“A few years ago, my son was very ill, he had respiratory problems, they kept him under observation, giving him nebulisations. The nurse, who still works there at the clinic, started to question me as soon as I arrived, asking why we were opposed to the hydroelectric dam at that time (Diquís Hydroelectric Project), why we were defending indigenous rights if we were all the same”. Cindy Vargas, Brorán indigenous woman from Térraba in Costa Rica. Extract from an article published in Semanario Universidad (Costa Rica), “Mujeres indígenas denuncian discriminación y racismo en instituciones públicas por ser recuperadoras de tierra”, edition of 28/04/2022.

“In the previous years of armed conflict there were many leaders who also suffered and were disappeared. Those who murdered my son thought that we were still in that era, in which a leader stood up to demand his rights and everyone else remained silent. But they were wrong, because I am not going to keep quiet”, Rodrigo Tot, Q’eqchi leader from Agua Caliente in Guatemala, interview with El País (Spain), article published on 10/02/2022.

“On 8 March 1995, the court declared the arrest warrant “null and void”. Although this decision was not reasoned, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation at that time indicated, in a statement made subsequently (infra para. 63), that the young Juan Francisco López Mejía revealed that he had been coerced into making an incriminating statement, and therefore it was determined that there were no merits for the arrest. On 23 March 1995, the last of the 27 testimonies mentioned was received, corresponding to a colonel of the Army, surnamed Amaya. One year later, on 10 March 1996, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation in Tela submitted a report on the case in which it stressed that “in the investigations of this case very great interests are going to be touched and in any case the investigating officers assigned to the case are in great danger”. Extracts (paragraphs 57-58) from the judgement of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against Honduras handed down in 2009 in the case of Blanca Jeannette Kawas Fernández, Honduran environmentalist murdered on 6 February 1995.

On 30 May 2022, two Commissions of the Chilean Senate (Environment and Foreign Relations) approved the Escazú Agreement: they did so with 7 votes in favour and 2 abstentions (see article in El Monstrador and this official note from the Chilean environmental authorities). Just 24 hours later, the Chilean Senate proceeded to a second vote, which took place on 31 May, with 31 votes in favour, 3 against and 11 abstentions (see official note from the Senate itself and note from Emol).

A generous May for Escazú

These two votes in the Chilean Senate are the culmination of a process initiated in the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, which approved the Escazú Agreement in the first constitutional debate on 11 May 2022: see article in El Monstrador and EFE cable recorded in La Vanguardia. This approval was also made with an overwhelming majority: 105 votes in favour, 34 against and three abstentions.

In the same month of May, a second debate was held in the Chilean Legislative Branch, involving the Upper House (Senate): see this official note from the Senate of 16 May 2022.

The undisputed majorities obtained in both chambers of the Chilean legislature show that the supposed “arguments” against the Escazú Agreement no longer impress, and that they are part of the past.

It is very likely that with such a decisive step, Chile will deposit the instrument of accession to the Escazú Agreement during the month of June 2022, the month of the environment, as is well known.

A brief background

The Escazu Agreement (see full text) was adopted in Costa Rica and its full name is “Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

This regional instrument was adopted, and the date of 4 March was chosen as a tribute from the whole region to the birthday of Berta Cáceres, Honduran Lenca leader, assassinated in 2016 (see Amnesty International’s note published in March 2022 to commemorate 6 years since her assassination and a more recent note on a sentence expected for 18 May 2022 that was not read).

On 22 April, Mother Earth Day, both bodies of the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights made a joint call (see communiqué) demanding the prompt ratification of the Escazú Agreement, pointing out that:

“The Escazú Agreement is a powerful instrument to prevent conflicts through access to participation, information and justice in environmental matters. The Escazú Agreement is also a milestone as it enshrines the protection of defenders and their role, whose spirit reminds us that to defend the environment we must start by protecting those who defend it”.

It is worth noting that for this year 2022, the Goldman Prize in environmental matters included, in the case of Latin America, two Ecuadorian indigenous leaders who have been fighting for many years against extractivist projects (see article in La Vanguardia and article in France24 of 26/05/2022). In Honduras, Berta Cáceres was awarded the same prestigious international prize in 2015.

Costa Rica and Chile: two states in the spotlight

The long negotiation process, which lasted exactly 5 years, 7 months and 7 days, was co-led by Chile and Costa Rica. Two States that put their best teams of negotiators together to bring the discussion process to a successful conclusion among the 33 States that make up the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (better known as ECLAC): a laborious process that required a total of 9 rounds of negotiations (see the final minutes of the ninth and last round of negotiations, held in March 2018 in Costa Rica).

Adopted in March, in the month of June 2018, on the occasion of International Environment Day, as co-chairs Chile and Costa Rica in a joint statement (see full text) emphasised that:

“Both co-chairs invite all thirty-three governments of the region to sign this important treaty and contribute through its implementation to a more comprehensive protection of the environment and the strengthening of Human Rights. They also reiterate that the Escazu Agreement inaugurates, from the particularities of Latin America and the Caribbean, a new standard for the construction and consolidation of environmental democracy. Costa Rica and Chile firmly believe that the early entry into force of the Escazú Agreement will be an unequivocal sign of our region’s vocation to advance towards the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and represents an important contribution to multilateralism”.

This joint declaration of June 2018 is the last official statement by both States in favour of the Escazú Agreement: thanks are due to Chilean diplomacy for having kept it on its official website since then.

It should be noted that in July 2019, in the face of the hesitations evidenced by the approval of the Escazú Agreement in Latin America, both States received a call for attention signed by several United Nations human rights mechanisms, which was also sent to other States (see text of the joint communiqué sent to Costa Rica): despite the large number of signatories to this letter, no further progress was achieved in the case of Chile, nor in Costa Rica.

One more step towards rectification on the part of Chile

This approval in the Chilean Chamber of Deputies on 11 May and then in the Senate on 31 May are important achievements of the Chilean Executive Branch, which allow a new ratification of the Escazú Agreement to be envisaged soon: a regional treaty that already has 12 States Parties (the last ones to ratify it – jointly – in January 2021 being Argentina and Mexico).

On the Latin American side, Chile will join the already registered ratifications (see official status of signatures and ratifications) of Bolivia and Uruguay (September 2019), Panama and Nicaragua (March 2020), Ecuador (May 2020), as well as Argentina and Mexico (January 2021). These are states in which, incidentally, there has not been the slightest outflow of foreign investment or paralysis of their respective economies or legal insecurity since the Escazú Agreement was adopted. Much less an undue invasion of the reversal of the burden of proof in the area of criminal law, as it has been said that the Escazú Agreement would provoke in Colombia, Costa Rica, but also in Peru and Paraguay (Note 1) by some: regarding the latter, we must point out that they have done so in a rather strange way for the Costa Rican case, as we will explain in some of the following lines.

Having signed this regional agreement (in September 2018), but not yet ratified it in the last four years, Costa Rica shares this situation in Latin America with (in addition to Chile) the following states: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Costa Rica, which has historically based its international image on respect for human rights and environmental protection, … in this list of states reluctant to protect the rights of those who defend the environment as well as greater access to public information, transparency and accountability? As strange as it may sound to a Costa Rican, this is how it reads.

With regard to good practices in terms of access to information, transparency and accountability, it is worth referring our esteemed readers to this ECLAC publication entitled “Synergies between open government and the Escazú Agreement”. In the specific case of Costa Rica, we can also refer to this official ECLAC press release issued following a meeting held in San José on 8 March 2022, entitled “Multilateral banking and OECD consider the Escazú Agreement fundamental to generate a climate of sustained and sustainable investment”: an official press release that, strangely, was not referenced in any of the main Costa Rican media (Note 2).

Alleged “arguments” against Escazú that the objective reality completely strips away as time goes by

The Escazú Agreement is an international treaty that establishes exactly the same regime of obligations for all states that approve it, as it does not allow any type of reservation (Article 23) that could modulate or limit the scope of some of its provisions.

In relation to the above statement, it is becoming increasingly clear, as the Escazú Agreement is approved in other parts of the region, that the supposed “arguments” against it heard from political and economic sectors opposed to the Escazú Agreement are in fact not so: By the way, in the case of Costa Rica, a very early journalistic exercise from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) had already detected this: see this Double Check article of 26 April 2021 (whose title and content have not given rise, to date, to any right of response, rectification or clarification by the UCCAEP, an influential Costa Rican business chamber). Recently, the same team of journalists questioned some claims made by an “expert” on oil reserves in Costa Rica during a television broadcast (see link).

Returning to Escazú and some business chambers stubborn in presenting it as dangerous and harmful to Costa Rica’s economy, we had the opportunity to publicly ask them and their (always very helpful) political tokens several questions: see our brief note published in Delfino.cr on 3 March (which, for some reason, has not yet been answered).

We also refer to the article by Costa Rican lawyer Mario Peña (see full text) entitled “Desmitificando el Acuerdo de Escazú” (Demystifying the Escazú Agreement) and published on the specialised legal website DerechoalDia.

Escazú and the reversal of the burden of proof in environmental matters, or the art of threatening with an empty scabbard

With regard to the specific point of the reversal of the burden of proof in environmental matters that seems to be of such concern to some business chambers (as well as to a magistrate of the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica until recently), it is a principle that has been enshrined in Costa Rican legislation and jurisprudence of Costa Rican courts since 1998.

This is detailed in this valuable article by the aforementioned jurist, published in the digital media Delfino.cr: incidentally, this article has not given rise to a clarification or reaction from some, who have invoked the reversal of the burden of proof as an unquestionable “argument” to oppose the Escazú Agreement.

It is worth recalling that the non-acceptance of the principle of the reversal of the burden of proof in environmental matters appeared in the 2011 ruling that put an end in Costa Rican courts to what can be called the “Crucitas affair” (Note 3): an environmental scandal that exposed to the world the dark side of the much-publicised “Green Costa Rica”. The First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica upheld in its entirety the courageous decision of the Contentious Administrative Tribunal (TCA) in 2010 (see text) declaring the Crucitas mining project illegal. A detailed review of the battery of alleged legal “arguments” presented by the Canadian mining company Infinito Gold (see the full text of the First Chamber’s judgment 1469-2011, which is of great interest to read), shows that the reversal of the burden of proof in environmental matters was invoked by the appellant’s lawyers in their appeal: as expected, this argument was rejected out of hand by the members of the First Chamber (see in particular paragraphs XIX and XX of the First Chamber’s judgment). A Canadian mining company appealing a judgment against it … is questioning the application of a basic principle of environmental law in force in the legal system by a Costa Rican court? Just as it reads.

It is worth noting that many of those who warned of an alleged (and of course totally erroneous) “legal uncertainty” in Costa Rica as a result of the 2010 decision of the ATT coincide with those who today oppose the Escazú Agreement.

The loneliness of the Full Court and the Constitutional Chamber in relation to other Latin American Judiciaries

As indicated above, the Escazú Agreement establishes exactly the same regime of obligations for all states that approve it.

Certainly, its discussion has given rise to the sudden appearance of similar (strangely similar) alleged “arguments” against it in several of the States in which political and economic sectors have managed to stop its approval. In the case of Costa Rica, these “arguments” were disseminated by business sectors and their political figures, although a strange coincidence was also detected from another sphere, without any explanation to date (Note 4). Regarding the latter, a member of parliament, in a university radio broadcast, referred to the complex – and unfathomable – relationship between eggs and chickens (see the broadcast available on YouTube of the programme Interferencias of 11 March 2022, Radio UCR, minute 45:15 / 45:48).

However, to this strange coincidence, another Costa Rican strangeness persists in time: it is an unusual “discovery” heard in Costa Rica (and which, to date, has not found any echo in the rest of Latin America). In fact, no other judiciary in the 12 States that have already ratified the Escazú Agreement, nor the Peruvian judiciary (see document), and much less the Chilean judiciary, has held a similar view to that put forward by the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Justice: according to it, paragraph 5 of article 8 of the Escazú Agreement would entail an additional cost for the functioning of the Costa Rican judiciary. Does the Escazú Agreement oblige an additional economic effort for the Costa Rican justice budget, and only in the case of the Costa Rican justice system? What an innovation and creative effort.

It is noteworthy that this strange “discovery” (Note 5) has unnecessarily complicated the approval of the Escazú Agreement as it was later confirmed by six of the seven members of the Constitutional Chamber: Justice Paul Rueda was the only one to explain very well in his dissenting vote the completely erroneous reading made by the Full Court and then by his six peers within the Constitutional Chamber (Note 6).

Contrary to what one might think, this “discovery” should not be seen as fortuitous. Indeed, it would not be the first time in Costa Rica that the majority of the Constitutional Chamber has sought to significantly limit the scope of citizen participation in environmental matters, which is precisely one of the three foundational pillars of the Escazú Agreement. This is a side of Costa Rican constitutional justice that is little publicised and little known, despite the fact that, in our modest opinion, it should be, as well as discussed and denounced. In 2017, the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica decided that citizen participation in environmental matters no longer qualifies (according to it and … only it) as a human right (Note 7). A year earlier, in 2016, the Costa Rican constitutional judge considered that freedom of enterprise prevails over a municipal agreement establishing a moratorium on new pineapple plantations: a municipal agreement taken in the interest of protecting the public health of the communities surrounding this monoculture in the canton of Los Chiles (Note 8).

Demonstration against the Ministry of Health, 21 August 2008, in the presence of the Minister of Health, Maria Luisa Avila, over the somewhat original attempt by the health authorities to legalise the legalisation of chewing gum in drinking water (no joke, legalising chewing gum in drinking water) in several communities affected by the insane expansion of MD2 (or “Sweet Gold”) pineapple plantations in the Siquirres region. In 2011, health authorities shunned a public debate at the same UCR (see note). In 2017, Executive Decree 40423 finally banned the use of bromacil in Costa Rica. Photo from the author’s archives.

This unusual “discovery” of the Costa Rican constitutional judge with respect to the Escazú Agreement has been completely ignored in the recent discussions and consultations held in Chile regarding its approval: in a state where the most fantastic and unsustainable arguments have been put forward by the same state authorities (and this until 2022) and related economic sectors, the “discovery” of the Costa Rican judiciary could already be considered a real “jewel” of creativity and imagination in Latin America.

It is very likely that, with the passage of time (and further ratifications of the Escazú Agreement to come), the profound loneliness – in our opinion quite shameful – of the Costa Rican judiciary vis-à-vis its other Latin American peers will be accentuated.

Chile: a first COP host state without being one at all
Beyond the fact that some influential sectors in Costa Rica question a very basic tool of contemporary environmental law (obtaining unfavourable rulings against them, and nevertheless seem willing to persist in upholding what is clearly unsustainable from a strict legal point of view); and leaving aside the unusual pettiness exhibited by the Costa Rican judiciary, it should be noted that the first Conference of States Parties (COP) to the Escazú Agreement was held in Chile on 20-22 April.

The location of this regional summit was due to the geographical location of the ECLAC facilities, the body that sponsored the negotiations of this innovative regional instrument.

Regarding this first COP, a fundamental meeting for the future implementation of the Escazú Agreement, we refer our esteemed readers to our brief note explaining its scope (both in Spanish and English).

In addition to the 12 States Parties to the Escazú Agreement, delegations from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia and Peru participated in the meeting as observer States, as these States have not yet approved this regional instrument: in the case of Colombia, its official representative did not go unnoticed, being a person known to Colombian social movements and relatives of people killed and/or seriously injured during the protests that took place in Colombia in 2019 (Note 9). Recently (see article published on 22 May 2022 on the Mongabay website), an interview with a well-known environmental activist in Colombia has highlighted the governmental incoherence observed in Colombia in relation to the Escazú Agreement.

In conclusion

On 18 March, the new President of Chile, during a very emotional day at the Palacio de la Moneda, signed the Escazú Agreement, thus putting an end to a crass misreading of his predecessor in office and closing a rather sad parenthesis for human rights and the environment that the administration (2018-2022) meant in general terms in Chile.

From this moment on, the Executive Branch resolutely initiated the process in the right direction (which it should never have abandoned), thus reaffirming Chile’s return and that of its undisputed leadership in the region on environmental and human rights issues: to such an extent that at this very first COP, it was agreed that the second COP (to be held in 2024) will once again be held in the Chilean capital, while an intermediate meeting (2023) will be held in Argentina.

It should be noted that on 3 May 2022, the first step in Chile that started the path towards the early approval of the Escazú Agreement (see, among many, this Swissinfo article reproducing a cable from the EFE news agency), was followed on 4 May by cables from international news agencies reporting what was heard in Costa Rica, which, predictably, goes in exactly the opposite direction (Note 10).

– Notes

Note 1: Given the appearance of very similar “arguments” against the Escazú Agreement in various parts of the American container, valuable efforts from civil society and academia have denounced this real disinformation campaign promoted by some business sectors against this international treaty. In the case of Costa Rica, see in particular PEÑA CHACÓN M., “Desmitificando el Acuerdo de Escazú”, DerechoalDía, 28 November 2020 edition, available here; as well as MADRIGAL CORDERO P. & GONZALEZ BALLAR R., “Acuerdo de Escazú: desmitificando falacias y construyendo argumentos”, Perspectiva Collection, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, August 2021, available here. A very similar effort must have been made in Peru in relation to “arguments” identical to those heard in Costa Rica (see the SPDA report, “Ten myths and truths about the Escazú Agreement: democracy and environmental defenders”, available here) as well as in Colombia (see the publication entitled “Mitos y verdades del Acuerdo de Escazú” available here). An interesting exercise on the balance of information would consist, in the case of the Costa Rican press, as well as in the case of the Colombian and Peruvian press, in analysing the number of references in the mainstream media to these efforts, to be contrasted with the number of references reproducing the alleged “arguments” against Escazú disseminated by corporate sectors.

Note 2: Neither on the day this ECLAC press release was released nor in the following days was there any reference to it in the Costa Rican mainstream media. About 10 days afterwards, on 18 March, it was Semanario Universidad that published this press release.

Note 3: The expression “affaire” refers to the complex political-business network (and a large group of people gravitating around it), which unveiled to the Costa Rican public opinion this case that was brought before the Costa Rican justice system: with a sentence written in 2010 by three judges who referred to a real “orchestration of wills” to explain the multiple illegalities of very diverse nature observed by the Costa Rican State itself. An “orchestration of wills” that, more than 10 years after it was declared as such (2010), then appealed, and reconfirmed (2011), has not yet resulted in a single criminal sentence or the conviction of some of the high-ranking State or company officials involved. In a recent article by the current President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Justice Fernando Cruz, published in La Revista.cr (see text), we read that: “The political and economic importance of the case did not prevent the judges from deciding on the merits of the case, with full consciousness that the decision did not please the political and economic powers that be. It is not easy for a judge to rule against the powerful interests behind the case. This court’s decision is a glowing tribute to judicial independence”. It is necessary to refer our esteemed readers to the dissenting opinion (see text) of this same magistrate in April 2010, when he separated from the criterion of the majority of the members of the Constitutional Chamber together with his colleague, magistrate Gilbert Armijo. In February 2022, we had the opportunity to analyse the latest manoeuvre of the mining company Infinito Gold against Costa Rica, still pending resolution: see BOEGLIN N., “Infinito Gold contra Costa Rica: una nueva maniobra de la empresa minera contra Costa Rica”, Portal de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), Sección Voz Experta, 8 February 2022, available here.

Note 4: Reading this article from the Costa Rican media Ojo al clima, entitled “The Escazú Agreement entered into force without the country that gave it its name”, 26 April 2021, provides an insight into the scope of the Escazú Agreement and the contradictions, misinterpretations and fantasies created by some regarding its content. In this very complete report, whose reading is recommended, we read that: “The Judiciary’s obstruction of the ratification process of the Escazú Agreement has been negative in many ways. First, it departs from the criteria of the technical services of the Legislative Assembly, which said that the situation described in article 167 of the Political Constitution did not exist, and it also departs from the criteria of the technical services of the Judicial Branch, which considers that this bill does not organically affect the functioning of the Judicial Branch, especially in the case of a human rights treaty”, continued the former vice-minister. “Second, magistrate Nancy Hernández, in a note, expresses her interpretative concerns about the Escazú Agreement, which coincidentally are the same concerns that the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector (UCCAEP) has found to oppose the bill”, added Madrigal.

Note 5: On this matter we refer to the section “The strangeness of the Costa Rican judiciary in the face of the Escazú Agreement” in our article BOEGLIN N., “Chile is about to rectify its position on the Escazú Agreement, while Costa Rica is limited with the others to … look?” UCR Portal, Expert Voice Section, edition of March 4, 2022, available here.

Note 6: In the vote of the Constitutional Chamber of March 2020 (see full text), in his dissenting opinion, Judge Paul Rueda points out that: “It is easy to see that such a rule at no time imposes on the Judiciary the obligation to provide free technical assistance, which must be implemented based on the conditions of the legal system of each country. In the case of Costa Rica, such assistance can be provided by any public agencies related to the issue, for example, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Social Defenders of the Bar Association or the legal clinics of the UCR (which does not exclude the cooperation of those corresponding to private universities). Erroneously, the majority vote only thought of the Judiciary and considered that the text consulted “contains in its articles explicit norms that provide for the creation, substantial variation or suppression of strictly jurisdictional or administrative bodies attached to the Judiciary, or creates, ex novo, substantially modifies or eliminates materially jurisdictional or administrative functions”. Based on the foregoing, I maintain that the express text of the aforementioned numeral does not at any point lead to what the Majority assumes”.

Note 7: Regarding such a disconcerting and unseemly conclusion by the Costa Rican constitutional judge in paragraph V of Judgment 1163-2017 (see full text), it is appropriate to note that it was the subject of only two dissenting votes (signed by judges Fernando Cruz and Paul Rueda): the remaining five judges considered that going against the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Chamber itself and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights does not merit any particular reflection. On this dangerous regression of the Costa Rican constitutional judge, see our brief note on the matter. In order not to cause greater embarrassment than that provoked by this decision of the Costa Rican constitutional judge in February 2017, we refer our esteemed readers to paragraph 231 of the Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released in 2018 (see full text), which states very clearly that: “231. Therefore, this Court considers that, from the right to participate in public affairs, derives the obligation of States to guarantee the participation of persons under their jurisdiction in decision-making and policies that may affect the environment, without discrimination, in an equitable, meaningful and transparent manner, for which they must have previously guaranteed access to relevant information”. In paragraph 242 of the same advisory opinion of the Inter-American judge, it is stated that: “g. States have the obligation to guarantee the right to public participation of persons under their jurisdiction, enshrined in Article 23.1.a of the American Convention, in decision-making and policies that may affect the environment, in accordance with paragraphs 226 to 232 of this Opinion”. In a recent study by jurist Álvaro Sagot Rodríguez on the repeated environmental regressions of the Costa Rican constitutional judge, the author cites a 2012 decision of the Constitutional Chamber in which it is textually stated that: “In this sense, environmental law could not lead to a tyranny of citizen participation” (sic) (p. 30 of the aforementioned study).

Note 8: See the full text of judgement 11545-2016, which states: “Having said the above, municipalities do not have the power to prohibit a certain licit economic activity in their territories or to declare moratoriums, definite or indefinite. This competence corresponds to the State, since the law of the Constitution (values, principles and norms) is clear and precise, in the sense that the regime of public freedoms is reserved to the law. In the case at hand, there is no legal provision with the force of law that authorises the municipality in question to prohibit the cultivation of pineapples in its territory, or to declare an indefinite moratorium on the cultivation of this product, and therefore its action is arbitrary and, consequently, contrary to the legal system”. As this is a moratorium for a very precise period of 5 years, it is highly questionable that the Chamber considers it to be an “indefinite moratorium”. Once again, a reading of the dissenting opinion of Judge Fernando Cruz shows how erratic, whimsical and questionable the decision taken by the majority of his colleagues is: Judge Cruz concludes by explaining that “given the threats and harmful effects to health and the environment caused by pineapple cultivation, the communities have full legal and political legitimacy to dictate temporary preventive measures to ensure that their citizens are not harmed by an agro-export activity that causes damage and threats to biodiversity”.

Note 9: The now diplomat Guillermo Botero, with the rank of Colombian Ambassador to Chile, was Minister of Defence in Colombia in 2019, an extremely tense period from a social and political point of view. After his resignation as Minister (November 2019), NGOs and social organisations negotiated with the Colombian Executive Branch the conditions to put an end to the massive street protests: they obtained, among other things, from the Colombian Executive Branch, the signing of the Escazú Agreement (December 2019). Since then, a strong disinformation campaign against the Escazú Agreement has slowed down its approval, orchestrated by Colombian business leaders and related political sectors determined to present it as a real brake on development: these sectors are reluctant to protect the lives and physical integrity of community leaders, peasants, indigenous peoples and environmentalists who defend the environment in Colombia.

Note 10: In this regard, see the article by the German agency DW and, on the part of the French agency AFP, this article by RFI and the article by Le Figaro, as well as the only article that appeared in Costa Rica in the Tico Times reproducing this same AFP cable.