Category Archives: Latin America-Caribbean

Gunmen in Brazil caught on video shooting at Indigenous Guarani

By Rick Kearns, April 18, 2014. Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Photo: Aty Guasu/Survival International

Photo: Aty Guasu/Survival International

Hired gunmen firing at Guarani in Brazil were filmed recently by the indigenous people who are continuing their struggle to regain stolen territory.

According to Survival International (SI), which posted the video on their website, gunmen have been terrorizing the Guarani of Pyelito Kue since they returned to their ancestral land last month, years after the government had officially recognized their right to move back, forcing the rancher on that land to move out.

On Monday, April 7 they filmed two armed men shooting at them “in broad daylight.”


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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, War

Canadian corporation plans tar sands strip mining in Trinidad and Tobago

By Macdonald Stainsby, April 11, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

‘Mining tar sand will destroy Govt’ read the headline in April of 2012. The statement was made to Trinidad and Tobago’s Express newspaper by well-known environmental campaigner Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh to the news that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had made statements about working with Canada’s Harper Government to start development of tar sands for oil in Trinidad’s southwest peninsula. If anyone could make such a bold statement stick in Trinidad and Tobago, it would be Kublalsingh, a veteran of multiple struggles against what he and community members believe to be ill-advised industrial projects.

Oil is hardly new to the twin island nation. Trinidad was among the very first oil producing countries in history. Industrial developments have been the driving force of Trinidad and Tobago being the richest country (per capita) in the Caribbean. However, concerns over environmental and social impacts have led mobilizations that involved Kublalsingh to ultimately prevent the construction of two aluminum smelters, a steel mill, and proposed industrial ports. Over the last couple of years, perhaps the greatest test for the current coalition government has been the Highway Re-route Movement (HRM). HRM is a group made almost entirely of families fighting eviction, as well as wetland disruption, for a segment of an industrial highway into the oil-rich region. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Latin America-Caribbean, Tar Sands

Colombia’s breadbasket feels the pinch of free trade

By Helda Martínez, April 8, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

“Things are getting worse and worse,” Enrique Muñoz, a 67-year-old farmer from the municipality of Cajamarca in the central Colombian department of Tolima, once known as the country’s breadbasket, said sadly.

“Over the past five decades, the situation took a radical turn for the worse,” activist Miguel Gordillo commented to IPS, referring to what is happening in Tolima, whose capital is Ibagué, 195 km southwest of Bogotá.

“Fifty years ago, Ibagué was a small city surrounded by crops – vast fields of cotton that looked from far away like a big white sheet,” said Gordillo, head of the non-governmental Asociación Nacional por la Salvación Agropecuaria(National Association to Save Agriculture).

“In Tolima we planted maize, tobacco, soy, sorghum and fruit trees, and the mountains that surrounded Cajamarca were covered with green coffee bushes protected by orange trees, maize and plantain, and surrounded by celery,” Muñoz said.

His voice lost in the past, he said the farms in the area also had “piggies, chickens, mules, cows; everything was so different.”

Gordillo said, “In the north of the department we had fruit trees of all kinds, and the rivers were chock full of fish. There’s still rice, some maize, coffee…but even the fish have disappeared.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Brazil warned world’s first commercial release of GM mosquitoes requires full public consultation

April 10, 2014. Source: GeneWatch UK

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Environmental and civil society groups today warned the Brazilian regulator of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), CTNBio, not to approve commercial releases of GM mosquitoes in Brazil without full public consultation, access to conclusive field trials data and a post release monitoring plan. The groups cautioned that the consequences for human health and the environment are poorly understood and need to be further studied.

The GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are produced by UK company Oxitec and the decision follows extensive lobbying by the UK Government to try to create an export market for its products (1). The company, which has close links to the multinational agribusiness Syngenta, also has GM agricultural pests, such as GM fruit flies, at an experimental stage and approval for field trials are pending in Brazil.

“There are no data showing that this GM mosquito actually reduces dengue incidence. In the case it is approved for commercial use, the decision will have been based much more on propaganda than on concrete data from field studies”, said Gabriel Fernandes, advisor with the Brazilian organization AS-PTA.

“Oxitec’s ineffective and risky GM insects are a poor showcase for British exports to Brazil. A desperate desire to prop up British biotech and reward venture capital investors should not blind the UK and Brazilian governments to the risks of this technology”, said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK.
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Filed under Biodiversity, Genetic Engineering, Latin America-Caribbean, Synthetic Biology

Defending the earth in Argentina: From direct action to autonomy

By Marina Sitrin, April 6, 2014. Source: Tidal

argentina1While corporations continue to land grab, exploit and privatize the little we still hold in common – people around the globe have been rising up. Women are preventing dams from being built in India; indigenous are Idle No More, defending the earth; entire town and villages have organized to prevent airports, roads and mines from being developed in France, Italy and Greece; thousands in the US have used their bodies to block the construction of pipelines intended for fracking; and throughout the Americas there are struggles everywhere against mining and the exploitation of land and water. Not only are people fighting back – but in many places, such as the one in Corrientes, Argentina described below, people are creating horizontal and self organized ways of being in the space of the resistance. Not only are people collectively shouting  No! and using direct action en mass to prevent the destruction of the earth, but together they are finding ways to autonomously recreate their relationships with one another, to work and with the land.

The below conversation is with Emilio Spataro, an organizer in Corrientes, who has been active in various movements in Argentina since his teen years. He was a part of the popular rebellion in December of 2001 and the subsequent neighborhood assemblies, building occupations and horizontal self organized projects. Since 2009 he has been living in Corrientes, collaborating with territorially based movements. He is currently on tour in the US with another movement participant from Guardians of Iberá (salvemosalibera.org). One of the targets of their most recent campaign is Harvard University. Harvard owns massive timber plantations in Corrientes and the movements together with students, faculty and staff at Harvard have been organizing to hold them accountable.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Women leading resistance to eucalyptus plantations in Brazil

Note: In the US, South Carolina-based ArborGen is awaiting a decision from the US Department of Agriculture to sell billions of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees annually for planting across the southeast US.  The approval of this invasive, water thirsty and highly flammable tree species would be devastating for the southeast, a region expected to see more and more drought due to climate change.

Sign the petition demanding an immediate ban on the release of GE trees here: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

-The GJEP Team

Protestors denounce pact to transform rural region of Brazil into a “eucalyptus desert

March 2014. Source: MST via World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

On March 8, 2014, peasant farmers from organizations including the MPA, MST, MMC, Quilombolas, the Union of Rural Workers of Mucuri and Montanha and Fetaes, along with youth activists and other social movements, took to the streets of Montanha, in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, to denounce the pact between large landholders, the public administration and multinational corporations like Fibria (formerly Aracruz Celulose) to transform the region into an “enormous desert of eucalyptus”. During the political rally held in the town’s central square, some 1,000 women handed out eucalyptus outside the town hall and the headquarters of public offices as a form of protest. The participants in the rally also paid tribute to fellow peasant farmers Saturnino Ribeiro and Valdício Barbosa, who lost their lives in the struggle for land in this region. After a march, two truckloads of food were distributed to neighbourhoods on the periphery of Montanha.

The main themes of the protest were: Agribusiness is the strategy used by patriarchal capitalism in the countryside! We must denounce it and unite in struggle! Stop violence against women! Agrarian reform is the only viable way to produce healthy food for workers!

Observations on eucalyptus and women in Mato Grosso do Sul

By Mieceslau Kudlavicz, March 2014. Source: World Rainforest Movement

“It is the rural women’s movements that have been at the forefront of massive public actions aimed at fighting back against the big corporations in the agri-food sector (pharmaceutical laboratories that produce transgenic seeds and toxic agrochemicals) and defending biodiversity.” (SILIPRANDI, 2013, p. 239)

Numerous events reflect the growing protagonism of women in the economy and, more recently, in political debate. In Brazil, one of the most visible examples of this political struggle was the action undertaken by the Peasant Women’s Movement (MMC), a member organization of La Via Campesina, in 2006, when close to 2,000 women occupied the Aracruz Celulose eucalyptus seedling production laboratories in Rio Grande do Sul. The aim of this action was to denounce the expansion of the “green desert” created by industrial eucalyptus plantations and the resulting expulsion of peasant communities. It was an act in defence of peasant agriculture as a promoter of biodiversity and foundation of food sovereignty. In this way, these women defended seeds for life, in the sense that “seeds are the beginning and the end of peasant farming production cycles. They are a collective creation that reflects the history of peoples and their women, who have always been their creators and the ones primarily responsible for their protection and improvement” (Martins; Stedile, 2011). Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Women

Miners just took 43 police officers hostage in Bolivia

Note: Ben Dangl is a dear friend of Global Justice Ecology Project.  He is currently in Bolivia, where he studies and writes about social movements.

-The GJEP Team

By Ben Dangl, April 3, 2014. Source: VICE

Photo:  Juan Adolfo Apaza

Photo: Juan Adolfo Apaza

On Monday night, outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia, a conflict between police and miners protesting a new mining law left two miners dead and 50 people injured. The miners died of bullet wounds to the head. Forty-three policemen were also taken prisoner by the miners. The miners wielded dynamite against the armed police forces, though it’s still unclear who provoked the fight.

Before taking hostages, the miners had organized roadblocks across the country against a new mining law that would give the administration of President Evo Morales oversight of private tin, silver, and zinc miners’ transactions with private or foreign companies. (The Bolivian government also owns enormous public mines, which would not be effected by this aspect of the law.) The Morales administration wants to maintain oversight of sales and mining development in the private sector in order ensure that the resources benefit the country, rather than simply enrich private and foreign investors. The miners protesting on Monday all work in the private sector and, curiously, aren’t part of a leftist attempt for collective control of their mines—they simply want the right to be able to sell the minerals they extract to any person or company they please.

Congressman José Antonio Yucra of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS, the party led by President Morales) explained to the press that “there is great interest in million-dollar contracts that the cooperativist [private miners] would have with foreign [companies]” if the government did not regulate the industry. But the fight over the mining law is part of a much wider conflict across the Andes and Latin America. Who profits from the extraction of natural resources? Who pays when mining or oil exploration harms the environment and local communities? To what extent are local communities consulted about resource extraction that destroys their land, water, and livelihoods? Despite leftist rhetoric about protecting the environment and working on behalf of the region’s downtrodden, the presidents of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, among others, are charging ahead with destructive mining, gas, and oil industrialization at a rapid pace.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining

Chile quake: This was big but a bigger one awaits, scientist says

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, April 2, 2014.  Source: CNN

An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile Tuesday night, triggering small landslides, setting off a tsunami and killing at least five people.

But geologists say an even larger quake in the region is lurking.

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“This magnitude 8.2 is not the large earthquake that we were expecting in this area,” said Mark Simons, a geophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “We’re expecting a potentially even larger earthquake.”

It could be tomorrow. Or it could be 50 years.

“We do not know when it’s going to occur,” he said.

Here’s why:
Chile sits on an arc of volcanos and fault lines circling the Pacific Ocean known as the “Ring of Fire.” This area sees frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The country itself has seen no shortage of seismic activity in recent years.

Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude-7.0 and above.

In 2010, about 500 people died when an 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit. That quake was so violent, it moved one whole city about 10 feet west.

Simons says Tuesday’s quake is of interest because the fault line along Chile’s coast has constantly shifted during the last 140 years.

In recent weeks, this area has seen a cluster of activity– something like 50 to 100 smaller quakes.

Then, late last month, a 6.7 and a 6.1 magnitude quake struck.

When quakes happen, the surface ruptures. The two sides of the fault slip past each other.

But the area to the north and south of Tuesday’s quake “did not rupture in this event,” Simons said. And it’s “still an area that hasn’t ruptured in 140-odd years.”

Given that it’s an area of frequent quakes, and frequent ruptures, it may only be a matter of time.

“We expect another 8.8-8.9 earthquake here sometime in the future,” Simons said.
The good news? “It may not occur for many, many years.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Latin America-Caribbean, Natural Disasters

Are Brazil’s dams to blame for record floods in Bolivia?

By Emily Achtenberg, March 31, 2014. Source: NACLA

San Antonio Dam. Photo: La Razón

San Antonio Dam. Photo: La Razón

In recent months, Bolivia’s Amazonian region has experienced the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. In the Beni department, 7 of 8 provinces and 16 of 19 municipalities are under water, with 75,000 people (more than one-quarter of the population) affected. Economic losses from the death of 250,000 livestock heads and destruction of seasonal crop lands, estimated at $180 million, are mounting daily.

While seasonal flooding is common in Beni, experts agree that climate change has added a threatening new dimension to the cyclical pattern, bringing record rainfall to most of Bolivia this year. Deforestation, exploitation of cultivable land, and loss of infrastructure through the breakup of traditional communities are other factors contributing to soil erosion and increased vulnerability to flooding.

In the past weeks, attention has focused on the role played by two recently-inaugurated Brazilian mega-dams—the Jirau and the San Antonio—in Bolivia’s floods. Located on the Madeira River, the largest tributary of the Amazon which receives its waters from rivers in Bolivia and Peru, the dams are just 50 and 110 miles, respectively, from Brazil’s Bolivian border. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Latin America-Caribbean, Water

REDD could lead to a “carbon grab” – new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative

By Chris Lang, March 20, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

The World Bank continues with its push to trade the carbon stored in forests. But new research shows that safeguards and legal protections for indigenous peoples and local communities in these new forest carbon markets are “non-existent”.

The research was carried out by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) together with the Ateneo School of Government in the Philippines. It includes a survey of 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering two-thirds of the Global South’s forests. 21 of these countries are members of the UN-REDD programme and/or the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Brazil has a US$1 billion REDD agreement with Norway. India is the only non-REDD country included in the research.

In a press release, Arvind Khare, RRI’s Executive Director, said,

“As the carbon in living trees becomes another marketable commodity, the deck is loaded against forest peoples, and presents an opening for an unprecedented carbon grab by governments and investors. Every other natural resource investment on the international stage has disenfranchised Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we were hoping REDD would deliver a different outcome. Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent.”

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests