He aquí un hecho vergonzoso del siglo XXI: Defender el planeta puede hacer que te maten.
En la Amazonia peruana, tres líderes indígenas fueron asesinados en el lapso de tres semanas durante febrero y marzo de este año: Herasmo García Grau, Yenes Ríos Bonsano y Estela Casanto Mauricio. Todos ellos intentaban conseguir derechos sobre sus territorios para frenar la deforestación ilegal por parte de plantaciones de coca y palma aceitera, entre otras.
Jiribati Ashaninka, presidente de ORAU, una alianza de 15 pueblos indígenas de Perú, habló conmigo en marzo por Zoom desde su casa en Ucayali, la región donde se produjeron los recientes asesinatos. “Nuestras comunidades nos han pedido a los dirigentes que luchemos” contra el acaparamiento de tierras y la deforestación ilegal, dijo. “Nos han pedido que reivindiquemos nuestros derechos, y por eso estamos en riesgo”.
El riesgo que describe existe también fuera de Perú. Global Witness contabilizó 212 asesinatos de defensores del medio ambiente denunciados públicamente en todo el mundo en 2019, el mayor número desde que empezó a hacer un seguimiento en 2012. (El recuento de 2020 aún no se ha publicado).
Ashaninka dijo que cada asesinato envía un mensaje. “Algunos de nuestros líderes han guardado silencio sobre la cuestión de los derechos a la tierra”, manifestó. “Algunos se han adentrado en el bosque para esconderse”. Dijo que los asesinatos se han producido durante años, pero nunca se ha condenado a nadie. El ministro de Asuntos Internos de Perú a veces emite un informe, comentó, pero “eso no es útil cuando estás muerto”.
La deforestación podría hacer que la Amazonia pase de ser una región que absorbe el carbono a una fuente productora de carbono. Al luchar por su hogar, personas como Grau, Ríos y Casanto nos protegen a todos. Pero no se les da el tipo de protección legal que se ofrece a los testigos en casos penales o a los que denuncian las malas prácticas de las empresas.
Un nuevo pacto regional, el Acuerdo de Escazú, que entró en vigor en América Latina y el Caribe el jueves, Día de la Tierra, será el primero en exigir a los países miembros que proporcionen protección legal a los defensores del medio ambiente.
El acuerdo también pretende que la normativa medioambiental sea más sensible a las comunidades que sufren daños. Los gobiernos de los países miembros están obligados a divulgar información sobre los proyectos industriales propuestos, a garantizar la participación temprana y genuina de la comunidad en las decisiones de concesión de permisos y a crear recursos efectivos cuando las empresas superen los límites de contaminación o se apoderen de tierras de forma ilegal.
El acuerdo de Escazú está retrasado. Mi agrupación ayuda a organizar una red de más de 2.500 grupos de justicia de base en casi todos los países del mundo. Los detalles varían, pero el patrón básico está en todas partes, desde Odisha (India) hasta KwaZulu-Natal (Sudáfrica) y Washington, D.C.: las comunidades con menos poder se llevan la peor parte de la degradación medioambiental y, cuando intentan defenderse, se enfrentan a la intimidación y las represalias.
El presidente Biden ha reconocido esta relación entre la destrucción del medio ambiente y la desigualdad, dando prioridad a la justicia medioambiental en sus planes nacionales.
Pero la política medioambiental global, incluido el enfoque de Biden, sigue siendo en gran medida tecnocrática y descendente, centrada en los compromisos nacionales de transferencia de tecnología y reducción de emisiones. Estas medidas son necesarias, pero no suficientes. El acuerdo de Escazú muestra cómo podría ser la política global de justicia medioambiental.
Cabe preguntarse si los acuerdos internacionales valen mucho, dados los graves desequilibrios de poder en juego y el hecho de que numerosos gobiernos están abrazando el hipernacionalismo. Pero los activistas informan de que Escazú ya ha marcado la diferencia.
Gabriela Burdiles, abogada del grupo chileno de justicia medioambiental FIMA, me dijo que las negociaciones multilaterales sobre Escazú han contribuido a que los derechos medioambientales sean un tema destacado en el debate sobre la nueva Constitución de Chile. Aída Gamboa Balbín, que dirige el programa de la Amazonia de la organización peruana Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, señaló que, sin las negociaciones de Escazú, la sociedad civil no habría podido convencer al gobierno peruano de crear su primer tribunal dedicado a los delitos ambientales, lo que ocurrió en 2018.
En los 12 países que han ratificado Escazú, entre ellos México, Bolivia y Argentina, el verdadero trabajo comienza esta semana, cuando los movimientos locales de justicia ambiental empezarán a presionar para que se aplique de forma efectiva. Burdiles, que coordina con defensores de la causa ambiental en toda la región, dice que tener la palanca común del acuerdo hará que esos movimientos sean más fuertes.
Si el gobierno de Biden está dispuesto a tomarse en serio la justicia ambiental, tanto en el extranjero como en casa, debería apoyar las negociaciones para un acuerdo global de Escazú como segunda parte del acuerdo climático de París. Es tanto una cuestión de justicia como de supervivencia planetaria. “No puede haber cambio climático sin zonas de sacrificio”, escribe Hop Hopkins, agricultor urbano y organizador de la justicia medioambiental. “Y no puede haber zonas de sacrificio sin gente desechable”.
Los que se benefician de las zonas de sacrificio colaboran habitualmente a través de las fronteras nacionales. Es hora de que quienes luchan para garantizar que ninguna comunidad sea desechable tengan las herramientas y el marco legal para trabajar también a través de las fronteras.
Last updated January 30, 2013.
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The Policy was updated in May 2018 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.