South America

Two killed during protests against water laws in Ecuador.

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Ecuador is currently seeing another indigenous uprising in response to the proposed Law of Water (amongst others). Yesterday, a group indigenous protesters (mainly from the Shuar nation) in the Amazon were shot at from a helicopter, leaving two dead and nine other wounded.

colonos is replicating here briefly a statement of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and providing some links to further sources.

The proposed Law of Water is said to be in violation of the Ecuadorian Constitution, which prohibits all forms of privatisation of water. The law would allow for privatisation of water through the back door and prioritise needs of big developments (hydropower and mining) over those of the people. Moreover, in its article 43 it allows for the use of the Armed Forces in situations of protest and conflict around water use (such as when people would protest the diversion of community water for use in mining).
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Call for napalm bombing of ‘savages’ wins Survival racism award

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A press release by Survival International:

“An article implying Peruvian Indians should be bombed with napalm has been named by human rights organisation Survival International as the ‘most racist article’ published in the last year by the mainstream media.

The article was published in the Peruvian national newspaper Correo. It calls indigenous people ‘savages’, ‘Palaeolithic’ and ‘primitive’; says that their languages have no more than eighty words; and declares that, in the protests that have recently engulfed much of Peru’s Amazon, they were manipulated by ‘communist excrement’.

‘For those of you who still think of these ‘ethnic groups’ as ‘good’, ‘naïve’ and ‘pure’, I will remind you that it was these same people who perfected the art of shrinking the heads of their enemies and wearing them on the belts holding up their loincloths. If the ‘natives’ didn’t shrink the heads of the policemen they killed (in the recent protests) and eat their remains, it was only because there wasn’t time.’

The article also attacks three indigenous congresswomen, ridiculing their names and referring to them as the ‘three starlets in the parliamentary sewers’. Its response to the indigenous protests against the exploitation of natural resources on their land is: ‘Get f****d, loincloths and all’. The penultimate sentence is: ‘I don’t know what keeps the president from providing the air force with all the napalm necessary.’

The ‘most racist article of the year’ award is part of Survival’s ‘Stamp it Out’ campaign which aims to challenge racist descriptions of indigenous peoples in the world’s media. The winner receives a certificate inscribed with a quotation from Lakota Sioux author Luther Standing Bear: ‘All the years of calling the Indian a savage has never made him one.’

Stamp it Out is supported by eminent journalists such as the BBC’s World Affairs correspondent John Simpson, George Monbiot, John Vidal, and best-selling authors Tim Butcher and Simon Garfield.

Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This article makes depressing reading for anyone who thinks newspapers should educate and inform their readers. We hope the publicity this award receives will make the paper think twice before printing such offensive rubbish again.’

Read an English translation of the article

For more information and images please contact Miriam Ross:
(+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367
mr@survival-international.org

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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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 »

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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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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Ecosystems Services and IIRSA: Roads and Price Tags all over the Amazon

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The WWF – the ones with the Panda logo – have published a report on the details about “saving” the Amazon rain forest by putting a price tag on every thing, – sorry, assets is probably a better term-, that the rain forest possesses.

The report – Pita Verweij, Marieke Schouten, Pieter van Beukering, Jorge Triana, Kim van der Leeuw and Sebastiaan Hess. Keeping the Amazon forests standing: a matter of values, WWF-Netherlands 2009 – is presented here by Mongobay.

This bizarre fashion of price tagging everything starts with the realisation that the market mechanisms have failed the environment, which is a pretty good observation, but then proceeds to suggest that the very same paradigm of thinking – the economistic, capitalistic reductionist line of thinking – should simply also be applied to “the environment”, since it provides humans with valuable “ecosystems services“. If it is not tagged with a price, why care for it?

While this whole business, as it were, sounds rather disturbing (Can two wrongs make a right? Can a problem be solved from within the paradigm it was created? Einstein famously answered the latter question, of course), the report has some very good bits – it is a very comprehensive report that deserves wider attention, but the price tagging horror really does not appeal very much – at all – to colonos or any of the people we have worked with in the forest. Essentially, it sounds like a lose-lose scenario: either lose the forest or sell it to the highest bidder? And bidding is low these days of financial collapse, so one could hardly imagine worse timing for the publication of this report.

Interestingly, it has a pretty good section on IIRSA, which has been covered again and again here, but the section does not include reference to the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor. This goes to show just how big the “biggest infrastructure project in history” is: an otherwise detailed and comprehensive report does not need to list the Manta-Manaus corridor in order to show just how much of a horror show that IIRSA is threatening to be:

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In a permanent state of exception the Earth is to be a garden as a rule

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Assuming that there is a global crisis – financial, climate change and starvation – and assuming that something could be done about it – what would it be? The initial reaction has been to push for more of the same – more debts to be created in order to keep economic power in the same hands. Maybe a few policy changes to avoid too extreme corruption and self-aggrandisement, removal of some draconian measures, but that’s about it. Spend more, that is way to go. It sounds so simple and in a sense it is: wiping the rich people’s slates clean so that they can lend more money for the poor to spend. If it makes you think of spiralling further down into an abyss we’re on the same wave length.

In order, then, to get the American people to spend more money that they don’t have - the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans reached a record $951 billion in 2008, constituting a next level in the financial collapse of a system based on ever-increasing debt – president Obama is suggesting “a $410bn (£290bn) spending bill due to be voted on this week“. Part of this bill seeks to lift some of the extreme anti-Cuban legislation that was introduced during the administration of Bush the Second.

There is no doubt about it, Obama – the man in the White House – gives good speeches, but even an old World Banker takes note of the fact that Obama’s grand plan to save the world and “the hardest working people on Earth” (he says it as if it a good thing??) from their predicaments is insubstantial (These videos gives you an insight from the inside – if you really want to know about all the little sheenanigans of a failed system or just want to see the Emperor of the Free World sit before you in his shiny new clothes. Characteristic of times of crisis he looks and sounds like a rhetorical stooge with a nationalistic appeal “the greatest force of progress and prosperity [and climate change?!]”)

Anyway, the Cuban news is a tangent that invites viewing the world from a Latin American perspective.

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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 »

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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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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Letter of WAORANI women to the Government of Ecuador

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This is a letter from some of the people that Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s neo-capitalist, authoritarian president, calls “infantile” and “romantic”, probably because they didn’t go to the fancy white man’s schools that the fine president attended to learn that most anti-human of trades called economics, which is some sort of brain washing thing where you are taught that the human being is an entirely self-interested, rational agent who just wants to go shopping and doesn’t care for her community.

The letter is from the Waorani women who are getting systematically killed by the oil industry, which is enjoying strong protection from the Ecuadorian state, led by Correa:

“Manuela Omari Ima, who is the new chairperson of Waorani women’s organization, Amwae, has first hand experience in the devastating consequences of oil exploration. “The indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon have been decimated in just a few decades,” she says. “The Waorani people alone numbered around 16,000 at the end of the 1960s, when the oil exploration began. Today, there are no more than about a thousand of us left… I don’t know how much longer we can survive under the current conditions. Perhaps the industry will out-live us – judging by how it has wiped out other tribal peoples in the Amazon. Maybe the earth will have nothing left to give when the companies leave.”

Altogether, an estimated 90% of the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region of Ecuador have been wiped out over the past few decades, according to the FDA. Contamination from the oil industry, forced relocations, militarized violence and civilization-borne diseases are the critical factors behind the process of extinction.”

Letter of WAORANI women to the Government of Ecuador

Lago Agrio, 6th of November 2008

We, as women, made this document in paper and in your language. We cannot speak to you because we live far away and because you don’t understand our language.

Look at this paper Mr. President, it contains our words, the words of the Waorani women.

We want to live in a large territory, our culture is based on a large territory, it is ours, not because the State decided so, but because God gave it to us, therefore we talk of our land, our children, our language. As our ancestors told us: without land, we cannot live.

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Reflecting on “Hope in Common”, by David Graeber

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This is a very nice and informative piece of writing. Not in need of an ideology or a reference to the right -ism, the message is ever so stronger. Colonos do, however, have a few reservations, but let’s save them for later and for now just enjoy Graeber’s musings on our current predicaments:

Hope in Common, by David Graeber

We seem to have reached an impasse. Capitalism as we know it appears to be coming apart. But as financial institutions stagger and crumble, there is no obvious alternative. Organized resistance appears scattered and incoherent; the global justice movement a shadow of its former self. There is good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism will no longer exist: for the simple reason that it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet. Faced with the prospect, the knee-jerk reaction—even of “progressives”—is, often, fear, to cling to capitalism because they simply can’t imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even worse.

The first question we should be asking is: How did this happen? Is it normal for human beings to be unable to imagine what a better world would even be like?

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The Asian Brown Cloud: Global Climate Chaos and Tropical Glaciers

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The United Nations have released a report on the phenomenon dubbed as the Asian Brown Cloud, which is a thick soup of human waste engulfing Asia, and which has been widely reported:

“A dirty brown haze sometimes more than a mile thick is darkening skies not only over vast areas of Asia, but also in the Middle East, southern Africa and the Amazon Basin, changing weather patterns around the world and threatening health and food supplies, the U.N. reported Thursday.

The huge smog-like plumes, caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and firewood, are known as “atmospheric brown clouds.”

When mixed with emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for warming the earth’s atmosphere like a greenhouse, they are the newest threat to the global environment, according to a report commissioned by the U.N. Environment Program.”

In the report itself it reads:

“One of the most serious problems highlighted in the report is the documented retreat of the Hind Kush-Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers, which provide the head-waters for most Asian rivers, and thus have serious implications for the water and food security of Asia”

This taken together with the alarming development all over the world, but particularly with regards to tropical glaciers in South America, mainly Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, it is looking more and more like game over soon. There really isn’t much time left. The Asian Brown cloud, first reported on in 2002 has now grown to a full scale threat of immanent disaster. Water is running out, the Himalayan glaciers whose decay are accelerated by the Asian Brown Cloud feed around 2 billion people with water to drink and to grow crops. Now go figure…

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