Whether it’s fighting for climate change or human rights, these 10 Latinx environmental activists are making a big impact within their communities and truly fighting for the future of their generation. Artists like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez are spreading the message through powerful lyrics and news anchors like Vanessa Hauc are fighting for smaller Latin communities by bringing their struggle with climate change to our television sets. Find out how you can get involved and make a change in your very own community by following these 10 Latinx activists on social media.
Yessenia Funes is a queer Latina journalist based in NYC who writes about race and the environment as the climate editor for Atmos, a climate and culture magazine. She is an active speaker on environmental justice at events and conferences. In a recent article for Gizmodo she wrote about how confederate statues are a form of pollution, specifically for the Black community. She explained how the removal of these symbols are an important step to ensure Black people enjoy public spaces and by doing so it would “create more equity outdoors.”
Vanessa Hauc may look familiar and that’s because she an Emmy Award winning journalist for Telemundo. She is also the co-founder of Sachamana, a non-profit organization that aims to provide a clean energy economy. Her segment, “Planeta Tierra” on Telemundo focuses on climate change in Latin American countries. In a recent article for Poynter, Hauc wrote that one of the things she learned from 15 years of working in the field is that even though “climate change affects us all, it doesn’t affect everyone equally.”
Jamie Margolin is the 19-year-old co-founder of Zero Hour and author of Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It. In 2019 she testified before the United States Congress in the Our Children’s Trust Youth v. Gov Washington state lawsuit to hold leaders accountable and urged them to take action on climate change. She also spoke at several campaign rallies for Bernie Sanders when he ran for President in 2020.
Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres is internationally for her work battling climate change. She is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism,” and co-author of The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis. She was recently featured in the magazine Perfil where she said, “the migrations that we are having today are nothing compared to the forced migrations that are going to take place if we do not face climate change. There will be millions and millions of people who simply will not be able to survive because all their lands will be flooded or because the droughts will leave them unable to produce.” The 64-year-old worked to rebuild the global climate change negotiating process which is said to have led to the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty for climate change.
Indigenous activist Helena Gualinga, 19, told WBUR that living and growing up in a part of the Kichwa people of the Ecuadorian Amazon called Sarayaku is what got her into environmental activism. Gualinga’s community has been threatened by oil companies who were supported by the Ecuadorian government and military. In 2019 she called out world leaders at the COP for criminal negligence. “Extractive industries are destroying our lands, our communities. They’re violating our women. They’re taking away our children’s future. And yeah, I was victim of that violence as a child, and it’s really — yeah, it’s really painful,” her older sister and fellow activist, Nina Gualinga told Democracy Now. “And indigenous peoples are the ones that are taking care of these lands and biodiversity and protecting forests, protecting water, yet we’re not being listened to.”
Isaias Hernandez is an environmental educator who grew up in Los Angeles in low-income housing close to toxic facilities which is what spurred him to fight for environmental justice. He co-created Alluvia Magazine and Queer Brown Vegan which is an educational space for people who want to get involved in the environmental movement. In an interview with Vogue he said, “I realize that environmental education should be accessible for everyone. I created Queer Brown Vegan for people to talk about the planetary crisis.” Check out his website for resources on how you can get involved in your community.
Hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez uses his music as a form of advocacy and he’s also the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization. The 21-year-old is one of 21 plaintiffs involved in Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government for failing to act on climate change. His father, Siri Martinez, is of Aztec heritage and he raised Xiuhtezcatl with the beliefs and traditions of Mexica, who are of the indigenous Aztecs in Mexico where he spent his infancy. His first solo album, Break Free, was released in the spring of 2018 featured songs that touch on environmental issues, police brutality, and institutional repression. Fellow Standing Rock activist and Big Little Lies actress, Shailene Woodley can be heard on the track young “Young”.
Francia Marquez was a teenager when she decided to protest again the Colombian government for tampering with a major river that negatively impacted local communities in the area. In 2018 she was awarded the Goldman Environmental prize and shortly thereafter was attacked with grenades and firearms while attending a meeting with various organizations of the Colombian government. Fortunately, she survived the attack but there was never a true investigation into the attack. Despite the hurdles, she continues to defend Colombian rural communities from companies that are destroying the Afro-Colombian population in the Cauca Valley.
Alexandria Villasenor is a teen activist and founder of Earth Uprising, a group of activists who are committed to saving the planet. Unfortunately, her family’s home was destroyed in the California fires in 2018 and she relocated to New York. She realized that she knew nothing about the climate and why that had happened. Since then she set out to educate her peers on the effects of climate change and ways they could make a difference. In an interview with Insider, she said that she has always felt connected to nature, “I want to focus on education and empower people all over the world to take direct action.”
Melissa Cristina Marquez
Melissa Cristina Marquez is a marine biologist and wildlife writer. You may have seen her on Discover Channel or National Geographic as a host or shark scientist. In her latest blog post she writes about how your clothes can be contributing to environmental pollution. She suggests buying fewer clothing items (made of natural fibers), wear them for as long as possible (including patching them up), before reselling or donating them. Check out her social media for more tips and information on how you can save our planet by making small changes in your own home.