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.’
For more information and images please contact Miriam Ross:
(+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367
Today the world’s media carry the story of the Peruvian Congress having suspended the destructive decrees that caused a non-violent, yet forceful uprising by indigenous peoples organising to defend the Amazon from the oil and gas industry. It is not a victory – merely one less defeat! The forest continues to be destroyed. Drilling, pumping, spilling roads building and Christian conquest of hearts, souls and minds through concerted violence, repression, manipulation, false promises (“Jesus will buy you a fridge and a car”) and disrespect for the inhabitants of what was once the world’s largest (rain) forest, but which is now better described as a region threatened by destruction, deforestation, desertification, in brief, death. However, at least, for now the attempt to accelerate further the destruction has been pushed back, but not stopped. The struggle continues…..
Congress temporarily suspended two decrees issued by President Alan García that had helped set off recent protests by indigenous groups fearful of large oil and logging investments in the Peruvian Amazon. The decrees would open vast jungle areas to investment and allow companies to bypass indigenous communities to get permits for projects. The protests resulted in repression by security forces and apparent reprisals by Indians last week that left dozens dead.
See also: Top name brands implicated in Amazon destruction, New Greenpeace report shows how the cattle industry in Brazil is feeding demand for raw resources and “Slaughtering the Amazon”
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:
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.
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:
In yesterday’s Guardian there is yet “another hard-luck story that you’re gonna hear”:
“Chris Jones, who led the research, told the conference: “A temperature rise of anything over 1C commits you to some future loss of Amazon forest. Even the commonly quoted 2C target already commits us to 20-40% loss. On any kind of pragmatic timescale, I think we should see loss of the Amazon forest as irreversible.” Peter Cox, professor of climate system dynamics at the University of Exeter, said the effects would be felt around the world. “Ecologically it would be a catastrophe and it would be taking a huge chance with our own climate. The tropics are drivers of the world’s weather systems and killing the Amazon is likely to change them forever. We don’t know exactly what would happen but we could expect more extreme weather.”
Massive Amazon loss would also amplify global warming “significantly” he said. “Destroying the Amazon would also turn what is a significant carbon sink into a significant source.””
Just a few days ago new results came out about the loss of arctic ice showing once again that predictions are continuously shown to be way too conservative – positive feedback loops are upon us:
“Amazon dieback is one of the key positive feedbacks brought about by global warming. These are typically runaway processes in which global temperature rises lead to further releases of CO², which in turn brings about more global warming. In the Amazon this happens on a more localised scale but the result, increased forest death, also releases carbon into the atmosphere.
Experts predict that higher worldwide temperatures will reduce rainfall in the Amazon region, which will cause widespread local drought. With less water and tree growth, “homegrown” rainfall produced by the forest will reduce as well, as it depends on water passed into the atmosphere above the forests by the trees. The cycle continues, with even less rain causing more drought, and so on.
With no water, the root systems collapse and the trees fall over. The parched forest becomes tinderbox dry and more susceptible to fire, which can spread to destroy the still-healthy patches of forest.
Other positive feedback effects expected by scientists, are releases of carbon stored in frozen arctic ecosystems and an increase in the sun’s energy absorbed by the planet as ice melts.”
As already mentioned above, new results from the ice front have arrived and the predictions for an ice free Arctic summer is not far in the future:
“The year “2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we’ve been wrong — each year we’re finding that it’s a little bit faster than expected,” he told Reuters.
The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and the sea ice cover shrank to a record low in 2007 before growing slightly in 2008.
In 2004 a major international panel forecast the cover could vanish by 2100. Last December, some experts said the summer ice could go in the next 10 or 20 years.
If the ice cover disappears, it could have major consequences. Shipping companies are already musing about short cuts through the Arctic, which also contains enormous reserves of oil and natural gas.”
It’s not looking good.
Over the last few years Ecuador has been undergoing a series of transformations that misleadingly have been labelled as (neo-)socialism with an environmental sensibility. The main architect behind the project, which is really nothing other than industrialist, progressivist routines of old, is called Rafael Correa.
Slick, charismatic and essentially an authoritarian opportunist, yet European and U.S. journalists have either hailed him as a poster boy for 21st Century Socialism or warned against him for that very reason.
Nothing could be further from the truth (if it really is out there).
At best he is a social-democrat whore to heavy industry who calls environmentalists and indigenous peoples things like “extremists”, “romantic”, and “infantile” and strikes down upon their popular protests with military might in the best of capitalist manners:
“The people mobilized in Dayuma and were repressed. There was a mobilization in Cuenca against mining projects and the president got on the radio and said, ‘If twenty of these crazy ecologists are protesting, I’ll call 20,000, or 200,000, residents to confront them.’ What is this? What sort of regime is this? This is socialism of the 21st century?”
I shall not dwell much further on this issue of misleading labels – it is an obvious opportunism in itself and should serve as a warning against the writings of people like Greg Palast, who obviously forgot to investigate during his journalistic, jet set, in-out visit to Ecuador last Christmas (and who has seemingly also removed critical comments from the original article!).
The nature of Correa’s political project goes against the nature of the environment: one of his key projects, the Latin American integration project, IIRSA, will essentially destroy what is left of the Amazon. This has been addressed again and again by colonos with reference to the Manta-Manaus corridor and can easily be found by clicking around in this blog a bit or simply by googling IIRSA.
Correa’s political, rhetorical moves, however, are so smart that many people (unfamiliar with radical, grass-roots analyses) believe him and thus embrace his government and projects, but it is time to wake up for people outside of Ecuador to the realities that anyone working on grass-roots levels have known all along: there is nothing environmentally friendly about Ecuador’s new constitution, neither about its current government! Rather, Ecuador’s president – in himself – constitutes a severe threat to the Amazon!
“Another clear example is ITT. The Taegheri and Taromenane peoples [in voluntary isolation] live in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini area. This is the Huaorani people’s territory. Ecuador’s indigenous people, in accord with international agreements and the 1998 constitution, asked for this area to be protected. The President, who is very intelligent, said, “Great. Let’s leave the oil underground and see how many countries will supplement the $500 million a year we would lose.” He knew that this would be very difficult to accomplish.”
Essentially we’ve here been summing up on what we have been reporting on for more than two years now, and in the same breath also been introducing an interview with Monica Chuji – a Kichwa activist and politician – that is best read in its entirety with no further ado:
Whither Ecuador? An Interview with Indigenous Activist and Politician Monica Chuji
Written by Daniel Denvir for UpsideDownWorld
Thursday, 06 November 2008
Monica Chuji is an indigenous Kichwa activist from the Ecuadorian Amazon. She served as an Assembly Member from President Rafael Correa’s Alianza País party in the National Constituent Assembly, drafting Ecuador’s new constitution. Prior to Chuji’s election to the Assembly, she was Correa’s Secretary of Communication and spokeswoman. In September, she broke with Correa and left Alianza País, the culmination of months of increasing conflict between the President and Ecuador’s social and indigenous movements.