Category Archives: Victory!

Villager wins court battle against hydroelectric plant construction

June 26, 2014. Source: Cihan

Delal, who sold a cow so that he could sue the construction company, guards the area against development. Photo by DHA

Delal, who sold a cow so that he could sue the construction company, guards the area against development. Photo by DHA

An administrative court in the Black Sea province of Rize has ruled to halt the construction of a hydroelectric power plant (HES) that was being built on the Andon River, which provides fresh water to at least 3,000 people in the village of Küçükçayır.

Küçükçayır village was declared an environmentally protected site in 2011. The village’s residents held a protest in February against a HES being constructed near the river, closing the main road of the village for hours as part of their protest and not allowing construction equipment to operate at the site. Continue reading

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Chile rejects Patagonian dam project, environmentalists hail victory

By Diego Cupolo, June 16, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

 

 Rio Baker, the sight of one of five proposed HidroAysén dams in Southern Chile – Photo by Diego Cupolo

Rio Baker, the sight of one of five proposed HidroAysén dams in Southern Chile – Photo by Diego Cupolo

After eight years of demonstrations and sometimes violent protests, Chilean environmentalists popped champagne bottles and celebrated outside the ministry building after officials rejected the controversial Patagonian dam project last week.

The decision halts development of what would have become Chile’s largest energy endeavor in history, the $8B HidroAysén hydroelectric project, which involved building five dams in two of South America’s widest rivers along with 1,600 km of power lines through pristine Andean valleys and fjords to carry energy to the nation’s central regions.

In a report by the Associated Press, Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defense Council, called the moment “the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile.” Continue reading

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Chao HidroAysén!

By Emily Jovais, June 11, 2014. Source: International Rivers

Photo from International Rivers

Photo from International Rivers

It’s not every day we celebrate a victory as significant and hard-won as today’s triumph in the eight-year campaign to protect Chilean Patagonia from the destructive HidroAysén dam project!

This morning, Chile’s highest administrative authority – the Committee of Ministers – made a unanimous decision to overturn the environmental permits for the controversial five dam mega-project, which was planned on the Baker and Pascua rivers. This highly anticipated resolution effectively cancels the project, ruling that assessment of the project’s impacts was insufficient to grant project approval back in 2011.

The Committee, which consists of the Minister of Environment, Health, Economy, Energy and Mining, Agriculture, and Tourism, evaluated 35 appeals which were filed by the Patagonia Defense Council and local citizens in response to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment after it was approved in May 2011. Though it has taken more than three years, with meetings and decisions being repeatedly delayed and eventually passed on to the new administration, today’s decision is a recognition of the technical and procedural flaws surrounding HidroAysén as well as the significant impacts the project would have had on one of Chile’s most iconic regions.  Continue reading

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Victory! Construction halted at Taiwan nuclear plant after protests

April 28, 2014. Source: Agence France-Presse

Protesters do morning exercise after camping overnight outside the Taiwan presidential palace on March 10, 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Taiwan calling on the government to shut down the island's nuclear power plants, citing the painful lesson of Japan's nuclear crisis after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake two years ago. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Protesters do morning exercise after camping overnight outside the Taiwan presidential palace on March 10, 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Taiwan calling on the government to shut down the island’s nuclear power plants, citing the painful lesson of Japan’s nuclear crisis after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake two years ago. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan said Sunday, April 27, it would stop construction at a controversial nuclear power plant, after tens of thousands of protesters blockaded a main street in the capital calling for the project to be scrapped.

Protesters broke through a police cordon to take control of a busy eight-lane intersection demanding an end to construction of the “Nuke Four” power station outside Taipei.

Later Sunday, the ruling Kuomintang party yielded to pressure from the anti-nuclear demonstrators and promised to stop work at the plant.

“There will be no further construction of reactor one,” Kuomintang spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi told reporters.

“Only safety checks will be done and after that it (reactor one) will be sealed for storage. Construction of reactor two will be terminated,” he said. Continue reading

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Historic court ruling bans Bayer’s GM corn in Brazil

Note: Here is some good news to the round out the week.  While we  aren’t too hopeful that this Brazilian court ruling will set the stage for more of its kind across the world, it could at least provide hurdles to companies like ArborGen and FuturaGene, who want to plant hundreds of millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees throughout Brazil.  And who knows, maybe the ripples will reach the courtrooms and regulatory agencies in North America.

Whatever the long-term implications, this is certainly a victory for small farmers in Brazil.

-The GJEP Team

March 14, 2014. Source: Sustainable Pulse

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In an historic ruling on Thursday Brazil’s Federal Appeals Court has unanimously decided to cancel the release for cultivation of Bayer’s Liberty Link GM Maize.

The ruling is another legal disaster for the biotech industry as it follows the decision taken earlier this week by a court in the Campeche region of Mexico toban GM Soybean cultivation, to protect the traditions of the Mayan people, namely beekeeping.

The Brazilian Court annulled the decision by Brazil’s Biosecurity Commission (CTNBio), who had allowed the release for cultivation of Liberty Link GM Maize. The civil action against CTNBio was started by Land Rights, the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense – IDEC and the National Association of Small Farmers.

The decision is reported to have created new legal paradigm and may force Brazilian authorities to reconsider all other commercial releases of GMOs in Brazil. Never before has a Judge stated that there is a need for studies on the negative impacts of GMOs in all major biomes in the country.
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Victory! First Nations celebrate federal rejection of New Prosperity mine proposal

February 27, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Fish Lake (Teztan Biny)

Fish Lake (Teztan Biny)

Tsilhqot’in Territory, BC: Yesterday’s federal decision to reject the New Prosperity Gold-Copper mine proposal was welcomed by Tsilhqot’in Chiefs, AFN National Chief A-in-chut Shawn Atleo, Union of BC Indian Chiefs President, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and First Nations everywhere.

They now call on this to be the end of a costly, pointless battle that has dragged on since at least 1995, when Taseko Mines Ltd. was first told by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans not to waste any further time or money pursuing this unacceptable project.

The mine proposal was opposed vigorously by the Tsilhqot’in Nation with the unanimous support of B.C.’s and Canada’s First Nations and received an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.

Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government said: “We are celebrating this decision to reject once again this terrible project, which threatened our pristine waters, fish and Aboriginal rights. Continue reading

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Shell cancels 2014 Arctic drilling – Arctic Ocean & Inpuiat rights reality check

Today Shell announced it was canceling its 2014 drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. This is a guest blog by Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), on the court decision that forced Shell’s hand, and the Indigenous rights context behind it. 

By Faith Gemmill, January 30, 2014. Source: Platform London

Photo: Faith Gemmill/ REDOIL

Photo: Faith Gemmill/ REDOIL

Last week the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the US government violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska.  The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Alaska Native and conservation groups.  Indigenous Plaintiffs included The Native Village of Point Hope, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), among numerous conservation groups.  EarthJustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, represented our groups.

REDOIL joined this lawsuit because we strongly uphold and promote the subsistence rights of Alaska Natives and offshore development poses a very real threat to those rights in relation to the Chukchi Sea and Inupiat subsistence and that is unacceptable.

This decision is one that we celebrate.  Although we’ve had legal victories in court skirmishes on this issue, we’ve been dealt political blows that favored Shell and ignored the rights of the Inupiat and their food security.  This is another opportunity for those in decision making positions to realize that offshore drilling in this region is too risky, not only to Inupiat subsistence but to this critical ecosystem.
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Erie County, NY approves fracking ban!

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by | January 11, 2014 · 1:19 PM

Indigenous Nahuas reject mine in Colima, Mexico

By Mónica Montalvo, Translated by Scott Campbell January 7, 2014. Source: El Enemigo Común

For our indigenous people, the land is not merely an object of possession and production.

The integral relationship between our people’s spiritual life and our lands has many profound implications. Furthermore, our land and our water are not commodities to be appropriated, but a common good which we and our children should freely enjoy.

-Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan

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In recent weeks, the town of Zacualpan, in the municipality of Comala, has joined the growing number of farming and indigenous communities facing conflicts over mining. A few months ago, this indigenous Nahua community began hearing about a plan to build a mine – backed by Rigoberto Verduzco Rodríguez – from which gold, silver, copper and manganese would be extracted, without an environmental impact study or any approval process or permits in the offices of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Colima.

The planned mine is one kilometer from a water spring that supplies the metropolitan area of Colima-Villa de Álvarez, which would mean contaminating the water source in an area known as Cerro Gordo, which is important from a biological and geological point of view and where there is a large number of species at risk of extinction. This would translate into putting at risk the water supply for 260,000 people in the state.

The case of Zacualpan is one of the first conflicts emerging in the state, but it will not be the last, as in Colima alone there are 360 mining concessions covering virtually the entire state with the exception of the volcanos. There is already an example that shows all the negative implications of these extractive projects: the Peña Colorado mine. This mine, operated by an Italian-Argentinian-Indian firm, has been in operation for the past 44 years on the border between Colima and Jalisco and has caused severe environmental damage, territorial displacement and human rights violations in the Nahua communities. The Peña Colorado mine has also meant threats, assassinations and disappearances, as in the case of the indigenous Nahua Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, member of the Ayotitlan Council of Elders.
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On the 20th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Twenty years ago today an army of Indigenous Peoples, some using only wooden cut outs as guns, emerged from the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. They took over municipalities around the Mexican state, including the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in defiance of the enactment of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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La Realidad, 1996.  PhotoLangelle.org

The Zapatistas had condemned NAFTA as “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to many of its unjust provisions, but especially that which eliminated Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.

Article 27, which guaranteed the rights to communal lands in Mexico was an outcome of the revolution led by Emilano Zapata – after whom the Zapatistas took their name – in the early part of the 20th century.

But in order for NAFTA – the free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico – to be passed, Article 27 had to be eliminated.  The eradication of this hard-won victory was accomplished by Edward Krobaker, the CEO of International Paper.  Why did a multinational paper corporation care about this?  Because most of Mexico’s forests were on ejido (communal) lands, which meant they could not easily be obtained or controlled by multinational corporations such as IP.

According to anthropologist Dr. Ron Nigh,

In June of 1995, the government received a letter from Edward Krobacker, International Paper CEO (now John Dillon), establishing a series of conditions, some requiring changes in Mexico’s forestry law, to “create a more secure legal framework” for IP’s investment.

According to La Jornada, all of Krobaker’s (original) demands were agreed to and new forestry legislation has been prepared. Upon returning from a Wall Street meeting with Henry Kissinger and other top financial celebrities, Zedillo announced the rejection of  proposed legislation that would have implemented the Zapatista accords.

Instead he presented a counterproposal, designed to be unacceptable, which the Zapatistas rejected.

Shortly thereafter, Environmental Minister Carabias announced a large World Bank loan for “forestry,” i.e. commercial plantations.

Earlier that year, in January 1995 – one year after the passage of NAFTA and while the Zapatista uprising was still fresh and garnering support from all corners of the globe – Chase Manhattan Bank sent a memo to the Mexican government about the Zapatistas which was leaked.  This memo, released in January 1995, urged the Mexican government to “eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy” or risk  a devaluation of the peso and a fleeing of investors.  The portion of the memo dealing with the Zapatistas is below:

CHASE MANHATTAN’S EMERGING MARKETS GROUP MEMO

CHIAPAS

The uprising in the southern state of Chiapas is now one-year old and, apparently, no nearer to resolution. The leader, or spokesman, of the movement, sub-commandante Marcos, remains adamant in his demand that the incumbent PRI governor resign and be replaced by the PRD candidate who, Marcos argues, was deprived of victory by government fraud in the recent election. Marcos continues to lobby for widespread social and economic reform in the state. Incidents continue between the local police and military authorities and those sympathetic to the Zapatista movement, as the insurgency is called, and local peasant groups who are sympathetic to Marcos and his cronies.

While Zedillo is committed to a diplomatic and political solution th the stand-off in Chiapas, it is difficult to imagine that the current environment will yield a peaceful solution. Moreover, to the degree that the monetary crisis limits the resources available to the government for social and economic reforms, it may prove difficult to win popular support for the Zedillo administration’s plans for Chiapas. More relevant, Marcos and his supporters may decide to embarrass the government with an increase in local violence and force the administration to cede to Zapatista demands and accept an embarrassing political defeat. The alternative is a military offensive to defeat the insurgency which would create an international outcry over the use of violence and the suppression of indigenous rights.

While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.

Orin Langelle, Board Chair of GJEP, who was then the Co-Coordinator of Native Forest Network Eastern North America (NFN ENA) attended the Chase Manhattan Board meeting that year and read the memo out loud to the stock holders.

What many do not know about the Zapatista struggle, is that it is and was a struggle for the land.  For autonomous Indigenous control over their territories.  NFN ENA put out a video about this aspect of the Zapatista struggle after we were asked to help expose the ecological threats to Chiapas which the Zapatistas were trying to stop–including illegal logging, oil drilling and hydroelectric dams.  The video includes interviews from the first North American Encuentro in the Zapatista stronghold of La Realidad in the summer of 1996.  The video is called “Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico.”

A clip of the video can be viewed here:

Despite massive pressure from governments, multinationals and major banks, twenty years later, the Zapatistas are still organizing.  Maybe you thought they had disappeared, but they have not.  They are just busily doing the work of daily life.  They have their own autonomous form of government, their own schools, and they maintain their rejection of any type of support from the Mexican government.

Today, as social movements around the world continue to resist unjust “free” trade agreements such as the TPP (TransPacific Partnership), the Zapatistas continue to be an inspiration to me and I hope to many others as well.

To view Orin Langelle’s photo exhibit of 15 years of photographs from Chiapas, click here.

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