Tag Archives: indigenous rights

On the Ground Coverage of the UN Climate Conference in Durban Starts Next Week

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project’s Climate Connections blog carries hard-to-find  news from around the world on the impacts of, and peoples’ resistance to social and ecological injustice.

We will be blogging daily from the UN Climate Conference and alternative movement activities in Durban, South Africa from 28 November through 10 December 2011.  For the latest from the inside negotiations and the outside 99% opposition to the commodification of life, please stay tuned to climate-connections.org.

Additionally for the third year, we are  partnering with Margaret Prescod’s “The Sojourner Truth” show on KPFK’s Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, CA with a fifteen minute update (approximate) with people in Durban, Monday through Friday (28 Nov – 10 December).  Live at 7 am Pacific (-8 GMT) or listen to the archives.  From the halls of injustice to dissent in the streets.

-The GJEP Team

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Independent Media, Political Repression, UNFCCC

Occupy Burlington Dialogue on Ecology and Justice-The System of Debt is the System of Death

 Bridging mass movements for economic and environmental justice

                          The System of Debt is the System of Death:

Examining the intertwined root causes of the crises we face

A workshop and dialogue hosted by Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle

of Hinesburg-based Global Justice Ecology Project

11am, City Hall Park

Saturday, Nov. 12th

  “We live in a toxic crisis-ridden world because choices are driven, not by ethics or morals, not by justice vs. injustice, not even by objective science.  Choices are driven by the bottom line.  The 1% who run corporations make their decisions based on profits–on advancing their own self-interests to the detriment of all other life on Earth.”

In this workshop, we will discuss the intertwined root causes of the crises we face, and develop ideas about what we can do to build alliances based on these commonalities to diversify and strengthen our movement.

Coordinated by the #OWS-VT Burlington Environmental Working Group

                                           http://owsvt.wikispaces.com/burlington+environmental+working+group

The System of Debt is the System of Death Workshop/Dialogue

The use of taxpayer money for the outrageous bailouts of banks engaged in high stakes gambling, and the subsequent slashing of the social safety net has mobilized people, around the world, with “occupy” movement rising up in 1,500 cities globally.  One of the biggest galvanizing issues has been rapidly expanding economic injustice, exemplified in the U.S. by the enormous debt burdens being carried by graduating college students.

Combined with the million plus people who’ve lost their homes to foreclosure because of predatory lending scams by huge financial firms, there is no doubt as to why many thousands of people across the U.S. are mobilizing for a more just economic system.

But the financial crisis and its outcomes are merely symptoms of a much greater crisis.  The crisis of death: exemplified by the climate crisis, the food crisis, the water crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and on and on…

The climate crisis is fast becoming climate catastrophe as region after region suffers the impacts of extreme weather–from floods to hurricanes to droughts to tornadoes to snowstorms–in a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

Hundreds of species go extinct every day to extinction.  The oceans have lost 90% of their life due to industrial fishing and climate change. The world’s forests–known both as the cradles of biodiversity and the lungs of the earth–are rapidly being destroyed, and there are plans to accelerate this deforestation to produce wood-based electricity.

We live in a tangled and beautiful web of life. This means that these myriad crises are reflected in our own bodies. Cancer is an epidemic.  One in two men in the U.S. will develop cancer over the course of their lives; as will one in three women. Think about all of your family and friends.  Now realize that one in two or one in three of them will develop some form of cancer.  Imagine what that means.

We live in a toxic crisis-ridden world because choices are driven, not by ethics or morals, not by justice vs. injustice, not even by objective science.  Choices are driven by the bottom line.  The 1% who run corporations make their decisions based on profits–on advancing their own self-interests to the detriment of all other life on Earth.

The system must be transformed.  It cannot be sustained.

In this workshop, we will discuss the intertwined root causes of the crises we face, and develop ideas about what we can do to build alliances based on these commonalities to diversify and strengthen our movement.

www.globaljusticeecology.org

Outrage! Many young people were rounded up after a protest and put on a bus to take them off the grounds of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010) in Cancun, Mexico. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

www.globaljusticeecology.org

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Natural Disasters, Rio+20

Earth Minute: White House Protest Against the Tar Sands: Honor Treaties–Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

This week’s Earth Minute discusses the Indigenous Peoples’ protest against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project that occurred in Washington DC on Sunday, November 6th.  To listen to this week’s Earth Minute, click here.

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

This past Sunday, thousands of people traveled to the White House to protest the massive pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from the devastated boreal forests of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama will decide if the pipeline project can proceed in early 2012.

While the US is obligated to honor the Treaties it made with the Lakota and other indigenous nations, there has been virtually no consultation regarding the environmental impact of this massive pipeline that would endanger their lands.

At the DC rally, Cree/Métis Tantoo Cardinal, stated, “I was raised in the Fort McMurray area, the heart of the current tar sands projects. We are all protectors of the land and water. If you were to see with your own eyes the incredible destruction of our ecosystem, you’d understand that blind greed is destroying our land, water, and way of life.”

If approved, US based Native Nations in solidarity with First Nations from Canada have sworn to stop the pipeline.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann, Tar Sands, Water

GJEP October Photo of the Month: Global Day of Action–Occupy Burlington VT March

Sentiments of a protester during Burlington, VT March on Global Day of Action, October 15.  Over 500 people participated in the Global Day of Action in Burlington, VT in solidarity with the occupations occurring throughout North America and around the world. Other rallies and marches happened in the VT towns of Montpelier, Rutland and Brattleboro. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

On Friday, October 28, Occupy Burlington (VT) began their encampment in City Hall Park. At the first General Assembly of the Occupy Burlington encampment, GJEP ED Anne Petermann grounded the space in the history of the Indigenous Peoples of the region: the Abenaki.  She opened the circle by stating, via “people’s mic” that, “the land that this encampment is on is the traditional land of the Abenaki People.  This land was never ceded, never signed away in a treaty, but was stolen.  It is occupied by the state of Vermont.  In 1992 the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that any rights the Abenaki People had to their traditional lands was no longer valid due to “the increasing weight of history. For these reasons, I am asking the Occupy Burlington encampment to recognize that this land is Abenaki land.  This land is called Ndakinna.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples

The Unconquered, in search of the Amazon’s last uncontacted tribes-A Review

Review by Orin Langelle for GJEP

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann and I went to Washington, DC last month to meet with friends and colleagues who were in town for the fall meetings of the infamous World Bank.  We arrived in Union Station and hopped on the Metro to Dupont Circle where we met Janet Redman, from the Institute for Policy Studies, at a local restaurant.

We were there to meet Scott Wallace who recently sent me a pre-release copy of THE UNCONQUERED–In Search of the Amazon’s last Uncontacted Tribes.  It was the first time I had met Wallace and I had just started reading his book.  From the beginning I found the book hard to put down.  At the restaurant, I learned a good deal about Scott.  Prior to his book, he had written articles for National Geographic.  But before that, amongst other assignments, he was a journalist in Central America, who reported on the wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. One thing that I didn’t find out until later, towards the end of the book, was that, thanks to Wallace, there were now only two degrees of separation between Osama bin-Laden and myself.  (More on that later…)

But before the review—below–is a trailer that sets the stage for the book. The grey bearded gentleman in the trailer is Sydney Possuelo and the writer, of course, is Wallace.  Possuello is the main character documented by Wallace in The Unconquered.  But in all fairness it could be said that the main characters of this book are the ones not seen.  The undocumented indigenous tribes of the Amazon jungle.

I’ve worked full-time for social justice for the past four decades, but the last thing I want to do, after my work day is done, is bring home more reality.

For this reason, over the past ten years I’ve read more fiction than non–just because fiction is an escape from dealing with the harsh political and ecological realities of our world today.

So when author Scott Wallace sent me THE UNCONQUERED –In Search of the Amazon’s last Uncontacted Tribes, I said “shit,” more reality to deal with.  After reading a few pages, though, I realized that Wallace had set the hook and was reeling me in to a world that most people will never experience or even think about–and that his way of story telling was something special.  This is not just a book of nonfiction, nor is it an adventure novel.  Wallace has made it both—and fascinating. Hopefully, THE UNCONQUERED will capture the imagination of anyone who reads it, and encourage him or her, while enjoying a lively narrative, to understand the injustices indigenous peoples’ experience, from the past until this day.

THE UNCONQUERED documents Sydney Possuelo’s effort to protect, from his point of view, uncontacted indigenous tribes in the Amazon from the onslaught of civilization.  It is also a story of Scott Wallace, who left his family, relationship and everyday life, to set off on a journey into one of the most isolated spots of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.  Through the eyes of Wallace, the book also tells the story of the indigenous people of the region.  A people who have chosen to live in their territory, in their ancient culture, and to avoid the death trap of the White Man, that in the Americas can be traced back over 500 years.

Possuelo was the head of Brazil’s FUNAI’s (National Indian Foundation) Department of Isolated Indians.  He led thirty-four people in a grueling three month expedition into the depths of Javarí Valley Indigenous Land in a seemingly conflicted effort to consciously not contact or study the isolated inhabitants of The People of the Arrow (flecheiros), but to explore the proximity of their territory—in an effort to document their territory in order to keep intruders out of their territory, to protect their way of life from outside invasion.

The richness of the Amazon brings all types of fortune hunters, from gold diggers to rubber barons to illegal loggers.  They set upon the Amazon with a vengeance, pilfering what the Amazon offers. With their invasion come diseases that, along with outright murder, decimate the indigenous populations.

Prior to Possuelo’s involvement in FUNAI, the agency did not have a good reputation when it came to helping indigenous peoples.  FUNAI’s idea was to make contact with the natives, pacify and then assimilate them, in order to move them out of the way and open up their lands to development and exploitation.

When Possuelo became the head of the FUNAI’s Department of Isolated Indians, Wallace writes:

“Though not explicitly articulated at the time, Possuelo’s new policy had the immediate effect of sequestering millions of acres of the most species-rich, biodiverse lands on the planet, placing them, at least theoretically, beyond the reach of those looking to exploit their riches.  The survival of isolated tribes depended…on intact forests that could provide the Indians with all their necessities: food, water, shelter, security.”

Needless to say all those who sought to make profit from indigenous lands reviled Possuelo—and the missionaries didn’t like him either.

The main purpose of Possuelo’s no contact policy, was to protect the Indians from disease, due to their extreme vulnerability to foreign contagions.  One needs only to look at history for proof.  Wallace relates that Christopher Columbus’ contact with the Taino people resulted in their extinction within sixty years.  Modern demographic studies indicate their population could have been as high as eight million at the time.

More death from disease came to South America with Pizarro (small pox) and subsequent invasions by Europeans. The isolated tribes that still exist are just as vulnerable as ever.

In writing about the details of the expedition, Wallace doesn’t gloss over the tensions between those on the journey and Possuelo—tensions that could have easily led to rebellion–nor does he leave out his own sometimes-painful feelings and actions. It’s quite revealing of who Scott Wallace is.

Wallace’s candid, yet evocative style projects a vivid imagery for the reader and allows a deeper insight into the characters and the situations they encounter. On first view of the expedition participants, Wallace describes them as resembling “a war party returning from a raid:  Apocalypse Now meets The Last of the Mohicans.”

On Possuelo:

“He seemed oblivious of the preposterous figure he posed, clad only in his floppy hat and a skimpy Speedo, over which his ample gut spilled.”  He then quotes Possuelo arguing that one of the reasons the rainforest was still intact was because, “the Indians formidable reputation had served as a powerful deterrent for decades, perhaps even centuries. ‘Personally I like them like this—violent,’ Posseulo said.”

And on himself, as drops of psychedelic buchité were administered to his eyes:

“I let out a roar.  It felt like my eyes were scorched with sulfuric acid.  Everyone howled with laughter.  It took several minutes for the burning to subside.  I opened my eyes and looked around…I beheld a different forest than the one I’ve been marching through for the past four days.  It was no longer a two-dimensional, monochromatic screen of dull browns and greens.  Everything stood out in sharp, almost psychedelic relief…The colors seemed to vibrate…I wasn’t hallucinating exactly; it was more like looking at the jungle through a 3-D View-Master.”

But Wallace is not merely an adventure junky–far from it. Wallace discusses his fears, his missteps and falls in the jungle, and other personal details that reveal a man who has fortitude but is also frightened in an enormous rainforest, isolated, surrounded by unfriendly creatures from anacondas to jaguars to devouring ants to crocodiles—not to mention the potential contact with The Arrow People and a possible shower of poisonous arrows raining down on the expedition.  One small mistake could have been his last.

Critics ask Possuelo if he thought he was depriving indigenous peoples of civilization.  Possuelo asserts that if any of them really wanted to make contact, all they had to do was come downriver.

Other critics are sure to say that here is another white man thinking he can save the indigenous peoples because of his feelings of superiority—or guilt.  This thought did bother me a bit, but then I recalled a situation where indigenous friends and colleagues asked me to please talk to another white person who said some things they found disrespectful.  They impressed upon me that white people should take care of their own when they fuck up.  So it could be said that Possuelo was taking care of the whites that were trying to get into the jungle to exploit its riches.  But it’s really not my role to judge.

Possuelo had no fondness for the white invaders.  Even though law protected the Javarí Valley Indigenous Land he and others fought for, Possuelo knew that laws and land could be over-ruled by a change of government in Brasilia.  Maybe he had no right, but he told the contacted indigenous people of the Javarí Valley:

You must say NO to the white man!  Tell him:  We don’t want loggers, we don’t want fisherman, we don’t want hunters here! The fish are here for us to eat!  For us—the Matis, The Marubo, the Kanamari, the Korubu, and yes, the Arrow People, too!  The monkeys are for us. The boar, the tapir, the turkeys—they are for us!  Tell the white man to stay out!  Tell him:  We don’t want you here anymore!

In my opinion, if humans are to have a future on this planet and if the Amazon basin is to remain the lungs of the earth and if the indigenous peoples have crucial knowledge most people in the rest of the world don’t, then the capitalist exploiters looking for the last tree to cut down, the last gold to mine to dig, or the last fish to catch, would be well advised to stay out of the Amazon.  And just about everywhere else.

So back to the question about Osama bin-Laden’s relation to me.  In The Unconquered, Wallace mentions the idea of the six degrees of separation that connect us all in some special way.  But what of The Arrow People and other uncontacted—are they somehow connected to the rest of us conquered by civilization?  As for the two degrees of separation between bin-Laden and myself, Wallace had a close friend who interviewed bin-Laden in an Afghan cave in 1996, making Wallace one degree separated and now since I’ve met the author only two degrees of separation.  Strange things to contemplate in this day and age.

Orin Langelle is the Co-director/Strategist for Global Justice Ecology Project.  He is a contributor to many publications, including recent work for Z Magazine, Race, Poverty and the Environment, Earth Island Journal and others.  He is currently compiling four decades of his concerned photography for publication and is a member of the National Writers Union and the International Federation of Journalists.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean

GJEP’s Short Video on REDD in Chiapas Chosen for Native Spirit Film Festival

We’re proud to announce that the short documentary video Global Justice Ecology Project produced this past Spring, Amador Hernandez, Chiapas: Starved of Medical Services for REDD+, (watch film below) is being shown this week in London as part of Native Spirit Film Festival. The festival is a season of films, performances and workshops celebrating the cultures of Indigenous Peoples across the Earth, founded and counselled by Indigenous people, as a platform to promote the voices of Indigenous cultures and the protection of their rights.

According to the festival’s program, which you can download here, the themes for this year are “defending culture in the face of modern development, responding to climate change, reconnecting with the land, the power of storytelling, cultural identity, guidance from the Elders and voices of youth, and finding a sense of belonging within the community.”

While our entry in the festival is a humble ten-minute documentary, the process of producing this short video, we think, was exemplary.

Komen Ilel's Fuyumi Labra (left) and Angél Galán (forefront) with GJEP's Communication Director,Jeff Conant (right) relax in Amador Hernandez before they begin a documentary overflight of the Lacandon jungle. photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

When Orin Langelle and I traveled to Chiapas this past March to investigate the emerging impacts of REDD+, we met with a small film collective, Komen Ilel. Two members of Komen Ilel, Angél Galán and Fuyumi Labra, excited about our project, volunteered to accompany us on a trek into the jungle. Because of the nature of our visit to the remote community of Amador Hernández, even as we began our two-day trek, there was no certainty that Angél and Fuyumi would be allowed to film. Indeed, due to a long history of outsiders taking disrespectful advantage of the villagers, there was no certainty that our colleagues, or their cameras, would be allowed to even set foot in the village.

After a ten-hour drive from San Cristóbal de las Casas to the military-occupied village of San Quintín, where the road ends at the border of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, our small crew was met by representatives from Amador Hernández. They took us to a nearby village to spend the night before traveling further into the jungle.

There, we spoke, formally at first, and then with more ease. Our goal, we said, was to interview the villagers about any concerns they might have about REDD+ as it was manifesting there in the Lacandon jungle. The young man speaking for the village said that their concern, above all, was to let the world know of a particular injustice they were suffering: a year previous to our visit, the government had cancelled all medical service to the village. Several children and elders had died as a direct consequence.

After some length of discussion, it became clear that the two concerns were one: the negation of medical services appeared to be part of the government’s strategy to pressure Amador Hernández to negotiate for relocation, in large part due to the need to demarcate the borders of the Montes Azules Reserve for a forest-carbon inventory.

With this revelation, we asked the village representative: could we bring our film crew and capture some interviews on film. Our documentary work, we said, might help the village to demand restoration of its right to health, and to its territory. He agreed that this was a good idea, but whether we would be permitted to film was a question for the village assembly.

The next morning we hiked fifteen kilometers, through the Lacandon’s black, boot-sucking mud, and arrived at the village by afternoon. After darkness fell, an assembly was called, and we – Orin, Angel, Fuyumi, and myself – were invited to attend, and to speak. To the forty or fifty Tseltal Mayan campesinos gathered in the dusty half-light of a bare solar-powered bulb we presented ourselves and declared our intentions. Our words, translated into Tseltal, were batted around the assembly, fed into the age-old process of lajan laja, or consensus-building.

Finally, the assembly decided that, yes, we could conduct our interviews, and yes, we could film anything we wanted. The only condition on their part was that, aside from whatever other material we would produce, we make sure that their primary concern – the withdrawal of medical services – be addressed, so the world would know.

It is to Angel and Fuyumi’s credit that the short video they produced for GJEP does precisely what the Amador Hernández community assembly requested – it tells the story of the withdrawal of health services, while making it clear that this concern is directly linked to government efforts to remove the village due to the demands of impending carbon deals.

We are extremely pleased and proud to have had this short video chosen as a selection in this year’s Native Spirit Film Festival.

— Jeff Conant, for GJEP

Amador Hernandez, Chiapas: Starved of Medical Services for REDD+


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Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean

Earth Minute: In Commemoration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

This week’s Earth Minute discusses the legacy of Christopher Columbus: ongoing wars against Indigenous Peoples to control their resources.  To Listen to the Earth Minute, click here

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

This week marks the 519th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ invasion of the Americas and the brutal genocide he launched, starting with the Arawak People who he quickly wiped out.

With the founding of the United States, the Indian wars continued. Reservations, created to clear the path for the country’s conquest, were later discovered to be rich with coal, uranium, and oil, and a new war was launched to take those resources. Native Americans who resisted were jailed or killed.  Communities were left with contaminated air, water and soil.

Today, Indigenous peoples around the globe are still losing their ancestral lands to corporations and investors–modern day versions of Christopher Columbus that want their lands for profit-making schemes like bioenergy plantations, industrial tree farms or tar sands oil.

Yet there are still Indigenous peoples who, against all odds, have protected their lands and maintained their traditional ways of life.  We must stand in solidarity with their ongoing struggles for land, rights and dignity.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.


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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann

Radio Interview Part II: World Bank and Climate Smart Crops in Africa: KPFK Los Angeles

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly segment on the environment.

Last week’s segment featured an interview with Soren Ambrose, Development Finance Coordinator for ActionAid International.  Soren is based out of Nairobi, Kenya and is also a Board member of Global Justice Ecology Project.

In this interview, which is broken into two parts (this is part II), Soren discusses the impacts of “climate smart” agriculture in Africa and the role of the World Bank.

The first segment of the interview with Soren can be heard at:  http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/mp3/kpfk_111005_070010sojourner.MP3 by scrolling to minute 40:00.

The second segment of the interview with Soren can be heard at:  http://ia600704.us.archive.org/21/items/Sojournertruthradio100611/St100611.mp3 and scrolling to minute 36:16

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Land Grabs