Jean LaRose wins Environmental `Nobel’
Guyana Chronicle
April 28, 2002

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GUYANESE, Ms. Jean La Rose has copped the world’s largest award for grass-root environmentalists - the Goldman Environmental Prize - for her role in seeking to protect Amerindian lands from mining here.

The awards ceremony was held in San Francisco, USA on April 22.

The Prize, now in its 13th year, recognised LaRose’s continuous work for recognition of Amerindian rights and an end to destructive mining “that is devastating Guyana’s rainforests and Amerindian communities”.

Transnational companies own mining concessions on about 30 per cent of Guyana’s land. In 1977, the government declared the entire Mazaruni River - the homeland for 11 Akawaio and Arekuna communities - a mining district.

Dredging and other mining operations have destroyed ancestral fishing grounds and severely contaminated rivers, which must still serve human needs. In 1995, an accident spilled billions of liters of cyanide effluent into the Essequibo, Guyana’s largest river.

According to a release from the offices of the Goldman Environmental Prize, LaRose, despite ongoing prejudices, continues to work for recognition of Amerindian rights and to end the destructive mining that is devastating Guyana’s rainforests and indigenous communities.

“Transnational mining companies may have more money and political power, but we have the passion and courage to defend our homelands”, La Rose is quoted as saying in the press release.

“We will use the courts, the constitution and the strength of our conviction to reclaim our land and our way of life, and to protect Guyana’s natural resources,” she added.

“Jean’s work is a strong reminder of the power of community organising and education”, founder of the Goldman Environmental Prize, Mr. Richard N. Goldman said.

Nominations were submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organisations and individuals representing fifty-five nations.

Prize winners participated in a 10-day tour of San Francisco and Washington D.C., for an wards ceremony and presentation, news conferences, media briefings, and meetings with political, public, policy, financial and environmental leaders.

The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1951 by civic leaders and philanthropists Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. Goldman was Chairman of Goldman Insurance Services in San Francisco while his wife was a descendant of Levi Strauss, the founder of the worldwide clothing company.