Report: Hundreds killed while defending environment, land rights
April 16, 2014
Hundreds of people have been killed while defending the environment and land rights around the world, international monitors said in a report released Tuesday, highlighting what they called a culture of impunity surrounding the deaths.
At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2013 during disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights – with Latin America and Asia-Pacific being particularly hard-hit – according to the study from Global Witness, a London-based nongovernmental organization that says it works to expose economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.
Only 10 people have ever been convicted over the hundreds of deaths, the report said.
The rate of such deaths has risen sharply – with an average of two activists killed each week – over the past four years as competition for the world’s natural resources has accelerated, Global Witness said in the report titled “Deadly Environment.”
“There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,” said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.
“This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,” Courtney said.
The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.
Land rights are central to the violence, as “companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops,” the report said. When residents refuse to give up their land rights to mining operations and the timber trade, they are often forced from their homes, or worse, it said.
The study ranked Brazil as the most dangerous place to be an environmentalist, with at least 448 killings recorded.
One case that especially shocked the country and the global environmental movement involved the 2011 killings of environmentalists Jose Claudio Ribeira da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva.
“The couple had denounced the encroachment of illegal loggers in the reserve and had previously received threats against their lives,” the report said.
Masked men gunned down the couple near a sustainable reserve where they had worked for decades producing nuts and natural oils. The killers tore off one of Jose Claudio’s ears as proof of his execution.
Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez was the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Autumn of the Patriarch (1975), Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), in addition to many other novels, short stories, and non-fiction works. In 1982 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature for “his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.” García Márquez, only the fourth of six Latin Americans to be awarded the literature prize since its inception in 1901, lamented: “they have taken into account the literature of the sub-continent and have awarded me as a way of awarding all of this literature.” In his acceptance speech, entitled “The Solitude of Latin America”, García Márquez addressed the postcolonial struggles of Latin American nations, and the willing embrace by European institutions of Latin American cultural expression but not its social realities:
Latin America neither wants, nor has any reason, to be a pawn without a will of its own; nor is it merely wishful thinking that its quest for independence and originality should become a Western aspiration. However, the navigational advances that have narrowed such distances between our Americas and Europe seem, conversely, to have accentuated our cultural remoteness. Why is the originality so readily granted us in literature so mistrustfully denied us in our difficult attempts at social change? Why think that the social justice sought by progressive Europeans for their own countries cannot also be a goal for Latin America, with different methods for dissimilar conditions?
"Meme, the first daughter of Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda del Carpio, grows up as frivolous as her father, only feigning interest in the clavichord that her mother forces her to study. With her father, Meme develops a companionship based on shared interests and mutual distaste for Fernanda. She befriends a few American girls and starts to socialize with them, even learning a little English. Meme falls madly in love with Mauricio Babilonia, a mechanic working for the banana plantation who courts her bluntly and shamelessly and whose openness and solemnity entrance Meme. He is followed always by yellow butterflies. Fernanda discovers them kissing in a movie theater and confines the lovesick Meme to the house. When she deduces that Mauricio Babilonia sneaks into the house every night to make love to Meme, she posts a guard in the backyard. When Babilonia returns once more, the guard shoots him, shattering his spine and paralyzing him for the rest of his life…"
- Gabriel García Márquez, "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
rest in peace, gabriel garcia marquez. i’ll never ever forget this:
Macondo está de luto: Fallece nuestro premio Nobel Gabriel García Márquez
so, it is 2:58 and it’s supposed that the moon is closest to the center of the shadow but unfortunately in my location, the sky is completely overcast and i cannot see a thing.