Environmentalism

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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Food Energy Nexus: Livelihoods and Sovereignty

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Colonos would like to draw your attention to an interesting project by some good people unfolding in India, called Food Energy Nexus, which presents itself in this way:

“Millions of people living in the so-called developing world starved as the price of food soared in 2007-2008. Globally, the poorest are broadly women and children of colour, who were among the hardest hit by the rising food prices.

The drivers behind the latest food crises are complex with no single answer. But a range of actors including the IMF, NGOs, FAO has correlated biofuels with food price increases. Other factors have also significantly contributed to food price increases, such as increased demands for meat, supply dynamics, unseasonable droughts and rises in the price of oil.

netherlands_world_p_321169i

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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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Indigenous Mobilisation for Life – CONAIE Communiqués

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colonos is here reproducing two CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) updates in Spanish on the ongoing “mobilisation for life” which has brought thousands of indigenous activists, peasants and their allies onto the streets, walking from all over the country to the capital, Quito, in protest against the new Mining Law. As was to be expected, the demonstrations have been violently repressed, and at least four people, including a journalist, have been arrested in the North of Ecuador where clashes are said to have been most aggressive.

Please see the preceding post in this blog for an action alert.
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Mining Action Alert

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Action Alert: Ask the Ecuadorian Government to Protect Human Rights During Upcoming Anti-Mining Demonstrations

The Ecuador Solidarity Network, an organization based in Canada and the United States, is joining human rights and indigenous peoples organizations in calling on President Rafael Correa to respect human rights during nation wide protests against large-scale mining that will begin on Monday January 19th.

The protests will spread from the Amazon and reach Quito, Ecuador’s capital, on January 20th. Anti-mining protests earlier this month were met with police violence in the Southern provinces of Azuay, Loja, Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago. A number of activists were beaten and detained, and one leader was critically injured after being shot in the head.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and a number of farmer and environmental organizations are protesting against the recent approval of a mining law by Congress, opening the country to large-scale metal mining. Canadian mining companies would benefit from many of the concessions. The CONAIE and other organizations contend that the new law will allow large-scale mining in protected areas and contaminate critical community water supplies. The CONAIE is also protesting against government plans to drill for oil in the Yasuni National Park, the rainforest home of two indigenous communities in voluntary isolation.

Following recent statements from the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH) and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the Ecuador Solidarity Network calls on activists around the world to support the human rights of protesters demonstrating against large-scale metal mining in Ecuador. The CONAIE emphasizes that the demonstrations will be peaceful and calls on President Correa to not use police or military forces against protesters.

E-mail President Rafael Correa and President of Congress Fernando Cordero and ask that the government take preventative action to ensure that protesters’ human rights are respected. We also denounce any attempt by right-wing organizations in the U.S. or Canada to opportunistically use the upcoming mobilizations to attack President Correa for motives that have nothing to do with indigenous rights or environmental protection.

Please send emails to:

Presidencia de la República, Presidente Rafael Correa:

presidencia @ presidencia . gov . ec

Presidencia Legislativa, Presidente de la Comision Legislativa y de Fiscalizacion, Fernando Cordero Cueva:

presidencia @ asambleaconstituyente . gov . ec

Please send a carbon copy of the messages to

ecuadorsolidarity @ gmail . com

Media Contacts:

Ecuador: Jennifer Moore, Ecuador Solidarity Network (593) 8-877-8928 / jenmoore0901 @ gmail . com

Canada: Jamie Kneen, Mining Watch (613) 761-2273

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

Climate Change Denial, Holocaust Denial: Death Sentences Through History

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There is a new movement of denials – although the Holocaust deniers are still around, the far right have found a new thing to deny – this time that the Earth is heating up due to excessive energy consumption and wars for more oil to burn going to more wars for more oil and gas and water control…

The Bush family – who made their fortune with great help of the Nazis – controls a huge region in Paraguay, neighbouring the Christian Tongil sect/movement’s leader, Mr. Moon, which is incidentally the second largest fresh water reserve on the planet and protected by the US military.

Now why do you think that they bought that? Because they like the Paraguayan countryside, or because they know that the water is running out? And how would they know that the water us running out? Well, their business models depend on oil and war and all those things that destroy the water, so it isn’t very difficult to see how that realisation came about. Even people like Bush might care for their own children. If they can make such decisions wittingly, then they can be tried for crimes against humanity, as NASA’s James Hansen, himself a conservative/republican, advocates.

This quick post was prompted by an incoming link from yet another climate change denier. I left a comment in the blog, but seeing as it was held for moderation I imagined that it might not pass the filtering process, so I better paste the comment here. It is a response to some distortion by a Conservative in the City, claiming that Al Gore started the advanced the environmental movements against climate change – which is either completely ignorant and dimwitted or a deliberate denial of history of social movements.

Ever since Gory Al produced his Toyota advertising piece, yes, indeed, there has been a scam moving across the planet suggesting to governments and people that we can produce and shop our way out of this predicament, if we just buy small Toyota cars and energy saving light bulbs.
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