Note: There are very clear links between the coup in Honduras and the overthrow of Zelaya with the emergence of Honduras as a major center for palm oil production for biofuels–largely for import into the US. To read more about this and the resistance of Honduras peasant communities against the oil palm industry, visit our coverage of the issue here.
November 28, 2013, By Elena Zeledon. Source: GreenLeft.org
Large-scale electoral fraud affected every aspect of the November 24 general elections in the Central American country of Honduras. This has sparked a huge political crisis, which matches and possibly surpasses the crises produced by the coup d’etat that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. The fraud has denied victory to Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, the wife of Zelaya. LIBRE was formed National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), which united many sectors that took part in the resistance to the coup.
In Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere and occupying an area about the size of Queensland, two decades of struggle has helped develop one of the most social and class conscious movements in the world.
It has been governed for decades by a series of revolving door governments headed by either the National or Liberal parties. When the level of social struggles or political impasses reached a crises point, the army stepped in. Military dictatorships would end these “democratic interludes”, and then step back into the shadows allowing the two parties to play out its game of charades.
This “two-party” cycle was ended on November 24 with the result for LIBRE. Castro is the legitimate president. There is no doubt in the minds of any independent observer that LIBRE won the vote. There is also no doubt that the ruling National Party and its presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, the self-proclaimed winner, engaged in huge electoral fraud. This took place on in the run-up to the vote, as well as on election day.
Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Wednesday, September 18. Source: World Rainforest Movement
Industrial oil palm plantations are rapidly expanding, not only in Liberia. In many African countries expansion projects are happening and plans are announced. Everywhere they go, the companies promise jobs and development.
Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
By Curtis Kline, Sep 18, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Herakles Farms’ oil palm nurseries, 2011 (Photo SAVE)
The proposed 76,000 hectare palm oil plantation in Southwest Cameroon by New York based Herakles Farms has been a major source of controversy since the project was announced in 2009.
Recently, the controversy was centered on the Cameroonian government’s decision to lift a suspension of the project with no explanation after issuing it just two weeks earlier. The suspension followed frequent protests by human rights organizations, environmental groups and the Bassossi, Upper Balong, Nguti, Oroko, Bakossi, and Upper Bayang Indigenous Peoples.
Now the local Indigenous communities–who are faced with displacement and the loss of their forest and livelihoods–are hearing reports that Herakles Farms’ Cameroonian subsidiary, Sithe Global-Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SG-SOC), is looking to sell off its existing plantations rather than shut down completely.
Chief Tabi Napolean of Baro-Upper Balong, one of the villages located in the project area, has said that his people were never informed about the realities of the scheme. In an article from the Thompson Reuters Foundation, Chief Tabi Napolean stated that “We were only told a plantation was coming to our community, bringing employment opportunities to our youths. Now we realize our forest – which is our main source of living – is gradually being destroyed, putting the future of our children in jeopardy”.
A report issued by Nature Cameroon, Struggle to Economise Future Environment (SEFE), and Green Peace says that Herakles is in the process of selling its nurseries to PAMOL, a state-owned palm oil company. Nasako Besingi, director of SEFE, says “Herakles Farms – which has leased land from the government for a period of 99 years – plans to sell off its plantations in 2017 to interested investors in a move that would completely quash the Indigenous community’s hope of regaining ownership of the land”.
Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
By Will Nichols, September 11, 2013. Source: Business Green
MEPs have today approved a cap on the production of food crop-based biofuels and backed plans to measure indirect emissions from 2020.
A European Parliament vote in Strasbourg confirmed fuels derived from food crops such as wheat, corn, or sugar cannot contribute more than six per cent towards the bloc’s 2020 goal of sourcing 10 per cent of transport energy from renewable sources. MEPs also backed a 2.5 per cent share for advanced biofuels, which are derived from feedstocks such as algae or waste.
The six per cent limit is higher than current production levels, which will please producers who argued the industry needs room to grow and that a low cap would damage investment in advanced biofuels.
However, it will anger environmental campaigners who had wanted a lower cap, arguing the expansion of Europe’s biofuels industry is displacing food production in developing countries, forcing up food prices, and causing clearances of rainforests, wetlands, or grasslands, which can release huge amounts of carbon.
By Sudeshna Sardar, 11 August, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
A woman in Riau in Sumatra wears a mask for protection from the pollution caused by forest fires. Photo: Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace.
KOLKATA, India – When there is feasting in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, there could just be a connection between the celebrations and the fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island that trigger frequent transboundary smog.
And when China’s population of more than a billion consumes yet more noodles, Malaysia should perhaps brace for greater air pollution.
Though not as simplistic and direct, there is nevertheless a tangible link among all these happenings and countries. It’s called palm oil, Asia’s new “liquid gold”.
Southeast Asia – read Indonesia and Malaysia – are the biggest producers of the oil obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree, accounting for nearly 85 percent of global output. Continue reading
June 14, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth International
Photo: Sarawak Report
BRUSSELS/MONROVIA – European banks, pension funds and private equity funds have given financial assistance worth more than €450 million to Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby, responsible for environmental degradation and violations of national regulations in Liberia, according to new research from Friends of the Earth Europe.
An independent impact assessment released today (Monday 24th) by Reading University reveals that Sime Darby operations could lead to a loss of biodiversity, food sources and livelihoods – leading to chronic poverty. There would also be significant environmental impacts with the loss of primary and secondary forest.
Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor, campaigner for Friends of the Earth Liberia said: “Investments in agriculture can benefit the poor, but the reality in Liberia is very different. Farmers are losing their land and livelihoods, the rights of those living in poverty in rural areas are being violated, and the forests on which communities depend are increasingly threatened. I see no guarantees that rural communities will benefit in any meaningful way from investments in palm oil.”
Sime Darby, which receives financial assistance from European banks and pension funds including the Norwegian pension fund, UK-based Schroder investment management and Dutch funds PfZW, has signed a 63-year lease with the government of Liberia for 311,187 hectares to grow palm oil, according to Friends of the Earth Liberia and allies. Continue reading
Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Source: Basta! and Les Amis de la Terre (France)
Palm oil is massively imported into Europe, to be used for food and biofuels. A new refinery might be established in Port la Nouvelle (Aude – South of France), supported by local authorities (or local governments) like the Languedoc Roussillon region.
In West Africa, where palm oil is produced, land grabbing by multinationals and the expropriation of people are skyrocketing. Basta! pursued the business of palm oil to Liberia.
The Malaysian transnational company Sime Darby has grabbed more than 300 000 hectares in Liberia to produce palm oil for European markets, engendering a quite strong social opposition there. Continue reading
Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Note: Yet another example of how investment by northern countries in biofuels is leading to a massive land grab across the global south…
-The GJEP Team
December 4, 2012. Source: farmlandgrab.org
Photo: Green Scenery
More than a hundred representatives of landholding families from 36 villages affected by a large- scale investor in oil palm plantation in Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District, have signed a resolution stating that they disassociate themselves from any lease agreement signed on their behalf by the Paramount Chief and chiefdom authorities of Malen Chiefdom with the Government of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, it says “…we will no longer allow the Socfin Agricultural Company personnel and or their machines to enter upon or operate on our land.” The resolution was issued with a letter written by MALOA, an association of affected landowners and users in Malen Chiefdom, on behalf of affected landholding families and addressed to the Human Rights Commission for their intervention against human rights abuses such as intimidation. The document was signed in Pujehun on 1st of December 2012 at a meeting of aggrieved landholding families from Malen Chiefdom.
In the letter the association complains about ongoing harassment, molestation and intimidation of landowners opposing the land deal by the Paramount Chief and chiefdom authorities. It says that land has been forcefully taken by the company with the authority of the Paramount Chief, ignoring the protest of the landholding families. “The present operations of the Socfin Agricultural company is against our progress and economic viability and a blatant disregard to our ownership of our respective family land in the Malen Chiefdom which we can no longer accept,” states the letter, and it announces peaceful resistance against any further company operation on their land.
Socfin Agricultural Company S.L. Limited (SAC) is a subsidiary of the Belgium company, Socfin. SAC leased over 6,500 hectares in Malen chiefdom, Pujehun District for over 50 years with a possible extension of 21 years to establish oil palm and rubber plantations. The company signed in March 2011 a sub-lease with the Government of Sierra Leone, which holds the lead lease with the chiefdom council. The company pays US$ 5 rent per year per acre, with only half of it going to the land owners. Land users, mainly women, are not compensated. Mainly casual and unskilled employment is offered to mostly young male Sierra Leoneans. The salary is 10,000 Leones per day. Extension plans for a second phase over 5,500 hectare for oil palm plantations under similar conditions to the first phase are in progress. Communities in the prospective lease area have already written letters stating that they will not agree to any lease arrangements with the investor.
Photo by Tim Russo, COMPPA via Upside Down World
Across the globe, from Indonesia to Cameroon to Honduras, palm oil is being touted as a a green solution to a growing energy demand. But when palm oil agribusiness results in the eviction of Indigenous Peoples form their titled ancestral lands, complete disregard for their lives and their human rights, and mono-cropping in precious, biodiverse tropical rainforests, we know that it is not sustainable. The Garifuna people have faced generations of abuse, and now even more so at the hands of the Honduran government. In the last three years since the 2009 political coup, 65 small farmers have been killed in the Bajo Aguan region as they were attempting to reclaim illegal landholdings from giant palm oil plantations growing biofuel for export. In 2010, the Garifuna grassroots organization OFRANEH, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, teamed up with Cultural Survival and three other Indigenous groups in Honduras to try to stop a Chinese company from damming the Patuca river, territory of the Pech and Miskitu peoples. Now, OFRANEH and the Garifuna people need our help to ensure their safe recovery of their ancestral lands. Take Action by going to Cultural Survival
The Garifuna People and Lands are Threatened
In Vallecito, Honduras, the Afro-descendant Garifuna community is threatened by agribusinesses intent on developing their ancestral land for palm oil production. In late August, 200 Garifuna families from a dozen different communities mobilized to reclaim 2,500 hectares of their ancestral land earmarked for development by large agribusinesses. The families set up camp, staking claim to the land that they intend to recover through non-violent protests as part of their right to self-determination.
The lands legally belong to the Garifuna people; in 1997 they sought and later received land titles from the National Agrarian Institute. But powerful elites, such as local business magnate Miguel Facussé, did not accept the decree. Facussé usurped the Garifunas’ land, planting 100 hectares of palm oil. Today, his territory completely surrounds Vallecito. In total, 86% of Garifuna land has been seized by non-Garifunas over the last 18 years, despite a Supreme Court ruling upholding the Garifunas’ title to the land.
Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Source: Rainforest Foundation Norway
Norwegian food producers used 15 000 tons of palm oil in 2011. A successful campaign mobilizing public pressure has reduced consumption by two thirds.
The palm oil industry is the main cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia. 88 percent of the world’s palm oil is produced in these two countries, including palm oil for the Norwegian market.
Last autumn, Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) launched a campaign with two aims; to reduce Norwegian palm oil consumption and to expose the link between deforestation and the production of this vegetable oil. The campaign, which was developed in collaboration with the organization Green Living, targeted all major food producers in Norway.
The response has been overwhelming, says Lars Løvold, Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway. Thanks to Norwegian consumers, the use of palm oil in Norwegian food products has decreased by two thirds.