Majandra Rodriguez Acha was 19 when her country erupted in protests over Amazonian oil. The year was 2009, and Peru’s president had just opened the jungle to oil development, ensuring the displacement of thousands of indigenous people. Enraged by the violent clashes she saw on television, Acha attended a protest on her own. The police released tear gas on Acha and the other protesters as they shouted “La selva no se vende, la selva se defiende.” In other words: You don’t sell the jungles, you defend them.
Since that day, Acha has worked as an ally for indigenous communities who live in the firing line of climate change. Through her group TierrActiva Perú, Acha and other activists organize conferences, protests, and hyperlocal gatherings that connect young urban activists with indigenous activists in remote communities. The idea is to get people talking, learning, and united for collective action. This year, TierrActiva has rallied against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal that threatens to open up indigenous lands in Peru to natural gas extraction. Acha, now 26, also serves as an advisor to Global Greengrants’ Next Generation Climate Board and as a Young Feminist Fellow for Climate Justice at the Women’s Environment and Development Organization.
Grist recently caught up with Acha to talk about how she’s sparking a unified movement for climate justice in Peru. Read more on Grist’s site!