Sep 29, 2021

Working together is the only way

Smelter with market - credit Keith Slack
Smelter with market - credit Keith Slack

In the last few months, AIDA’s work in La Oroya has been focused on accompanying the petitioners of the case alongside our partners from APRODEH. We have been reviewing and communicating with them especially in relation to their current health situation and the state of the medical care they receive.

Particularly related to the legal case, we have done follow-up actions before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). We have advanced in reviewing and responding to the briefs produced by the State on the case of La Oroya, and we sent updated letters to the IACHR requesting that they issue the full report on the merits of the case.

One of the main activities we’ve done, and one of the most rewarding ones, was an update meeting with the families from La Oroya. This call was on August 28, for a duration of two and a half hours via Zoom. It was a space to give and receive updates, exchange experiences, and overall connect and strengthen the relationships with our partners and clients.

Most of the petitioners and their families were present, as well as our partners at APRODEH and AIDA’s two co-directors. During the meeting, members of APRODEH updated us on the status of the case before the IACHR, we were informed about next steps and on key information that needs to be taken into account in the case. The petitioners also presented information on their current situation, how the overall health of the community is, and their input for the next phase of the case.

Anna Cederstav, one of our co-directors, started working on the La Oroya case before even AIDA was formed – more than 22 years ago! Many of the petitioners remembered those days and their interaction with Anna, and it was a special moment to reflect on how far we’ve come working together since we started the case. We also used the space to inform about AIDA’s leadership transition and the departure of our co-director Astrid Puentes. There was a moment to resolve questions and concerns, and for people to express their feelings and perspective on where the case is going.

For AIDA, working with and for the communities is at the center of our mission. Having the opportunity to connect with and hear from them is essential to continue our work and to build a fair and successful case to defend their right to a healthy environment.

Jul 16, 2021

Stopping a Gold Mine Threatening the Amazon

The Belo Monte Dam is the third-largest dam in the world. The dam is located in the northern part of the Xingu River in Brazil and covers 500 square kilometers of forest and farmland. Due to the dam’s operations, the people of the Xingu have lost a main resource of survival, and over 20,000 people have been forced to leave their communities. A similar situation could happen if Belo Sun Mining Corporation is situated in the region. Belo Sun is a gold mine located in Volta Grande, part of the Xingu River, and if put into operations could leech contaminating fluids, employ high quantities of cyanide and cause acidic waste to reach rivers.

In April, AIDA and Aliados Brasileños held a live stream event with six panelists, including public defenders, scientists, and representatives of stakeholder communities, to debate the effects of the Belo Sun mine. The 2-hour event helped bring visibility to the damage created by the Belo Monte dam to the communities and the ecosystem and amplified why Belo Sun will only destroy the Xingu even more. 

As part of our continued work with the communities in the region, AIDA has been working on a project with Indigenous youth affected by the Belo Monte dam. The project helps create and promote community empowerment. AIDA provided computers, tape recorders, and other communication equipment to communities to produce podcasts and videos showing their resistance and resilience, with the end goal of  lifting up their voices to stakeholder, other communities, and the general public. 

On July 18, 2021, a judge ruled that a provisional hydrograph needs to be implemented by the hydroelectric plant, thus ensuring that life in the Xingu continues. This needs to be implemented on a decaying energy production during 2021 and before February 2022, and should release enough water to maintain life in the river. AIDA is looking forward to the implementation of this provisional hydrograph on the Belo Monte dam which will allow Indigenous communities and people who depend on the river to survive, as well as maintaining the natural ecological cycles. Due to the current electricity crisis in Brazil, this decision is having a greater impact and pressure.

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Jul 16, 2021

Advocating for Coral Reefs over Port Development

Port of Veracruz
Port of Veracruz

Coral and rocky reefs lower the impacts of storms and hurricanes, as well as provide food and shelter to plants and animals. Healthy Reefs Initiative reports state that 60 percent of the coral reefs in the Mexican Caribbean are in either poor or critical condition. 

The Veracruz Reef system is the largest coral ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico, and in 1992 was declared by Mexico’s government as a Natural Protected Area In 2013, the government reduced the size of the Natural Protected Area to expand the port of Veracruz. This expansion of the port is endangering this Reef System

AIDA, alongside our partners Earthjustice and Centro México de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA), is working toward a constitutional protection lawsuit in order to stop the construction of the Veracruz Port and  protect and preserve the Reef System since the construction will cause a significant amount of impact and harm to this ecosystem.

As part of our efforts to protect coral reef ecosystems,, we are working on a report on the current state of conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef. The report will include key recommendations for countries like Mexico on how to improve the management and conservation of this essential ecosystem. 

In  2018, Healthy Reefs Initiative wrote a letter to the Mexican government including  information outlined by AIDA on the importance of preserving its coral reefs, requesting that ten species of parrotfish be included in the nation’s list of protected species. As a continuation of this work, AIDA is actively working on a policy brief on recommendations on the adequate management of parrotfish species in the Baja California Sur region. These species of fish are a key part of the strategy to protect coral reefs because they feed on algae which otherwise deprive the coral of light and oxygen. Populations of parrotfish have declined drastically due to pollution and climate change, and their protection needs to be a priority.

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