A few centuries ago, the biotechnology industry would have been able to buy a papal bull to expiate its sins and grant it redemption. But in his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si”, Pope Francis condemns genetically modified organisms (GMOs) without leaving room for a pardon.
While most of Latin America has been reducing poverty, Mexico is moving in the other direction: new official figures reflect an increase in the number of poor in the last two years, despite the billions of dollars channeled into a broad range of programmes aimed at combating the problem.
“Our rights are only partially respected; in some places we are given special attention, but in others it is quite the opposite. There is a lack of education and respect for people my age,” Hilda Téllez, a 70-year-old Mexican woman, told IPS.
“People don’t know what ‘fracking’ is and there is little concern about the issue because it’s not visible yet,” said Gabino Vicente, a delegate of one of the municipalities in southern Mexico where exploration for unconventional gas is forging ahead.
Her last two jobs left a bitter taste in the mouth of Yoloxochitl Solís, a 48-year-old single mother from Mexico. She sums up the experience in two words: abuse and discrimination.
“It hurts us that our land is affected, and the environmental impacts are not even measured. Wind farm projects affect streams and hurt the flora,” said Zapotec Indian Isabel Jiménez, who is taking part in the struggle against the installation of a wind park in southern Mexico.
Laura Romero has piped water in her home for only a few hours a day, and at least once a week she is cut off completely. Like the rest of the residents in her neighbourhood in the north of the Mexican capital, she has to store water in containers like drums or jerrycans.
Latin America is making heavy weather of setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, which all countries must present ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference later this year.
“I would tell institutions and companies that are aware of the enormous damage they do to the soil, plants and the environment, to respect the decisions of the people. They are attacking life and health,” complained Taurino Rincón, an indigenous Mexican.
Traditionally, falling oil prices have discouraged development of renewable energy sources, but clean energy is making steady progress in Latin America, according to regional experts.
Carlos Trujillo refuses to give up, after years of tirelessly searching hospitals, morgues, prisons, cemeteries and clandestine graves in Mexico, looking for his four missing brothers.
The mother tongue of Celso García, a 51-year-old indigenous Mexican, is Mixteca. As a boy, García, the father of one of the 43 students forcibly disappeared four months ago, had to learn Spanish to make his way in mainstream society in this country where most people are of mixed-race heritage.
The Mexican government will face close scrutiny from the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances – a phenomenon that made international headlines after 43 students from a rural teachers college were killed in September in Iguala, in a case that has not yet been fully clarified.
Although it is one of the victims of global warming, water will not be given a place of importance at the COP20 climate change conference to be held Dec. 1-12 in Lima, Peru.
Sandra G. works Monday through Saturday in a beauty salon on the south side of Mexico City, where she earns slightly more than the minimum wage, which in this country is just five dollars a day.