Around the Region

Green advocates in Brazil pan pick for environment ministry

If one accepts that Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s governing agenda runs counter to environmental protection, then his choice for Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles, would seem an excellent fit. The right-wing Bolsonaro plans to ease environmental regulation and enforcement on the theory that the use of these tools to exercise green oversight has unfairly burdened the private sector, hampering economic growth. Enter Salles, a 43-year-old attorney. Green advocates see Salles as very much in line with Bolsonaro’s thinking. “The choice of Salles as Environment Minister is an ideological and not a technical one,” says Adriana Ramos, public policy coordinator of the Socio-Environmental Institute, a Brazilian green group. “That pick is in line with Bolsonaro’s pledge to weaken environmental management and enforcement...

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Two anti-dam activists murdered in Guatemala

Two activist brothers opposing construction of a pair of hydroelectric dams in Guatemala’s western department of Huehuetenango were murdered this month in Ixtatán, a town in San Mateo municipality near the Mexican border, Guatemala’s Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office says. The Dec. 16 shooting deaths of Neri Esteban Pedro and his brother Domingo came just a month after leaders of San Mateo Ixtatán municipality, home to indigenous groups such as the Q’anjob’al and Chuj, signed a peace accord on Nov. 8 to support local development projects such as the hydroelectric dams and reduce conflict over them. The brothers were among a number of activists who continued to oppose the dams’ construction, according to the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office. Energía y Renovación, the Panama-registered company overseeing...

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Court rejects green groups’ appeal in border-wall case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 3 dealt a blow to opponents of federal plans to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, rejecting without comment an appeal challenging the government’s right to enable the project by waiving environmental laws. The appeal, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and co-plaintiffs, had sought to overturn a February ruling in California by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel upholding the waivers. “It’s a little disheartening,” Amanda Munro, of the New Mexico-based Southwest Environmental Center (SWEC), says of the Supreme Court decision. “Our voices as border residents aren’t being heard.”  Munro’s group, the CBD and two other environmental organizations have another suit pending against the federal government over a 20-mile stretch of...

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Nicaragua asks citizen help in curbing sea turtle deaths

Following the deaths of hundreds of sea turtles in Nicaragua since August as a result of red tide and poachers, the Central American nation’s government is turning to citizens and local communities to propel protection efforts. Last month more than 150 sea turtles, most of them hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles, were found dead along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, the apparent victims of the algal bloom known as red tide. Two weeks later, on Nov. 29, the government organized a meeting of community members, park rangers, volunteers, restaurant owners, researchers and environmentalists to discuss how to improve turtle-protection efforts nationwide. The event highlighted the environmental and tourism benefits of sea turtles, while allowing those present to discuss communications efforts aimed at reducing...

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