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Latin American Voices at COP26

By Isabel Leask, Michelle Benzing and Sonja Rijnen-

It is a well-known fact that the climate crisis adversely affects the global south. Most will have seen images and footage of the Amazon burning but in recent years, Latin America has also experienced a rise in the frequency of severe weather extremes that have caused southern glaciers to melt whilst causing floods and droughts throughout the region. It is estimated that by 2050, 17 million people in Latin America could be displaced due to water scarcity, fewer crops and rising sea levels, all caused by climate change.

Many Latin American climate activists, indigenous peoples, and politicians have travelled to Glasgow for COP26 to have their voices heard on the climate crisis occurring in their region. Here is what some of them have to say.

Natalia Cruz- Indigenous healer from San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico

"My Name is Natalia Cruz Bautista. In Mexico, I give medicines and medicinal plants to those who ask for them. I also look after animals such as toads and cats and others that are in harmony with nature. I have come [to COP26] to share my ancestral knowledge with those that want to listen. I want people to understand that everything is in harmony with the earth, the sun and nature. I have come to leave as a message the small amount of knowledge I have that plants and animals are also important in our lives."

Judith Pereira, Youth and climate change Network of Costa Rica

"For us, it is very important to be here because Latin America is at the frontline of the crisis and we are feeling the consequences of a crisis that we did not even create so our voices must be here and our perspectives must be included in the climate negotiations."

Nancy- Waorani delegate from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador

"[In Ecuador] there are a lot of oil tankers in the north that have caused a lot of contamination. We want to live healthily and defend our territory so that we have good trees, good earth and good water, but we are very worried about the contamination in the north. The Ecuadorian government does not help the indigenous and we suffer more. The government is investing a lot of money [in the mines] and we have no resources which also means we cannot work in tourism. [We have come to COP26] because we want your help and we want you to see how we are living. This is why we have come so far."

Nahuel- Mapuche delegate from the Valparaíso Region, Chile

"We came [to glasgow] to take care of something very important to us and also for everyone else, which is food. This is needed for people to fight, to be strong, to grow and to thrive. [From COP26 I want] more recognition as [in Latin America] there are not many events like this one. There is a change in the new generations. My mother and grandparents always told me that one has to do everything with the next generation in mind, not for yourself, or else you will never achieve change. For the next generations, we need to change and to improve and ensure that this does not continue."

Tarcila Rivera Zea, Indigenous activist, Founder, Chirapaqous, Peru

"[Latin America] is a region that has been very affected by climate extremes and so indigenous peoples as well as the population in general need leaders and governments to make decisions that can realistically be implemented by countries. We have heard of many global offers and agreements that in the end, on the local scale, are hardly felt so our request is that they can compromise to implement policies that can be felt."

Karin Watson, @latinasforclimate, Chile

"I would say that COP26 its not just important but crucial for Latin America but also for most countries and people in the global south because, here, basically they are speaking about our present and our future. They are basically negotiating with our homes and our rights such as to a healthy environment, to a place to live and to our lands. "


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