indigenous movements

Press Release: Indigenous Leaders Alert the UNFCCC and the World to the Imminent Threat that REDD Poses to their Territories and Livelihoods

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Durban, South Africa (IPCCA). As the UNFCCC COP 17 opens in Durban, South Africa, a gathering of indigenous leaders from around the world discussing biocultural protocols and REDD warns the UNFCCC and the international community of the grave danger that REDD and market based solutions to climate change mitigation pose to their cultures, territories and livelihoods.

“For my people, the forest is sacred, it is life in all its essence, we can protect Pachamama only if this is respected. REDD and other market mechanisms have turned our relationship with forests into a business. As we are targeted, this is not only a new form of climate racism but also represents a false solution which undermines the climate regime” said Marlon Santi, a leader of the Sarayaku Quichua community of Ecuador.

The IPCCA leaders discussed their experiences with using a biocultural approach to assessing climate change impacts as well as the impacts on their livelihoods and the ecosystems found in their territories in order to develop appropriate responses. In forest ecosystems, impacts of REDD and market based mechanisms were analysed from diverse local contexts such as the Indian Adivasi and the Sapara Nationality of Ecuador to build a common understanding:

  • They commodify life and undermine holistic community values and governance
  • They block community access to forests and customary use
  • They lead to establishment of monoculture tree plantations which promote land grabbing
  • They are portrayed as vehicles for strengthening land tenure rights but in fact are used to weaken them
  • They are used to justify continued emissions in the North and thus are hypocritical false solutions to the climate crisis

“IPCCA is an example of how indigenous communities are undertaking climate change assessments on their own terms, and are illustrating the danger of market based mitigation mechanisms. Our knowledge systems and our distinctive spiritual relationship to our territories can contribute to a deeper, localized and holistic understanding of what we and the world is facing” said Alejandro Argumedo, coordinator of IPCCA. “Solutions that will indeed reduce emissions and ensure local livelihoods must come from including such local analysis.” The IPCCA network is building alliances with organizations such as the Global Forest Coallition to bring much needed indigenous and local voices to forums as the UNFCCC COP 17.

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Indigenous Leaders call upon the IPCC to Respect Indigenous Knowledge

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“Addressing scientific bias against Indigenous Knowledge will improve international responses to climate change”, say Indigenous Leaders, releasing the SEVETTIJARVI DECLARATION

Helsinki, Finland (IPCCA).

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Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Philosophy, Politics and Historical Problems of Volunteering

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This is a general and quick post in response to Frequently Asked Questions about the problems of choosing where to invest one’s time and labour when volunteering in foreign places with good intent. It started as a reply to a comment – part of a long thread about a conservation project in the Amazon – then expanded slightly to become this first draft of a short reply to questions concerning volunteering.

Where and what is good agency put into which structures? It is an endless journey through the soul and the corridors of political thinking, philosophical reflection, historical recognition and ethical considerations – and it is also that first single step of your journey. It begins in the mind, unfolds in the imagination and will have a material impact on the place you go to.

Over the years we have spend a lot of time and energy helping people finding their ways in Ecuador and Peru, we have spend a lot of time suggesting projects, providing contacts and so on. However, in the end, people mostly go and do their own thing anyway. However, if you have only 4-6 months time and want to connect sooner, and should you really want to do something in or around Tena, Napo, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, or in San Francisco in Peru, and if working on a small scale and community level with people outside of NGO structures, doing down-to-the-ground, bottom-up work, with lovely families, if that is your thing, then do get in touch.

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Carbon Trading is Making a Killing and Destroying the Environment

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Press Release: Carbon Markets Violate Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Threaten Cultural Survival

“Indigenous Peoples are being forced to sign over their territories for REDD to the Gangsters of the Century, carbon traders, who are invading the world’s remaining forests that exist thanks to the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples,” denounced Marlon Santi, President of the CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, one of the most powerful native organizations in the world. “Our forests are spaces for life not carbon markets.”

Indigenous leader kidnapped and forced at gunpoint to surrender carbon rights for REDD in Papua New Guinea

New York, USA — As carbon traders hawk permits to pollute at the Second Annual Carbon Trading Summit, Indigenous Peoples denounced that selling the sky not only corrupts the sacred but also destroys the climate, violates human rights and threatens cultural survival.

“Carbon trading and carbon offsets are a crime against humanity and Creation,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network. “The sky is sacred. This carbon market insanity privatizes the air and sells it to climate criminals like Shell so they can continue to pollute and destroy the climate and our future, rather than reducing their emissions at source.”

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CONFENIAE on REDD: Ecuadorian Indigenous Peoples’ Statement

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This is an unofficial translation of a Ecuadorian indigenous peoples’ statement on REDD:

CONFEDERATION OF INDIGENOUS NATIONALITIES OF THE ECUADORIAN AMAZON (CONFENIAE)
(Logo and letterhead, list of members including organizations of the Shuar, Kichwa, Achuar, Waorani, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Zapara, Shiwiar and Andoa Peoples)

STATEMENT
Unión Base, Puyo August 3rd, 2009

CONFENIAE REJECTS ALL KINDS OF ENVIRONMENTAL NEGOCIATIONS ON FORESTS AND EXTRACTIVE POLICIES THAT DAMAGE THE TERRITORIES OF THE AMAZONIAN INDIGENOUS NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLES OF ECUADOR.

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Global war against indigenous peoples: grabbing the last resources on Earth!

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The Guardian’s John Vidal recently wrote a welcome piece – ‘We are fighting for our lives and our dignity’ -  that connect some of the dots in the current end game for the Earth’s natural resources most of which are on indigenous land inhabited for thousands of years by people who care for it, worship and respect it. Transnational corporations drilling for oil, mining for minerals or cutting down all the trees and polluting the rivers – and so on – are competing to grab hold of the Earth’s last resources – and there really is not much left! (See also: UN expert puts forward measures to regulate ‘land grabbing’).

“An aggressive drive is taking place to extract the last remaining resources from indigenous territories,” says Victoria Tauli-Corpus, an indigenous Filipino and chair of the UN permanent forum on indigenous issues. “There is a crisis of human rights. There are more and more arrests, killings and abuses.
“This is happening in Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Amazon, all over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa. It is global. We are seeing a human rights emergency. A battle is taking place for natural resources everywhere. Much of the world’s natural capital – oil, gas, timber, minerals – lies on or beneath lands occupied by indigenous people,” says Tauli-Corpus.

What until quite recently were isolated incidents of indigenous peoples in conflict with states and corporations are now becoming common as government-backed companies move deeper on to lands long ignored as unproductive or wild. As countries and the World Bank increase spending on major infrastructural projects to counter the economic crisis, the conflicts are expected to grow.

It is a pretty good article – constituting a very important step to bring together these issues in a coherent analytical manner and to the attention of mainstream readers – but one could really have wished for something more to the point with regard to the Ecuadorian context – it is widely known and well documented that the Chevron pits are still there, even mainstream U.S television have shown such images.

“In Ecuador, Chevron may be fined billions of dollars in the next few months if an epic court case goes against them. The company is accused of dumping, in the 1970s and 1980s, more than 19bn gallons of toxic waste and millions of gallons of crude oil into waste pits in the forests, leading to more than 1,400 cancer deaths and devastation of indigenous communities. The pits are said to be still there, mixing chemicals with groundwater and killing fish and wildlife.”

To use the expression “are said to be still there” is really not appropriate, when anyone having spend five seconds googling the issue will have seen horrible, terrifying images:

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Killings in the Amazon: Peruvian protests even more violently repressed

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colonos is reproducing here a text by Ben Powless on rabble.ca, including the “INTERNATIONAL DENUCIATION of President Alan García Pérez of Peru and his admistration” by the COORDINATING BODY OF ANDEAN INDIGENOUS ORGANZIACIONES – CAOI.

We have received various notices from people in the Amazon reporting about 10 – 40 indigenous protesters having been shot dead.

Photo by Marijke Deleu
Photo by Marijke Deleu (upsidedownworld.org)

Here goes:

50 days of protest and one massacre in the Peruvian Amazon

I’m writing this right now from Peru after having taken part in a 5 day Indigenous Peoples Summit held in Puno, Peru in the high Andes. Read the rest of this entry »

Peru Sends in Army to Suppress Peaceful Indigenous Protests

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colonos is reproducing here an Amazon Watch news release. Our comment: no news there.

Date: May 19, 2009
Source: Amazon Watch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2009

Media Contacts:
USA – Gregor MacLennan (415) 395-6734 gregor AT amazonwatch.org
PERU – Edson Rosales +511 99-787-6616, +511 265-5011 comunicaciones AT aidesep.org.pe

Oil Production Interrupted as Peru Sends in Army to Suppress Peaceful Indigenous Protests

Dozens Injured in Government Attacks on Protesters

Video footage, photos, interviews available upon request

LIMA, Peru, May 19, 2009— Yesterday, on the 40th day of sustained protests by Peru’s indigenous peoples, the state oil company Petroperu, announced it had shut down the country’s main oil pipeline. On Saturday, the Garcia Government authorized the intervention of the armed forces to crack down on peaceful protests that have swept the Amazon region.

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IIRSA: A Project of Destruction

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The colonos blog has been following the plans and projects for commodity corridors – corredores – in South America unfolding under the IIRSA banner for several years now. IIRSA is a central element in the collaboration between Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Lula (Brasil), Chavez (Venezuela) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) and the rest of South American in the Great Plan to turn the entire continent into an industrial production site. Soon, as sad as it is, one of the key nodes in this network of destruction will be completed: the Interoceanic Highway, connecting the coast of Peru and the coast of Brasil:


Peru: Destructive Amazonian highway near completion
David T. Rowlands
2 May 2009

The nightmarish prospect of a scarred Amazonian jungle reeking of diesel fumes from end to end, as heavy-laden trucks thunder by in round-the-clock convoys, is fast becoming a reality.

Since 2000, teams of road builders have been cutting a vicious swathe of destruction through vast stretches of rainforest in the Peruvian province of Madre de Dios. This is done in the name of “free trade” and neoliberal “development”.

Scheduled for completion in 2010, the Interoceanic Highway will link up with Brazil’s existing Amazonian road network. This will create a coast-to-coast trucking route for Brazilian-based agribusiness exporting soy and other primary products to China via Peru’s Pacific ports.

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Reflections from the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change: Burden Lies with Rich Polluters

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Here is an article by “International Environmental Journalist” Stephen Leahy:

CLIMATE CHANGE:
Burden Lies with Rich Polluters, Native People Say

By Stephen Leahy

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 27 (IPS) – Already suffering significant impacts from climate change, indigenous peoples at the close of an international summit here rejected the concept of carbon trading and offsets. Many also called for a moratorium on all new oil and gas exploration in their traditional territories and the eventual phase-out of fossil fuels.

“It has been heartbreaking to hear everyone’s stories about the dire threats climate change poses to their survival,” said Andrea Carmen of the Yaqui Indian Nation in the U.S. at the end of the U.N.-affiliated Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change here last Friday.

More than 400 indigenous people and observers from 80 nations participated in the first ever global discussion on climate change focusing on native communities.

“Indigenous peoples are all profoundly affected by climate change, losing our traditional foods, homes and livelihoods,” Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council, a U.S.-based rights organisation, told IPS.

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Seeds, sovereignty, and the Vía Campesina: Plants, property, and the promise of open source biology

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Colonos recommends this paper by Jack Kloppenburg, “Seeds, sovereignty, and the Vía Campesina: Plants, property, and the promise of open source biology“, prepared for the Workshop on Food Sovereignty: Theory, Praxis and Power, 17-18 November 2008, St. Andrews College, University of Saskatchewan, draft dated 22 November 2008, 34 pp.

Here is a very interesting excerpt (pp. 16-17):

“The specific mechanism Michaels goes on to propose is a “General Public License for Plant Germplasm (GPLPG)” that is explicitly modeled on the GPL developed by the FOSS movement for software.
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Mapping Indigenous Mexico for whom?

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US Academics Are Mapping Resources in Mexico; Corporations and the US Military Are the Beneficiaries of the Data

By Silvia Ribeiro

La Jornada February 3, 2009

colonos are reproducing here an investigation by the ETC Group, also posted on NarcoNews

As the Union of Organization of the Sierra Juarez [Unión de Organización de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca] has complained (Unosjo, 15/1/09), they have been victimized by a new type of appropriations in their communities: “geo-piracy”. This refers to using (and abusing) the local wisdom of the indigenous and rural villages to make digital highly detailed maps of their geography, resources, (hydrology, natural and cultivated biodiversity, archeology, social, cultural) to place all this on electronic pages with open access, at the disposition of whoever wants to use it. For example, corporations, institutions, or the army of the United States, which financed the project in Oaxaca. What is true, is that previously the project was carried out in nine communities of the Potosi Huasteca, and it is going on in the Sierra Tarahumara.

The implications of this type of activity are so vast, that it is difficult to sum them up. The detailed and precise map of the territories is only possible if it is extracted from local knowledge of those who live there. On processing this knowledge with new technologies, such as systems of digital geographic information, superimposed on satellite maps freely accessible on Google, one obtains an enormous volume of information which is not known or can not be appraised. These maps are of great utility for military ends and for counterinsurgency, but also for industrial purposes (exploitation of resources like minerals, plants, animals and biodiversity; mapping access roads already constructed or “necessary”, sources of water, settlements, social maps of possible resistance or acceptance of projects, etcetera). Read the rest of this entry »

COICA Declaration at the World Social Forum

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Written by COICA
Tuesday, 10 February 2009

- reproduced by colonos without any change (originally posted at UpsideDown World) -

The Amazon Basin Indigenous Peoples Organization (COICA) with our worldview, diversity of languages, history, cultures, spirituality, territory, economy, have existed since before recorded time. We have adopted different forms of organization and identity under the framework of the nation states which have established laws and regulations according to their own interests, not recognizing the ancestral rights of the first inhabitants of the amazon region.

Attempting to arrive at a consensus between 390 ethnic groups, representing a population of 2,779,478 people in the 10,268,471 square kilometer Amazon basin, we gathered in Belem do Para, Brazil from Jan. 27th through Feb. 1st for the World Social Forum. While at the forum we held intense meetings and in-depth debate and analysis about the reality of the indigenous peoples living in the Amazon and those from other biomes, offering our support and leadership in the process of the World Social Forum. Read the rest of this entry »

Water Fall and Profit Rise: Ecuador, Correa and the Environment

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ECUADOR SIGNED DEAL TO DESTROY THE COUNTRY’S HIGHEST WATERFALL, THE SAN RAFAEL FALLS IN THE SUMACO BIOSPHERE RESERVE, SACRED TO THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE.

See also these IIRSA related posts.

san-rafael-falls-quijos-river-amazon-ecuador

There has been a lot of cheering and celebration of Ecuador’s new constitution, which provides a bit of rhetoric about how nature has certain rights – like human rights – that, then, would save Pachamama from the Almighty Dollar. The Ecuadorian constitution is a milestone for the environmental movement – so they say, from The Misleading Guardian (commented here earlier) to more grass roots oriented, independent journalism.

However, some have been more careful, such as Upside Down World publishing Cyril Mychalejko’s Ecuador’s Constitution Gives Rights to Nature and Dan Denvir’s Whither Ecuador? An Interview with Indigenous Activist and Politician Monica Chuji, both of which contextualise the political process that by no means reflect or give just cause for any cheering and hope for the environment, let alone democratic principles (not that colonos really believe in those anyway, but still..). Ecuador’s revolutionary constitution is revolutionary for quite the opposite reasons: it entrenches IIRSA and private property in “all its forms”, essentially spelling the end of the Amazon as a rain forest and severely threatening the Andes mountain range.

All along, this blog has featured articles on Correa’s more than absent environmental sensitivity – indeed, the most read articles have concerned just that: Correa hates environmentalists (“infantile”, “romantic”, “indigenist” etc. etc. ) and wants to see the country turned into a Chinese-Brasilian investment project without trees and bees and primitive tribal attitudes.

In the beginning we were most often met with disbelief, anger even: How dare you criticise the Great Ecuadorian Revolution and cast doubt on the Latin American hope for 21st Century Socialism? Lately, however, we have had emails from people saying that they’re changing their minds in the face of the ever growing evidence that Ecuador’s constitution and Correa’s political programme serves global capitalism first and foremost (but then, of course, redistributes the loot from deforestation and displacement of peasants and indigenous peoples a little bit more fairly.  In order to save the country they have to destroy it?).

¿So what’s the news? Well, business as usual, Correa has revived yet another 1980s World Bank, Economic Hitman style project, this time to destroy the highest waterfall in Ecuador and nothing is much more sacred, powerful and constitutive of the spririt of nature (Pachamama, that is)  than a waterfall for the Kichwa people inhabiting the Sumaco Biospere Reserve – here is an excerpt from a piece called Ecuador’s Water Crisis: Damming the Water Capital of the World by Matt Terry, founder of the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute, which has an office in Tena, Napo:
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Leading the Way: Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change

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Colonos is involved in preparing a concept paper, which will be presented at the “Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change” at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska (USA), 20-24 April 2009. It concerns the categorisation and organisation of contents well as a licensing framework for a web portal providing access to climate change adaptation strategies and tactics based on indigenous knowledge practices and captured in the spirit of the practitioners, whether in moving pictures, still, song or poetry. Not an easy conceptual task on a rather politically volatile and culturally sensitive terrain. However, we thought (something like) “better us than someone with less of a strong political analysis and feeling of solidarity and spirit of rebellion” (just to blow our own horn, perhaps?!).

One of the central challenges is spelled out in this quote from the Introduction to a Special Issue of Futures: Futures of Indigenous Knowledges. Volume 41, Issue 1, Pages 1-66 (February 2009):

“[T]he future for [Indigenous Knowledges] IKs lies in the creation of a knowledge space for assembling diverse knowledges. The critical strategic capacity to allow the comparative evaluation and growth of diverse knowledge traditions with differing epistemologies and ontologies, with differing ways of understanding and framing the world, may be humanity’s last hope for a future. .. But … is it possible for IKs to be moved from their site of cultural production, enter the knowledge economy and become part of the global knowledge commons without losing their cultural specificity, without being homogenised and submerged in one globalised system?” (Turnbull 2009)

We can reveal that the concept paper recommends the Transmission Metadata Standard, links to IFIWatch.TV, and draws upon the experiences of the Free Culture movement, more specifically the Free Software movement’s strategies and tactics for the reform of copyright. More on that later…

Meanwhile, here is the invitation to the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change:

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