Human Rights PROJECT THE PROBLEM:
Recent development activities, including the mega development Tres Santos, as well as smaller projects, have challenged the dwindling regional aquifer, forced fishermen off their traditional beaches, damaged fragile sand dunes along the coast, and destroyed endangered plants that protect the coastal landscape. There is ample evidence that Municipal and State authorities are not enforcing the terms and conditions of zoning and development plans, environmental laws and water regulations, and in fact often pursue contradictory agendas. These practices by “the state” have subsequently influenced events and shaped outcomes that have resulted in environmental damage, social conflict and unsustainable growth.
Contrary to stated public policies, officials often fail to enforce environmental laws or ignore violations. We have seen this at city, state and federal levels where corrupt officials grant illegal permits and concessions. Often agencies charged with protecting the environment act in collaboration with developers and industry revealing the ambivalence and contradictions between the rule of law and the resulting failure of application.
In Todos Santos building permits have been issued for the construction of homes on fragile dunes. Water concessions have been granted where there is a moratorium. In Pescadero, the primary wetland was destroyed in one day when hundreds of loads of dirt were trucked in to filled in the lagoon.
Of particular concern is the increased use of legal actions and human rights abuses by developers, industry and “the state” that are intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with costly legal defense or personal threats until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Or through the use of social media and the press to defame, humiliate and create fear in those acting as environmental stewards.
- Provided legal assistance to the Cooperativa Punta Lobos, when they were under threat from a mega-development.
- Actively worked to have political prisoners released, after 94 days of detainment.