Category Archives: Latin America-Caribbean
Another blow to REDD: a false solution to climate change that is giving big polluters license to continue polluting, as well as displacing Indigenous Peoples around the world from their lands. For more on the dangers and impacts of REDD on Indigenous Peoples, watch this important interview on Democracy Now!
Brazilian Indigenous Leader: Carbon Trading Scheme “REDD” a False Solution to Climate Change
Democracy Now!, 11 December 2014
The controversial carbon trading scheme known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, has set off protests not only in Africa, but also in South America, especially in the Amazon region. We speak to Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, president of the Federation of the Huni Kui, an indigenous group in Brazil. He has traveled to the U.N. climate summit in Lima to voice his opposition to REDD.
Vivos se los llevaron y vivos los queremos. “Alive, they were taken, and alive we want them back,” became the national and international public’s rallying cry for the 43 disappeared male student teachers attacked by municipal police and then handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. This remains the rallying cry even after the official press conference of the Attorney General (PGR) announced last Friday that those missing had most likely been executed and burnt to ashes as detailed in the suspected assassins’ video testimonies shared at the press conference alongside maps and photographs of suggestive evidence. However, there is no conclusive proof yet and so the 43 missing remain undead. Their parents refuse to accept this verdict, and in doing so, reveal the state’s incompetency, not only to deliver justice, but also to act with any kind of legitimacy or credibility before a populace to whom it has become ever more clear that the federal government is in fact deeply implicated in the violence it claims to oppose.
An anecdotal article by freelance writer Alexander Zaitchik puts a sad reality to a very real truth — defeating Big Oil in court doesn’t get your land back, doesn’t clean your water and doesn’t revive lost lives.
The Indigenous Peoples of Guiyero, Ecuador, fought and beat Chevron in New York courts after the oil company left behind massive amounts of oil and toxic wastewater when it pulled out of the town in the mid-1990s. The Guiyero’s land and water became another casualty of corporate greed, a giant sludge of pollutants and slime.
by Alexander Zaitchik, Take Part World, 30 October 2014
One day in early August, I took a long and lazy canoe trip down the Río Tiputini in northeastern Ecuador. My destination was the village of Guiyero, a remote dot of an Indian community more than a hundred miles downriver from the oil city of Lago Agrio. The riverside hamlet is at the eastern edge of territory deeded to the Waorani, one of the largest tribes in the region. Situated where some of Ecuador’s last unspoiled wilderness meets its oil frontier, it is a good place to see what a resource extraction boom entering its sixth decade can do to a rainforest.
It can be easy to forget the surrounding presence of industry during the slow river ride to Guiyero. As we floated around the bends and buckles of the Tiputini, the jungle beyond the banks looked lush, vast, and untouched, the only sounds bird cries and insect hums. Wooden dugouts tied up along the way suggested the persistence of an undisturbed pre-Columbian culture. But while a fraction of the Indian population along the Tiputini has escaped history, retreating ever deeper into shrinking tracts of forest, the number of theseno contactados is minuscule and falling.
Get the rest of the story.
Scientists try to put brakes on Nicaragua’s Gran Canal, citing threats to water, biodiversity, and Indigenous communities
Jeremy Hance has an update on Nicaragua’s Chinese-backed Gran Canal plan: The Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation has officially advised against the canal, citing a truly devastating list of social and ecological damage that would result from it.
GJEP is firmly against mega-dam projects, and the Gran Canal is one of the most mega being planned right now: It’s important that scientists are doing the work of charting the effects and mongabay.com is keeping us updated.
Scientific association calls on Nicaragua to scrap its Gran Canal
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com. 27 October 2014.
The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)—the world’s largest association of tropical biologists and conservationists—has advised Nicaragua to halt its ambitious plan to build a massive canal across the country. The ATBC warns that the Chinese-backed canal, also known as the Gran Canal, will have devastating impacts on Nicaragua’s water security, its forests and wildlife, and local people.
Latin America and the Caribbean house a third of the world’s fresh water and a quarter of its medium to high potential farm land, according to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Harvest Initiative. However, a quarter of these farmers live on less than two U.S. dollars a day. In addition to that staggering poverty rate, the region is often at the center of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Clearly, as an article on Upside Down World points out, Latin American is positioned perfectly to fall hard due to rising temperatures, worker exploitation, land grabbing and other issues related to climate change. Without access to real, long-term system change that harmoniously intermixes with their indigenous way of life, the people in these areas will feel the full wrath of climate change.
Latin America on a Dangerous Precipice
by Diana Cariboni, Upside Down World, 03 October 2014
(IPS) – “We could be the last Latin American and Caribbean generation living together with hunger.”
The assertion, made by Raúl Benítez, a regional officer for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), shows one side of the coin: only 4.6 percent of the region’s population is undernourished, according to the latest figures.
By 2030, however, most of the countries in the region will face a serious risk situation due to climate change. With almost 600 million inhabitants, Latin America and the Caribbean has a third of the world’s fresh water and more than a quarter of its medium to high potential farmland, points out a book published this year by the Inter-American Development Bank in partnership with Global Harvest Initiative, a private-sector think-tank.
It is the largest net food-exporting region, while it uses just a fraction of its agricultural potential for both consuming and exporting.
Read the full article here.
“Until the Rulers Obey”: co-editors of new collection gathering together the voices of contemporary Latin American social movements at Burning Books tonight
Buffalo’s Burning Books is hosting Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein tonight, October 1st at 7 PM. Ross and Rein will be discussing their new book, Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements.
This volume features sixty-seven interviews with leaders and grassroots activists from fifteen countries presenting their work and debating pressing questions of power, organizational forms, and relations with the state. These interviewees have mobilized on a wide range of issues: fighting against mines and agribusiness and for living space, rural and urban; for social space won through recognition of language, culture, and equal participation; for community and environmental survival. The book is organized in chapters by country, each introduced by a solidarity activist, writer or academic with deep knowledge of the place.
Upside Down World recently ran a fascinating excerpt from their introduction.
Until the Rulers Obey: Learning from Latin America’s Social Movements
By Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein. Upside Down World. September 24, 2014.
A wave of change rolled through Latin America at the turn of the twenty-first century, sweeping away neoliberal two-party governments, bringing calls to re-found the states based on broad participation and democratically drafted constitutions. The power and motion of this wave, often referred to as the “Pink Tide,” came from the social movements that had been gathering force for over a decade—rebuilding in spaces opened by the fall of US-backed military dictatorships, rethinking in the spaces opened by the crumbling of the Soviet socialist models.
These movements galvanized long-silent—or silenced—sectors of society: indigenous people, campesinos, students, the LGBT community, the unemployed and all those left out of the promised utopia of a globalized economy. They have deployed a wide array of strategies and actions to some common ends. They march against mines and agribusiness; they occupy physical spaces, rural and urban, and social space won through recognition of language, culture, and equal participation; they mobilize villages, towns, cities and even nations for community and environmental survival. They are sloughing off the skin of the twentieth-century bipolar world, synthesizing old ways of working and finding new paths into an uncertain future.
Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!
Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees
Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.
In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.
I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.
But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.
What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.
But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.
This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.
But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.