A Deadly Year for Latin America’s Environmental Activists

A Deadly Year for Latin America’s Environmental Activists
Victor Ruiz Valencia removes his hat during the burial of his cousin, Yaqui Indigenous rights leader Tomas Rojo, who was found dead amid local opposition to construction in the area, in Vicam, Sonora state, Mexico, July 10, 2021 (AP photo/Luis Gutierrez).

According to a report released last week, 2020 was the deadliest year on record for environmental and land rights activists around the world. The human rights organization Global Witness recorded 227 killings of such activists, a tally that it said was almost certainly an undercount. 

As the report makes clear, the victims were most often killed while resisting the activities of extractive industries on their land: logging, mining, the clearing of forests for agribusiness and other environmentally destructive activities that fuel the climate crisis. Of the confirmed lethal attacks, the highest number was recorded in Colombia, and nearly three-fourths of the incidents documented in the report took place in Latin America.

Today on Trend Lines, Gimena Sánchez, director for the Andes at the Washington Office on Latin America, joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman to talk about what’s driving this violence and what can be done about it. For more on the struggles of environmental and Indigenous rights activists and the challenges they face in Colombia, check out WOLA’s podcast, “With Leaders There Are Peace.”

If you would like to request a full transcript of the episode, please send an email to podcast@worldpoliticsreview.com.


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Relevant Articles on WPR:

Colombia’s Shaky Peace Deal Needs Biden’s Support

Underlying Colombia’s Protests, ‘an Astonishing Level of Inequality’

‘In Many Ways, the Conflict Never Ended.’ Ongoing Violence Threatens Colombia’s Peace

Colombia’s Duque is Presiding Over a ‘Massive Backpedaling’ on Indigenous Right

Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

To send feedback or questions, email us at podcast@worldpoliticsreview.com.