Costa Rica: opposition to stone container transforms environmental campaigning
The campaign successfully terminated the company’s plans, which were poorly planned, insensitive to local conditions and social characteristics, and likely to have huge social-environmental impacts.
The strength of the campaign was that it was organised by local communities, and included many protests and resistance actions. It also allowed local communities to consider and develop a political perspective on the importance and use of their territories, and it created political spaces for discussion with the government and others actors. Significantly, it also alerted the population to the need to discuss the current model of development, sustainability and local communities’ rights more generally.
The environmental sector then began to transform itself into a peoples’ movement, drawing increasingly on the concepts of social ecology and environmental economics, whilst building alliances with other people’s movements. The campaign also contributed to identifying the peasant and indigenous sectors as natural allies for proposals and discussions around environmental issues, and generated increased international solidarity.
The campaign against Stone Container also has a symbolic meaning since three young environmental activists that had participated actively in the campaign were killed in a fire in their home at exactly the same time that the campaign reached a successful conclusion. In addition, seven months and seven days later, another young environmentalist died mysteriously, and his body was found in a park in San Jose, located just in front of the headquarters of Stone Container.
In memory of María del Mar Cordero, Oscar Fallas, David Maradiaga and Jaime Bustamante, Friends of the Earth Costa Rica