ClimateCovid P2.3: Climate Justice in Central America



Panel 2.3: Climate Justice and Indigenous Communities

“Food Scarcity and Climate Justice in the Guatemalan Highlands”
Melina Smith (

“Water Equity and Climate Justice in Guatemala”

Shea Cheatham

Q & A

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3 replies
  1. Cambria Wilson says:

    Shea, you shared so much important information that I had little to no prior knowledge about, so I thank you for this talk! I did know that the United States had a long history of violent colonialism in Central America, but the specific pathways this continues today were not well known to me. I liked and agreed with what you said about how humans are part of the environment, so climate justice includes social justice for humans that are negatively impacted by polluting sources as well. I was enraged especially when you introduced the Chixoy Dam which not only displaced the Maya people, but led to overconsumption and then pollution of all connecting waterways. I was disappointed but not surprised to hear that this also vastly impacted the food security of the people too. Although this was a deeply saddening talk, I really value the power of knowledge and I think that the more awareness spread about these issues, the more solutions and public support will arise. It’s about time that the mining ,agriculture, waste management, and other industries were held accountable.

  2. Genevieve Stiers says:

    Melina, I really appreciated how you spoke about not only handing people food/water as a temporary solution, but also engaging with the community and giving them the resources and education to allow them to be partners in a long-term, self-sustaining solution. How does the community perceive this outside intervention? Are they willing to collaborate or hesitant to receive outsiders? Also, what success have you seen as a result of this practice?

  3. Genevieve Stiers says:

    Shea, while spending time in Guatemala a few years ago, I spoke with local activists who were desperately trying to stop foreign businesses’ exploitation of indigenous peoples’ land and water system. However, these activists have only been met with cruelty and physical violence from these foreign corporations and domestic government. Will there ever be any sort of accountability for these massive foreign businesses degrading Guatemalan land and water? Or will they just be able to walk away, leaving their destruction as something for the Guatemalan people to fix? Will they ever feel responsible for the effects of their actions?

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