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17 September 2013

By Tania Paz, assistant general AIDA,  @TaniaNinoshka 

"The earth will be like men" (Nahuatl saying)

" They murdered a company of the group in Amatlan , " was the message that touched my cell Friday afternoon August 2. They had killed Noah Vazquez Ortiz: artisan, farmer and member of the collective defense Green Nature Forever , a group of citizens in the municipality of Amatlán de los Reyes (Veracruz, Mexico) since 2011 fighting against the construction of hydroelectric El Naranjal . The project will affect the rivers in the area and a total of 30,000 people in five surrounding municipalities.Photo: Protest against hydroelectric El Naranjal.  Source: www.afectadosambientales.org

Noah was killed while picking flowers and seeds for the ritual would begin the tenth anniversary of the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and Defense of Rivers (MAPDER).

I did not know even know Noah and Amatlán de los Reyes. However, for three years the struggle of the people amatleco its territory is not unknown to me. The tragedy made ​​me think: why defend the environment? What motivates people who risk their lives for that cause?

In this article I share the reasons why I think you should defend the environment. I do not pretend of course say that the reasons set forth herein are theirs, but I think we approach a little to their motivations.

Right to a healthy environment

Living in a healthy environment is a human right established in the Stockholm Declaration of 1972 and reaffirmed in the Rio Declaration of 1992. This law allows the enjoyment of others such as the right to life, the right to food and food security, and the right to access to safe drinking water and sanitation through the protection of water sources, forests and wildlife. Environmental advocates are especially human rights defenders as he once said Maria Jose Veramendi, lawyer AIDA .

Defend our identity as peoples

Natural resources have played a significant role in the development of civilizations throughout human history. This role is manifested in the construction of culture and identity of peoples. In Mesoamerica, legends, tales, myths, some traditions and idiosyncrasies of peoples are elements intrinsically related to the gifts of nature . The famous legend of "La Llorona", linked to the rivers, is an example. In Nicaragua, at Easter, one is made ​​Via Crucis water in Lake Nicaragua, the largest source of freshwater in the country.Photo: Representation of the Cross on Lake Nicaragua (Nicaragua).  Source: http://www.lavozdelsandinismo.com

In Mexico, in the territory inhabited by the rarámuris, "corn is the backbone of the indigenous culture of the Sierra Tarahumara , as of all ethnic groups of the country and all that implies changes in production, consumption and distribution this grain means a transformation in own social, cultural and biological reproduction of the ethnic groups that live there, "said Almanza Mayor (2004) .

What will happen to all the cultural wealth and identity of peoples when natural resources are exhausted ? Will we lose our identity of peoples? These are questions worth asking.

Continuity of the human species

For me, environmental sustainability is a way of preserving the continuity of the human species with a high level of welfare and quality of life. A well - known text of a Chief Seattle of the tribe Suwamish -in response to supply the US president, Franklin Pierce, to buy the Northwest Territories Country (1854) - versa: "Everything that affects the earth, affects to earth's children. When men spit on the ground, they spit upon themselves. "

And it is that apparently the damage caused to the environment we are charging bill. According to the latest estimates (2013) of the World Health Organization (WHO), more than two million people die each year due to the inhalation of small particulate pollutants from indoor air and outdoor spaces, as well as malaria , because of the death of about one million children under five, mostly in Africa. The threat of malaria may be exacerbated as a result of handling and poor storage of water, inadequate housing, deforestation and loss of biopersidad .

In conclusion, defend the environment is certainly not an easy task. At different levels - whether in communities, international organizations and civil associations and non - governmental organizations such as the case of AIDA the task requires many hours of work and time and hours of family and friends is sacrificed. Also they spend many hours in the study to improve the quality of work performed . And in many cases, the defense of the environment involves risking life for the benefit of others , of society.

This confirms that it is the duty of governments, national and international authorities, providing the necessary protection and guarantees to the defenders of the environment.

Sobre el Autor

tania's picture
Tania Paz

Tania Paz es nicaragüense y colaboró con AIDA en las áreas de administración y comunicaciones desde la oficina de Ciudad de México. Cuenta con una licenciatura en Administración de Empresas por la Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), Managua y estudia la Maestría en Políticas Públicas de la Universidad Iberoamericana en México. Tiene experiencia en investigación, trabajo comunitario, desarrollo rural, municipalismo y procesos de incidencia en políticas públicas.