Washington (March 31, 2023) - U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who led Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chairman of the SFRC Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), in introducing a resolution expressing concern regarding environmental crimes and attacks on the human rights of environmental and land defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the face of rising instances of threats, assaults, and killings of those seeking to protect our planet, the senators’ resolution not only underscores the urgency of safeguarding biodiversity and ending impunity for environmental crimes, but also presses regional governments to strengthen efforts to protect the lives and rights of defenders—particularly Indigenous peoples—and calls for additional efforts with hemispheric partners to elevate defenders’ voices in developmental programming and regional fora.
“Environmental defenders and Indigenous activists across Latin America and the Caribbean are putting their lives and safety on the line to stop land grabbers from demolishing wildlife and displacing communities. These unsung heroes are leading the fight against the corporations and extremist governments that are fueling the climate crisis. The United States should do its part to ensure environmental defenders are free from threats of violence and persecution,” said Senator Markey.
“Home to 40 percent of the world’s species and 24 percent of its forests, the Americas have become the deadliest region in the world for environmental and land defenders, who continue to risk everything to halt the callous exploitation and destruction of their livelihoods and their homelands’ precious natural resources and biodiversity,” Chairman Menendez said. “In the face of growing instances of environmental crimes and land-grabbing, they deserve nothing less than the United States’ full support, and that of governments across the region. I look forward to supporting the Administration in working with regional actors, including President Lula, to end impunity for environmental crime in the Americas and bolster initiatives to protect environmental and land defenders.”
“Environmental defenders, who have been targeted at alarming rates, have been critical in our efforts to combat climate change and protect human rights,” said Senator Kaine. “Today, I’m joining my colleagues in expressing concern about the persecution of environmental defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean and urging the U.S. to do more to protect them.”
“The impacts of climate chaos are becoming deadlier and more frequent—threatening our health, planet, and future,” said Senator Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Environmental defenders in Latin America are risking everything to stand up against deforestation, water pollution and other threats to the environment and human rights. We must support those who are exercising their fundamental rights of free expression and association to demand a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.”
“Latin America is the deadliest region in the world for environmental and land defenders, and as we continue to see the increasingly alarming impacts of the climate crisis in California and across the globe, they are fighting to preserve our planet for generations to come,” said Senator Padilla. “We must continue to support and encourage our Western Hemisphere partners in meeting international commitments for protecting Indigenous peoples and other environmental and land defenders.”
Find a copy of the resolution HERE.