These Latinas Are Stomping Out Machismo And Leading The Fight For Environmental Justice Across The Nation

Climate change is real, and it’s increasingly impacting our earth and our lives. The planet is warming at a faster rate than ever before. Sea levels are rising. Natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires to droughts, are occurring all over the world, prompting climate refugees to flee their homes and governments to spend billions of dollars in recovery.

The historic changes happening to our planet has politicians rallying around a Green New Deal. While Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has become the face of this policy, she’s not alone in her congressional fight to instill earth-saving legislation that fights climate change, creates economic opportunity and reduces environmental racism. Latina politicians like Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ environmental task force, is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and has fought throughout her career for low-income, Black and brown polluted communities, as well as Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), the newly-elected congresswoman who, before taking office, worked in environmental justice while heading both the Zoo Miami Foundation and the Coral Restoration Foundation, among others, are tackling problems head-on in government.

But these women stand on the shoulders of everyday Latinas who are doing the work on the ground, those raising awareness, conducting academic research, advocating in their communities and planting trees across the nation. On Earth Day, we are celebrating some of the Latinas fighting for environmental justice across the country.

1. Belinda Faustinos

Belinda Faustinos has worked in environmentalism and conservation for 40 years. The executive director of Nature for All, a coalition of 12 organizations that promotes park access in Los Angeles, she also led efforts that prompted then-President Barack Obama to declare the San Gabriel Mountains a national monument in 2014. Oftentimes the only Latina working toward environmental justice at the start of her career, she is sometimes referred to as “la abuelita of Latinas in environmentalism.”

2. Elizabeth Yeampierre

In New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre is an attorney and climate justice leader. The co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance and the executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latinx community-based organization, Yeampierre has organized for sustainable environmental justice and facilitated with the community to create climate adaptation and community resiliency in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

3. Ana Parras

Ana Parras is the co-director and administer at the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.). Under her leadership, the organization provides community members in the Lone Star State with the tools needed to create sustainable, environmentally healthy communities. They do this through educating individuals on health concerns, the effects of environmental pollution and applicable environmental laws and offering the community opportunities to build effective publics together.

4. Jennifer Ramírez

In California, Jennifer Ramírez is a community organizer at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust. Through the nonprofit, she addresses the city’s park inequities by creating green spaces, like urban parks and community gardens, with those who live in the communities. The young activist wants to create a sustainable planet where youth of today and tomorrow can thrive.

5. Dr. Hilda Lloréns

Dr. Hilda Lloréns is a cultural anthropologist and a decolonial scholar at the University of Rhode Island. The Puerto Rican professor’s research looks at how racial and gender inequality manifest itself in cultural production, nation building, access to environmental resources and exposure to environmental degradation. Most recently, Dr. Lloréns’s research has tackled environmental issues impacting Puerto Rico, especially as it relates to the causes and impacts of Hurricane Maria.

6. Génesis Abreu

Génesis Abreu is a community organizer, educator and researcher working at the intersection of environmental, climate, gender and language justice. The Salvadoran-Dominican activist is currently an organizer with We Act, a Harlem-based org empowering and organizing low-income people of color to build healthy communities and participate in the creation of just policies and practices of health and environmental protection. At We Act, Abreu, who previously received a research grant from the Fulbright Program to study the impacts of climate change on the agricultural practices of indigenous Quechua communities in Peru, recruits Spanish-speaking residents of Upper Manhattan.

7. Marilyn Duran

Marilyn Duran is a community organizer at People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Justice (PODER). The San Francisco-based grassroots organization creates people-powered solutions to the environmental and economic inequities facing low-income Latinx immigrants in the city. The Nicaragüense activist has represented PODER at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006, on the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice’s Youth Leadership Campaign in 2009, as a Reel Justice Fellow learning about media production and storytelling in 2013 and as a Climate Justice Alliance Fellow in 2015.

Read: Here’s How You Can Easily Be More Green And Save Big

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‘Planeta G’ Is A YouTube Series Dedicated To Highlighting Latino Environmental Activists

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‘Planeta G’ Is A YouTube Series Dedicated To Highlighting Latino Environmental Activists

Greenpeace has been fighting to save the planet and the environment since 1971. The Canadian organization has been there to fight for the planet every step of the way and it has fostered new leaders. Planeta G is the latest project out of Greenpeace and it is highlighting Latinos who are in the fight to save the planet and reverse climate change.

Planeta G is here to make sure that Latino environmental activists get the recognition that they deserve.

The bi-weekly web series is centered around exploring the intersectionality between environmental activism and the Latino identity. According to a recent study by Yale, 70 percent of Latinos are concerned about the environment. Latinos are also among the communities more disproportionately impacted by climate change.

According to an interview with Grist, Valentina Stackl and Crystal Mojica started “Planeta G” in order to highlight more Latino voices. Communities of color face several instances of environmental injustice in their communities. This includes lack of access to affordable healthcare, education, and housing.

It is brought to you by two co-hosts: Crystal Mojica.

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Look at all those chickens (jk they’re chinstrap penguins).

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Mojica is a senior communications specialist for Greenpeace USA and, according to the website, has spent a lot of her career in the environmental space. Mojica, who was raised in Colombia as a child, has volunteered for the Peace Corps and worked to advance reproductive rights for all women.

And Valentina Stackl.

Stackl was born in Europe after her mother, a Jewish-Chilean journalist, fled the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. After moving to the U.S. at 16, Stackl got involved in international environmental justice starting with working with farmworkers.

The co-hosts are also using their platform to remind people to vote and the importance of using their voice.

The next election is drawing near and there are so many reasons for Latinos to vote. They have to make their voices heard and there are several issues that deeply impact the community.

“Latinx people are especially becoming more empowered than ever before to speak out. But we’ve done it before,” Stackl told Grist. “Historically, we think back to Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez and the labor movement. Sometimes we forget that. We care. The experiences of the people that we’ve spoken to on the show reflect that.”

The co-hosts are delivering more than interviews to combat climate change.

It is known that the vegan diet is more sustainable and better for the environment. Being vegan means you are helping to cut down on greenhouse gases from farming. There is also the benefit of not contributing to deforestation for farmland due to the demand of meat in the world.

The vegan versions of Latino foods is still in line with the web series’ mission to challenge dispel myths about Latinos. Planeta G is showing how you can make some delicious versions of Latino food without using all of the animal products. They even promise to fool your mom.

READ: Environmental Advocates Are Offering Tips On How People In Mexico City Can Shop With The New Plastic Bag Ban

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Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

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Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve is one of the world’s most famous wildlife hotspots. Hundreds of thousands come each year to view the annual migration of millions of beautiful butterflies that call Mexico’s Michoacan state home during the winter.

However, this iconic and majestic habitat for one of the world’s most endangered animals is now the backdrop for a dramatic murder mystery that is unfolding in international headlines. Two conservationists have been discovered dead just days apart and investigators still aren’t sure why.

A second victim has been pronounced killed by authorities in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly reserve.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

One of the world’s most beautiful wildlife spots is now the backdrop for a dramatic double murder after two nature activists are discovered dead at Mexico’s El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary.

The deaths of Homero Gomez Gonzalez, manager of the butterfly reserve, and Raul Hernandez Romero, a tour guide at the sanctuary, have sent shockwaves across the world of wildlife conservation.

Hernandez Romero’s body was discovered on Saturday near the highest point of the mountainous sanctuary, which sits 9,000 feet above sea level in the state of Michoacan, about 130 miles west of Mexico City, according to a statement from the Michoacan state prosecutor’s office. Hernandez Romero’s family reported him missing on Friday, officials said.

The new victim was found just days after the first victim’s body was found after being missing for 16 days.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

Authorities discovered his body about three days after the Hernandez Romero’s body was found in a pond near the Central Mexico town of El Soldado, prosecutors said.

An autopsy performed in the presence of State Human Rights Commission representatives determined Gomez Gonzalez died from “mechanical asphyxiation” after suffering head trauma and being submerged in water.

Gomez Gonzalez, whose family reported him missing two weeks ago, was one of the region’s most prominent conservation activists and a vocal defender of the monarch butterflies. He had launched a campaign against illegal logging that threatens the butterflies nesting grounds.

Although petty crime and theft is common in these parts of Mexico, authorities don’t believe this to be the case in Gonzalez’s death. He was found with about $9,000 pesos (or about $500 USD) on him when his body was discovered.

Mexico’s Monarch butterfly preserve is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

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Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies make their home at the El Rosario reserve in Mexico — one of the best places in the world to see them. Local guides lead tourists up the mountainside on foot and horseback to where the monarchs cluster in fir and pine trees. Their bright orange wings flit amid the mild weather of Michoacán, and signs ask for silence as visitors enter the nesting areas.

The El Rosario sanctuary is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, calling the overwintering concentration of butterflies there “a superlative natural phenomenon.” It noted that more than half of overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly’s eastern population are found in these specific areas of Mexico.

But the same forests that draw butterflies to migrate thousands of miles each winter are under threat from illegal logging and clandestine avocado farms.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Officials in the state of Michoacán said they were unsure if the two deaths were linked – or related to the men’s work in the butterfly reserve. The state has seen a rising tide of violence in recent years, and the region around the monarch butterfly reserve has been rife with illegal logging, despite a ban imposed to protect the monarchs, which winter in the pine- and fir-covered hills.

Some illegal clearcutting is also carried out to allow for the planting of avocado orchards – one of Mexico’s most lucrative crops and an important part of Michoacán’s economy.

The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection.

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