Tag Archives: world bank

Despite historic conviction, genocide continues in Guatemala

By Leonor Hurtado, May 15, 2013. Source: Food First

On May 10th, the Guatemalan Court of Justice convicted the ex-dictator General Ríos Montt to 80 years in prison for the massacres of indigenous people during the 1980s [1]. Many Guatemalans hope that the judicial process against the criminals of the country’s “dirty war” will continue [2].

But while the Guatemalan people celebrate the conviction, the processes of genocide initiated 30 years ago by Ríos Montt’s massacres still continue by other means.

In the last decade, the expansion of oil palm plantations and sugarcane production for ethanol in Northern Guatemala has displaced hundreds of Maya-Q´eqchi´ peasant families, increasing poverty, hunger, unemployment and landlessness in the region, confirms Alberto Alfonso-Fradejas in the new Food First report, “Sons and Daughters of the Earth: Indigenous Communities and Land Grabs in Guatemala” [3]. There is a tremendous contradiction here: at the same time that the ex-General Ríos Montt is convicted for genocide, the state allows the oligarchy, allied with extractive industries, to displace entire populations without taking into account the human cost, and in many cases, resulting in the murder and imprisonment of rural people who resist the assault. The genocide against the indigenous peasant population in Guatemala no longer has the face of a military dictatorship supported by the United States…. Now it is the corporations, the oligarchy and the World Bank who push peasants off their lands. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Profiting from genocide: The World Bank’s bloody history in Guatemala

By Cyril Mychalejko, March 8, 2013. Source: Truthout

Luis A. Moreno, President of Inter-American Development Bank. Photo: World Economic Forum / Flickr

Luis A. Moreno, President of Inter-American Development Bank. Photo: World Economic Forum / Flickr

The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) supported genocide in Guatemala and ought to pay reparations, according to a recent report by Jubilee International.

This well-documented accusation surfaces as the Central American nation becomes the first country in the Americas to try a former president for genocide and crimes against humanity in a domestic court. But the prosecution of war criminals and the accusations against International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have so fardone little to protect vulnerable communities from the ongoing expansion of miningoil and other economic interests invading their territories and violating their human rights.

Generating Terror,” the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s report issued in December, examines how international lending and debt by IFIs such as the World Bank and the IDB helped legitimize Guatemala’s genocidal regimes of the late 1970s and early 1980s and essentially subsidized their terror campaigns. Continue reading

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, World Bank

Why is Norway paying Guyana for REDD?

By Chris Lang, January 17 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor

Road construction on the US$840 million Amaila Falls Hydroelectric project, Guyana’s most expensive infrastructure project.  US$80 million is to come from Norway through the Guyana REDD Plus Investment Fund, which is managed by the World Bank.  Photo: NCN Guyana

Road construction on the US$840 million Amaila Falls Hydroelectric project, Guyana’s most expensive infrastructure project. US$80 million is to come from Norway through the Guyana REDD Plus Investment Fund, which is managed by the World Bank. Photo: NCN Guyana

In December 2012, the Government of Norway approved a further US$45 million for Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, bringing the total so far to US$115 million. This suggests that Guyana is meeting its obligations under Joint Concept Note that the two countries agreed. But is this really the case?

The announcement of the most recent payment came five days after Rainforest Alliance released a report titled “Verification Of Progress Related To Indicators For The Guyana-Norway REDD+ Agreement” (pdf file, 821.1 kB). This is Rainforest Alliance’s second verification audit and covers the period 1 October 2010 to 30 June 2012.

Another consulting firm, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), carried out an audit to determine the rate of deforestation and forest degradation between 1 October 2010 and 31 December 2011. DNV found that gross deforestation in this period was 0.054%. Continue reading

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank

World Bank board to consider 750 MW coal plant for mining operation

Note: One might have thought that the uproar caused by the Bank’s $3.75bn loan in 2010 to construct the gargantuan Medupi coal plant in South Africa would have given it second thoughts about funding another coal plant.  Not quite.

Indeed, this is the same World Bank which is overseeing the UN climate convention’s Green Climate Fund, championing carbon markets and “low-carbon development” worldwide, and which most recently published a major report on climate change in the leadup to the COP18 climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar.  What a scam…  –The GJEP Team

By Lisa Friedman, January 2 2013. Source: ClimateWire

Cover from latest World Bank report on climate change.  Photo: World Bank

Cover from latest World Bank report on climate change. Photo: World Bank

When is a coal plant really a coal plant?

That’s a question environmental groups are pressing the World Bank’s private investment arm to answer as it considers nearly $1 billion in financing for a gold and copper mine in Mongolia’s Gobi desert.

The contract between the International Finance Corp. and the $12 billion Oyu Tolgoi project includes a 750-megawatt coal-fired power plant to fuel the mining operations. That’s spurring new concerns about the hotly debated project among climate change activists who say public dollars should no longer fund projects that contribute to global warming.

They want the IFC to follow a strict set of internal guidelines for approving coal plants, including an exhaustive analysis of cleaner alternatives. But the agency says it shouldn’t have to, because the main project is a copper mine. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Mining, Water, World Bank

Land acquired over past decade could have produced food for a billion people

By John Vidal, 4 October 212.  Source: The Guardian

Oxfam calls on World Bank to stop backing foreign investors who acquire land for biofuels that could produce food

MDG : Papua New Guinea land grab : Customary landowners against SABL

Last year, customary landowners from Pomio villages, in East New Britain province, protested against the biggest land grab in Papua New Guinea’s history. Photograph: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace

International land investors and biofuel producers have taken over land around the world that could feed nearly 1 billion people.

Analysis by Oxfam of several thousand land deals completed in the last decade shows that an area eight times the size of the UK has been left idle by speculators or is being used largely to grow biofuels for US or European vehicles.

In a report, published on Thursday, Oxfam says the global land rush is out of control and urges the World Bank to freeze its investments in large-scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to global investors to stop “land grabs”.

“More than 60% of investments in agricultural land by foreign investors between 2000 and 2010 were in developing countries with serious hunger problems. But two-thirds of those investors plan to export everything they produce on the land. Nearly 60% of the deals have been to grow crops that can be used for biofuels,” says the report.

Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

Jim Yong Kim comes to Joburg… but will World Bank president miss Marikana and Medupi?

Note: Marikana is an ecologically and socially devastating World Bank supported platinum mine and Medupi is a World Bank funded Coal-fired power plant, both in South Africa.  How will the new “humanitarian” World Bank president handle these challenges?  Patrick Bond has been a friend and colleague of Global Justice Ecology Project for many years.

–The GJEP Team

By Patrick Bond, 5 September 2012, Special to Climate Connections

“One of the things you learn as an anthropologist, you don’t come in and change the culture,” Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim told wealthy alumni when contemplating the institution’s notorious hazing practices, prior to Barack Obama’s request last February that he move to the World Bank.

Kim’s Harvard doctorate and medical degree, his founding of the heroic NGO Partners in Health, and his directorship of the World Health Organisation’s AIDS division make him the best-educated, most humane Bank president yet. A decade ago, he co-edited the book Dying for Growth, pointing out that ‘Washington Consensus’ policies and projects had a sharply adverse impact on health.

No better examples here can be found than two ‘minerals-energy complex’ investments approved by his predecessors Paul Wolfowitz in 2006 and Robert Zoellick in 2010. Kim should pay a visit because both are within an hour’s drive of the Joburg-Pretoria megalopolis, whose ten million people live in the relatively barren area simply because of the gold’s discovery in 1886.

Though nearly all gone now, gold built the continent’s largest industrial complex, spewing vast pollution and undergirding apartheid. The old mines wrecked the water system with Acid Mine Drainage, not to mention lives of hundreds of thousands of former workers now filing silicosis lawsuits against the mining houses, or similar numbers of HIV+ migrant workers and their wives back home in the old Bantustans or neighbouring countries.

Mining is again wrecking worker health and creating socio-ecological chaos west of Joburg, at Marikana platinum mine, where the Bank’s International Finance Corporation invested $15 million in Lonmin to enhance ‘community development’. Wolfowitz authorized a further $135 million in equity and debt, but the price of platinum crashed by two thirds in 2008, which made a further stake doubtful.

Far greater banking profits were generated in the Bank’s biggest-ever project credit: the $3.75 billion Zoellick lent in April 2010, mainly for the construction of the third largest coal-fired power plant on earth, at Medupi.

The social and environmental balance sheet immediately went into the red, not only because the loan was granted just 20 months prior to Durban hosting the United Nations COP17 climate summit, when last December Zoellick unsuccessfully requested that the Bank be given control of the potentially vast Green Climate Fund, with promised annual spending by 2020 of $100 billion.

Worse, the borrowing agent for Medupi was Eskom, which controversially bought billions of dollars worth of turbine boilers from Hitachi, in whose local subsidiary the African National Congress (ANC) held a quarter ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ share. In an obvious conflict of interest, Eskom’s chair, Valli Moosa, also sat on the ANC Finance Committee, drawing a rebuke of ‘improper conduct’ from the Public Protector.

A substantial civil society coalition opposed Medupi, and the Bank’s own Inspection Panel slated the loan. Yet when announcing Kim’s visit last week, the Bank claimed that it “helps bring badly needed electricity to homes”.

In reality, the 130 percent Eskom price increase from 2008-12 to pay for Medupi was borne not by the largest electricity consumer, BHP Billiton (which still gets the world’s cheapest power thanks to a 40-year apartheid-era deal), but by ordinary poor people. Power disconnections are now a leading cause of the surge in community protests, already at amongst the highest levels on earth.

The Bank’s accompanying renewable energy credit to Medupi was a ‘fig leaf’, confessed Tufts University Professor William Moomaw, a consultant to the Medupi loan.

And although according to the same Bank announcement, “The World Bank Group’s program in South Africa is still in early stages,” the relationship began in 1951, with huge loans to Eskom to supply white households while blacks got no electricity until the 1980s, thanks to prevailing apartheid restrictions.

Kim is an optimist, pronouncing “Africa is truly taking off,” on the eve of his departure this week. But his own institution’s 2011 book, The Changing Wealth of Nations, measured capital not just in financial terms but also with respect to the minerals beneath the soil, to capture the genuine ‘wealth of nations’ in Africa.

In the process, the continent’s ‘adjusted net savings’ was calculated at negative 7 percent per year mainly due to non-renewable resource extraction: “Africa is consuming more than its current net income. It can only do this by liquidating its [natural] capital, which will leave its citizens poorer and with less capacity to generate income in the years to come.”

Herein Kim’s critical problem: extractive industries promoted by the Bank are creating Resource Curses in Marikana, Medupi and everywhere. The day after the massacre, the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law called on Kim to revisit his stake in Lonmin and reconsider the extractives sector.

If after this week’s trip, Kim decides to leave the toxic culture of SA’s minerals-energy complex unchanged, it will be yet another case of ‘dying for growth’: growing profits for multinational capital at the expense of people and planet.


Patrick Bond teaches development studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, where he directs the Centre for Civil Society (http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za)

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Politics, World Bank

New Report on Illegal Logging: Exposing forest ‘untouchables’ is as important as ever

Note: The idea that the World Bank is releasing a report on combatting illegal logging is like the CIA releasing a report on combatting torture.  Through its Structural Adjustment Programs and other tactics used to force developing countries to exploit and export their resources, the World Bank has eroded efforts to protect forests, paved the way for replacement of forests with tree plantations, disenfranchised forest dependent communities and Indigenous Peoples that have historically taken care of forests, and most recently are pushing forest offset schemes under the umbrella of climate mitigation that will exacerbate all of the above.

There is likely good information in this report identifying some efforts to curtail illegal logging, but remember that any real effort to address the underlying causes of illegal logging will require a fundamental restructuring of society that includes eliminating one of the great contributors to illegal logging: the World Bank.

–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Environmental Investigation Agency

April 5, 2012

“Every two seconds, across the world, an area the size of a football field is clear cut by illegal loggers.”

This was the opening statement of a new report launched last week in Washington DC by the World Bank. Justice for Forests: Improving criminal justice efforts to combat illegal logging PDF recognises that funds generated by illegal logging are “unregulated, untaxed and often remain in the hands of organised criminal gangs”, and that through the use of the criminal justice system, more can be done to address the complex issues of illegal logging.

It’s true, over the many years that EIA has exposed the real situation on the ground in East Asia, naming names and exposing the ‘untouchables’, that we have yet to see any real justice regarding those who continue to plunder the forests for their own gain and end up extremely wealthy and powerful, with very high-level connections to decision-makers. In fact, in some cases it’s the decision makers themselves who have managed to get to a position of power using funds from illegal logging.

Abdul Rasyid

In Indonesia, we have exposed various individuals who are heavily engaged in forest crimes.Abdul Rasyid and his nephew Sugianto, from Tanjung Lingga, were responsible for illegally logging Tanjung Putting National Park, in Central Kalimantan, and the kidnapping and assault of EIA and Telapak investigators. While Sugianto went to court to face assault charges, neither were ever found guilty of plundering Tanjung Putting, nor of the kidnappings.

Ali Jambi, caught at home on hidden camera (c) EIA

Ali Jambi, who controlled the ramin smuggling trade and was named as one of the illegal bosses in Indonesia by the Ministry of Forestry; despite being investigated by the Indonesian police, had fled to Singapore and was conducting his illegal practice from there.

And there’s Marthen Renouw, a high-ranking police officer who built up a position of power over a period of 29 years in Papua. His authority included the city of Sorong, the main centre for the illegal logging business in the province, and he was under investigation over a series of suspicious transactions involving five bank accounts. Investigations proved Renouw had received funds from an illegal logging syndicate. Charged under anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws, he was acquitted of all charges after the key witness against him went on the run.

As these few examples show, corruption does not just take place in the forests. The judiciary systems of many countries are no longer places where justice is found. Systemic corruption of the police, prosecutors and judges ensure those with sufficient resources can literally get away with it.

The World Bank acknowledges there are no quick fixes for combating corruption and that without an effective criminal justice system, all the current policies do not work. In most cases, we find it is those on the ground who are caught in the act of smuggling or logging who are arrested. Usually the poor or vulnerable. The main actors behind this crime remain untouched.

And while civil society plays an important role in monitoring the forests and exposing those behind the crimes, little is being done to properly address the more complex issues that demonstrate corruption. Following the money is one such act, and working in a coordinated approach between domestic and international enforcement should work. But this takes courage and a show of political will, something that can only occur when anti-corruption activists find their champions within government and are given the support needed to ensure those who are getting away with it feel the heat.

Justice for Forests outlines many productive steps in strengthening criminal justice systems but acknowledges that, without the current preventative measures taking place and support in combating corruption in the forestry sector, these alone cannot solve the complex issues of illegal logging.

Exposing those behind this crime is as important now as it was 12 years ago.

Faith Doherty
Head of Forests Campaign

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, World Bank

Critical Information Collective Offers Resources for Advancing Movement for Justice

Note: The following post regards a new organization, Critical information Collective, set up by our friends Joe Zacune and Ronnie Hall (both ex-campaign coordinators with Friends of the Earth International).  This initiative will be a very useful and powerful resource and clearinghouse for our collective struggle for social and ecological justice.  Check it out!

–The GJEP Team

From Critical Information Collective:

We really hope that you have time to read this short message introducing a new organisation, Critical Information Collective (CIC). It’s been set up by the two of us, Ronnie Hall and Joseph Zacune (ex-campaign coordinators with Friends of the Earth International), although we hope to expand it to include more researchers and advisors soon.

 CIC aims to be a resource for you all, providing social movements, NGOs and communities campaigning against corporate globalisation with a single ‘one stop shop’ of incisive, political and campaign-oriented analysis, images and tools – as well as more visibility for our collective effort to challenge the prevailing economic paradigm.

We aim to cover a broad range of critical issues related to corporate-led globalisation, including agrofuels, climate change, deforestation, food, GMOs, land, mining, poverty, rights, and trade and investment.

If you want to find the key documents on any one topic, from a range of different organisations (including your own), or easily find relevant and free/cheap images for your publications, or point your members to additional information resources and campaign tools, we hope you will visit/link to us.”

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Politics, REDD, Rio+20, UNFCCC, World Bank