Open data policies in Latin America have not yet enabled communities to exercise their right to access to information, consultation and participation with regard to mining or infrastructure projects that affect their surroundings and way of life.
“This plant heals 150 ailments, like diabetes, high blood pressure and gastritis. It's prepared as an infusion or blended with water, and you take it every day," says Clemente Calixto, a traditional indigenous healer in Mexico, holding up a green leafy branch.
“The countries of Latin America have not fully committed themselves to the international conventions and have not given indigenous peoples access. Nor have their contents been widely disseminated,” to help people demand compliance and enforcement, said Guatemalan activist Ángela Suc.
The emergence of fracking has modified the global market for fossil fuels. But the plunge in oil prices has diluted the effect, in a struggle that experts in the United States believe conventional producers could win in the next decade.
The Mexican government has increasingly turned to public–private partnerships (PPPs) to build infrastructure in the energy industry and other areas. But critics say this system operates under a cloak of opacity and is plagued by the discretional use of funds.
U.S. activist Vera Scroggins has been sued five times by the oil industry, and since October 2013 she has faced a restraining order banning her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest players in Pennsylvania’s natural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will include targets for information and communication technologies, such as strengthening the Internet. And Latin America will be behind from the start in aspects that are key to increasing its educational and medical uses, bolster security and expand bandwidth.
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.