16 Jul Sweet Poison, by Waleska Santiago, Pushes for Environmental Justice
Sweet Poison, directed by Waleska Santiago, shows the ramifications of pesticides in Northeast Brazil on farm worker communities. In particular, the documentary focuses on the city of Limoeiro Do Norte, where contamination from pesticides has led to high rates of birth defects and illnesses. Members of the community have worked to organize and advocate for protections, but there has been pushback, as evidenced by the killing of Zé Maria, who detailed the dangerous working conditions to the media. However, there has been progress for Limoeiro, and this activism will hopefully encourage others to push for legislation.
Environmental justice is an incredibly important issue for our world to address. As Santiango notes in her director statement, “Limoeiro Do Norte is a microcosm of how the abuse of pesticides, both approved and illegal, is harming global communities, disproportionately those that are economically vulnerable. We want to further the dialogue to raise awareness about exposure to toxins.”
Marginalized communities bear the brunt of environmental burdens while receiving practically none of the benefits, and it’s necessary for legislators to become aware of these inequalities. Films like Sweet Poison are crucial to spread the word to the general public in order to educate future advocates for safe working conditions and access to environmental resources.
By Corinne, 2020 American INSIGHT Intern, Scripps College 2021
Photo courtesy of Waleska Santiago