Around the Region

In Chihuahua, another forest protection advocate is killed

Human rights and environmental advocates are watching to see how Mexico’s new government will address violence and environmental degradation following last month’s murder of Julián Carrillo, an indigenous Rarámuri leader and forest-protection advocate in Chihuahua state’s Sierra Tarahumara region. A leader of the Coloradas de la Virgen community, Carrillo promoted sustainable forest management and was active in a successful campaign to force the cancellation of a logging permit. He was shot with a high-caliber weapon on the evening of Oct. 24 in Coloradas de la Virgen, apparently while trying to hide from his assailants, according to UN and local sources. No arrests or eyewitness accounts were reported. Amnesty International’s Garance Tardieu notes that Carrillo’s killing is only the latest evidence of violence against...

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Costa Rica suspends major dam project in Puntarenas

Costa Rica’s decision this month to suspend work on Central America’s largest hydroelectric project, El Diquís, “indefinitely” came as a welcome surprise to indigenous communities in the Térraba River watershed, where the power station was to have been built. For over a decade, the Térrabas, Bröran, Rey Curré, Bribri and Borucas communities warned of the environmental cost of the project, which would flood 10% of their lands in the Buenos Aires region of Puntarenas province in southwest Costa Rica. The hydroelectric dam, which was in the feasibility-study phase, also would affect the Térraba, Costa Rica’s longest and highest-volume river—and a lifeline for various ecosystems and communities in the region. “The government’s decision caught us by surprise,” says Pablo Sibar, a leader of...

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After brokering green-rights treaty, Chile does not sign it

Chile is receiving heavy criticism from supporters of a regional agreement on environmental rights for its failure thus far to sign the accord, which it played a major part in negotiating. The agreement, the region’s first-ever treaty on public access to information, decision-making and court proceedings in environmental matters, was adopted on March 4 in Escazú, Costa Rica by 24 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Prominent among them was Chile, which with Costa Rica co-led the negotiating committee through nine sessions of talks over three years. Following the agreement’s adoption, the accord was made available for participants to sign on Sept. 27, during the General Assembly of the United Nations. So far, sixteen countries have done so, including Costa Rica...

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Bolivia’s second biggest lake nearly dries out—once again

When it comes to the survival of Poopó, on paper Bolivia’s second-largest body of fresh water behind Lake Titicaca, simply waiting for rain will no longer work. Experts say drought cycles in the country’s Altiplano region, where Poopó is located, have quickened from an average of once every 30 years during the 20th century to once every eight years starting in the 1990s. The effect on the lake was painfully apparent in October of this year, when it nearly dried out completely for the second time since December 2015. (See "Plight of Bolivian lake adds urgency to watershed plan" —EcoAméricas, January 2016.) “The reduction of the lake [water levels] has always been cyclical, but not...

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