The environment for many Iowa Latinos includes natural factors, such as air quality and climate change, but it also includes economics, business and public health, according to Cristina Muñoz De La Torre. She is the first state director for climate and environmental justice of the Iowa League of Latin American Citizens United (LULAC).
Muñoz De La Torre will lead the statewide conversation on Wednesday evening.
“My long term vision that I hope they will be able to fulfill and change during this conversation is, first of all, to have a Latino and BIPOC network for climate and environmental justice to support local efforts underway in Iowa, “she said.
The post of Muñoz De La Torre was created based on feedback from LULAC members during a legislative input process organized by the organization. She is also a member of the LULAC local in Iowa City. Apart from LULAC, Muñoz De La Torre is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa where her thesis analyzed the distribution of FEMA aid and its equity in different communities.
The 13-year veteran of environmental justice and disaster equity leadership said the topic will be how to balance environmental protection while protecting people who work for industries that have it. most impacted, such as agriculture and meat packaging. Both areas have large Latin American populations.
“With the pandemic and climate change, and just the disasters made worse by existing environmental problems, it was very obvious to bring all of these local efforts together into a statewide collective,” said Muñoz De La Torre.
In this way, said Muñoz De La Torre, they can better defend and organize themselves around environmental issues in Latin American communities. She continued on several occasions, she has seen institutions or businesses curtail the environment that have a disproportionate impact on Latinos and their place of residence.
“This is why it is important to have a Latin American voice around environmental justice, disasters and climate, especially in Iowa,” she said. “Because for the big world and for the rest of the United States, it may be less obvious that there is a large Latino presence in Iowa, not to mention the fact that the type of environmental and justice issues climate we face is unique in Iowa. So we need to bring this attention to state and national levels. “
Muñoz De La Torre said she hopes to identify new environmental issues Latinos face in the state. She worked with the national management of LULAC on the subject.