Members of the Xukuru people sing a sacred prayer in honor of Brazilian Bruno Pereira during his funeral at Morada da Paz cemetery in Paulista, Brazil, June 24, 2022. BRENDA ALCANTARA / AFP
Living in Brazil is not good for the defenders of the environment. Around 342 people lost their lives in this fight between 2012 and 2021, according to the latest report by British NGO Global Witness, published on Thursday September 29: a world record. Sad rankings, which are then completed by Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras. A total of 1,733 people have been killed worldwide in the last ten years because they fought against deforestation, land-stealing agribusiness or dams.
In 2021, “more than three quarters” of the 200 attacks recorded in one year — a slight decrease compared to 2020 — took place in Latin America, the report’s authors explain. “This is largely because natural resource extraction projects are developed without consultation and are taking place in frontline areas affected by the climate crisis,” decodes Ali Hines, her lead author. This is particularly true for Mexico (54), Colombia (33) and Brazil (26), where more than half of the attacks in 2021 took place. “The problem is global. But the countries of the South are particularly concerned because the level of corruption is higher and the conditions of access to and ownership of land are more unequal,” she specifies.
Read also Article reserved for our subscribers The number of murdered biodiversity and environmentalists continues to rise
“In this sense, the situation in Brazil, where conflicts over land and forest rights are the main cause of deadly attacks, perfectly shows what is happening on a global scale and particularly in the region,” continues the expert. Jacobo Grajales, professor of political science at the University of Lille and specialist in armed conflicts in Latin America, elaborates: “We must bear in mind that in Central and South America violence against environmentalists is linked to the country’s long history of appropriation dating back to the colonial era. »
There is also “a form of generalized violence” in these countries, the researcher continues, with what he specifies as “huge economic interests at stake, high-level political relays and a porous border between legal and illegal activities”. Colombia, the deadliest country for environmentalists in 2020 and also one of the most dangerous places in the world for these activists in 2021, with 33 people killed.
Global Witness points out that more than five years after the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) was signed, the results are still “not up to date” – environmental activists are sometimes alone in defending armed ecosystem groups for the cultivation of coca, the latter not being discouraged by the authorities. Corruption is also very high in Mexico, where four of the 12 massacres recorded in 2021 were recorded.
You still have 53.41% of this article to read. The following is for subscribers only.