Drugs, mining, monoculture threaten Guatemala’s mangrove ecosystems

On Guatemala’s Caribbean coast, criminal activity is destroying mangroves and the livelihoods of families who depend on them. Yet Guatemala’s mangrove ecosystems are connected to those of Honduras, Belize and Mexico. What happens to one affects the others.

Francelia Solano writes in Nómada.

“According to Guatemala’s Center for Conservationist Studies (CECON), Lake Izabal’s famous ‘Bird Island’ will soon disappear.

The mangroves to the left are damaged and divided, and their foliage is scarce. The mangroves to the right are thriving. The difference between them is a border; to the left is Guatemala, and to the right is Belize.

The trees seem to embrace each other as their interlaced branches grip the marshy terrain where land and water merge. These mangroves are key to the survival of Guatemala’s biggest lake, Lake Izabal, and therefore the local economy, 80% of which depends on the lake.

Though they are indispensable, the mangroves are being plundered in clear view of the authorities. Drug trafficking, mining and vast plantations of crops like African palm gag local residents who are afraid to speak out even though they see the livelihoods that have sustained their families for generations gradually disappearing.”

Drug trafficking, mining, monoculture, especially African palm oil and bananas, and illegal fishing are all having a terrible effect on the human population, as well as the ecosystem.

You can read the full piece, in English, with links and photos, here, in Nómada, translated from the original article in Spanish, by Monica Santizo and Richard Brown.



Categories: Culture, Environment, Guatemala, Indigenous peoples, Land, Legal, Mining, Natural Disaster, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Violence

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