|The Atrato River flows into the |
Caribbean near the border
The court ordered the government to end illegal mining in the Chocó region and clean up the widespread environmental damage mining has caused. But the ruling went further, and declared that the Atrato River possesses rights which must be respected - giving the river a legal status something like personhood.
There's no doubting the environmental catastrophe caused by illegal mining, logging and other resource extraction activities in the Chocó region. Huge areas have been deforested and poisoned with mercury. According to news reports, mercury concentrations in residents' blood may be as many as 120 times higher than levels considered safe.
|Land denuded by illegal mining in the Chocó region.|
Future court decisions will define what rights a river can have, and perhaps, also give trees, seas and non-human aniimals human-like rights as well.
But, in light of Colombia's inability to protect its rivers and forests, it would be nice to arm those trees, rivers and forests and enable them to protect themselves
The lawsuit was filed by the NGO Tierra Digna, which works to protect the rights of traditional communities.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours