Protecting the Environment to Regulate MigrationBy María Fernanda Barría | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 13:44
President López Obrador will attend a virtual environmental summit where US President Joe Biden will also be present. López Obrador's idea is to present his ‘Sembrando Vida’ plan through which he hopes to reforest a huge amount of land in the south of the country to meet environmental goals while fighting poverty and inequality.
The program covers 20 states and financial support ranges between US$100 and US$250 for owners or holders of 2.5ha of land to be reforested. According to the Ministry of Welfare, since the project began almost two years ago, more than 420,000 jobs have been created and more than one million trees have been planted in Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca, Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo. “This will become the largest area planted in the world. We are talking about 40,000km2,” declared López Obrador.
The plan, which will have a budget of US$3.4 billion, will not be limited to Mexico alone; López Obrador wants to extend it to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. In fact, one of the reasons for attending the summit is to convince Joe Biden to make the US responsible for planting in those countries for three years. After that time, workers involved would receive a six-month working visa for the US. “With a work permit and with good behavior, those workers will be eligible to apply for US citizenship,” he said.
However, the plan has not convinced many analysts, who continue to see López Obrador’s energy policies as the main problem between Mexico and environmental protection. “The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his energy policy have caused the most important problems related to ecosystem protection,” Adrián Fernández Bremauntz, Director of the Mexico Climate Initiative, told El Economista. For environmental lawyer Alejandra Rabassa, the program could lead to an increase in deforestation, an endemic problem in the jungles of southern Mexico and Central America. “This program requires the milpa to be deforested to access resources, which is causing many owners to burn their original forest to access the financial aid. In addition, the trees are planted for a commercial purpose, which has nothing to do with the forest and does not fulfill its function of carbon sequestration or water conservation,” she told El País.