Category Archives: Cochabamba

World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

COP17 succumbs to Climate Apartheid

Antidote is Cochabamba Peoples’ Agreement

Durban, S. Africa, 11 December, 2011 – Decisions resulting from the UN COP17 climate summit in Durban constitute a crime against humanity, according to Climate Justice Now! a broad coalition of social movements and civil society. Here in South Africa, where the world was inspired by the liberation struggle of the country’s black majority, the richest nations have cynically created a new regime of climate apartheid.

“Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International. “An increase in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, Small Island States, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.”

According to Pablo Solón, former lead negotiator for the Plurinational State of Bolivia, “It is false to say that a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been adopted in Durban. The actual decision has merely been postponed to the next COP, with no commitments for emission reductions from rich countries. This means that the Kyoto Protocol will be on life support until it is replaced by a new agreement that will be even weaker.”

The world’s polluters have blocked real action and have once again chosen to bail out investors and banks by expanding the now-crashing carbon markets – which like all financial market activities these days, appear to mainly enrich a select few.

“What some see as inaction is in fact a demonstration of the palpable failure of our current economic system to address economic, social or environmental crises,” said Janet Redman, of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. “Banks that caused the financial crisis are now making bonanza profits speculating on our planet’s future. The financial sector, driven into a corner, is seeking a way out by developing ever newer commodities to prop up a failing system.”

Despite talk of a “roadmap” offered up by the EU, the failure in Durban shows that this is a cul-de-sac,  a road to nowhere. Spokespeople for Climate Justice Now! call on the world community to remember that a real climate program, based on planetary needs identified by scientists as well as by a mandate of popular movements, emerged at the World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Bolivia in 2010. The Cochabamba People’s Agreement, brought before the UN but erased from the negotiating text, offers a just and effective way forward that is desperately needed.


On technology

“The technology discussions have been hijacked by industrialized countries speaking on behalf of their transnational corporations,” said Silvia Ribeiro from the international organization ETC Group.

Critique of monopoly patents on technologies, and the environmental, social and cultural evaluation of technologies have been taken out of the Durban outcome. Without addressing these fundamental concerns, the new technology mechanism will merely be a global marketing arm to increase the profit of transnational corporations by selling dangerous technologies to countries of the South, such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology or geoengineering technologies.

On agriculture

“The only way forward for agriculture is to support agro-ecological solutions, and to keep agriculture out of the carbon market,” said Alberto Gomez, North American Coordinator for La Via Campesina, the world’s largest movement of peasant farmers.

“Corporate Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of production, is one of the principal causes of climate change and increased hunger. We therefore reject Free Trade Agreements, Association Agreements, and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, nanotechnology, and climate smart agriculture) that only exacerbate the current crisis.”

On REDD + and forest carbon projects
“REDD+ threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities. Mounting evidence shows that Indigenous Peoples are being subjected to violations of their rights as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs and policies,” declared The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life.

Their statement, released during the first week of COP17, declares that “REDD+ and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) promote the privatization and commodification of forests, trees and air through carbon markets and offsets from forests, soils, agriculture and could even include the oceans. We denounce carbon markets as a hypocrisy that will not stop global warming.”

On the World Bank and the Global Climate Fund

“The World Bank is a villain of the failed neoliberal economy,” says Teresa Almaguer of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance in the U.S.

“We need a climate fund managed by participatory governance, not by an anti-democratic institution that is responsible for much of the climate disruption and poverty in the world.” “The Green Climate Fund has been turned into the Greedy Corporate Fund,” said Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South. “The fund has been hijacked by the rich countries, on their terms, and set up to provide more profits to the private sector”

On the Green Economy

“We need a climate fund that provides finance for peoples of developing countries that is fully independent from undemocratic institutions like the World Bank. The Bank has a long track record of financing projects that exacerbate climate disruption and poverty” said Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South. “The fund is being hijacked by the rich countries, setting up the World Bank as interim trustee and providing direct access to money meant for developing countries to the private sector.  It should be called the Greedy Corporate Fund!”

Climate policy is making a radical shift towards the so-called “green economy,” dangerously reducing ethical commitments and historical responsibility to an economic calculation on cost-effectiveness, trade and investment opportunities. Mitigation and adaption should not be treated as a business nor have its financing conditioned by private sector and profit-oriented logic. Life is not for sale.

On climate debt

“Industrialized northern countries are morally and legally obligated to repay their climate debt,” said Janet Redman, Co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Developed countries grew rich at the expense of the planet and the future all people by exploiting cheap coal and oil. They must pay for the resulting loss and damages, dramatically reduce emissions now, and financially support developing countries to shift to clean energy pathways.”

Developed countries, in assuming their historical responsibility, must honor their climate debt in all its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution. The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings. We call on developed countries to commit themselves to action. Only this could perhaps rebuild the trust that has been broken and enable the process to move forward.

On real solutions

“The only real solution to climate change is to leave the oil in the soil, coal in the hole and tar sands in the land.” Ivonne Yanez, Acción Ecologica, Ecuador

For more information, contact:

Mike Dorsey –, or call+27 (0)79 863 8756 or +1-734-945-6424

Nick Buxton – or call +27(0)81 589 8564 or +1 530 902 3772


Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Cochabamba, Durban/COP-17, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, UNFCCC

One Year Since Cancun and Just Days Away from Durban: More than 4°C

Pablo Solon was the former UN ambassador for Bolivia and the lead negotiator for climate change negotiations, but no longer holds that position. At COP16 in Cancun last year, Solon’s was the lone voice dissenting from the Cancun Agreements. He will be attending COP17 in Durban, South Africa as part of civil society. — The GJEP team

Balance sheet and perspectives on the climate change negotiations (Part I)

by Pablo Solon

Cross-posted from: (*)

Almost a year has gone by since the results of the climate change negotiations in Cancun were imposed with the objection of only Bolivia. It’s time to take stock and see where we are now.

In Cancun, the developed countries listed their greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges for the 2012-2020 period. The United States and Canada said they would reduce emissions by 3% based on 1990 levels, the European Union between 20 and 30%, Japan 25%, and Russia from 15 to 25% [1]. Adding up all the reduction pledges of the developed countries, the total reduction in emissions by 2020 would be 13-17% [2] based on 1990 levels.

These greenhouse gas emission reduction “pledges,” according to the United Nations Environment Programme [3], the Stockholm Environment Institute [4], and even the Executive Secretary of the Climate Change Convention [5], would lead us to an average increase in global temperature of around 4°C or more.[6] That is double the amount they established in Cancun: a maximum temperature increase of just 2°C.

With an increase of 2°C, the number of deaths per year attributed to climate change-related natural disasters, which was 350,000 in 2009 [7], could skyrocket into the millions. Some 20-30% of animal and plant species would disappear. Many coastal zones and island states would end up below the ocean, and the glaciers in the Andes – which have already been reduced by one third with a temperature rise of just 0.8°C – would disappear entirely.

Can you imagine what would happen with an average global temperature increase of 4°C or more? [8]

Nobody at the climate change negotiations defends or justifies an increase of that magnitude. However, Cancun opened the door to it.

When Bolivia opposed this outcome, the negotiators told us that the important thing was to save the diplomatic process of negotiation, and that the climate would be saved in Durban. Now we are just days away from the start of Durban, and it turns out the reduction pledges have not risen by a millimeter. Worse yet, some countries are announcing that they may stick toward the lower range of their pledge amounts.

Sadly, throughout 2011, the climate change negotiations held in Thailand, Germany and Panama have focused on form rather than content. What is being negotiated is not how the reduction pledges can be increased, but rather, how they can be formalized.

The Cancun “agreements” meant going from an obligatory system with global greenhouse gas reduction goals to a voluntary system with no global goals at all. It is as if one said to the inhabitants of a small town about to be washed away by a flood: “bring whatever stones you may have and let’s see how high a dam we can build!” In reality, you must first determine how high the dam should be to stop the flood, and based on that, each family should be told how many stones it must bring to help save the whole town.
In Durban, they are talking about two different paths for formalizing the voluntary regime of “anything goes”: one is to end the Kyoto Protocol  and list in a COP-17 decision the greenhouse gas reduction pledges each country wishes to make. The other path is to do the same thing by hollowing out the content of the Kyoto Protocol. In both cases the agreement is to undo the Kyoto Protocol before 2020.

To better understand the second path, let me point out that the Kyoto Protocol currently includes a global goal of 5.2% emission reductions for the 2007-2012 period. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in order to limit the rise in temperature to the 2°C they have established, we must reduce 25-40% of emissions for the 2013-2020 period.[9]

Those that advocate for maintaining the Kyoto Protocol as an empty shell are the countries that fear the reaction of public opinion, those that believe they have to at least pretend that the Kyoto Protocol will continue in order to placate voters. But the other reason why they would want to maintain a Kyoto Protocol that is empty of emission reductions are its collapsing carbon market mechanisms.

The Kyoto Protocol has many weaknesses, but to turn it into an empty shell or make it disappear in Durban would be suicide. The only responsible alternative is to preserve the Kyoto Protocol with an emissions reductions goal that allows us to avoid incinerating the planet.

(Second part: The emerging countries and the carbon budget)

* Pablo Solón is an international analyst and social activist. He was chief negotiator for climate change and Ambassador to the United Nations for the Plurinational State of Bolivia from 2009 until June 2011.

[1] Document UNFCCC FCCC/SB/2011/INF.1
[2] A minimum emissions reduction of 13% and a maximum of 17% for the 2013-2020 period.

[6] 4° C is a global average, but some continents such as Africa will see a temperature rise 8° C.
[7] Data from the Global Humanitarian Forum presided by former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan.

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Filed under Cancun/ COP-16, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Cochabamba, Durban/COP-17

Mirrors on the horizon: TIPNIS, Reflection and Debate

As a certain sort of social movement victory is declared in halting the construction of the TIPNIS highway in Bolivia, it is worth a moment to reflect on the deeper meanings of this struggle that has brought hundreds of indigenous marchers walking for over sixty-five days from the lowland Amazon jungle to the frigid highland city of La Paz. In this short essay, written two months ago but still very relevant, Bolivian social psychologist, educator, writer and activist Elizabeth Peredo Beltran offers reflections on the meanings of the struggle for Bolivia’s national psyche. — the GJEP team

Mirrors on the horizon: TIPNIS, Reflection and Debate

by Elizabeth Peredo Beltrán*

August 30th, 2011

The growing dissident voices around the building of a highway through the TIPNIS (Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro-Sécure) and the historical Indigenous March in defense of the Isiboro Secure Territory have created large tensions within the Bolivian political process begun more than five years ago.

The current process began with social movements contesting neoliberalism and colonialism. It began with the indigenous march for land and territory and a new constitution in which is established, as a cornerstone, the legitimate rights of indigenous peoples and the need of a new social pact. The Water War, the uprisings of February and October 2003 and the heroic Gas War were also founding moments for the creation of a discussion for the defense of life providing the basis for moving beyond the neoliberal nightmare.

From that moment and until now, social movements and activists in Bolivia have fought for indigenous rights, women rights, the value of life, for a national integration with solidarity, for regaining sovereignty, against free-trade treaties, against the commodification of water, against transgenic seeds, against mega dams, against racism and against exclusion etc…With this agenda of priorities we arrived to a National Constituent Assembly which approved one of the more interesting South American constitutions, a constitution based on the principle of “living well”, the “Suma Qamaña[1]”, bringing with it the insight that developmentalism, extractivism and the logic of capital are not ways to form a purportedly sovereign nation that could serve as an inspiration to other peoples in the world facing the dire necessity of an urgent and essential transformation for our planet.

At this critical juncture it is thus essential to pause to see the distance covered and to render accounts, to discuss the wider societal process, not just government, (the latter has chosen to trivialize societal criticism polarizing what should have been a wide debate.) We need to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and see where are we going and what are we becoming.

TIPNIS is a painful wound, even more so because we have been late to react, as stretches of the highway are already advanced with only one stretch to be finished of three; this stretch, if implemented, will imply a sad victory condemning that territory to depredation, draining the lifeblood of the jungle, the anatomy of our Mother Earth. Now, we have always been told that the IIRSA was only a tale, that there wasn’t any money to make it come true, but, in truth, IIRSA was really germinating within South American governments, both left leaning progressives, and those that are not, yielding to the expansionist dynamic of the region’s strong economies like Brazil. These are projects that do not tire in their consolidation of a regional infrastructure model at the service of the big corporations and of a predatory growth that could engulf the continent.

TIPNIS is a national issue of the greatest significance since it reflects the kind of country we want to build, what sort of integration we hope to achieve, how we conceive of and implement projects of development, how the physical infrastructure should help the State to meet its social debts to the poorest and, at the same time, how to regain or maintain a balance with nature, defining our own relationship with private companies and big capital, a relationship which now seems to take priority over the rules written in the constitution… In fact, the contract with the Odebrecht Company and the funding by BNDES has already been agreed upon before having made the previous consultation (established by the Constitution, the 169 ILO Agreement and the Declaration of the Indigenous Peoples Rights by the U.N. all adhered to by the Bolivian state.) The analysis of this conflict demonstrates key stages in play in this process where the logic of regional and national integration, the land question, different development models, and multiple other issues, a result of a very complex social and political reality.

We do not now have the basic conditions for such a reflection, for a collective debate that might allow us to clarifying the open questions. We are paying the price for having avoided a sufficiently wide and open debate social debate; criticism, reflection, dialogue and critique of the Bolivian society before 2007. Could it be that we have naïvely believed that power has other virtues when it comes dressed in local robes? Or could it be that we have ceded power to some patriarchal tendency without our even being aware of it, our reaction, silence? The development debate is not happening in Bolivia, not at a level of reflection that such a significant topic merits, nor was it debated during the heroic sessions that gave birth to the new Constitution.

That much is clear today, as reflected by the conflict resulting from an attempt to build the highway through TIPNIS. Even though the indigenous movements spearheading the march on its defense stand courageously for the idea of caring for Mother Earth, preserving territory and its biodiversity; their petitions include other issues which could otherwise shatter the coherence of caring Mother Earth with the logic of commodification and profit. At every turn the challenge to articulate the necessary consensus becomes greater.

The demands presented by CIDOB (Central Indígena del Oriente de Bolivia) become a platform for protecting the TIPNIS territory thereby recovering broad national support to the preservation of the Isiboro Sécure area, incorporating among other demands, that of payment for environmental services, that is, the people living within these territories should be paid for caring for the forest. Arguing that the government is already working with this scheme. This was delicate matter, because it has to do precisely with a global conflict between developing societies aware of the environmental dilemmas, of subordinating the care for nature to the logic of markets. In other words, the choice between either caring for life and nature by relying on restoring forms of social organization and human conscience beyond the market or alternatively, commodifying the care for the earth, adapting every ecological initiative to trade and economic compensation and, therefore, legitimizing carbon markets, REDD+ projects and the green economy now offered as the resounding logic behind the commodification of the whole planet, which serves only to support a system which benefits the larger economies and the largest transnational corporations.

This is a key theme for which Bolivia has stood behind in the climate change negotiation process and those leading up to Rio + 20, i.e. opposition to the green economy and carbon markets as false solutions. The logic behind this is that such false solutions, instead of resulting in necessary emission reductions from developed countries, create a speculative bubble out of nature, handing over their responsibilities to the Global South at a more convenient level of cost for the polluting nations. We are talking about an issue that has polarized organizations of indigenous peoples and social movements around the world, and even divided civil society within the sessions at Cancun when the UN Convention on Climate was being negotiated on December 2010.

It is a global tension on which we must take a stand. Also we must widen our questioning to include the issue of development and its relation to our planet’s survival.

Where do we stand concerning this great debate? How do we harmonize (a fashionable term) our demands for the “atmospheric space” necessary for our development and, at the same time, our care for Mother Earth? What is our country’s plan to tread a balanced route between these two significant paths proposed by the Global South: the right to development and harmony with nature? Lastly, what do we understand by development? Developing for whom? How could we offer an alternative to that “development” model promoted by the Washington Consensus and its institutions benefiting powerful elites? What counterpoint can we offer? What cultural practices can care both for the nature in the countryside and that of the city – we must not forget the latter – we need a better vision than one based on profit or on commodifying care for nature? How do we defend our territory not only from mega roads but also from mega damns, mega projects, mega businesses and mega expectations which, by their very size, belittle any inspirational glimpse of the simple and sustainable lifestyles, something which might well be the result of a more humble conversation coherent with our own rhetoric?

We have always said that it is good to dream and fight for a new society. One way that the Bolivia society might again find this path could be to face this complex challenge with the gentle face of mother nature herself, exploring the challenge of taking a stand against this world careering toward destruction, one which, in spite of everything, maintains an intuitive and common sense approach for the preservation of life itself.

We should not bend to the complicity of silence, nor fall into the trap of wanting to see our little corner well taken care of, without seeing the essence which may have vanishing behind the walls of apparent success. Now it is time to listen to each other; men or women, to face the reflection from these mirrors and to act. For some it could mean to get rid of the phantoms of conspiracy and to assume the responsibility for contributing to these processes with coherence, searching for social balances and equity. Caring for and honoring Mother Earth who is, by the way, a single mother keeping the care of life by herself.

August 30, 2011           

*Elizabeth Peredo Beltrán (Bolivia) is a social psychologist, a researcher, an activist and a writer.

Translated by Hernando Calla and edited by Tony Phillips

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Filed under Cochabamba, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, New Voices in the News, Victory!

Letter from Pablo Solon on the TIPNIS Highway Controversy

GJEP has just received this letter from Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s former Ambassador to the United Nations and chief climate negotiator,  regarding the controversy swimming around the TIPNIS highway, and the response of the Morales administration to popular protests.

– the GJEP team

September 28, 2011 (Español debajo)

President and Brother Evo Morales

Since 2006, Bolivia has shown leadership to the world on how to tackle the most profound challenges of our time. We have achieved the approval of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in the United Nations and promoted a vision for society based on Vivir Bien (Living Well) rather than consuming more.

However there must be coherence between what we do and what we say. One cannot speak of defending Mother Earth and at the same time promote the construction of a road that will harm Mother Earth, doesn’t respect indigenous rights and violates human rights in an “unforgiveable” way.

As the country that initiated the International Day of Mother Earth, we have a profound responsibility to be an example on the global stage. We cannot repeat the same recipes of failed “developmentalism” that has already brought the relationship between humanity and Mother Earth to breaking point

It is incomprehensible that we promote a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations in 2014 if we don’t lead the way in applying the principle of “informed, free and prior consent” for indigenous peoples in our own country.

The Eighth Indigenous March has some incoherent and incorrect demands such as those related to hydrocarbons ant the sale of forest carbon credits that look to commodify Mother Earth (known as REDD). However their concern for the impacts of the construction of this road is just.

Thousands of the delegates of five continents who participated in the first World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth are deeply upset by the Bolivian government’s actions.

The conflict in TIPNIS should never have happened. Greater physical integration of the country is necessary, but does not need to go through the “Indigenous Territory and National Park of Isibore Secure” (TIPNIS). Obviously building a road that doesn’t go trough the park would be more expensive, but trying to save $200 million or $300 million dollars at any social and environmental cost goes against the very principles of the “Living Well”.

In order to stop the manipulation of the Right who wish to use this protest to return to the past, we must be even more consistent in defending human rights, indigenous peoples’ rights and the rights of Mother Earth.

It’s not too late to resolve this crisis if we suspend permanently the construction of the road trough the TIPNIS, bring to justice those responsible for the repression to the indigenous march, and open up a broad and participatory national and regional debate to define a new agenda of actions in the framework of the Living Well.

– Pablo Solon

Septiembre 28 del 2011

Presidente y Hermano Evo Morales,

Desde el 2006 Bolivia ha mostrado liderazgo al mundo en entorno a los desafíos mas cruciales de nuestro tiempo. Hemos logrado la aprobación del Derecho Humano al Agua y el Saneamiento en las Naciones Unidas, e impulsado una visión de sociedad basada en el Vivir Bien en vez del consumismo.

No obstante, debe haber coherencia entre lo que decimos y lo que hacemos. No se puede hablar de defensa de la Madre Tierra y al mismo tiempo promover la construcción de una carretera que hiere a la Madre Tierra, no respeta los derechos indígenas y viola de manera “imperdonable” los derechos humanos.

Cómo país impulsor del Día Internacional de la Madre Tierra tenemos la gran responsabilidad de dar el ejemplo a nivel mundial. Nosotros no podemos repetir las recetas del “desarrollismo” fracasado que ha llevado a la relación de la humanidad con la Madre Tierra a un punto de quiebre.

Es incomprensible que promovamos la realización de una Conferencia Mundial de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Pueblos Indígenas para el 2014 si no somos vanguardia en la aplicación de la “consulta previa, libre e informada” a los pueblos indígenas dentro de nuestro propio país.

La Octava Marcha Indígena tiene planteamientos incoherentes e incorrectos en relación a temas como hidrocarburos y la venta de bonos de carbono de los bosques que mercantilizan la Madre Tierra (conocido como REDD). Pero su preocupación por la construcción de la carretera es justa.

Miles de delegados de los cinco continentes que participaron en la Primera Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y los derechos de la Madre Tierra están profundamente contrariados por la posición del gobierno de Bolivia.

El conflicto del TIPNIS nunca debió haber existido. La integración caminera es necesaria pero no a través del “Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure” (TIPNIS). Es cierto que será mas caro construir una carretera que no va a través del TIPNIS. Pero tratar de ahorrar 200 o 300 millones de dólares sin tomar cuenta los costos socio ambientales es ir en contra de los principios del Vivir Bien.

Para cerrarle el paso a la derecha que quiere instrumentalizar la protesta para retornar al pasado debemos ser mas consecuentes que nunca en la defensa de los derechos humanos, los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y los derechos de la Madre Tierra.

Aun es posible resolver esta crisis si se suspende definitivamente la construcción de la carretera a través del TIPNIS, llevamos a la justicia a los responsables de la represión a la marcha indígena, e iniciamos un amplio proceso participativo de debate nacional para definir una nueva agenda de acciones en el marco del Vivir Bien.

– Pablo Solón

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Cochabamba, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Politics

An Open Letter About the Current Situation in Bolivia

For supporters of Bolivia’s positions on climate policy, the recent events around the TIPNIS highway — a popular protest march to stop the project, and brutal government repression to stop the march — have been profoundly disconcerting. A number of responses are emerging from different sectors in Bolivia. Among the clearest we have seen is this missive from our friend Jim Schultz, of the Democracy Center, based in Cochabamba. – The GJEP team

An Open Letter to Our Friends

About the Current Situation in Bolivia

Dear Friends,

Over the past few days we have received many emails from friends outside of Bolivia, long-time supporters of the struggle for social justice here, asking for our opinion and analysis about the turbulent events of the past week.  In particular, people want to understand what led to the government’s violent repression on Sunday of the indigenous march protesting construction of a highway through the TIPNIS rainforest.  As many of you know, a year ago the Democracy Center stopped its ongoing reporting about events in Bolivia and we intend to return to that role.  However, given recent events neither can we be silent.  Our analysis and views are represented in the article below.  Please share it with others who might be interested.

Jim Shultz, The Democracy Center

The Morales Presidency Takes an Ugly Turn

In 2005, Sacha Llorenti, the President of Bolivia’s National Human Rights Assembly, wrote a forward for our Democracy Center report on an incident here two years previously, known as ‘Febrero Negro’.  The IMF had demanded that Bolivia tighten its economic belt and President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada complied by proposing a new tax on the poor.  His action set off a wave of protest and government repression that left 34 people dead.  Llorenti wrote of the government’s repression, “Those days refer to an institutional crisis, state violence, and her twin sister, impunity.”

Only months after Llorenti wrote those words, that era in Bolivia’s history seemed swept away in a wave of hope. The nation’s first indigenous President, Evo Morales, rode into power on a voter mandate unmatched in modern Bolivian history.  He proclaimed a new Bolivia in which indigenous people would take their rightful place in the nation’s political life, human rights would be respected, and a new constitution would guarantee autonomy for communities ignored by the governments of the past. Overnight the people who had been attacked or ignored by Bolivia’s leaders suddenly became Bolivia’s leaders. Llorenti eventually rose to the most powerful appointed position in the nation, Minister of Government. The rays of optimism that spread out from Tiwanaku and La Paz extended worldwide and Morales become a global symbol of something hopeful.

It is a sad measure of how deeply things have changed that it was Llorenti himself who stepped behind the podium at the Presidential Palace last Monday to defend the Morales government’s violent repression of indigenous protesters on September 25th. Five hundred police armed with guns, batons and tear gas were sent to a remote roadside to break up the six-week-long march of indigenous families protesting Morales’ planned highway through the TIPNIS rainforest.  Llorenti’s declarations echoed the tired justifications heard from so many governments before: “All the actions taken by the police had the objective of preventing conflicts and if cases of abuse have been committed they will be punished.”

Men, women and children marching to defend their lands were attacked with a barrage of tear gas, their leaders were beaten, women had bands of tape forcibly wrapped over their mouths – all under orders from a government that had promised to be theirs.  How did it come to this?

The Highway Through the Rainforest

The indigenous families that were attacked by police on that Sunday left their lands in the TIPNIS on August 15th to march nearly 400 miles to their nation’s capital and press their case against the road that would cut through the heart of their lands.  President Morales had made it very clear that he was not interested in hearing any more of their arguments against the mainly Brazil-financed highway. In June he declared, “Whether you like it or not, we are going to build this road.”

Morales argued that the highway was needed for “development,” creating new economic opportunities in parts of the country long isolated.  In the name of those goals he was willing to ignore the requirements of community consultation and autonomy in the new Constitution that he had once championed. He was willing to abandon his own rhetoric to the world about protecting Mother Earth and to ignore studies about the likely destruction of the forest that the new highway would bring. What could have been a moment of authentic and valuable debate in Bolivia about what kind of development the nation really wanted instead became a series of presidential declarations and decrees.

As the march of some 1,000 people crept slowly onward toward La Paz its moral weight seem to grow with each step, drawing growing public attention that Morales couldn’t stop. The march became the lead story in the country’s daily papers every morning for weeks. Civic actions in support of the marchers grew in Bolivia’s major cities. More than sixty international environmental groups, led by Amazon Watch, signed a letter to Morales asking him to respect the marchers’ demands.

From Morales, however, each day only brought a new set of accusations aimed at stripping the marchers of their legitimacy. First, said the government, the march was the creation of the U.S. Embassy. Then the government declared that the marchers were the pawns of foreign and domestic NGOs. Last week while in New York for his speech to the U.N., the Morales entourage announced that it had evidence that it was former President Sanchez de Lozada who was behind the march. The litany of ever-changing charges began to sound something akin to a schoolboy scrambling to invent reasons for why he didn’t have his homework.

When the charges failed to derail the marchers’ support, the government and its supporters decided to try to steer them off their path to La Paz in other ways.  They blocked the arrival of urgent donations of water, food, and medicine gathered and sent from throughout the country. But this only added yet again to the moral weight of humble people walking the long road to the capital.

Tear Gas at Dusk

Just after 5pm on Sunday, September 25, five hundred police dressed in full battle gear descended on the encampment (see video) where the marchers had pitched themselves for the night.  Running at full speed they began firing canisters of toxic tear gas directly into the terrified groups of men, women, and children.  Then the police began forcing them, screaming and crying, onto buses and into the backs of unmarked trucks for unknown destinations. Television footage captured the police knocking women to the ground and binding their mouths shut with tape. Many others ran to escape into the trees and fields so far from their homes. Children were separated from their parents.

Later that night those who had escaped the police began to take refuge in the small church of the town of San Borja. Early Monday morning government planes tried to land on an air strip in the town of Rurrenabaque, where more than 200 captured marchers were to be forcibly put aboard and returned to the villages where they had begun their trek so many weeks and miles before. The people in the community swarmed the runway to keep the planes from landing and were met with another attack of tear gas by the police sent there by the government.

Hours later the country’s young Defense Minister, Cecilia Chacon, announced her resignation.  She wrote in a public letter to President Morales, “I can not defend or justify it [Sunday's repression].  There are other alternatives in the framework of dialogue, respect for human rights, nonviolence, and defense of Mother Earth.”

She became the latest in a string of former Morales allies who had dramatically split from the government over the TIPNIS highway and the government’s abuses of the marchers.  Morales’ former ambasador to the U.S., Gustavo Guzman, and the President’s former Vice-Minister for Land, Alejandro Almaraz, had not only left the government but also gone to join the marchers.

Over the course of the following Monday public denouncements poured out against the police attack on the marchers – from the National Public Ombudsman, the U.N., women’s groups, human rights groups, the Catholic Church, labor unions, and others, including many who had once been fervent Morales supporters.

By that Monday evening, with his public support in freefall, Morales finally spoke to the nation. He began by denying any involvement in Sunday’s police violence, blaming it on unnamed subordinates.  But after years of arguing that his predecessors should be prosecuted for the abuses of soldiers and police under their command, it was a defense that convinced no one. Several key government officials told journalists that such an aggressive police action would never have taken place without orders from the government’s highest ranks.

Morales then announced that he would put the highway to a vote by the two Bolivian states, Cochabamba and Beni, through which the project would pass.  Almaraz, the former Lands Vice-Minister, and others, quickly pointed out that such a referendum was unconstitutional, a direct violation of the provisions allowing local indigenous communities to decide the fates of their lands.

If Morales thought he had plugged the political leak in his weakened Presidency, it became clear Tuesday morning that the anger against him was only growing.  Larger marches filled the streets in the cities of La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Sucre. The country’s labor federation (C.O.B) announced a strike. By nightfall the nation’s transportation workers announced that they too would stage a work stoppage Wednesday in opposition to the highway and in support of the marchers.

Just after 7pm Tuesday night Sacha Llorenti appeared at the Presidential Palace podium once again, this time to announce his own resignation.  It appeared not so much an act of conscience, in the mold of Ms. Chacon’s the day before, but more a man being tossed overboard in the hope that it might afford the President some political protection.

Then Morales took to the airwaves to add an announcement of his own –

the temporary suspension of construction of the disputed road.  But by early Wednesday news reports revealed that the Brazilian firm happily bulldozing the highway had received no such order.


A People Rising

Wednesday morning Evo Morales woke to a nation headed for a transit standstill, with new marchers headed to the streets, schools closed and a nation deeply angry with its President.  The cheering crowds of his 2006 inaugural had become a distant memory.

What is behind Morales’ devotion to a road through the heart of the TIPNIS?  Is he simply a stubborn believer in a vision of economic development filled with highways and factories, in the style of the North?  Is it a matter of Presidential ego, of not wanting to make the call to his Brazilian counterpart (Brazil is both the financier and constructor of the road, and eager to gain access to the natural resources it would make accessible), admitting that he can’t deliver on a Presidential promise?  Are his deepest supporters, the coca growers, so anxious for a road that will open up new lands for expanding their crop that Morales has been willing to push things this far? Only President Morales knows his true motivations.  But what is a certainty is that he has paid an enormous political cost for sticking to them.

The events of the past week represent something new rising in Bolivia. The people – who have now listened to many Morales speeches about protecting the Earth and guaranteeing indigenous people control over their lands – have risen to defend those principles, even if their President has seemingly abandoned them.  Ironically, Morales has now inspired a new environmental movement among the nation’s younger generation, not by his example but in battle with it.

In my interview with Sacha Llorenti for our report on Febrero Negro, he also told me something else.  He told me that the 2003 repression was, “the moment in which the crisis of the country was stripped down to the point where you could see its bones.” Today in Bolivia a different crisis has laid bare a new set of political bones for all to see.

Evo Morales, in his global pulpit, had been an inspiring voice, especially on climate change and on challenging the excesses of the U.S.  In Bolivia on economic matters he has often been true to the world, raising taxes on foreign oil companies and using some of those revenues to give school children a modest annual bonus for staying in the classroom.

But the abuses dealt out by the government against the people of the TIPNIS have knocked ‘Evo the icon’ off his pedestal in a way from which he will never fully recover, in Bolivia and globally.  He seems now pretty much like any other politician.  What has risen instead is a movement once again of the Bolivian people themselves – awake, mobilized, and courageous. The defense of Bolivia’s environment and indigenous people now rests in the hands, not of Presidential power, but people power – where real democracy must always reside.


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La Via Campesina: Call to Durban

Cross-posted from La Via Campesina


Peasant and indigenous people have thousands of solutions to confront climate change!

La Via Campesina calls on social movements and all people to mobilize around the world

The international peasant’s movement La Via Campesina and its South African member the Landless Peoples Movement are mobilizing for the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will take place in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

Caravans of African farmers from Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and other countries will reach Durban to join other farmers and social movements from all parts of the world to demand climate justice.

African women farmers, members of La Via Campesina, will participate in the 2nd Southern Africa Rural Women Assembly, from November 30 to December 2, in Durban (co-organized by la Via Campesina Africa 1, TCOE, Women on Farms Project, Lamosa, ESAFF, UNAC, Namibian National Farmers Union, among others).

La Via Campesina will also take part in the Global Day of Action on December 3, with thousands of other activists to demand climate justice.

La Via Campesina and other African food and farmers groups in Africa are also inviting all movements, allies and activists to a special Mobilization Day for Agroecology and Food sovereignty on December 5 in Durban and around the world. (co-organised by ESAFF regional, ESAFF Uganda, ESAFF Zimbabwe, ROPPA, TCOE, Surplus People Project, etc.)

Climate negotiations are turned into a market place

At COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico, most of the world’s governments, with the notable exception of Bolivia, met not to seriously address climate, but rather do business with transnational corporations that traffic in false solutions to climate change like REDD and other carbon market mechanisms, agrofuels and GMOs. They have turned the climate negotiations into a huge market place.

Our governments accepted a “business as usual” framework that condemns Africa and South Asia to virtual incineration, in which the very first victims are the farmers of these two continents, as rising temperatures create an even more hostile environment for crops, livestock and human beings. Most governments ignored the Cochabamba Principles, which provide a clear framework for seriously addressing global warming and protecting the Earth.

Under the UNFCCC, Developed Countries and polluting corporations, historically responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, are allowed all possible tricks to avoid reducing their own emissions. For example, the carbon market and carbon offset mechanisms allow countries and companies to continue polluting and consuming as usual, while paying small amounts of money to help poor people in developing countries reduce their emissions. What actually occurs is that companies profit doubly: by continuing to contaminate and by selling false solutions. Meanwhile, under REDD, poor people are stripped of many of their multiple rights to use communal forest lands, even as new land-grabbers emerge to consolidate large tracts by evicting farmers in order to traffic in carbon credits.

We know that the keys sources of climate-altering emissions are the globalized corporate food system based on industrial agriculture for export and for agrofuels, a transportation system based on private automobiles instead of public transport, and the polluting industries of transnational corporations. Without real and enforceable commitments to transform this, , there is no hope to prevent the virtual incineration of our farm lands and ability to feed the world.

We are peasants, small holders and family farmers, who today produce the vast majority of food consumed on this planet. We, and the food we produce, are being placed in danger, as temperatures rise, planting dates become unpredictable and there are ever more severe droughts, hurricanes and monsoons. Yet we also offer the most important, clear and scientifically-proven solutions to climate change through localized agroecological production of food by small holder farmers under the Food Sovereignty paradigm.

The global food system currently generates at least 44% of all greenhouse gas emissions, through long-distance transport of food that could easily have been grown locally, by excessive use of petroleum and petroleum-based agrochemical inputs, by monoculture, and by forest clearing for the industrial plantations we call “green deserts.”

We can drastically reduce or even eliminate these emissions by transforming the food system based on food sovereignty, i.e. producing locally for local consumption, a diverse production based on peasant families and communities, with sustainable practices

Agroecology is Not for Sale!

We reject any attempt to extend the carbon market and offset mechanisms of REDD to soil carbon, even when this comes dressed up by the World Bank as support for small farmer agroecology or “Climate Smart Agriculture,” because:

Just as in the case of REDD for forests, the carbon in our soil will essentially become the property of polluting corporations in the North. This amounts to the sale and privatization of our carbon. “Our Carbon in Not for Sale”!

The voluntary soil carbon market will be just another space for financial speculation, and while farmers receive pennies, speculators will make any real profits.

This is just another way for polluting industries and countries to evade real reductions in emissions.

It is also a way to divert attention from the massive carbon emissions produced by industrial farming and agribusiness, especially in the North, and place the burden of reducing emissions on peasants in the South, while nothing is done about carbon emissions from industrial agriculture.

If we as farmers sign a soil carbon agreement we lose autonomy and control over our farming systems. Some bureaucrat on the other side of the world, who knows nothing about our soil, rainfall, slope, local food systems, family economy, etc., will decide what practices we should use or not use.

Agroecology provides a wealth of benefits to the environment and farmer livelihoods, but by reducing the value of agroecology practices to the value of the carbon sequestered, not only are these other benefits devalued, but it can create perverse incentives to alter the agroecological practices (and opens the door to technologies like GMOs) to only maximize carbon rather than provide all the other benefits of agroecology.

It is inseparable from the neoliberal trend to convert absolutely everything (land, air, biodiversity, culture, genes, carbon, etc.) into capital, which in turn can be placed in some kind of speculative market.

If the currently low value of soil carbon were to rise on the speculative market, this could generate new land grabbing to charge soil carbon credits, as land consolidation is a prerequisite for making soil carbon credits profitable.

How peasant’s agriculture Should be Supported by Public Policy

Support farmer-to-farmer training programs administered by farmer organizations

Support the agroecology training schools of farmer organizations

End all open and hidden subsidies to industrial farming

Ban GMOs and dangerous farm chemicals

Offer production credit to small farmers who produce agroecologically

Direct government food procurement for hospitals, schools, etc., toward buying ecological food at fair prices from peasant farmers

Support ecological farmer’s markets for direct sale to consumers

Transform agronomy curricula to emphasize agroecology and farmer-to-farmer methodology

Create fair price incentives for locally produced ecological food


Commitments of La Via Campesina

While we make many legitimate and urgent demands on our governments to seriously address climate change, we pledge to continue to build agroecology and Food Sovereignty from below.  We pledge to take the following practical steps:

  1. We continue to strengthen the movement of agroecology in the grassroots level to adapt to changing climate patterns.
  2. We will work to “keep carbon in the ground and in trees” in the areas under our control, by promoting agroforestry, tree planting, agroecology, energy conservation, and by fighting land grabs for mining and industrial plantations.
  3. We will engage and pressure governments at all levels to adopt food sovereignty as the solution to the climate change.
  4. We will fight the inclusion of peasant agriculture in carbon financing mechanisms.
  5. We will continue our struggle for agrarian reform to distribute land to family farmers and to oppose all forms of land grabbing.
  6. We will build a powerful smallholder farmer and peasant voice to be present with other sectors of civil society at COP-17 in Durban, and at Rio +20 in Brazil, with the message that we oppose false solutions to climate change and demand the adoption of the Cochabamba Principles. We will insist on Small Holder Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty as the most important true solutions to climate change.

No to Climate Land Grabbing!

Our Carbon is Not for Sale!

Peasant agriculture is Not for Sale!

Agroecological Production by Small Farmers Cools the Planet!

Globalize the Struggle!  Globalize Hope!

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Jubilee South/Americas, as part of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, endorses this statement and invites others to also circulate it in particular to governments and negotiators now in Bonn.

Jubileo Sur/Américas, integrante de la Alianza Social Continental, adhiere a este pronunciamiento e invita a otros movimientos y redes a unirse en la difusión y presentación, en especial, a gobiernos y negociadores de clima ahora en Bonn (texto en castellano sigue abajo)


Message to governments and UNFCCC negotiators in Bonn

As social movements and organizations we continue to participate in and accompany the climate change negotiations, because we believe they represent a key element for the sustainable development of our peoples. Therefore, we view with great concern that the Cancun Agreement is being regarded as the basis of the next steps of the Climate Change negotiations.

The Cancun Agreement threatens an end to democratic multilateralism.  It is, furthermore, an ineffective tool for negotiations being based on individual pledges, with different base years, different capacities and a completely voluntary nature.

To make voluntary pledges the basis for negotiations does not in any way guarantee a global temperature rise of less than 1.5ºC by 2050. In short, this Agreement gives rise to greater commodification of nature and life and ensures continuity of the present predatory and unequal development model. Further evidence of this is the role assigned in Cancun to the World Bank and the regional development banks, the same entities that continue to fund this failed model, both in the management of the funds that are supposed to finance solutions and in creating “innovative” financing mechanisms through the markets, such as those that led to the latest global economic crisis and the current speculative surge in food prices.

Promises that will further indebten our countries and condition international aid

As if these disastrous results of Cancun were not enough, they also contemplate and formalize mechanisms that will deepen the indebtedness of our countries. Not only were no binding commitments obtained from the Northern, industrialized countries, but South countries were charged with new responsibilities that imply important new levels of capital investment, which will be met through loans, cuts in social spending, and the concession of territory and sovereignty. To cite just two examples:

  • South countries are obliged to develop Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions in (NAMAS): these actions are to be subject to an international scheme of reporting, review, and verification, “if financial support is required for implementation”.
  • The establishment of a register to record these NAMAs: this registry is a condition for accessing financial resources.

Developing countries have nothing to gain from this proposal, but everything to lose, considering the consequences for our countries of a temperature rise greater than 2ºC.

Negotiators who represent the interests of the people in the negotiations thus have a duty to require mandatory commitments and real solutions from the countries of the North, recognition of their ecological debt, the rejection of false solutions based on market mechanisms such as the CDM, REDD, REDD+ proposals, maintenance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and ensuring the participation and autonomy of social movements.

The effects of climate change are evident and they are growing and increasingly affecting the population, especially the women and men who are living in a situation of poverty in the South; therefore, it is essential to ensure that decisionmaking on this matter does not continue to be postponed.

Climate change, like other environmental problems, cannot be analyzed in isolation, stripped of the social context in which it occurs, and from this perspecitve it is clear that overcoming the climate crisis requires the transformation of present forms of production and consumption imposed by the model prevailing.

The Cochabamba Agreement as a basis for a just negotiation

As social movement organizations and networks, we participated together with various democratic governments in the process of building the Peoples´Agreement in Cochabamba and we believe that the elements included therein reflect our positions and propose real solutions to the climate crisis.

The principle proposals of this Agreement were included in the negotiating texts during the preparatory meetings to COP 16, including the need and urgency of the Northern industrialized countries to support the implementation of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, in which they commit themselves to reduce by 50% their level of greenhouse gas emissions between 2013 and 2017, and over 95% in 2050, to acknowledge their historic responsibility and pay off the ecological debt they have accumulated over the last 500 years with the South, ensuring that 6% of Gross domestic product is made available to meet the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation in South countries, and finally, rejecting false solutions such as the new carbon market mechanisms, among others; they must now be reincorporated into the negotiations.

The talks ongoing now in Bonn are a critical time to save the multilateral negotiations. We therefore call on negotiators to make decisions that are consistent with their responsibilities toward present and future generations. It is not those countries that demand an equitable deal who are blocking the negotiations, but rather those who seek to guarantee a cheap way out for their own states, ignoring their historical responsibility at the expense of those who are most vulnerable.



Mensaje a gobiernos y negociadoras-es de la CMNUCC en Bonn

Los movimientos y organizaciones sociales seguimos participando y acompañando las negociaciones de cambio climático, porque consideramos que representan un elemento clave para el desarrollo sustentable de nuestros pueblos. Por ello, vemos con mucha preocupación que el Acuerdo de Cancún sea considerado como la base de los próximos pasos de las negociaciones sobre Cambio Climático.

El Acuerdo de Cancún echa por tierra el multilateralismo democrático y es una herramienta ineficaz porque basa las negociaciones en promesas individuales (pledges), con años base diferentes, con capacidades diferentes y es completamente voluntario.

Tomar los compromisos voluntarios (pledges) como la base de las negociaciones, no garantiza de forma alguna que se limite a 1,5ºC el aumento de la temperatura global para 2050. En suma, este Acuerdo genera una mayor mercantilización de la naturaleza y la vida y garantiza la continuidad del modelo de desarrollo depredador y desigual. Otra Prueba de ello es el rol que también se asignó en Cancún al Banco Mundial y a los Bancos regionales de desarrollo, los mismos que siguen financiando ese modelo fallido, tanto en la gestión de los fondos que se suponen destinados a financiar soluciones como en la creación de mecanismos “innovadores” de financiamiento a través de los mercados, al mismo estilo de lo que provocó la crisis económica más reciente y la subida actual de precios de los alimentos por motivos especuladores.

Compromisos que nos endeudan aún más y condicionan la ayuda InternacionalComo si no bastara con los nefastos resultados de Cancún, estos contemplan y oficializan mecanismos de endeudamiento para nuestros países. Además de no obtener compromisos vinculantes, los países del Sur fueron cargados con nuevas responsabilidades, que en concreto implican fuerte inversión de capital, que será enfrentada vía préstamos, reducciones de gastos social y concesiones de territorio y soberanía. Para mencionar dos ejemplos:


Ø    Se obliga a los países del Sur a elaborar Acciones Nacionales Apropiadas de Mitigación de los países en Desarrollo (NAMAs): dichas acciones deben estar sometidas a un esquema de seguimiento, informe  y evaluación internacional, “si es que se requiere de apoyo financiero para su implementación”.
Ø    El establecimiento de un registro para documentar  estas NAMAs: este registro es una condicionante para acceder a recursos financieros.

Los países en desarrollo no tienen nada que ganar con esta propuesta, sino todo que perder, considerando las consecuencias que tendría para nuestros países un aumento de más de 2ºC.

Por lo tanto, los negociadores que representen los intereses de los pueblos  en las negociaciones tienen el deber de exigir compromisos y soluciones reales a los países del Norte, el reconocimiento de la deuda ecológica, rechazar las falsas soluciones basadas en mecanismos de mercado como son entre otras, las propuestas de MDL, Redd, Redd+, mantener el principio de responsabilidades comunes pero diferenciadas y garantizar la participación y autonomía de los movimientos sociales.

Los efectos del Cambio Climático son evidentes, se incrementan y afectan cada vez más a la población, especialmente a las y los pobres en el Sur; por lo tanto, es imprescindible asegurar que no se continúen aplazando la toma de decisiones respecto a este tema.

El Cambio Climático, como otras problemáticas Ambientales, no puede ser analizado aisladamente, despojándolo del contexto social donde se implanta y en este escenario queda claro que para superar la crisis climática es necesaria la transformación de las actuales formas de producción y consumo impuestas por el modelo imperante.

El Acuerdo de Cochabamba como base para una negociación justa

Como organizaciones y redes del movimiento social, participamos conjuntamente con varios gobiernos democráticos en el proceso de construcción del Acuerdo de los Pueblos en Cochabamba y creemos que los elementos allí planteados recogen nuestras posiciones y proponen soluciones reales a la crisis climática.

Las propuestas principales de dicho Acuerdo, tales como la necesidad y urgencia de que los países industrializados del Norte respalden la implementación de un segundo período de compromisos del Protocolo de Kyoto, en el cual se comprometan a reducir en un 50% el nivel de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero entre 2013 y 2017, y más del 95 % en el año 2050; que reconozcan su responsabilidad histórica y paguen la Deuda Ecológica que han acumulado durante los últimos 500 años con los países del Sur, garantizando que el 6% de su producto interno bruto sea destinado a enfrentar los costos de mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático y, por último, que se rechacen falsas soluciones como los nuevos mecanismos de mercados de carbono, entre otras, fueron incluidas en los textos de negociación durante las reuniones preparatorias a la COP 16 y se precisa recuperarlas en el proceso de negociaciones.

Las negociaciones de Bonn representan un momento clave para salvar  las negociaciones multilaterales. Por lo tanto, llamamos a los negociadores  a  tomar decisiones responsables con las generaciones presentes y futuras. No son los países que demandan un acuerdo equitativo quienes bloquean las negociaciones, sino los que buscan garantizar una salida poco costosa para sus propios Estados, ignorando su responsabilidad histórica y a costa de los más vulnerables.

-junio de 2011



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Open Letter On the Gasolinazo and the Contradictions in Bolivia

Over Christmas weekend, the government of President Evo Morales removed a national gas subsidy, causing transport fuel costs to rise more than 80 percent overnight, from $1.97/gallon to $3.42/gallon. The government pledged to counter the increase with public wage increases and a freeze on home utility bills, and said that the policy would save the country $380 million a year and put gas prices in line with neighboring Latin American countries.

Nevertheless, the response from Bolivian society was vocal and militant: Bolivian media called the policy change the “Gasolinazo,” or “The Big Gasoline Hit;” the gasolinazo led to an immediate mobilization by the country’s social movements. The main transportation union in the country called for ‘an indefinite strike’; teachers, miners, and many other sectors responded similarly.

In a New Year’s Eve message to the nation President Morales said he had listened to the unions and social organizations, and had decided to rescind the decree.

Within the international climate justice movement, the Bolivian government has taken strong leadership in pushing a principled position on emissions reductions and rights-based climate solutions; in Copenhagen and Cancun, Morales’ position was firm, and has come to represent the very aspirations of social movements worldwide. Yet, in domestic policy, Bolivia is pursuing an industrial growth strategy that very much contradicts its international concerns, and threatens the very human and natural rights it claims to defend.

In an article on Counterpunch published at the moment of the gasolinazo, Chellis Glendinning, writing from Cochabamba, lays out the contradictions by quoting two prominent Bolivian social movement activists: “Cochabamba’s Water War leader Oscar Olivera holds to the notion that true power resides ‘in the plaza, not in the palace,’ while his sister, water activist Marcela Olivera, claims she is witness to two different Evo Morales’: the one who makes international eco-proclamations and the one, at home, who is pushing dams, uranium excavation, cell towers, and mega-highways.

These contradictions present a tremendous challenge to those organizations and individuals who want to support Bolivia’s international stance while at the same time recognizing that the truth in the streets is quite different. At the same time, these are precisely the contradictions that must be faced in developing equitable path forward for climate justice.

More important, perhaps, than simply leveling charges of hypocrisy or abuse of power, is to recognize that these contradictions are at the very heart of the questions confronting the climate justice movement: what is the role of the state, given that states are almost inevitably beholden to global finance and an industrial paradigm of development? What is the relation between global policy proclamations and the real needs of the social majorities? How do we reduce dependence on fossil fuels and extractive industries while advancing a just transition that meets the needs of the most vulnerable first and foremost?

The following Open Letter to Evo Morales and Álvaro García was published after the Gasolinazo and before the repeal of the decree, and gives a strong sense of the tensions that exist between Bolivia’s social movements and its government.

– The GJEP team


Cross-posted from NarcoNews:

Open Letter to Evo Morales and Álvaro García Against the Gasolinazo and for the Self Governance of Our People

The People Come First, not Numbers nor Statistics

By Oscar Olivera Foronda, Marcelo Rojas, Abraham Grandydier, Aniceto Hinojosa Vásquez and Carlos Oropeza

December 30, 2010

Cochabamba, (La Llajta) December 30, 2010

Evo Morales Ayma and
Alvaro García Linera
La Paz.-

We speak to you through this open letter although it probably won’t be read because you don’t hear of it or because it doesn’t interest you. However, although you may ignore it, although it may not exist, we want to tell you how we, like many of our people, feel today. We tell you, Sirs, because years ago you ceased being our brothers and compañeros, you distanced yourselves from the people, and thus you don’t know what happens down here, below. Your defects – and not your virtues – that we know have multiplied ten times in a worrisome, indignant and sad manner.

We still remember when we marched, together with you, Evo, for our people, when we campaigned to get Alvaro out of prison; when the ancient textile workers’ building in Cochabamba became our headquarters to conspire against the bad governments that today look a lot like yours: BAD GOVERNMENT.

Oscar Olivera (wearing baseball cap, interviewed by reporters) with Evo Morales (in the green shirt, to the right of Oscar) during the 2000 "Water War" in Cochabamba.

You quickly forgot that we sent you into the government not to administrate, but, rather, to transform and change the lives of the people. Today we see all of you transformed and the lives of the people have changed, but badly so, from bad to worse.

Since that December 22 of 2005, when you cried, Evo and Alvaro, you have only busied yourselves making traditional and privileged politics, subordinating and coopting social and union leaders, military and police officials, with money, with positions, disqualifying and stigmatizing everything that has criticized you, everything we said we wanted to do away with. Some of us had the luxury to reject your offers and you converted us into your enemies or simply behaved as if we did not exist. We asked you: Change the economy, worry about the people more than your political enemies, create jobs, industry, work, build solidarity, brotherhood and generosity.

Where is your “obedience leads” slogan that was invented by the Zapatistas? Did the people send you there to pact with the right in the Constituent Assembly? Did the people send you there to fill your cabinet with neoliberals, opportunists, incompetents and advisors for international organizations that we never saw in the struggles of the people, in the streets, the highways, the communities, the hunger strikes and factories? Where were most of the members of your cabinet in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005? Did the people send you there to invite your mayors, governors, “beauty pageant contestants,” and neoliberal technicians into the government? Who decides in this government? The people? Or the llunk’us (a Quecha indigenous word for lackeys and adulators) that surround you in order to not lose the privileges that gives them power?

Álvaro García Linera (vice president of Bolivia) in a 2002 press conference with Oscar Olivera and Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar, when Olivera joined the hunger strike to demand that the Bolivian government withdraw charges against them.

Who continues controlling the economy of our country? The indigenous and “social movements”? Or the multinational oil and mining companies and large bankers who today have made more money than during any previous government to yours, those which you affectionately call “partners”? They are partners in the conditions of anguish and poor living to which we have been subjected during these last five years. Where are the billions of dollars in fiscal reserves that you constantly tell us are there?

What about the nationalizations that have been a trick against the population, indemnifying the multinational looters with the people’s money? These businesses are being administrated by the old neoliberal and corrupt bureaucracy.

Where is the industrialization of gas in the country? Where is the new economy based on respect for Mother Earth and the balance and harmonious relation with Pachamama that you always proclaim? Haven’t you delivered thousands of acres to the multinational oil and mining companies so they can keep exploiting Mother Earth? Have you given the New Political Constitution of the State to the plantation owners of the Eastern region?

The economic model continues being extractionary, neoliberal, capitalist, all of it contrary to your speeches.

Was it the people who sent you to buy a private airplane for $40 million when millions of “your people” do not have housing nor basic services? Did the people send you to tolerate narcotrafficking like never before and that, sooner or later, will turn our city into a Ciudad Juárez or a Medellín? Maybe the same coca leaf that you promoted so that you could be president will be the same leaf that takes that privilege away from you.

Do you know what it’s like to have to wait on line overnight to sign your sons and daughters into school or to receive inadequate medical attention in the public hospitals? The people don’t have private and privileged insurance for the clinics of the rich.

Felipe Quispe, Evo Morales and Oscar Olivera, in 2003, when they joined forces as the popular "chiefs of staff" in opposition to the government of Gonzalo "Goni" Sánchez de Lozada.

Are you familiar with what it is to get on a public bus or taxi and listen to the sentiments of our people? Have you gone to the markets to bargain the prices of basic foods that each day are harder to obtain to calm the hunger of our families?

Did the people send you there to have so many privileges, bodyguards, assistants, cabinet chiefs who make it impossible to speak directly to both of you? Who pays you? Who pays your food, your transportation, your health insurance, your security, your planes, your costs? We do: the people which you were once part of.

Did the people send you to impose such a brutal, irrational, arrogant and neoliberal “gasolinazo” (an 82 percent hike in gasoline prices) that will make the people, who barely survive if they have the luck to have a stall in the market or a job, even poorer?

You always said that neoliberalism has failed. Is the gasolinazo a revolutionary and popular measure? Or is it that your economic model has failed?

Why must you – like all the governments previous to yours have done – carry out your failures behind the backs of the population, notably over those making minimum wage whose median income is fifty times less than yours and whose needs are one hundred times greater than yours?

Álvaro García Linera at the home of Oscar Olivera.

What a pain that you always say that power is in the hands of the people, that this is an indigenous-popular government, what a pain that all of this is a lie: LLULLAS! (A very strong indigenous Quechua word for “liars.”)

Luckily, thanks to the struggles in which we have been together, we learned something very important. We learned to think and act for ourselves so that never again would anyone tell us what we must do, so that nobody ever again would be able to trick us so that the popular vote, trust and hope that has come in recent times from the most impoverished and humble sectors would be converted into a party for the rich, the well-off, the neoliberals in sheep’s clothing, the “beauty pageant contestants.” The process is not propaganda, it is not a speech, it is not about marketing: the process is to change the lives of the people. And read this well, because we won’t allow ourselves to be tricked again by anybody. That’s the way that people – who come, like you, from the breast of The People – are.

We would like to finish by saying something that an Aymara elder said: The indigenous are not defined by physical traits, nor language, nor last name, nor culture. The indigenous come from an attitude of generosity, of respect, of reciprocity, transparency, of listening to others.

We ask you: Do you have that? From below and to the left, as the Zapatistas say, we see arrogants who decide everything, who don’t listen to anyone, who discriminate, who insult, who disqualify, who defame. Is that how you want to remain in power for many years?

Oscar Olivera and Evo Morales after Morales' 2005 election to the presidency.

The problem is that you don’t understand the enormous responsibility that you assumed as part of this process with our people and other peoples of the world: of demonstrating that it is possible to govern ourselves, that it is possible to lead by obeying, that it is possible to construct another model of development, of “good living,” that another world is possible. This was a process that delivered itself to you with hope and joy. The legitimate owner of this process is the Bolivian people, the girls and boys, men and women, youths, elders, from the country and from the city, whose effort cannot be worn down, diverted, usurped, expropriated, betrayed or subordinated by anyone, even less by you and those who equivocally decide for us.

We don’t care about governments. We care about the people and this process is losing the social base that it cost us so much to construct while returning it to the right against which we fought and will fight.

To make you understand that we exist we must mobilize and this we will do, do not forget it.

But we will not mobilize to fight among brothers and sisters in the way that you’ve been encouraging in these years in your incapacity, and the result is in Huanuni, Cochabamba, Pando, Yungas, SucreŠ where so many brothers and sisters, all children of Mother Earth, have hated and died.

Alvaro, we already told you: The people come first, and later the numbers and statistics.

Do not confront us. Do not provoke us. Do not divide us or ignore us. We exist. We are dignified. We will struggle against everything that harms our daily lives. We seek:

-The repeal of your anti-popular and nefarious Decree 748

-The decolonization of the Plurinational State

-That no political party, not of the left, the center or the right, can benefit from or involve itself in our actions and decisions

-Like in 2000, like in 2003, Cochabama and El Alto defeated the anti-popular policies.

Oscar Olivera Foronda

Marcelo Rojas

Abraham Grandydier

Aniceto Hinojosa Vasquez

Carlos Oropeza

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United Nations Approves Two More Resolutions by Bolivia: Harmony With Nature and Indigenous Issues

From the Plurinational State of Bolivia

Earlier this week, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved by consensus two resolutions presented by Bolivia. The first, entitled “Harmony with Nature,” asks to convene an interactive dialogue on International Mother Earth Day on April 22nd, 2011. Topics will include methods for promoting a holistic approach to harmony with nature, and an exchange of national experiences regarding criteria and indicators to measure sustainable development in harmony with nature.

This resolution recognizes that “human beings are an inseparable part of nature, and that they cannot damage it without severely damaging themselves.” It also seeks to contribute to the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.

The second resolution convenes in 2014 a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples with the objective of contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Both resolutions make reference to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place this year in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In the last two years, the UN General Assembly has approved five resolutions initiated by the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Four were approved by consensus, and one in a vote with no country opposed (the resolution on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation). Never before in the history of Bolivian diplomacy has has the country had such an impact in the UN.

Links to documents in PDF format: Indigenous issues (link 2) / Harmony with nature (available in all official UN languages)



ONU aprueba por consenso dos resoluciones propuestas por Bolivia:
Armonía con la Naturaleza y Conferencia Mundial sobre los Pueblos Indigenas

Los primeros días de esta semana, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas aprobó por consenso dos resoluciones presentadas por Bolivia. La primera titulada “Armonía con la Naturaleza”, que convoca a un diálogo interactivo a realizarse durante las sesiones de conmemoración del Día Internacional de la Madre Tierra, el próximo 22 de abril del 2011 sobre “a) Medios para promover un enfoque holístico respecto del desarrollo sostenible en armonía con la naturaleza; y b) Intercambio de experiencias nacionales en lo que respecta a criterios e indicadores para medir el desarrollo sostenible en armonía con la naturaleza.”

Esta resolución reconoce “que los seres humanos son una parte de la naturaleza y que no pueden dañarla sin causarse un daño severo a ellos mismos”, y busca contribuir al proceso preparatorio de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desarrollo Sostenible para el 2012.

La segunda resolución convoca para el año 2014 a una Conferencia Mundial de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Pueblos Indígenas con el objetivo de hacer un seguimiento a la implementación de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas.

Ambas resoluciones resaltan la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra, celebrada este año en Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Es de destacar que en los últimos dos años se han aprobado en la Asamblea General de la ONU cinco resoluciones a iniciativa del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia. Cuatro por consenso y una  por votación, sin ningún voto en contra, que fue la del Derecho Humano al Agua y al Saneamiento. En toda la historia de la diplomacia boliviana jamás se tuvo este accionar, receptividad e impacto en Naciones Unidas.

Enlaces a documentos en formato PDF: Cuestiones indígenas (enlace 2) / Armonía con la naturaleza (disponibles en idiomas oficiales de la ONU)

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Morales: Bolivia was not alone in Cancun, it stood with the people in defense of life

Cross-posted from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth BLOG

(Español abajo)

By Adalid Cabrera Lemuz

La Paz, Dec 20 (ABI) – President Evo Morales denied Monday that
Bolivia stood alone at the climate change conference in Cancun, saying
instead that it preferred “to be on the side of the peoples of the
world that defend life in the face of aggression toward the
environment and the planet.”

Morales said Bolivia refused to sign the Cancun Accord “based on the
principle of responsibility and the need to defend Mother Earth, which
is under attack from the irrational politics of industrialization of
the developed nations.”

“It is unfortunate that the industrialized countries fail to assume
their responsibility and expect developing countries like Bolivia to
carry on their shoulders the crisis generated by capitalism,” he said.

The Ambassador of Bolivia to the United Nations, Pablo Solón, lamented
that developed countries “attempt to pay their climate debt with
credits that force poor countries to assume the problems affecting the
planet due to environmental contamination.”

The diplomat denounced the fact that industrialized countries want to
create “fictitious markets to purchase vouchers for greenhouse gas

Solón said “Bolivia believes this stance is not aimed at defending
nature, since they prefer to spend 10 dollars to buy a reduction
certificate for one ton of carbon dioxide, instead of 50 dollars to
comply with that obligation within their own countries.”

Based on reports, President Morales said that the decisions approved
in Cancun “are worse than those of the conference in Copenhagen last

“Copenhagen established a limit to global temperature increase of 2
degrees Celsius and a 23 to 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions, while in Cancun, that obligation was reduced to just 13 to
17 percent,” said Morales.

Morales also said that if reducing greenhouse gases by 40 percent
would cause a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, the decisions
made in Cancun would in turn put the world on the verge of a rise in
temperature of 3 to 4 degrees.

“Global warming has already had consequences for the world, putting
life on the planet in jeopardy due to increased droughts, floods, and
ever more frequent natural disasters,” he said.

Morales said that drought prevents the production the food humanity
needs to survive.

He lamented the indolence of governments that do not listen to the
voice of the people and instead prefer to maintain policies that
commercialize the Earth without taking into account the fact that, by
choosing this path, they are causing the gradual destruction of the

Morales said Bolivia will stand firm in its struggle to defend the
environment and Mother Earth and demand that industrialized countries
change policies that kill the planet and humanity.

Last April, Bolivia organized a World People’s Conference on Climate
Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place in Tiquipaya
and produced various recommendations for preserving nature.

Some 35,000 people representing 147 countries participated in that
event, including government figures, international organizations, and
social movements from around the world.

Among its recommendations was the creation of a Climate Justice
Tribunal to sanction countries, corporations, and individuals that
threaten the environment.

The conference also demanded that industrialized countries pay back
the climate debt they have accrued based on their over-exploitation of
natural resources and failure to benefit the development of the

Morales: Bolivia no se quedó sola en Cancún, Se mantuvo junto a los
pueblos en defensa de la vida

Por Adalid Cabrera Lemuz

La Paz, 20 dic (ABI).- El presidente Evo Morales descartó el lunes que
Bolivia se haya quedado sola en la Conferencia sobre el Cambio
Climático que se celebró en Cancún, una vez que prefirió “estar al
lado de los pueblos del mundo que defienden la vida, frente a las
agresiones al medio ambiente y al planeta”.

Dijo que Bolivia no firmó la denominada Declaración de Cancún “por un
principio de responsabilidad y para defender a la Madre Tierra que es
agredida por la irracional política de industrialización de las
naciones desarrolladas”.

“Es lamentable que los países industrializados no asuman su
responsabilidad y pretendan que las naciones en desarrollo, como
Bolivia, carguen en sus espaldas las crisis generadas por el
capitalismo”, anotó.

El embajador de Bolivia ante la Organización de las Naciones Unidas
(ONU), Pablo Solón, denunció que los desarrollados “pretenden pagar la
deuda climática con créditos para que los países pobres asuman los
problemas que afectan al planeta por la contaminación ambiental”.

El diplomático denunció que los industrializados quieren crear
“mercados ficticios de compra de bonos de reducción de gases de efecto

Señaló que “Bolivia considera que ese posicionamiento persigue fines
que no defienden la naturaleza, una vez que prefieren gastar 10
dólares en un certificado de reducción de una tonelada de dióxido de
carbono, en vez de 50 dólares por el cumplimiento de esta obligación
en sus propios países”.

Tomando en cuenta esos informes, el Presidente dijo que en Cancún se
aprobaron decisiones “que son peores a las de una Cumbre similar en
Copenhague, Dinamarca, en diciembre del año pasado”.

“En Copenhague se fijó como límite dos grados centígrados de
incremento de la temperatura y una reducción del 23 al 40 por ciento
de los gases de efecto invernadero, mientras que en Cancún se rebajó
esa obligación apenas del 13 al 17 por ciento”, puntualizó.

Morales señaló que si con la reducción de gases contaminantes hasta el
40 por ciento se preveía un incremento de la temperatura del dos por
ciento, las decisiones de Cancún colocan al mundo al borde de un
incremento del 3 o 4 por ciento del calentamiento global.

“El calentamiento global ya ha dejado secuelas en el mundo y pone en
riesgo la vida del planeta por la agudización de sequías, inundaciones
y la aparición cada vez más frecuente de desastres naturales”,

Morales advirtió que, a consecuencia de la sequía, se dejan de
producir los alimentos que sirven a la humanidad para sobrevivir.

Lamentó la indolencia de los gobiernos que no escuchan la voz de sus
pueblos y prefieren mantener políticas de mercantilización de la
tierra sin tomar en cuenta que por ese camino llevan al mundo a su
destrucción gradual.

Destacó que Bolivia se mantendrá firme con su lucha en defensa del
medio ambiente y de la Madre Tierra para exigir a los industrializados
el cambio de políticas que matan al planeta y a la humanidad.

Bolivia organizó en abril pasado una Conferencia Mundial de los
Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y la Defensa de la Tierra, que se
desarrolló en Tiquipaya y que emitió varias recomendaciones al mundo
para preservar a la naturaleza.

En ese encuentro participaron unas 35.000 personas, en representación
de 147 países, sean Gobiernos, organismos internacionales y
movimientos sociales del mundo.

Entre esas recomendaciones se destaca la creación de un Tribunal de
Justicia Climática que sancione a países, empresas y personas que
atentan contra el medio ambiente.

Igualmente se exigió al mundo industrializado que pague la deuda
climática por la explotación inmisericorde de sus recursos naturales
sin beneficiar al desarrollo de esos pueblos.

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