marked a course for democracy and socio-environmental rights in the country that had just emerged from the military dictatorship. However, three decades after the occupation of the territories, the crimes continue and are reinforced during the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro.
Ecuador: A long way to go!
The country already has laws and other legal instruments that guarantee access to information, justice and participation in environmental issues, but many are far from being fulfilled.
Environmental activist Andrés Durazno joined the painful list of murdered environmental leaders in Ecuador. On March the 17th, 2021, a month after the Escazú Agreement came into effect, he was killed by multiple stab wounds. Durazno, one of the main figures who fought against mining in the villages of Río Blanco and Molleturo (where the mining project of the Ecuagoldmining Company is located) was found dead outside his home in Molleturo, in the southern province of Azuay.
Paraguay: Who is afraid of an environmental transparency treaty?
While forest fires left its capital without breath, the Escazú Agreement found in Paraguay the rejection of right-wing politicians, large agro-export companies and the Catholic Church; the dispute is in the air!
Guatemala: A Bureaucratic puzzle
In September 2018, the former Minister of the Environment signed the multilateral treaty at the United Nations headquarters; nevertheless, the current government remains static in the process of ratifying it. Until now, two and a half years after the signing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs still awaits for the opinion of four more entities to assess whether its confirmation is appropriate. Human rights activists defend the implementation of the agreement, while the industrial sector opposes it.
Bolivia: Between the government’s promises and the pessimism of environmentalists
Not only do environmental leaders doubt that the Bolivian government applies the Escazú Agreement, but also opposition legislators. However, state entities are making efforts to implement this tool in the short term.
Peru: New government is not a guarantee of ratification
A presidential candidate whose party refused to ratify the Escazú Agreement and another presidential candidate who is harshly critical of international treaties; As well as a conservative majority in the new Congress, are not a good sign that the debate on the ratification of this pact (that comes into effect today, April the 22nd, in 12 out of the 24 subscribed countries that have ratified it). However, indigenous peoples, youth and various civil society organizations continue to fight for this agreement. Meanwhile, during the COVID-19 pandemic, at least seven defenders of the Amazon have been killed; in addition to many more victims of threats and attacks by people involved in illegal activities.
Mexico: The challenge of bringing the Agreement to life in a country where its environmental defenders are murdered
In Mexico, the innovative treaty for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was created to guarantee access to the rights of information, participation and environmental justice, will seek to have life beyond paper, in a context where attacks against those who defend the environment do not seem to stop. In 2020 alone, 18 human rights defenders were assassinated in the country because of environmental issues.