European Speakers Tour

November 9, 2009  |  Events, News, Our work

LAMMP and the Union of Latin American Women (ULAM) hosted the first European Speakers’ Tour. The Tour provided a forum for a number of rural and indigenous women activists from Latin America to voice their concerns and share their experiences with the European public and members of parliament.

The rural and indigenous women from Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru who took part in the European tour organised by LAMMP in October brought emblematic cases illustrating the
range of obstacles faced by courageous women whose activism is grounded in environmental values and stems from a simple urge to survive.
Their stories show the immense influence of the extractive industry and its capacity to shape the destiny of the region. The women’s unsettling testimonies also emphasise that the expansion of the extractive industry in Latin America is happening at great speed and at the expense of rural and indigenous land.

At a general level, the women’s stories show political and corporate practices that have plagued the region for decades: lack of consultation and criminalisation of anti-mining activism. These are coupled with denial that the extractive industry has any impact on the environment or that it is linked to human rights abuses. The conclusion is that when it is easy to intimidate communities neither governments nor corporations seem willing to engage and obtain a social licence. The impact of these corporate
practices on the erosion of democratic values cannot be exaggerated: they underpin people’s distrust of governments. The range and severity of the violence against women who oppose mining is remarkable. This probably explains why the women’s stories show that they are emotionally troubled and unable to deal with the human tragedy that they live within their families and in their communities.

For the women who participated, the European Tour had a significant impact on their lives and inspired them to continue their struggle “for the right to have rights”. The expressions of support were particularly welcomed by the indigenous women from Guatemala. They could not avoid contrasting the poverty of their communities, deprived of basic services, with the high standards of life of Europe and the wealth they saw in London and Brussels. Above all, many reported in admiration how good it felt to meet and talk at great length to members of foreign governments, MPs and MEPs. A meeting with a member of their government or a representative of a political party is something that in their countries is virtually
impossible to obtain. On behalf of all the delegates, LAMMP would like to express our gratitude to all the people, organisations and funders who with their help and support made the tour such an outstanding success.

Read the complete LAMMP Report EuropeanTour

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