Around the Region

Indigenous-rights leader murdered in Costa Rica

Sergio Rojas, a leader of the Bribrí people in southern Costa Rica’s Salitre indigenous territory, was under threat. He knew it, and the Costa Rican government knew it. So did the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which in 2015 called for precautionary measures aimed at ensuring the safety of the Bribrí—a year in which Rojas escaped an attempt on his life. The awareness and attention ultimately did not suffice: on the night of March 18, Rojas, a prominent advocate for protection of indigenous lands and rights, was murdered in his home, his body riddled by 15 bullets. “He was killed hours after he accompanied some neighbors from his community to the public prosecutor’s office, to report threats they had received,” according to...

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Bolsonaro administration fires top Ibama officials

A sudden and unprecedentedly large round of firings at Ibama, the enforcement arm of Brazil’s Environment Ministry, has stirred concern that the right-wing administration of new President Jair Bolsonaro is moving ahead on its pledge to rein in green regulation. Bolsonaro’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, last month dismissed the top Ibama officials in 21 of Brazil’s 26 states as well as in Brasília, the federal capital, producing the largest mass sacking of top-level staff ever at the agency. The move, announced on Feb. 25 and officially implemented three days later, came with no warning or explanation, and those ousted were not informed in advance. But two days later, Salles told the Brazilian daily O Globo that the Ibama state-office heads were removed...

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Gains reported by peninsular pronghorn recovery program

For over four decades, the antelope-like peninsular pronghorn of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula has barely outpaced extinction, its numbers hovering around 200 since a first-ever census in 1976. One of only five pronghorn subspecies, the animal known formally as Antilocapra americana peninsularis suffered significant population loss largely as a result of extensive droughts in the second half of the 20th century. “The climate change registered in the arid regions of Mexico really began around the 1950s,” said Víctor Gelasio Sánchez Sotomayor, director of the Area of Flora and Fauna Protection in Valle de los Cirios for Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp), in a recent telephone interview. “If you compare the precipitation before the 1950s in the arid regions of Mexico...

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Argentina establishes its first environmental court

Argentina’s first-ever environmental court began operating this month in the northwestern province of Jujuy, drawing somewhat reserved applause from green advocates. Environmentalists have enthusiastically supported the concept of such courts, but they say they are concerned that the judge appointed to head the first such provincial tribunal is the wife of an attorney linked to the mining industry. María Laura Flores, who took her post on March 7, is married to Fernando Eleit, who is on the governing board of the Jujuy Mining Chamber representing LSC Lithium. LSC Lithium is one of dozens of companies developing mining projects in Jujuy and neighboring Salta and Catamarca provinces to meet strong world demand for lithium, mainly for use in the manufacture of electric-car batteries. Lithium...

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