Things That Matter

Environmentalists Are Outraged At The US’s Latest Plans To Use The Galapagos Island As An Airstrip

Ecuador is receiving heavy criticism for giving the U.S. military permission to use a Galapagos island as an airfield. The proposed plan by Ecuador to allow the U.S. to use an airstrip on the Galapagos island of San Cristobal has drawn anger from local politicians and activists that say more harm than good will be done. The historic islands in Ecuador are one of the most biodiverse regions on the globe and are home to a number of species found nowhere else on the planet.

Ecuador and the U.S. plan on using the island as a way to stop drug trafficking flights.

Credit: guillaumelong/Twitter

Under the deal with Ecuador, the Pentagon will use the tiny airport on the San Cristobal island to “fight drug trafficking”, defense minister Oswaldo Jarrin told Latin American TV network Telesur.

Jarrín announced Ecuador President Lenín Moreno’s administration’s decision to expand an existing airfield on the San Cristobal Island for U.S. spy planes targeting drug traffickers on June 12. The aircrafts that would be used include a Boeing 777 and a Lockheed P-3 Orion.

According to the Los Angeles Times, multiple Latin American nations like Colombia, Peru, and Panama don’t allow the basing of U.S. anti-drug overflights controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Ecuador’s constitution, which was adopted in 2008, prohibits the installation of foreign military bases in the country.

Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa tweeted “Galápagos is NOT an ‘aircraft carrier’ for gringo use. It is an Ecuadorian province, world heritage site, homeland.”

Following mass criticism, Jarrin said that the Galapagos Islands would not become home to a U.S. military base or any kind of permanent post. “A base means permanence, there will be no permanence,” Jarrín said.

He added that flight crews would stay a week at most on the island and activities would be monitored by Ecuadorian authorities. The Pentagon would also have to pay for any needed “readjustments” to the airfield, which some fear could lead to environmental harm.

Critics of the proposed plan say the move could threaten the fragile environment of the island.

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s most famous areas known for its unique array of wildlife and natural plants. Famed for its rich biodiversity, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.

Many fear that construction or possible use of the island for military purposes will harm wildlife and other organisms there. The increasing number of tourists have already caused some concerns. The number of tourists visiting the islands rose from 161,000 in 2007 to over 225,000 in 2016, the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association said.

At this time, it’s unclear if Ecuador will proceed with its plans with the U.S. as many have criticized the proposed plans. The Pentagon has yet to comment or confirm any such agreement with Ecuador.

READ: New Research Shows Most Undocumented Immigrants Aren’t Coming From Mexico But Instead Central America

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Photo Of Volcanic Ash In The Shape Of La Calavera Catrina Is Going Viral

Culture

Photo Of Volcanic Ash In The Shape Of La Calavera Catrina Is Going Viral

@essmealvarez / Twitter / Public Domain

Latinos are nothing if not superstitious. We see signs everywhere and quickly believe anything our abuelas tell us. The latest manifestation that is catching everyone’s attention is the image of La Calavera Catrina in volcanic ash. The volcano erupted in Mexico and the shape of the ash is honestly impressive.

The Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico put on a special show recently.

A resident living near the volcano captured a photo that showed the volcanic ash creating that face of La Calavera Catrina. La Calavera Catrina is one of the most famous symbols of the Day of the Dead celebrations. It is really easy to see the shape taking form in the volcanic ash that is rising over the city.

Naturally, the image is making its way around the world via social media.

Social media is good for sharing things like this far and wide. The internet loves a volcano eruption and Latinos love a superstitious or traditional sightings. This is obviously heightened in 2020 when travel is impossible and omens are literally everywhere.

People are using the natural phenomenon to educate people about La Catrina.

La Calavera Catrina was not always associated with Día de los Muertos. It was originally drawn by artist José Guadalupe Posada as satire to call out Mexicans striving to be European. The description for La Calavera Catrina included the word garbancera, which was a name given to Mexicans who rejected their indigenous backgrounds. The description further calls attention to the Mexican women who, like La Catrina, wore big hats and used so much makeup that their faces looked whiter and whiter.

Over the years, La Catrina became a symbol for Día de los Muertos.

Over many years, Posada’s image has become a major part of the Día de los Muertos celebrations throughout Mexico. La Catrina was always known after her creation, however, it was Diego Rivera who made her famous. The artist created a mural in the historic center of Mexico City across from Alameda.

Rivera added the body and dress to Posada’s original creation. La Catrina stands between Rivera and Posada in the mural that was painted between 1946 and 1947.

The history lesson is a welcomed accompaniment to the stunning natural phenomenon.

Who doesn’t like to see pieces of our history shared far and wide? The history of La Catrina is another moment to dispel the myths and misconceptions people have of Mexican and Latino culture.

READ: ‘La Calavera Catrina’ Is Getting Her Own Parade For ‘Día De Muertos’ In Mexico City This Year And We Have All The Deets

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

Things That Matter

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

valentinastackl / Instagram

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.

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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