Jani Silva, Danelly Estupiñan, Joel Rodríguez and María Ciro defend the environment in Colombia. They face death threats and persecution for it. Read their stories.

Colombia is the country in Latin America with the highest number of killings of human rights defenders and the second most dangerous in the world to carry out this work.

Who faces the most risk?  The defenders who work to defend the land, territory, and environment in rural areas, in Indigenous, campesino (peasant farmer) and Afro-Colombian communities. They find themselves trapped between the violence caused by the armed conflict and disputes over land and natural resources.

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Jani Silva, Amazonian environmental defender

Jani was born in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. She is a brave campesina who has dedicated her life to defending our oxygen and our water. In 2008, Jani co-founded the Association for the Comprehensive and Sustainable Development of the Perla Amazónica (ADISPA). ADISPA defends the rights of more than 1,200 campesinos living in the “Perla Amazónica peasant farmer reserve area” in Putumayo, a uniquely diverse region in the south of Colombia.

Jani Silva, Amazonian environmental defender

Joel Chipiaje Sikuani, Indigenous environmental defender

Growing up among displacement and poverty, Joel heard stories of when his father and the elders in his Indigenous community, ASEINPOME, lived in their ancestral land full of natural resources, water, and food. They told the story of how armed individuals forced them to leave their home by committing violent acts against their race: the hunting and systematic killing of Indigenous people.

Joel Chipiaje Sikuani, Indigenous environmental defender

Danelly Estupiñan. Afro-Colombian environmental defender

Danelly grew up among mangroves and Afro-Colombian music. At 15 years-old she decided to dedicate her life to defending her urban African land from the economic interests of non-state actors such as companies and armed groups.

Danelly Estupiñan, Afro-Colombian environmental defender

María Ciro campesina environmental defender

Raised in the Colombia countryside, shaped by the work to produce food in the midst of the Colombian armed conflict, María Ciro is a campesina woman who has dedicated her life to showing that nature is not an object to be exploited but a living being which we rely upon.

María Ciro, campesina environmental defender

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