constitutent assembly

ETC Group: Terminating Food Sovereignty in Ecuador?

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colonos is here reproducing a news release from the ETC Group. President Rafael Correa has proposed several changes to the Law on Food Sovereignty which dangerously weaken the legislation and open the door to Terminator seeds.

ETC Group
News Release
April 17, 2009
www.etcgroup.org

Terminating Food Sovereignty in Ecuador?
President opens door to Terminator seeds

On February 18, 2009, the Ecuadorian Congress approved a new Law on Food Sovereignty, which, among other important points, declared the country “free of transgenic crops and seeds.” However, in spite of vocal popular opposition, the legislation left the door open to approvals of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in “exceptional”
cases. Now, President Rafael Correa has proposed several changes to the legislation – in what is known in Ecuador as a partial-veto – and sent it back to the Congress. The president’s changes dangerously weaken the law and open the door to Terminator seeds.

Terminator technology is designed to make “suicide seeds,” genetically engineered to be sterile in the second generation. The technology has been widely rejected around the world by farmers’ movements, governments, research institutions and UN agencies as dangerous, immoral and undesirable.

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Correa’s Idiosyncracies, Ecuador’s Collectivities & Pachamama at Winter Solstice

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There has been a lot of talk around the world and colonos even get emails from students studying the “very interesting environmental aspect” of the new Ecuadorian Constitution, which gives (human rights-like) rights to Pachamama, which is an Andean (and in some part of the Amazon) term for Mother Earth. (It is derived from Aymara and Quechua.)

Inside Ecuador, however, there is a growing resistance to the project of Correa’s government, largely due to a lack of environmental sensitivity as perceived by the social movements – the environment is systematically subordinated to capital interest – and a lacking recognition of collective rights. Indeed, the new constitution stresses the sacred nature of private property, as has previously been quoted in a post in this blog about the ways in which the constitution was presented in a misleading (half arsed) manner by The Guardian (which should be an autogenerated links below if we’re lucky!?).

In other words, there is a large discrepancy between how foreigners, especially opportunist socialists and social-democracts, perceive and, importantly, choose to represent the politrix of Rafael Correa and his government and how social movements, from peasants through urban anarchists to the people of Amazonia, perceive and resist the programmes of Correa.

As noted again and again – central to much of the criticism we’ve been on about all along – the new constitution also weds Ecuador to the IIRSA project, which is a World Bank project for the integration of infrastructures in Latin America to make it easier for global capitalism to move resources (out), goods (in), labour (around) and people (out if they complain) for the purposes of profit maximisation, asphaltation, bridge building hysteria and river way raping. The Ecuadorian part of IIRSA is first and foremost the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor or node in the IIRSA network of commodity trails that threaten to severely further disfigure the Andes and put an end to the world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon or Amazonia.

Anyway, there are a few current articles that make for interesting reading to keep up to date on the Ecuadorian developments, led by the idiosyncratic Correa:

According to several current and former officials, Correa often makes impulsive decisions in isolation and is reluctant to listen to dissenting views.

“This government is all about Correa and he has closed all space for debate, leading many of us no choice but to leave,” said a close ally who still supports Correa but quit a top post over policy disagreements. “He is ending up alone surrounded only by people who tells him what he wants to hear.“”

Another article deals with financial issues, such as dollarization and the price of oil and how it all hangs together from the perspective of (wanker) financial science:

“Ecuador needs an oil price of $95 to cover all the spending in its budget, according to Barclays. The government had a surplus of $508 million in the first half of the year, Correa said Sept. 20.

“Correa’s only choice for growing the economy is the public sector,” said Bernal at Bulltick. “The lower the price of oil goes, the more the need for Correa to deliver on the fiscal front. Ecuadoreans will only live with Correa as long as they have expectations of growth.”

Then a really useful overview of things provided by an uncommon bed fellow of colonos, Socialist Worker:

“A MORE serious conflict is developing over government environmental policies that benefit mining companies. To crack down on anti-mining protests, Correa has ordered the use of brutal military force, a move bitterly condemned by the social movements.

Even Correa own coalition, Alianza País, is having internal contradictions. Recently, he issued a warning by declaring that he will dissolve the party if more internal infighting continues. He also took the opportunity to define his political project as “an ideological project of the nationalist left.”

But Correa’s nationalism is in opposition to indigenous people’s conception of their own nation, one that stretches across national boundaries from the Amazon to the Andean region. To the extent that indigenous people assert their historic claims to their lands, they are seen as a political threat by both multinational corporations and Correa.

The stakes in this conflict were raised on October 12–Columbus Day, traditionally seen as day of resistance by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In neighboring Colombia, indigenous groups staged a levantamiento (uprising) to protest government repression and demand more cultural and political rights. The uprising in Colombia inspired indigenous people and their allies throughout the region–including in Ecuador.”

There is also a short piece on Plan Colombia, which is part of the War on Drugs by the Evil Empire and therefore, one might hope, will face some sort of reforms under Obama bin Ltd., and, then, finally some sort of list by Reuter’s, who as usual has been pasting capitalistic-financial propaganda about all the horrible and out of order things anyone left of Henry Kissinger might dare to think or, God help it, act. Just read it in the inverse, as it were :)

Happy Winter Solstice!

winter_solstice

The revolutionary struggle and social reform in Ecuador: an anarchist perspective

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This a reposting of an interview with a comrade from the Grupo Anarco-Comunista “15 de Noviembre” (originally in Castellano)

The following interview was made in July and August 2008 with a member of the “15th November” Anarchist Communist Group, a recently-formed libertarian group in Ecuador, which among other things publishes the magazine “Chasqui Anarquista” with other anarchists, of which two issues have so far come out. In this interview, we tried to find out a little about the origins of the libertarian movement in Ecuador and understand how anarchist communists feel about the social reforms being carried out by Rafael Correa’s government.

The revolutionary struggle and social reform in Ecuador:
An interview with a comrade from the Grupo Anarco-Comunista “15 de Noviembre”

To begin with, comrades, can you tell us about the 15th November Group and how it was formed?

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Correa to the right…

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Only in Spanish (no time to translate at the moment):

Remitimos comunicado de prensa.

Quito, 23 de junio de 2008
BOLETIN DE PRENSA

POLO DEMOCRÁTICO

VAMOS A DEFENDER EL PROYECTO DE CAMBIOS PROFUNDOS
CON LA RENUNCIA DE ACOSTA, CORREA SE CAE… A LA DERECHA

La historia no se repite y cuando lo hace se presenta como tragedia o como comedia. Ahora viene la comedia del 98: allí la movilización social logró un cambio de correlación de fuerzas y obligó a la salida de Osvaldo Hurtado de la Presidencia de la Asamblea , con lo cual se dio un giro, aunque tardío y débil, hacia la izquierda. Ahora la renuncia de Alberto Acosta es un signo de la fuerza que los sectores de derecha han ganado dentro de las filas de Alianza País, señaló Eduardo Delgado, Presidente del Movimiento Polo Democrático.

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UNASURrender to global capitalism

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Rafael Correa is the poster boy of neo-socialism – he wears Quechua shirts and bathes himself in the limelight of indigeous peoples’ struggle in the global media, makes promises to the poor and the illiterate (and also delivers on some of his promises) – but more than anything he is increasingly despised by the indigenous peoples and the campesinos “who mean nothing to him” and who he represses violently if they organise against the foreign companies that Correa contracts their land away to. Also known in international socialist and even environmental circles as the saviour of the Yasuni national park. But nothing could be further from the truth – as has been reported by the colonos blog since before Correa entered office.

I have just returned from a meeting where yachaks (shamans) from various regions of “el Oriente” (basically the Ecuadorian Amazon) have gathered all weekend to discuss, among other things, Correa’s rejection in the constituent assembly processes of collective rights and a range of specific demands made by the indigenous movements as part of the rewriting of the Ecuadorian constitution. Talks are of strikes and some suggest that another uprising is brewing – at any rate Rafael Correa is very unpopular with indigenous people and campesinos, because he arrogantly have stated that he cares not about their demands since “they only constitute a few percent of his voters“.

So what does Mr. Correa care about – well, like the Clintons he seems mostly fascinated by inscribing himself into the white man’s history of conquest of the world through an industrial economy that is essentially based on exploitation of labour and pachamama (mother earth).

Unasur to boost financial self-sufficiency in S America:

BRASILIA, May 23 (Xinhua) — Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said here Friday that the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) will boost programs to help realize financial self-sufficiency in the region.

After signing the bloc’s constitutive agreement in the Brazilian capital, Correa said it was “a historical day for South America, which brings great expectation and hope.”

“We can do like the European Union (EU). As the EU has to explain why they united, we will have to explain to our children and grandchildren why we took so long to do it,” he told a press conference.”

Correa’s vision and that of UNASUR is about entrance into an economy that many ever since its inception – with the conquest of new worlds and the industrial production apparatus that makes wars for more profit possible – have been fighting. And for quite some years it has been quite clear that it is a very unsustainable economy that the planet cannot sustain.

Of course it is the rich and the powerful who mostly have to change their wasteful ways, but to happily join that horrible economy that Correa is so blinded by and which accelerates climate change and destroys civilization is plain stupid. However, the middle classes who get better roads (this, the year where it seems like we have to take drastic measure and actions to counter climate change, is the year of asphalt in Ecuador), nicer cars to drive them on and bigger supermarkets to park them by and shop in, and of course the capitalists that exploit the natural resources that he so happily gives to foreign and private interests are laughing all the way to the bank while the earth cries.

The rest of the chinese article follows.

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Marlon Santi on Correa’s government and the Constituent Assembly

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Interview with Marlon Santi, New President of Ecuador’s Indigenous Confederation
Written by Patricio Zhingri T.
Thursday, 17 January 2008

And so it goes, that history repeats itself and the day after the revolution anyone is a conservative, I think Hannah Arendt once wrote. The morning after in Ecuador – after the floods – and we know which way the wind blows. For that we don’t need a weather man.

Here is, however, what CONAIE’s new president, Marlon Santi, reckons about the Correan revolution and the reconstructive Constituent Assembly – well no news there, really, it is business as usual:

“PZT: As the new president of CONAIE, how would you evaluate the first year of this government?

MS: Proposals from the Indigenous movement and other social sectors from the coast, highlands, and Amazon are not present on the national government’s political agenda. Nor are they on the agenda of the Constituent Assembly. The government says a lot and they say that they are going to open petroleum explorations, that they are going to privatize water, rivers, páramos (high communal grasslands). Nothing has changed. The only change is when the Indigenous movement rises up, because even in light of this we have made some advances in Collective Rights and other demands. Rafael Correa has not recognized the demands of Indigenous nationalities and peoples, and he should do so.

PZT: How will the government of Indigenous Nationalities and Peoples act with the current government of Correa?

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Current political crisis in Latin America: Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela.

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There has been many news reports – often tied to the terms “terrorism” and “weapons of mass destruction” (dirty bomb, for instance), does that ring any bells? The issue is basically that:
Colombia’s commando raid into Ecuadorean territory Saturday killed rebel leader Raul Reyes and 22 other guerrilla fighters, who had crossed the border to hide from the Colombian military.

Correa and Chavez are gesturing and posing, moving troops to the border with Colombia, and condemning the attack in which several laptops belonging to FARC were seized from rebels shot dead in their sleep, on Ecuadorian soil, that contained details of relations to Ecuador and Venezuela. That makes it possible for the war on terror coalition of the willing to lump Ecuador and Venezuela together with Iran and FARC with Al-Qaeda; and, then, all that is needed is a paragraph circulating with the words “weapons of mass destruction” before the whole world knows that we are talking about “the evil ones”.

“Ahmadinejad and Chavez have called themselves the “Axis of Unity.” Some security experts call them something else: a potential threat to American security.”

But who is who and what’s the history?

Consider first the credentials of the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, who is accusing Ecuador and Venezuela of aiding terrorists and drug dealers:

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Abducting and torturing: Carrying out the orders of Rafael Correa?

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This is a shocking story – if it is not an ultra right wing conspiracy to discredit Correa it ought to be the end of any support for the Correan experiment:

Via Ukhamawa noticias/23 February 2008

“The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador CONAIE announces its objection, before the country, public opinion, international agencies, and the media, to the abduction, and psychological and verbal assault committed against Compañera Miriam Cisneros 28 years, spouse of President Marlon Santi.

While Compañera Miriam was prepapring to travel to Puyo, she was intercepted by two men in civilian clothes at approximately 4:30 pm, Friday 22 Febryuary, 2008, and immediately carried in a van heading south of Quito, where she was repeatedly interrogated with 5 questions:

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Communities criminalised for defending nature – summit in Quito

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A grassroots summit.

On November 16, indigenous, mestizo and African-Ecuadorian community leaders, farmers, environmentalists, activists, and individuals affected or concerned about the environmental situation in Ecuador gathered at the Catholic University in Quito for the First Summit of Communities Criminalized for Defending Nature.

Over recent years, violent confrontations, repression and human rights violations have increasingly characterised environmental conflicts in all parts of the country. The summit was organised by a variety of social movements in order to publicly highlight political, juridical, and extra-judicial persecutions and abuses of social and environmental activists.

Testimonies of persons jailed, criminalised, shot and stories of those assassinated were shared and collected and the social, political and economic reasons and consequences of the persecutions analysed. The global nature of repression against movements opposed to environmentally and socially damaging projects was emphasised, and the summit declared solidarity and support for all social and environmental grassroots movements worldwide.

The summit participants later marched to hand members of the National Constitutional Assembly a petition for amnesty for the over 200 community leaders currently imprisoned for the execution of their right to protest and to live in a healthy environment. The petition also demanded an end to the ceaseless violations of human rights and community rights to ancestral land generated by mining, oil exploitation, logging, hydroelectrical power stations, and shrimp farming.

(Freely translated and abridged from Javier Mazeres’ article of the same title, published in the newsletter of the Catalonian Association Ali Supaywww.alisupay.org)

Esperanza Martinez on Yasuni and the ITT proposal.

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This article by CarbonWeb.org deserves to be reproduced in full:

Yasuni – Our Future in Their Hands?

Ecuador proposes to claim compensation in exchange for leaving crude oil in the ground. Esperanza Martinez examines what this means for resource sovereignty.

Oil, for countries that possess it, is often centre stage when it comes to issues of sovereignty. Invasions have been launched to access it and military and political interventions pushed through to control it, leaving the door wide open for corruption.

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Leave the Oil in the Soil: Yasuni, ITT, the Huaorani people and the Amazon.

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There is a potentially radical process unfolding – keep the oil in the soil:

“In the heart of the Amazon basin lies the most biologically diverse forest on the planet, Yasuní. Yasuní National Park is home to the Waorani and some of the last indigenous peoples still living in isolation in the Amazon, whose ancestral lands sit atop Ecuador’s largest undeveloped oil reserves, the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil block … In 2007, the new government of President Correa has offered an unprecedented and historic proposal: Ecuador will not allow extraction of the ITT oil fields in Yasuní, if the world community can create a compensation trust to leave the oil permanently in the ground and fund Ecuador’s sustainable development into the future. The groups listed on this website portal, LiveYasuni.org, endorse this policy.

For a general overview visit http://www.sosyasuni.org/ – which is part of the Amazonia por la Vida Campaign (which is incidentally also the subtitle of the colonos blog) – and which is a social movement to expand the “keep the oil in the soil” proposal to include not only the ITT blocks, but the whole region, which is home to one of the world’s greatest diversity of species (some of which are from before last ice age) and home also to the Huaorani people and along the Napo river there are many Kichwa communities as well. Missing from the proposal, then, are at least:

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A Network of Sub-Empires: Babylon Under Siege?

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Rafael Correa is in China – signing with Chinese President Hu Jintao “14 bilateral accords and memorandums of understanding on oil, mining, railroads, tourism, health, agriculture and other sectors“.

So what does Correa’s understanding with China mean? Firstly, it means annihilation of Taiwan and Tibet:

Correa said China has a time-honored history and is full of vigor and vitality and it has made enormous achievements in embarking on the path of development suitable to its national realities. Ecuador shares brotherly friendship with China, he said, expressing hope that both sides will show mutual understanding and learn from each other so as to push bilateral ties for new progress. He reaffirmed Ecuador would adhere to the one-China policy.

Well, you might say, this is a socialist revolution and takes time to build – the means justify the end – and you win some and you lose some. But is it really best understood as socialism, this “21st century socialism”?

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A summary of the Ecuadorian revolution: the rise of the Constituent Assembly

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Roger Burbach’s informative piece called “Ecuador’s Popular Revolt: Forging a New Nation“, although dated October 8 seems to be written before the landslide victory of Correa’s alliance became clear:

Final results won’t be known until late October, however preliminary results indicate that Correa’s party, Alianza Pais, won around 70% of the vote, giving it some 80 of the 130 assembly delegates. Correa can also expect support in the assembly from representatives of the Socialist Party of Ecuador — Broad Front, the Movement for Popular Democracy and indigenous party Pachakutik — Nuevo Pais.

The outcome was a huge blow to the right-wing opposition, whose traditional parties all scored pitiful votes. The Social Christian Party, the country’s largest party, scored less than 4%. The “anti-corruption” PRIAN of Alvaro Noboa — Correa’s opponent in the presidential election run-offs last year and Ecuador’s richest man — scored around 6%.

However, this does not make it any less valuable – it provides a summary of the Ecuadorian revolution that is well worth a read. Whether it quite warrants such a conclusion is another matter:

In Ecuador, as well as in much of Latin America, we are witnessing a revolution from below, a popular awakening that is challenging the traditional political parties and demanding a new system of governance that responds to the interests and needs of the popular classes. It is this rich mixture of forces at the grass roots that is opening up new vistas as the 21st century advances.

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Thank you very much for a very nice comment :)

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Colonos has received this very nice comment, which deserves promotion:

by Phillip Bannowsky | phillipbannowsky.com |

Greetings,
I lived in Ecuador in the early 90s and have visited and written about the country from time to time.

I observed a series of Indigenous and popular “levantimientos” in Ecuador from 1992, the Quincentennial of the Spanish invasion, until 2001 (See my article in NACLA Report on the Americas, March April 2001). Each one showed an increasing sophistication, militancy, and organization. While each seemed to fall short of dislodging the oligarchy or binding them to solid agreements, each succeeded in building the intellectual and political infrastructure leading to the triumphs of the current era. Meanwhile, the politics at the top—of the oligarchs, the bananeros, the Congress, the Presidency, and the oil companies—stumbled on, as if no amount of corruption or incompetence could ever undermine the whole juggernaut.

Given the complexity of Ecuadorian society and the legacy of corruption, poverty, and exploitation, it’s hard to imagine some sort of ideal revolution ascending. but it’s hard not to be hopeful that these changes will finally be in the right direction, while barely capable of stemming the colono tide.

I found your comments about economic development in the encounter of Indigenous with the rest of the world interesting. I wrestled with that issue in my novel, The Mother Earth Inn, in which I also treated the contradictions among and within various Ecuadorian sectors.

It’s an interesting blog. I’ve been to Tena. Incredible birds. I am glad I found you. Good luck.

We sincerely thank Phillip for his comment.