Shady contracts, backdoor deals spur illegal gold mining in Bolivian Amazon

LA PAZ — Gold is Bolivia’s second-biggest export, valued at more than $1 billion annually and employing hundreds of thousands of people in the country. But much of that gold has uncertain origins, coming from somewhere deep in the Amazon rainforest, where environmental regulations often go unenforced. Setting up camp in secluded parts of the […]

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In revising its criminal code, Indonesia risks unraveling environmental laws

JAKARTA — An ambitious and long-anticipated plan by Indonesian lawmakers to revise the country’s criminal code, inherited from the Dutch colonial era, could make it much more difficult to prosecute polluting companies, experts warn. The latest draft of the revised penal code, known as the RKUHP, was only recently made publicly available after an uproar […]

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Fighting extractive industries in Ecuador: Q&A with Indigenous rights activist María Espinosa

National protests overwhelmed Ecuador in June, with Indigenous groups mobilizing in nearly every province of the country and President Guillermo Lasso announcing a state of emergency that restricted travel and allowed law enforcement to use aggressive force. The protests were in response to a variety of grievances — gas prices, healthcare, education — but they […]

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Brazilian miners ramp up their invasion of Yanomami land in Venezuela

In southern Venezuela, the headwaters of some of the country’s largest rivers snake through remote parts of the Amazon rainforest near the Brazilian border, where Yanomami, Ye’kwana and other Indigenous communities have lived for hundreds of years. For most of their history, the Yanomami survived without much contact from the outside world, relying on traditional […]

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Miners, drug traffickers and loggers: Is Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park on the verge of collapse?

News articles and opinion pieces have popped up in the pages of different Costa Rican newspapers over the past several years, warning of the imminent collapse of Corcovado National Park, one of the country’s most treasured protected areas. The park is in “agonizing” condition and “on a downward spiral,” some of the opinion pieces said. […]

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Court setback doesn’t sway Indonesian villagers fighting a mining firm

JAKARTA — A court in Jakarta has rejected a lawsuit by a remote island community against a gold-mining operation that overlaps onto their villages, in a ruling deemed “problematic” by anti-mining activists. In its April 20 ruling, the Jakarta State Administrative Court said it had no jurisdiction to decide the case, which it characterized as […]

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New report pieces together toll of environmental damage in Venezuela in 2021

While trying to put together a review of what happened to Venezuela’s environment in 2021, conservationists ran into a problem. The government publishes virtually no statistics on things like deforestation, infrastructure or mining, and it often actively blocks researchers from investigating threats to local ecosystems. Last year, the government appeared to lean more heavily on […]

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