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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Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron Lawyer Stumbles in 60 Minutes Interview over Ecuador Oil Contamination

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This is a story that deserves wide circulation. Makeup doll blowback:

Amazon Defense Coalition

Karen Hinton, 703-798-3109

Sylvia Garrigo Compares Makeup on Her Face to Heavily Contaminated Toxic Waste Pits; “Public Relations Disaster” for Chevron

Watch the 60 Minutes program online

New York (May 4, 2009) – Chevron shocked the public relations and legal worlds Sunday by allowing a relatively unknown in-house lawyer to stumble through an interview trying to defend the company on 60 Minutes against charges that it is responsible for the world’s largest oil contamination in Ecuador, where it faces a $27 billion liability.

The spokesperson, Sylvia Garrigo, did not disappoint the company’s detractors – she quickly made the bizarre claim that trace amounts of oil in the makeup on her face was no more harmful that the toxic sludge filmed by 60 Minutes in hundreds of unlined waste pits Texaco built in Ecuador’s rainforest that are still polluting soils and groundwater, according to an independent court expert.

One viewer who posted comments on the internet compared Garrigo’s performance to satirical appearances by Dan Akroyd on Saturday Night Live. Another found it shocking that Chevron did not put forth David O’Reilly, the company’s CEO, to defend the company in what 60 Minutes called the largest environmental legal case ever.

Sadly for Chevron, Garrigo’s performance had nothing to do with satire.

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Corridors of destruction and other neo-socialist “progress”

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Six months before the colonos blog came into being the article below – here translated into English – was written in Castellano. It is about what we have been labelling corridors (or interoceanic corridors) or the Manta-Manaus commodity highway. In this article a much more comprehensive perspective is offered – and shows how big, concerted and damaging to the continent and the rest of the world that this global capitalist project is.

Get the whole article in .pdf format.

Re-mapping Latin America’s Future

IIRSA: Integration Custom-Made for International Markets (#1)

Raúl Zibechi | June 13, 2006

Translated from: IIRSA: la integración a la medida de los mercados
Translated by: Nick Henry

Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

The project for Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA, by its initials in Spanish), is swiftly but silently moving forward. IIRSA is the most ambitious and encompassing plan to integrate the region for international trade. If completed in full, the project would connect zones containing natural resources (natural gas, water, oil, biodiversity) with metropolitan areas, and both of these with the world’s largest markets.

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The fate of the big forest: a future for the Amazon?

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Writes Mongobay: Up to a quarter of global carbon emissions are caused by deforestation. That means that in the next five years deforestation around the world will release more CO2 into the atmosphere than all aircraft from the Wright Brothers’ first flight until at least 2025.

And then consider the very interesting report the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia—IPAM), the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais—UFMG – from before the current global food crisis – then go figure:

The Amazon in a Changing Climate: Large-Scale Reductions of Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Impoverishment – Authors: D. Nepstad (WHRC, IPAM), P. Moutinho (IPAM, WHRC), B. Soares-Filho (UFMG) Graphics: P. Lefebvre, M. Ernst, B. Soares-Filho, D. Nepstad Translation (to Portuguese): G. Carvalho For more information:,,,,,

and check the recent (follow-up) interview with Daniel Nepstad who has a good analysis, but whose belief in the effectiveness of such market based ploys as the REDD initiative (see the next entry) leaves much to be desired……


– don’t hold your breath, if we wait for capitalism to reform itself, we will suffocate

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