September 9, 2013

Drug-Trafficking and Deforestation in Central America

The first event in this year’s Environmental Lecture Series will be a presentation by Kendra McSweeney from Ohio State University.  That will be Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 pm in the Ronk Lecture Hall, COE.

Kendra McSweeney interviewing the oldest living Tawahka woman, Honduras (photo credit: K. McSweeney)
Dr. McSweeney is a geographer specializing in the relationship between people and forests.  She has conducted research for 20 years in Honduras, where she has tracked the resilience of forest-dependent native communities to climate-related and other exogenous shocks, including drug trafficking. She has also studied the links between demographic change and struggles around territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  At Ohio State, she teaches courses on Latin America, fieldwork, research and professionalization, demography, and environment. 

“… There has been relatively little attention…to the ways in which narco-trafficking is transforming the Central American countryside. In fact, the flow of drugs through remote, biodiverse regions is having a profound and devastating effect on the region's forests; Guatemala and Honduras now have some of the world's highest deforestation rates. Narco-trafficking is also contributing to the massive displacement and impoverishment of indigenous peoples and peasant smallholders across the region. Drawing from long-term research in eastern Honduras (a major trafficking hub), this talk will detail just how drug trafficking has this effect, and will review the ways in which these dynamics are profoundly linked to the ways in which the U.S. chooses to wage its 'war on drugs.' "

View of deforestation from boat, as seen by two young Tawahka women, Honduras (photo credit: K. McSweeney)

This year’s Environmental Lecture Series explores “Environmental and Human Health in Latin America,” with perspectives from experts in human ecology, policy, and scientific study related to specific environmental issues.