¡Hola, amigx! My name is Maria Victoria, and I’m writing to you from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I live. I am 350.org’s Latin America Senior Campaigner, and I spend most of my days doing what I like the most: meeting, strategizing, and supporting fellow activists invested in building a better and more equitable future for us all.
I’ve been a campaigner for many years now – long enough to know that there is a lot of truth to the saying that “together we are stronger.” That’s why 350.org in Latin America is going all in for building and strengthening grassroots connections in 2023. We have ambitious plans to train local activists and leaders, provide support materials, help build campaigns, foster new links and networks, and help already existing ones to flourish! And I feel really excited about it, because the progress we’ve already made is so encouraging:
Every day, in Argentina and other countries in Latin America, I see people and groups standing up to the economic and political power of the fossil fuels industry. They are fighting against explicit and hidden lobbying, greenwashing, and false “development” narratives that frame oil and gas as necessary – and, sometimes, they are also fighting against direct violence. In this last year, we have worked closely with groups in many countries to push for the ratification of human rights protection agreements and to provide them with tools they need to counter big oil and gas.
In Argentina, we focused on research and building awareness over the huge social and environmental costs of fracking in Patagonia. Vaca Muerta is the world’s second-largest shale gas reserve and the fourth-biggest shale oil reserve. Fracking there means unlocking a huge amount of emissions that our planet cannot handle, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of people, wrecking crucial ecosystems, and locking the Argentinian economy into a spiral of debt. We have produced an in-depth report and a documentary about the real costs of fracking, which we are launching soon and will promote and share extensively in the next year.
We have also been working closely with the impacted communities in the region of Neuquén, to keep shale gas and oil in the ground. And in the next year, we plan to expand our support to another fight that is emerging on the Atlantic coast of Argentina: the government is planning to build a pipeline and a harbor in the Gulf of San Matías, to be able to export what’s extracted from Vaca Muerta. The grassroots communities in this region – indigenous people, fishermen, and farmers – were successful in banning oil and gas there 30 years ago, but the fossil fuel lobby pressured local congress members to revoke the protection law.
Our job is to do everything we can to support these communities in their fierce opposition, and help connect the many local fights across the continent to each other, while we are working to amplify clean energy solutions. Because, together we are stronger indeed.
Latin America has seen wins and losses in the environmental front in 2022. While deforestation has ramped up, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile have elected leaders who are committed to climate action. We want to help the climate movement expand, connect, and grow in the continent in the next year, so that we can achieve a safer and more just future for our communities.
Thank you so much for taking a moment to read about our work in Latin America. I hope we can count on your support and solidarity.
Maria Victoria Emanuelli
Latin America Senior Campaigner