2005

Father José Andrés Tamayo

Last Name: 
Tamayo

En Español | English Bio | Lanzamiento de Prensa

Despite death threats and harassment, Father Tamayo organized and led marches to pressure the government to stop the illegal logging that plagues communities in central Honduras. Read more »

First Name: 
Father José
Middle Name or Initials: 
Andrés
Country: 
Honduras
Bio: 
En Español | English Bio | Lanzamiento de Prensa

The Priest of the People and the Forest Father José Andrés Tamayo Cortez, 47, is a charismatic Catholic priest leading the struggle for environmental justice in Honduras. He directs the Environmental Movement of Olancho (MAO), a coalition of subsistence farmers and community and religious leaders who are defending their lands against uncontrolled commercial logging. Together they continue to exert heavy pressure on the Honduran government to reform its national forest policy. Fewer Trees, Less Water The Department of Olancho, Honduras's largest and most biologically diverse region, hosts a wide variety of forest eco-systems, including mountaintop cloud forests, rare old-growth pine forests and lowland tropical rainforests. Home to more than 500 unique types of birds and numerous endangered plant and animal species, these ecosystems are critical to preventing erosion, protecting the region's water sources and reducing flooding in the region. Unregulated logging has already taken more than half of Olancho's 12 million acres of forest. Erosion is widespread, water levels are dangerously low and natural springs have dried up completely. One community had to dig 120 wells before hitting water. According to local and international non-governmental organizations, powerful landowners, logging companies, drug traffickers and informal crime bosses control the lands. With almost no formal authority in the region, community members who have opposed logging have been threatened and murdered, and others have fled. Tamayo himself has been harassed and violently assaulted, and has had a bounty put on his life. Marching for Life Not willing to stay silent as he witnessed the effects of clear-cutting and water shortages, Tamayo mobilized local residents and drew the government's attention to Olancho's urgent environmental issues. In 2003, he led a regional campaign that stopped the development of a major highway that would have increased access to forests for new sawmills. Later that year, Tamayo led the "March for Life," a 3,000-person, 120-mile, weeklong march to the nation's capital. It brought the environmental debate to the national stage and inspired other rural communities to organize against illegal logging. One month later, the Honduran president agreed to meet with Tamayo. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the 2003 Honduras National Human Rights Award. In June 2004, more than 5,000 people joined a second "March for Life," drawing attention to alleged corruption in the government's National Forestry Agency. The March led to a government investigation, prompting the resignation of the agency's General Manager. Recognizing that the viability of these successes requires sustained pressure, Tamayo is reaching out to other isolated communities in Olancho and continues to strengthen his national campaign to ensure the protection of Olancho's forests for years to come. An Inspirational Leader Father Tamayo's resilience and peaceful efforts have led observers to compare him to Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and César Chávez. Undaunted by the violent backlash that his activism has unleashed, Father Tamayo has remained staunchly and selflessly committed to the nonviolent defense of the forests and the people of Honduras.

Quote: 

"Natural resources and life itself are human rights; therefore, to destroy God's creation is to attack human life; our last remaining option is to defend life with our own life."

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/sites/staging.goldmanprize.org/files/2005_tamayo_profile.flv,/sites/staging.goldmanprize.org/files/2005_tamayo_speech.flv,youtube:http://youtu.be/kuSioOa6BgM,youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1JvyfxTnLo
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Stephanie Danielle Roth

Last Name: 
Roth

An environmental journalist-turned-activist, Stephanie Roth was the driving force behind an international campaign to halt construction of Europe’s largest open cast gold mine. Read more »

First Name: 
Stephanie
Middle Name or Initials: 
Danielle
Country: 
Romania
Bio: 

Environmental Journalist Turned Environmental Activist Stephanie Roth, 34, is a French and Swiss citizen and former researcher and editor at the London-based magazine, The Ecologist. Since 2002, Roth has been the driving force behind an international campaign to stop construction of Europe's largest open cast gold mine in Romania. Roth joined the anti-mining campaign after she was involved in a successful grassroots movement to stop development of a so-called "Dracula Theme Park" in Transylvania, a project that would have destroyed an ancient oak forest reserve next to a medieval citadel. History, Health and the Environment Hang in the Balance Rosia Montana, located in the Apuseni Mountains of West-Central Romania, is the country's oldest documented mining settlement. In 2000, the government granted rights to Canadian-based Gabriel Resources to develop a gold and silver mine in an around the small historic town. Under the plan, 2,000 people would be forced to relocate, 900 homes would be torn down and 10 centuries old churches destroyed. The company plans to use hazardous cyanide compounds to separate the gold and silver from the rock. The mine's waste rock then would form a 185 metre-high dam across the Corna valley, provoking relocation of the valley's residents. A hazardous cyanide storage pond, together with tons of waste laden with heavy metals, would cover as many as 600 hectares or nearly 1,500 acres. As a result, the nearby Aries River, the most important water resource in the region, is at serious risk of pollution, threatening the health and lives of 100,000 people. National and International Opposition Builds To prevent this wide-scale destruction, and despite repeated death threats, Roth has organized the first large-scale protests in Romania since 1989, when anti-government demonstrators overthrew the Ceausescu regime and the communist party. She has mobilized local residents and created a coalition of national non-governmental organizations, archaeological specialists, academics and clergy to fight the mining proposal. As a result of Roth's campaign, the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) withdrew support for the mining project in October 2002. For the first time, the IFC issued a statement expressing its grave social and environmental concerns. Romania's Accession into the European Union in Question The European Parliament sent a delegation to the site in October 2003 and again in December 2004. The project, found to be in clear breach of various EU directives, caused the European Parliament to adopt Article 41, in which it "expresses its deep concern that the Rosia Montana mine development poses a serious environmental threat to the whole region" and states that it will carefully monitor the project's development, both in terms of its conformity to EU environmental law and also how it relates to Romania's accession to the EU. Still, the mine proposal remains very much alive and currently is undergoing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Quote: 

"Gabriel Resources and Newmont are modern-day vampires; who in the name of progress aim to bleed Rosia Montana to death. Their lust for gold has already given rise to flagrant and crying injustices. I refuse to accept this and I refuse to stay silent about this."

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/sites/staging.goldmanprize.org/files/2005_roth_profile.flv,youtube: http://youtu.be/r35GW3Z28kM, /sites/staging.goldmanprize.org/files/2005_roth_speech.flv,youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w78rquKyPs
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