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Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part III

December 17, 2014

Part III of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

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Painting: Oswaldo Guayasamin. In 1988, Guayasamin painted a very controversial mural depicting the history of Ecuador. The Congress of Ecuador asked him to do so. However, the United States Government criticized him because the one of the paintings showed a man in a Nazi helmet with the lettering “CIA” on it. Guayasamín was an ardent supporter of the communist Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular. His death on March 10, 1999 was marked by a day of national strikes by the indigenous people (whom he spent his life supporting) and other sectors of society, and was considered a great loss to Ecuador. In 2002, three years after his death, Guayasamín’s masterwork, La Capilla del Hombre, was completed and opened to the public. The Chapel is meant to document not only man’s cruelty to man but also the potential for greatness within humanity. [Source]

Weapons of Mass Destruction

We, the “underdeveloped,” are also those with the single crop, the single product, the single market. A single product whose uncertain sale depends on a single market imposing and fixing conditions. That is the great formula for imperialist economic domination. — Ché Guevara, 9 April 1961

Conceptualized in the 19th century, NGOs today are the avant-garde weapon for protecting Western interests, one that has now evolved into the 21st century refined version that includes mass social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. This is akin to the improvement of the Western killing machines that have been refined over time, such as the Winchester rifle begetting the Gatling gun begetting the machine gun begetting the AK-47 and so forth. Weapons of mass destruction don’t stop at the physical ones.

The proliferation of NGOs is one of the manifestations of the Powell memo, which was a harbinger of the current collaboration between the profit and non-profit worlds to continue the growth of the capitalist system. This memo was written by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr., a former corporate lawyer for big tobacco. It laid out the blueprint of how corporations could take over the institutions of the Western world (which are supposed to be democratic in nature) to benefit the growth of corporate power, domestically and, inevitably, globally. As resource accumulation necessitated the global transference of the principles of the Powell memo, NGOs are used as an integral soft power component of multinational corporate dominance that has now dwarfed any and all nation states in influence and control across the Earth. [Link to Powell Memo: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/]

Is there any nation on Earth that is beyond the tentacles of the global hegemony of Euro-American imperialism? The choice of whether one is a member of the global edifice of capitalism or not is entirely contingent on the market need for any resources that may reside within one’s domain. The modern version of the Caribbean / Latin American nations that were able to remove the colonizers from government control still have the basis of state power – the corporate state – as a continuance of resource exploitation of the Global South, on its shores.

Rejecting the necessity for unequivocal solidarity against imperialism, many “activists” ignore the fact that 1) a multitude of Caribbean/Latin American states, as well as any region in the Global South that had exploitable resources, have been colonized and exploited for centuries, 2) the very people at the forefront, condemning the “extractivists,” are the very people purchasing and using what is extracted (the “extractivist” states themselves use and emit almost nothing of what they extract, with the money being used to lift citizens out of extreme dire poverty), 3) these states are also very much trapped within the industrialized capitalist economic system; they do not exist in a vacuum, 4) reparations have not been made to these states who contributed essentially nothing to the planetary crisis, 5) the leaders of these states must (usually within 1-2 terms) face the daily and very real possibility of CIA-plotted assassination, destabilization and coups while satisfying a populace seeking the most basic of life necessities and economic stability, and 6) by siding with U.S.-financed NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, etc., one is NOT in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Rather one is (yet again) reabsorbed by the very system we claim to oppose – reabsorbed by the very system and hegemonic rule that is destroying Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures across the entire globe.

Avaaz | An Extension of the Imperial State

… the pluralist model of civil society obscures the extensive collaboration among the resource-providing elites and the dependent state of most grassroots organizations. While the latter may negotiate with foundations over details, and even win some concessions, capitalist hegemony (including its imperial perquisites) cannot be questioned without severe organizational penalties. By and large, it is the funders who are calling the tune. This would be more obvious if there were sufficient publicized investigations of this vast and important domain. That the subject is “off-limits” for both academics and journalists is compelling evidence of enormous power. — Joan Roelofs, 2007

NGOs such as Avaaz have a tendency to only focus on/attack sovereign anti-imperialist countries that extract. Note that there is rarely any mention/focus on the extractive states that are occupied or controlled (via puppet presidents) by imperialist countries, previous examples being Nigeria and the invaded, annihilated and now occupied Libya.

There is reason as to why.

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, described as a global civic advocacy group, and Moveon.org, “an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.” The Service Employees International Union and GetUp.org.au were also publicly recognized as founding partners of Avaaz: “Avaaz.org also enjoys the partnership and support of leading activist organizations from around the world, including the Service Employees International Union, a founding partner of Avaaz, GetUp.org.au, and many others.” [Further reading on the formation of Avaaz can be found in Part II, Section I of an investigative report.]

In the public realm, Res Publica is said to be comprised primarily of an affiliation of three key individuals; Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur; Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello; and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department. [THE GROTESQUE AND DISTURBING IDEOLOGY AT THE HELM OF AVAAZ]

Fundación Pachamama, Amazon Watch, and other allied NGOs joined forces with Avaaz.org to keep Ecuador’s Amazon in the international news. The Avaaz campaign was intensified prior to elections: “…we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election. He does not want a PR nightmare right now….” [Emphasis in original] According to an Avaaz update on February 7, 2013, the Avaaz “team” flew in and out of Sani Isla and delivered the “one million strong petition” (i.e. clicks) with the indigenous leaders. Avaaz boasts: “Our campaign has made the news all over the world.

It takes incredible arrogance and entitlement for privileged Euro-Americans, most making 6-figure salaries, to fly into any sovereign country and make demands. Of course, this White supremacy has become normalized over the centuries. [Photos: Petition being delivered at Sani Isla. Avaaz press conference in Quito.]

Posted January 24, 2013 by Avaaz: “There’s an indigenous community in Ecuador that lives in a part of the Amazon where there are jaguars and more animal life than the whole of North America! It’s an incredibly pristine, remote area and the whole ecosystem has been preserved. But the government is threatening to go in and look for oil. The local tribe is resisting, but usually oil companies go in, buy off the people and break up the community. [Emphasis in original]

Yet in reality, the area is not incredibly pristine, nor has the whole ecosystem been preserved. And there was no international campaign to draw attention to this area when corporate interests were able to plunder it freely. “…the Yasuní National Park is hardly a pristine area. It has been explored and exploited for decades… It seems clear that exploiting the ITT fields cannot be equated with ‘destroying’ Yasuní, as some claim. It is difficult, although not impossible, to ‘save’ something that is already badly compromised. Claims made by the government side, to the extent that 99.9% of the park is intact are also hardly credible. A quick look at a map of Block 31, which occupies a large percentage of the park, makes it clear that to say so is a distortion of reality.” [Source]

And while it is most likely very true that “usually oil companies go in, buy off the people and break up the community,” imperial states and foundations of hegemony, utilizing their army of NGOs, perform the exact same function.

And while Avaaz wages an international campaign opposing oil development in Ecuador (rather than opposing the fracking of the Bakken of North Dakota, which is deeply affecting the Lakota tribes), Avaaz neglects to mention their advocacy of REDD – a new form of colonialism.

Avaaz is a member of The Climate Group (not made public on the Climate Group Website). The Climate Group, launched in London in 2004, is an example of an incubator for in-house projects of The Rockefeller Brothers Fund that later evolve into free-standing institutions. The Climate Group has been working on the global implementation of REDD for some time. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass; all false solutions that translate into “business as usual.” The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which works consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, including the Voluntary Carbon Standard, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash.” The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India and North America. It was a partner to the Copenhagen Climate Council.

More Chains: World Bank

In an interview published December 11, 2013, yet another culprit (in hand with industrialized capitalism) is identified by Oscar Leon when speaking to the mega mining projects proliferating in Ecuador:

“In 1994, the World Bank loaned money to Ecuador under the condition that the country open its natural and ecological parks and reserves to mining and oil drilling. Conservative president Sixto Durán Ballén accepted such terms. For 20 years now, *Intag’s life has been a fight to defend its territory.” (*a remote and partly mountainuous area in Cotacachi Canton and Otavalo Canton Imbabura Province, Ecuador.)

This represents yet another example of how anti-imperial governments of vulnerable states must work within the confines of existing structures/systems inherited from capitalists or western puppets. In many instances, they are bound to honour contracts and treaties signed by their predecessors. A further problem arises when one considers that most populations have long been conditioned to believe that the only desirable way to live is to live comfortably by modern Western standards, which is what most if not all governments strive to provide in order to maintain popular support. And as the privileged have demonstrated that they are willing to give up absolutely nothing, the situation is very difficult to change.

What is ignored for the most part is the fact that these mining companies are of Imperial origin. If the Left wishes to show solidarity against mining, they could and should fight these corporations that reside on their own soil. Yet even this task has, for the most part, been left for socialist movements and brave Freedom Fighters in Latin America.

On December 18, 2013, TeleSUR reported that eight separate claims are currently being filed against the State of Bolivia for a total of $1.87 billion. These claims are from US-British corporations Guaracachi and Rurelec; Spanish corporation Albertis; Chilean-British corporations Quiborax and Non Metallic Minerals; and US corporation Pan American Energy. This is a most egregious and overt display of Whiteness, racism, colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy and entitlement. The men in suits behind these corporations really believe that Bolivia’s resources actually belong to them.

Multinational companies demanding compensation of billions in lost profits due to the rightful nationalization of strategic companies is just one example of further, intense pressure placed on vulnerable anti-imperialist states due to the engine of the industrialized capitalist system.

Video: Foreign companies demand Bolivian state millions in compensation (2:28)

This is not to suggest that leaders such as Morales and Correa, who have consistently fought corporate power on many fronts, do not have their own shortcomings (e.g., the former’s recent stated support for nuclear, and the latter’s selling out resources to Chinese investors for oil development and mining). Rather, it is a call for legitimate movements to fully respect the right to self-determination for all citizens of sovereign states – absolutely free of manipulation and outside influence.

The December 11, 2013 interview closes with the question, “While it is hard to deny the needs of the majority, the question still stands: how can we balance the rights of indigenous and local communities with economic development for the rest of society?” The simple answer is this: Under the industrialized economic capitalist system – in a world where NATO states will not hesitate to annihilate entire nations for Earth’s last remaining natural resources – we cannot.

Unconscious Hypocrisies

Our best evidence is history itself. We can deconstruct the history of the foundations, the non-profit industrial complex, the media (both corporate and so-called “progressive”), and all of their machinations. Yet one may still wish to argue that, regarding the relationship between the Achuar and the Pachamama Foundation/Alliance [1], perhaps there are “no strings attached.” Perhaps one is still not swayed by the facts and opinions put forward in this article and others. Yet, even if one could prove unequivocally that there were/are “no strings attached,” do we then take the position that NGOs financed by Western interests to set up shop in vulnerable states should be condoned? If one answers yes, then the question that follows must be this: And why do you believe/feel that what you want supersedes any sovereign state’s right to self-determination, free from outside influence?

To support avenues (in this specific instance, NGOs), in any degree, via which corporate and imperial interests can gain access to Indigenous Peoples and territories (that these same interests would otherwise have great difficulty gaining access to, if at all) is not solidarity against imperialism. Rather, such support lends itself to the normalizing of foreign interference and manipulation via the non-profit-industrial complex.

For a moment let us try to imagine the United States tolerating highly financed, highly sophisticated Russian NGOs … multiplying on U.S. soil. These NGOs provide training, funding, “guidance,” to American communities. Now, try to imagine this scenario during the cold war – because every day is a cold war when living under the iron first of imperialism. It is doubtful that even one reader would believe that a scenario such as this would be welcome, let alone tolerated, by the US government. So why is it that we see little to nothing wrong with US interests influencing/creating sophisticated avenues into vulnerable states? In general, this is due to an unconscious hypocrisy. If we are aware of this hypocrisy, we can quite quickly realize how preposterous this actually is. However, if we are not aware of this hypocrisy, we quickly find excuses in order to justify what, in truth, we know we would never tolerate ourselves. One could safely say that such double standards do not only demonstrate an unconscious hypocrisy, but also a collective aversive racism that hums beneath the system.

And as Orwell spoke of cold war (as a general term), our hypocrisies and refusal to address White supremacy will lead to the same place:

“For forty or fifty years past, Mr. H. G. Wells and others have been warning us that man is in danger of destroying himself with his own weapons, leaving the ants or some other gregarious species to take over. Anyone who has seen the ruined cities of Germany will find this notion at least thinkable. Nevertheless, looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. — George Orwell, 1945, You and the Atomic Bomb

Aversive Racism: A Universal Language

The first layer: The masses acquiesce – vile and venomous hatred is directed at the “dictator” as deemed by imperial states. Hatred is amplified via the echo chambers of corporate/”progressive” media and the non-profit industrial complex. The medium is the message. In this layer, the aversive racism is hateful.

The second layer: The boldly painted beautiful natives, whom we at once recognize from the glossy pages of National Geographic, fan our smoldering flames of romanticism and lost meaning. In this layer of aversive racism, the Euro-American embraces his/her White paternalism.

Yet, rather than resist such elite manipulation that is seductive by design, the Left enshroud themselves within it like moths ensconced in silk cocoons.

Let us ignore the fact that despite the Obama Administration’s continued oppression and exploitation of First Nations peoples in the United States – a continued genocide in slow-motion – there is no such thing as an international campaign being waged against the Obama Administration (Obama, the ultimate dictator, yet never referred to as such). No. There is neither romanticism nor mystique to be found, or more importantly, felt, amongst the Indigenous whose land we have stolen. Outside of the Amazon Rainforest, the branding/marketing campaigns developed to create an equal intrigue of Indigenous People on what is now referred to as American soil are non-existent. The Native faces we recognize all too easily from our own communities are marginalized and ignored. Such sentimentality reserved for the exotic faces in far-away lands will never be found on our soil – such notions are not funded.

Nor does anyone care to listen to the clan mothers and elders in our own communities. Not when one can pay thousands of dollars to see the “real” Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon – where the privileged can feign great concern and enlightenment before they fly back home to their house, cottage and two cars.

“We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.” ? Bell Hooks, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism

We love and support Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez only when he is dead. We expect Bolivia’s Evo Morales to perform magical feats within the chains of an industrialized capitalist system. We condemn him when he fails to provide the long-awaited path to Utopia. Ignore the question of whether an Indigenous president of one of the poorest states in the world (one that has not contributed to the climate crisis) should even be expected to accomplish what none of us yet know how to do. Ignore the fact that the courageous and profound alternative proposals we demanded our Leftist leaders such as Morales were ignored, marginalized and buried by our “movements.” And when Leftist leaders fail, the Left chimes, “See, I told you.” Ignore the fact that we do not hold our own “leaders” to any such accountability. Ignore the fact that revolutionary changes are most difficult if not impossible within the industrialized capitalist system. Ignore the fact that both Morales and Chavez championed against the capitalist system at much ridicule. They said out loud what the Left did not have the courage to say, even if they do not have the luxury to act to the extent we wish were possible. Ignore the fact that the necessity and responsibility to dismantle industrialized capitalism belongs to those who gained through exploitation of others, not those who suffered through exploitation and continue to do so.

In fact, as we criticize an Indigenous leader such as Morales for being a “closet neoliberal” or an “extractivist,” our own countries (who treat First Nations like garbage) are doing a million times more ecological damage on any given day (think tar sands in Canada and Bakken oil fields in the US). Yet, the “leaders” of the North are spared the same scathing scrutiny and labels. It is critical to ask where is the International Avaaz campaign to vilify Obama and stop the development of the Bakken region in Dakota? When was the last time Avaaz launched an international campaign to shut down the world’s dirtiest project – the tar sands – coupled with the demonization of Harper? Where is the international global campaign to stop Obama’s expansion of fracking loaded with disparaging remarks? You will not find any such campaigns as Avaaz is safely tucked away in the pocket of hegemony. Latin American leaders are thrown under the bus while the liberal Left can be found on its knees hailing the latest speech by Obama. Why does the hostility toward non-white, monetarily poor governments far supersede any hostility shown toward the most egregious and wealthy (via plundering) governments on Earth?

In fact, Amnesty International, Avaaz, Pachamama Alliance, and other NGOs who can afford the world’s most sophisticated advertising/marketing firms have so successfully demonized leaders who refuse to fall in line with imperial interests that the collective populace is more than willing to ignore both the interference and the facts. Indeed, the hatred toward such leaders emphatically supersedes the foundations of the oligarchs and most powerful corporations, USAID, and even the world’s greatest war criminals masquerading as presidents who are responsible for the death of millions.

Perhaps the truth is that we in the North are simply jealous – that we do not possess the tenacity of the social movements in Latin America, nor their courage. [Latin American presidents deliver powerful speeches at the UN]

R2P Media Pysops

And so it begins. On January 3, 2014 a scathing Newsweek [2] article appears with a main objective being the criticizing of Correa’s government. In the article sensationally titled “After All the People We Killed We Felt Dizzy” the author writes:

“Salvation for the Yasuni may have to come from outside Ecuador, and it may hinge on the human rights of the Taromenane. Lawyer Veronica Potes says a legal claim has been submitted to get the Inter-American Human Rights system involved. Since the government is now approving oil extraction in their territory without studying how it will affect the uncontacted groups, Potes thinks there’s grounds for international intervention.” (emphasis added)

A Glimpse into the Left Approach

It appears that a large part of the Left has conflated imperialism with the globalized capitalist economic system. The logic is as follows: if you are against the neoliberal ideology of the globalized economy, you are anti-imperialist. Thus, if it appears one panders to the neoliberal ideology of the globalized economy – this person is not anti-imperialist. And if a leader is an “extractivist” then, by default, this leader panders to neoliberalism, therefore, such a leader is no longer anti-imperial.

Yet this conflation is largely inaccurate. The Oxford definition of imperialism is “policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.”

Further, every state on this planet is “extractivist.” And most every community extracts at some level. To allude that Ecuador or any of the ALBA states are imperial by default, if they seek capital, is not accurate.

If we take this further and ask the question: Do NGOs of imperial states “extend a country’s power and influence through diplomacy”? – the answer is an unequivocal yes. Therefore, NGOs must be considered a tool of imperialism.

Some within the Left will lend solidarity to the State’s closure of the Pachamama Foundation (FP en español), only with a condition: It must be proven that the closure of FP by the government of Ecuador was not truly based on the anti-oil protest, but rather, was closed down only because the government of Ecuador is anti-imperialist, which also must be “proven.” (Of course, only if a coup should occur could it be “proven” that the leader was not a co-operative driver of neoliberalism. The coup would thus prove the leader would not acquiesce sufficiently to the will of imperial states. We may not have to wait too long for such “proof.”) In reality, one could safely say yes the closure was likely a direct result of both: because of the protests, on top of the reality that it is connected to imperial interests.

One must ask how it is possible to “Stand in Solidarity with Fundación Pachamama” when standing directly behind Fundación Pachamama are US interests. It is vital that we separate the Indigenous people from the Fundación Pachamama as the Foundation (an entity – not a person) is tied to those we claim to oppose and therefore must resist.

It is critical to consider the fact that such ties to hegemonic interest alone, as evidenced with Pachamama Foundation, all but discredit any/all legitimate dissent.

Destabilizing Arsenals

On December 12, 2013 in the article Bogota Mayor Falls Victim to Another Right-Wing Coup in Latin America, the author writes: “While the press, as well as the U.S. government, will not acknowledge it, the elimination of progressive political leaders by coups d’état is taking place in Latin America with increasing frequency. The most recent casualty of such measures is Gustavo Petro, the mayor of Bogota (population 6.7 million), who was removed from office this week by the Inspector-General, Alejandro Ordoñez, who alleges that Petro’s efforts in 2012 to de-privatize the garbage collection services harmed ‘the principle of freedom of enterprise.’ Quite shockingly, Ordoñez also banned Petro, who was expected to run for president in 2018, from holding any public office for the next 15 years.”

On February 4, 2012, in the article Destabilizing Arsenals Concealed in US Embassies, the author writes: “Pressing for unchallenged hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, Washington keeps the populist regimes in Latin America under permanent pressure. Outwardly, the U.S. Administration pledges not to resort to military force to displace the ALBA governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, or Cuba, but in reality Washington’s efforts to undermine them are a constant background of the continent’s political picture. The activity began under president G. Bush and shows no signs of subsiding under president Obama. Supposedly, plans are being devised in the White House that a series of color revolutions will erupt across Latin America in 2013-2014 and derail the continent’s advancement towards tighter integration in the security and other spheres. As the fresh experience of Libya showed with utmost clarity, Washington’s new brand of color revolutions will – in contrast to the former coups which used to be accompanied with outpourings of pacifist rhetoric – involve ferocious fighting and massive fatalities.”

On November 3, 2012, in the article Laws vs. Color Revolutions in Latin America, the author writes: “The US intelligence is making systematic efforts to energize the political opposition in Latin American countries deemed unfriendly in Washington. The strategy encompasses the radicalization of the existing political parties and groups plus the creation of new ones pursuing ever more aggressive agendas, and the formation of a network of seemingly harmless NGOs ready to launch massive attacks against the regimes in their respective countries whenever their sponsors and curators chose to unleash them.… It should also be noted that an important line on the Ecuadoran government’s list of priorities is occupied by the task of tightening the oversight of the NGOs which proliferate in the country at a breakneck rate. Correa and his closest co-workers evidently count among the key short-term risks the possibility of a coup attempt in which, in line with a US scenario, NGOs receiving additional financial infusions on the occasion would be supposed to guarantee the involvement of large numbers of protesters.” [emphasis added]

And of course it was on June 22, 2012 that Paraguay fell to a coup. In an excellent investigative report, Natalia Viana, director of Publica, Brazil’s first nonprofit investigative journalism center, deconstructed the events.

As well, one must not forget the Bolivian TIPNIS conflict of 2011 (amplified by NGOs) that threatened the destabilization of the MAS Government. On November 20, 2013 it was announced that one of the TIPNIS leaders joined a rightwing party.

The Left demands “evidence” that the US NGO (in this particular case, Fundación Pachamama) is “bad,” while simultaneously embracing an international NGO campaign that cries “Correa might arrest a leading activist!” They will believe the NGO with no evidence (financed by foreign interests) while rejecting the very real possibility of an escalating destabilization campaign – which history (even the most recent) shows is very, very real. The Left will also reject any communications from the state under attack, since 1) the Left cannot support the state (except in the form of an imperial NGO) and 2) perhaps subconsciously, might and white is right.

Summary: If Correa is a “neoliberal in disguise,” then the Left condones the US NGO situated on Ecuadorian soil, i.e. foreign interference. Therefore, in the eyes of a seduced and indoctrinated Left, Ecuador only has a right for self-determination if they reject all neoliberal policy (that our own governments initiated) – again, standards we do not apply to our own states or any other states.

Where the possibility of destabilization is very real (in this instance, Ecuador) the liberal Left will only oppose NGOs tied to corporate interests if the president under attack is the all-encompassing dream of a perfect leader (as imagined by the privileged Left). Yet, if a destabilization/coup were to occur, it would not be Correa alone that would be harmed. It would be the whole of Ecuador.

As always, the Left believes the voice of authority: the non-profit industrial complex in tandem with the media. Critical facts are ignored and discarded. Orwell rolls in his grave.

 

[1] The Pachamama Alliance website creates an emotive hook/storyline that it was the Achuar who first decided to “reach out to the modern world”: “In the 1990’s, facing oil development on their ancestral lands, Achuar elders decided to reach out to the modern world that was threatening their very existence. They issued a call for allies who would work to ‘change the dream of the modern world’ and transform the culture of overconsumption driving the destruction of the rainforest. The Pachamama Alliance was created as an answer to their call.” The reality is slightly less poetic. The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.” [Source: Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part I of an Investigative Report]

 

[2] Fareed Zakaria, a Newsweek columnist and editor of Newsweek International, attended a secret meeting on November 29, 2001, with a dozen policy makers, Middle East experts and members of influential policy research organizations that produced a report for President George W. Bush and his cabinet outlining a strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and the Middle East in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The meeting was held at the request of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense. The unusual presence of journalists, who also included Robert D. Kaplan of The Atlantic Monthly, at such a strategy meeting was revealed in Bob Woodward’s 2006 book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III. Woodward reported in his book that, according to Mr. Kaplan, everyone at the meeting signed confidentiality agreements not to discuss what happened. [Source]

Misunderstanding the Civil Rights Movement and Diversity of Tactics

The Hampton Institute

June 13, 2015

By Lorenzo St. Dubois

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s gotten to be a pattern on the Left. When Black protest erupts into insurrection, as it did in Ferguson and Baltimore, most liberals and white radicals express empathy for the cathartic release of anger, but urge the oppressed that this is not the way. This is “not strategic,” says the leftist concern-troll. This is “what the police want.” Most of the time they manage to stop short of asking “why are they burning down their own neighborhood?” -if only to be mindful of clichés-but some can’t even help themselves there. In the aftermath, Amy Goodman (seemingly channeling Alex Jones) will spread conspiracy theories on how the government “orchestrated” the rioting.[1] The respectability politics of nonviolence will return.

It’s hard to believe that anyone who has paid attention to Black Lives Matter takes these positions in good faith because, of course, the riots in Ferguson were objectively the best thing that happened to a movement that was already more than a year old. In August 2014, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had been almost completely forgotten by white America except as grim punchlines, while national civil rights leaders were more concerned with Chicago’s gang killings than with the national wave of police terror. Yet by December, in the wake of recurring rioting in both Ferguson and the Bay Area, the Ferguson PD was under investigation by Amnesty International, the Justice Department and the United Nations ( and #BlackLivesMatter had been named Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society ).

This month the pushback comes with Jonathan Chait’s promotion of a scholarly paper on the effects of rioting on Black liberation in the 1960s. Chait’s argument can be critiqued on just about every level: the paper has a distorted idea of what liberation is (apparently, it means electing Democrats), an undefined idea of what rioting is, and on top of that the paper isn’t even accredited scholarship, in the sense that it hasn’t been peer-reviewed by anyone (except of course by Jonathan Chait).

Chait first got uptight about this subject last year, when he and Ta-Nehesi Coates had an indirect back-and-forth over the efficacy of Black insurrection. Chait wrote regarding Ferguson that “Property damage and looting impede social progress.” Coates replied with a concise historical sketch of militancy in the civil rights era:

The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968-the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books-is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement. “We could go into meetings and say, ‘Well, either deal with us or you will have Malcolm X coming into here,'” said SNCC organizer Gloria Richardson. “They would get just hysterical. The police chief would say, ‘Oh no!”

But now Chait claims that a draft research paper by Omar Wasow, an assistant professor at the department of politics at Princeton, fills in the blanks left within the broad strokes of that sketch. “And his answer is clear,” Chait announces. “Riots on the whole provoke a hostile right-wing response. They generate attention, all right, but the wrong kind.”

Chait and Wasow’s position is a restatement of the timeworn “backlash thesis.” Over the years, this thesis has been largely discredited by various studies (studies which, unlike Wasow’s, were peer-reviewed). The weakness with the thesis is not that there was no serious white backlash to the anti-racist movement, but that the backlash started as soon as the civil rights struggle began in the mid-1950s, not suddenly after the mid-60s Northern rebellions.

The Limits of Nonviolence

Take for instance Michael Klarman’s book From Jim Crow to Civil Rights (which one reviewer calls “the first great and indispensable work of American constitutional history in the twenty-first century”). Klarman demonstrates that Brown vs. Board of Education didn’t inspire an unambiguously effective civil rights movement; it inspired an uncertain experiment in passive resistance which in turn provoked the segregationist “massive resistance” movement. And just as Brown didn’t lead to widespread desegregated schools, the Supreme Court decision that emerged from the Montgomery bus boycott didn’t lead to widespread desegregated buses-most Southern municipalities simply ignored it, and launched highly effective repression against Black activism and liberalism generally. Montgomery itself enacted new segregation laws after the boycott victory, and terrorized both moderate and radical political figures (Rosa Parks fled the city after the campaign, both because she was blacklisted from work and because of credible death threats). On the rare instances where the federal government stood up for school desegregation, like in Little Rock in 1958, the conservatives were strong enough to wait out the withdrawal of troops, or else simply shut down the schools rather than comply.

A new hope seemed to emerge in the early 1960s with the lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, and the Mississippi voter registration drives. But the sit-in movement only led to the desegregation of Woolworth’s luncheonettes-most Southern eateries remained Jim Crow. The Freedom Rides were actually unpopular with the American public, most of whom thought Blacks were moving too fast. And the Freedom Rides led to yet another federal decision that was seldom honored in the South. The Mississippi movement provoked a wave of lynchings that the Kennedy administration did nothing to prevent. Klarman noted that the early civil rights movement had a “backlash-counterbacklash” dynamic.

Klarman’s work builds on that of scholar Gerald Rosenberg who demonstrated that no dramatic change for Black liberation occurred until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The direct impetus for that law was rioting in Birmingham in May of 1963: thousands of local blacks defied Martin Luther King’s exhortations to nonviolence, set fire to nine square blocks of downtown, and sent a police officer to the operating room. The author of the most comprehensive study of President Kennedy’s civil rights policy, Nicholas Bryant, noted that

It was the black-on-white violence of May 11 – not [the nonviolence of the previous weeks] – that represented the real watershed in Kennedy’s thinking…Kennedy had grown used to segregationist attacks against civil rights protesters. But he – along with his brother and other administration officials – was far more troubled by black mobs running amok.[2]

Birmingham wasn’t an isolated episode; Black insurrection flared across the country for the rest of 1963 and into 1964. Sometimes it was milder than Birmingham and sometimes it was more explosive. SNCC leader Gloria Richardson recalls that in her campaign in Cambridge, Maryland, activists exchanged gunfire with National Guardsmen just a few months prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

“Burning in Every City, North and South”

President Kennedy’s response to Birmingham is the key historical moment of the movement. According to White House tapes, the president initially thought about sending federal troops to Alabama in May 1963 with the idea of acting against Blacks if the rioting continued-not against Bull Connor. He ultimately kept the troops on stand-by. As the month wore on and Kennedy saw Black rebellion spread to Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York, he eventually concluded he would have to make a major gesture of support for African-Americans. On June 11, he gave his landmark Civil Rights Address, in which he first proposed the Civil Rights Act. The Address acknowledged the role of riots:

This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety… The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.

Kennedy’s speech is the first time the federal government even acknowledged it had a major racial problem in the North. The post-Birmingham uprisings were indeed the root of the nationwide white backlash, but they were also the beginning of a truly nationwide civil rights movement. And they proved to be the first real federal breakthrough in either the North or South.

Some of Professor Wasow’s charts actually illustrate my points better than they illustrate his:

2015 0611satmis ch

We can see in this chart that there was little violent activity in the early sixties movement-but we can also see that there was very little nonviolent activity in the movement either. The marked decline of nonviolent protest shown in 1962 confirms Malcolm X’s characterization in his “Message to the Grassroots” speech that the movement seemed to be on its last legs that year. Then, in 1963, we see violent and nonviolent activity spike in unison – if anything violent protest leads the trend. The riotous tendency in that year helped to stimulate nonviolent protest (including preparations for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom). And as we’ve already seen, it directly inspired Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address and proposal of his civil rights bill.

The chart also shows a smaller but still significant curve towards violence in 1964. The peak of this curve appears to be June 1964- the month the Civil Rights Act was finally passed. And once again, riots and peaceful protests rose and fell together in similar timeframes. Also note that the Watts rebellion doesn’t spring out of nowhere in August 1965; it’s part of a general increase in militancy that begins in the first half of the year, which means that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is also inseparable from the threat of riots (Note too that the overall rates of violent protest in 1965 and 1963 are nearly the same).

Wasow doesn’t mention the Birmingham riot, or the Cambridge riot, or the “fires of frustration and discord…burning in every city, North and South,” in 1963. They don’t help his case. But they do prove the case of the anarchist writer Peter Gelderloos, who’s noted for years that the civil rights movement at its strongest was a model of diversity of tactics.

The underlying premise of Wasow and Chait seems to be that since it’s dangerous to win (there’s a backlash) it’s much better to lose. In his study of the struggle for the Civil Rights Act, legal historian Gerald Rosenberg has a more heartening message:

“Overcoming discrimination is a good news/bad news story.The bad news is that discrimination is deeply enmeshed in the fabric of American life; it is hard to change. But there is good news. The good news is that change is possible.”

Notes:

1. Democracy Now! uncritically publicized the idea that the National Guard stood down in Ferguson in order to encourage rioting. However, it was documented later that the officials’ motivation was concern about the public image of militarized policing.

2. Nicholas Andrew Bryant, The Bystander: John F. Kennedy And the Struggle for Black Equality (Basic Books, 2006), p. 393

Originally posted at Lorenzo’s blog, Diversity of Tactics.

How the US Mental Health System Makes Natives Sick and Suicidal

Indian Country

June 18, 2015

by David Walker

At a youth wellness conference at Yakama Nation I helped organize in 2001, an elder of the Kah-Milt-Pah honored us with her presence. For the first two days, she sat next to her daughter in the front row, one palm resting on a handmade cane, watching and listening as keynote speakers stepped up. I remember she became particularly focused when a youth invited to the stage to share his life challenges broke down mid-sentence.

At 4:30 p.m., near the end of the last day, she struggled to rise and then stood next to her chair. Members of the discussion panel fell silent while she was helped to the stage by her daughter. She then turned around to face the 700 or so mostly Native attendees and began speaking in her native dialect about the sacredness of children. A microphone was hurriedly brought over as her daughter stood beside her, carefully translating her words into English.

This translating was time-consuming, and as an organizer, I knew the event center closed at 5 p.m. Soon, a custodian approached me and whispered, “We need to shut down.”

We stood together for a moment listening to and watching her, dressed in her dark calico dress, a kerchief holding back her grey braids, leaning over her cane.

“Fine,” I said, “you tell her.”

He smiled and shook his head. She finished at about 7:30 p.m., and I don’t believe anyone left, not even that custodian.

Later on, I found out that she understood and spoke English well; she just chose not to speak it. Her insistence on using her native language told everyone present how she felt about the colonizing language of English, imposed in her lifetime by coercion and force. It may have become the common tongue of Indian Country, but she would not feel obliged to use it. Only her Native words could speak to the heart about “what has happened” to the children.

The intrusion of a new language upon a people can build bridges, tear them down, or serve an oppressive agenda. It can do all three at once. In the last 40 years, certain English words and phrases have become more acceptable to indigenous scholars, thought leaders, and elders for describing shared Native experiences. They include genocide, cultural destruction, colonization, forced assimilation, loss of language, boarding school, termination, historical trauma and more general terms, such as racism, poverty, life expectancy, and educational barriers. There are many more.

One might expect such words to be common within the mental health system in Indian Country. Yet the major funder and provider of Native mental health, the Indian Health Service (IHS), doesn’t seem to speak this language.

For example, the agency’s behavioral health manual mentions psychiatrist and psychiatric 23 times, therapy 18 times, pharmacotherapy, medication, drugs, and prescription 16 times, and the word treatment, a whopping 89 times. But it only uses the word violence once, and you won’t find a single mention of genocide, cultural destruction, colonization, historical trauma, etc.—nor even racism, poverty, life expectancy or educational barriers.

This federal agency doesn’t acknowledge the reality of oppression within the lives of Native people. Instead, it uses another powerful word, depression. For about a decade, IHS has set as one of its goals the detection of Native depression. This has been done by seeking to widen use of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), which asks patients to describe to what degree they feel discouraged, downhearted, tired, low appetite, unable to sleep, slow-moving, easily distracted or as though life is no longer worth living.

The PHQ-9 was developed in the 1990s for drug behemoth Pfizer Corporation by prominent psychiatrist and contract researcher Robert Spitzer and several others. Although it owns the copyright, Pfizer offers the PHQ-9 for free use by primary health care providers. Why so generous? Perhaps because Pfizer is a top manufacturer of psychiatric medications, including its flagship antidepressant Zoloft® which earned the company as much as $2.9 billion annually before it went generic in 2006. Even with the discovery that the drug can increase the risk of birth defects, 41 million prescriptions for Zoloft® were filled in 2013.

The most recent U.S. Public Health Service practice guidelines, which IHS primary care providers are required to use, states that “depression is a medical illness,” and in a nod to Big Pharma suppliers like Pfizer, serotonin-correcting medications (SSRIs) like Zoloft® “are frequently recommended as first-line antidepressant treatment options.” (iStock)
The most recent U.S. Public Health Service practice guidelines, which IHS primary care providers are required to use, states that “depression is a medical illness,” and in a nod to Big Pharma suppliers like Pfizer, serotonin-correcting medications (SSRIs) like Zoloft® “are frequently recommended as first-line antidepressant treatment options.” (iStock)

The Pfizer PHQ-9’s lead developer, Dr. Spitzer, was the “task force leader” for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III-Revised (DSM III-R) when I started graduate training as a clinical psychologist in 1986. The DSM III-R created 110 new psychiatric labels, a number that had climbed by another 100 more by the time I started working at an IHS clinic in 2000.

Around that time, Pfizer, like many other big pharmaceutical corporations, was pouring millions of dollars into lavish marketing seminars disguised as “continuing education” on the uses of psychiatric medication for physicians and nurses with no mental health training.

I recall being asked if I was going to one of these seminars, held at the fanciest restaurant in a city north of the Yakama Nation Reservation. Although a government employee is technically not allowed to accept gifts of more than $20, this lavish (and free) meal seemed a grey area. After all, it was “educational.” I didn’t happen to drink alcohol, so I wasn’t interested. After this event, several primary care colleagues began touting their new expertise in mental health, and I was regularly advised that psychiatric medications were (obviously) the new “treatment of choice.”

Since those days, affixing the depression label to Native experience has become big business. IHS depends a great deal upon this activity—follow-up “medication management” encounters allow the agency to pull considerable extra revenue from Medicaid. One part of the federal government supplements funding for the other. That’s one reason it might be in the best interest of IHS to diagnose and treat depression, rather than acknowledge the emotional and behavioral difficulties resulting from chronic, intergenerational oppression.

The most recent U.S. Public Health Service practice guidelines, which IHS primary care providers are required to use, states that “depression is a medical illness,” and in a nod to Big Pharma suppliers like Pfizer, serotonin-correcting medications (SSRIs) like Zoloft® “are frequently recommended as first-line antidepressant treatment options.” This means IHS considers Native patients with a positive PHQ-9 screen to be mentally ill with depression. And in just the last four years, the Indian Health Service has spent over copy.1 billion to treat Mentally Ill Indians. In quiet ways, IHS admits to being obsessed on this point. For instance, in its National Behavioral Health Strategic Plan 2011-2015, IHS states an objective to “recognize the heavy influence of biomedical models” (it’s not certain what happens after recognition), but in its very next objective, notes a desire to “assist the Indian Health System to make needed prescribed psychotropic medications available to persons served.”

There are many things wrong with this model. For instance, the biomedical theory IHS is still promoting is obsolete. After more than 50 years of research, there’s no valid Western science to back up this theory of depression (or any other psychiatric disorder besides dementia and intoxication). There’s no chemical imbalance to correct. Even psychiatrist Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief emeritus of Psychiatric Times, admitted “the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend.”

Unhinged Trouble With Psychiatry
Unhinged Trouble With Psychiatry

Researchers, writers, and mental health professionals have sought to get word out about the deceptiveness of this false science for decades. In 2011, Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Medical Journal, summarized the work of three such voices for the New York Review of Books. Angell reviewed The Emperor’s New Drugs by Harvard psychologist Irving Kirsch in which he concludes that there is no significant difference between the drugs and sugar pills for reducing depression. Angell also reviewed award-winning investigative journalist Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, in which he describes the pharmaceutical industry’s funding of “key opinion leaders” for promoting its medications and its profound influence on increasing the number of DSM “disorders” eligible for medicating. Dr. Angell closes with a review of Daniel Carlat’s Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry. After Carlat thoroughly “follows the money” in pharmaceutical funding of psychiatry, he admits to nearly doubling his hourly income by seeing his patients for “psychopharmacology” instead of therapy.

The Emperors New Drugs
The Emperors New Drugs

IHS continues to apply the PHQ-9 in its stated belief that “early identification of depression will contribute to reducing incidence” of suicide, violence, etc. while allowing “providers to plan interventions and treatment to improve the mental health and well being of American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

Antidepressants do not reduce suicide. Much money has been spent on studies trying to support such an idea that either fail or are easily exposed for poor science and shoddy designs that result in retractions and back-pedaling. A 2010 study of sales of antidepressants in Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark from 1975 to 2006 found no relationship between suicide rates and the great popularity of psychiatric drugs.

In an astonishing twist, researchers working with the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that building more mental health services is a major factor in increasing the suicide rate. This finding may feel implausible, but it’s been repeated several times across large studies. WHO first studied suicide in relation to mental health systems in 100 countries in 2004, and then did so again in 2010, concluding that:

“[S]uicide rates… were increased in countries with mental health legislation, there was a significant positive correlation between suicide rates, and the percentage of the total health budget spent on mental health; and… suicide rates… were higher in countries with greater provision of mental health services, including the number of psychiatric beds, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, and the availability of training in mental health for primary care professionals.”

Global Suicide Rates World Health Organization
Global Suicide Rates World Health Organization

In fact, authors of the 2010 study stated rather specifically that the suicide rate climbed alongside the increased “availability of training in mental health for primary care professionals.” This describes the very strategy IHS has been using to try to reduce suicide.

Mental health folks didn’t care for such findings and wanted to try again. A 2013 follow-up study by Anto Rajkumar and colleagues using similar WHO data gathered from 191 countries found, “Countries with better psychiatric services experience higher suicide rates.” It might be beside the point to mention that research repeatedly demonstrates physicians commit suicide at twice the rate of other people. After all, they have more legal access to drugs.

Despite what’s known about their significant limitations and scientific groundlessness, antidepressants are still valued by some people for creating “emotional numbness,” according to psychiatric researcher David Healy. Research undertaken at the University of Washington in 2004 suggested people will quit using antidepressants because of feeling numb while others continue for the same reason.

The side effect of antidepressants, however, in decreasing sexual energy (libido) is much stronger than this numbing effect—sexual disinterest or difficulty becoming aroused or achieving orgasm occurs in as many as 60 percent of consumers. Such a side effect can in itself increase anxiety, depressed mood and hopelessness. In this way, IHS has become complicit in reducing sexual interest while having a potentially negative impact on intimate relationships within the communities it serves. The agency has been spreading lies about faulty brains with “chemical imbalances” for years now and recasting reactions to oppressive social conditions and life challenges as a pathological illness to be numbed or sedated.

Dr. David Healy is better known for his research showing that antidepressant medication increases suicide and violence in certain people. When I mentioned his early work to IHS primary care colleagues, I met great skepticism. But Healy’s work has withstood the test of time, including repeated scrutiny by major scientific authorities worldwide, even by a reluctant FDA that dragged its heels before mandating a “black box warning” about suicide and violence potential. Over the years, I’ve thought about Dr. Healy’s work when incidents of mass violence have occurred at Red Lake, Tule River and Marysville.

A formal report on IHS internal “Suicide Surveillance” data issued by Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center states the suicide rate for all U.S. adults currently hovers at 10 for every 100,000 people, while for the Native patients IHS tracked, the rate was 17 per 100,000. This rate varied widely across the regions IHS serves—in California it was 5.5, while in Alaska, 38.5. It’s important to note that IHS has experienced chronic difficulties in getting its providers to comply with entering all the suicides they encounter in their practices for this project. Yet there are crucial lessons to learn from what has been tallied.

Suicides for all U.S. youth in the age range of 15 to 24 nearly tripled from 1958 to 1982, but since 1999, this rate has remained stable at between 10 and 11 per 100,000. The IHS Suicide Surveillance data reveals the rate for Native youth to be climbing . Over 52 percent of suicides described in the Great Lakes report were by young Native people aged 10 to 24. Between 2005 and 2010, the average suicide rate for Native 14 to 24 year olds greatly exceeded even the overall Native rate. According to the Center for Disease Control, the Native youth and young adult suicide rate hit an all-time high in 2014 at 31 per 100,000. That’s triple the U.S. youth rate.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the Native youth suicide rate hit an all-time high in 2014 at 31 per 100,000. That’s triple the U.S. youth rate. (National Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan)
According to the Center for Disease Control, the Native youth suicide rate hit an all-time high in 2014 at 31 per 100,000. That’s triple the U.S. youth rate. (National Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan)

It’s not surprising that alcohol was involved in 82 percent of reported suicide attempts. It’s a shocker, however, that medication overdose was the primary method people used. Fifty-nine percent of Native people attempting suicide favored overdosing on meds—well beyond use of firearms, hanging, intentional car wrecks, or other means.

Nearly one in four of these suicidal medication overdoses used psychiatric medications. The majority of these medications originated through the Indian Health Service itself and included amphetamine and stimulants, tricyclic and other antidepressants, sedatives, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. The Suicide Surveillance report doesn’t specify what “other prescription medications” make up an additional 22 percent of medication overdoses and may have also originated at IHS.

Despite what IHS may say, there’s no evidence to suggest that psychiatric medication reduces either suicide or what it prefers to call depression. However, there’s solid evidence the agency’s expansion of its biomedical model and the drugs it promotes may be increasing the Native youth suicide rate—these drugs are being favored as a means of taking one’s life.

What’s truly remarkable is that this is not the first time the mental health movement in Indian Country has helped to destroy Native people. Today’s making of a Mentally Ill Indian to “treat” is just a variation on an old idea, a fitting example of George Santayana’s overused adage: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The Native mental health system has been a tool of cultural genocide for over 175 years—seven generations. Long before there was this Mentally Ill Indian to treat, this movement was busy creating and perpetuating the Crazy Indian, the Dumb Indian, and the Drunken Indian.

We need to expose what has been made invisible and forgotten. We need to revisit the displaced and poverty-stricken ancestors subjected to Indian Lunacy Determinations and sent away from their homes and families. We need to learn more about the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians, where people were kept shackled until the cuffs of their chains meshed with their skin.

We need to open the skeleton’s closet through which mental health first entered the boarding schools, determined stilted curricula for generations of children, and used its methods to sterilize those it deemed inferior. We must make peace with the fabled Firewater Myth, a false tale of heightened susceptibility to alcoholism and substances that even Native people sometimes tell themselves.

There are forgotten heroes to know, ancestors of those currently trapped by the Native mental health system—a Lakota diagnosed with “horse-stealing mania,” a Cherokee laying claim to the land of Sweden, and a Mohawk, the first Indian psychologist, stepping up to challenge the white man’s labeling of his community’s children as feebleminded.

English will necessarily be the shared language of inquiry, but let’s use it to be accurate about these seven generations of harm.

Because it’s oppression, plain and simple.

Portions of this story appeared in Dr. Walker’s blog postings at Mad In America. His award-winning Medicine Valley novels and some scholarly papers can be perused at www.tessasdance.com.

 

 

 

 

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part II

The Art of Annihilation

May 7, 2014

An investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

[This report references both REDD[1] and the REDD+[2] mechanism. REDD refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation while REDD+ was updated to reflect: “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries; and the role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks.”] For the sake of continuity, the authors of this investigative series will use the original acronym REDD in this series unless REDD+ appears in references or quotes.]

 

No-REDD+-in-Rio+20

Image: No REDD in Rio

REDDy for Hypocrisy

“[REDD is] a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred…. It is time to defend Mother Earth and Father Sky. Your future depends on it.” — Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, October 22, 2013

Industrial capitalists, employing those in the non-profit industrial complex as their personal soft-power sycophants, have every intention of controlling what remain of Indigenous People’s natural resources. Adding to centuries of colonialism, slavery, and genocide, native peoples now face a 21st century corporatocracy that seeks full privatization and commodification of the Earth’s remaining commons. As an example, the creation of ecological reserves on Indigenous land is rampant yet proceeds relatively unnoticed. The theft of biological wealth under the guise of conservation is stealth and must be acknowledged as such – nothing less than a brilliant coup.

In the final frontier of Earth’s last remaining natural resources, with capitalism on its knees with nowhere else to go, a silent war has begun that few yet notice. It can be summarized in two words: environmental markets.

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is one such key market. [“REDD+ is a climate change mitigation solution that many initiatives, including the UN-REDD Programme, are currently developing and supporting. Other multilateral REDD+ initiatives include the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and Forest Investment Program (FIP), hosted by The World Bank. Source] This scheme (creating / obtaining permits to pollute via corporate capture of Earth’s last remaining forests) will not mitigate the escalating climate and ecological crises in any way. Rather, it simply allows polluters to continue polluting. REDD allows, and even encourages, our multiple ecological crises to further accelerate while ensuring the seizure / commodification and further exploitation of Earth’s remaining natural resources. Tina Vahenen, from the UN REDD Secretariat, addressed an auditorium of timber executives and foresters at the World Forestry Congress in 2009 and stated, “REDD would be very beneficial for forestry.” Not forests – forestry. Ms Vahenen explained to the room that REDD would be worth $45 billion for the timber industry and insisted that “the forestry sector cannot afford to lose this opportunity.” [Key Arguments Against REDD, 2011- Source]

At first glance it appears that Pachamama Alliance (and Pachamama Foundation by extension) are “more legitimate” than most big greens – and they may very well be, to some extent. Their progressive language is demonstrated in the positions put forward on REDD by Pachamama Foundation that appear on their website and in the mainstream.

August 8, 2011: Pachamama Foundation Website (translated from the Spanish by Google Translate):

“Aware of the urgent need to reduce deforestation in the country, Fundación Pachamama’s participation at international level in the Accra Caucus and national level in the monitoring group UN-REDD and the National Standards Committee Socio-environmental REDD +, aims to participate in advocacy spaces to ensure the inclusion of human and collective rights, self-determination, land rights, and full and effective participation of the subjects of law, and monitoring the construction of political national government for the conservation and the importance of forests. In domestic spaces acts as delegate CEDENMA, representing a sector of environmental civil society organizations to advocate for getting the highest standards of conservation and the guarantee of human and collective rights and the rights of nature. Pachamama Foundation disagrees with any attempt of the Government of Ecuador to participate in carbon markets, is in a stage of preparation and implementation stages. Markets do not do more than consider nature as a commodity and encourage perverse and inequitable business that promotes a model of capitalist development and unsustainable. Pachamama Foundation does not promote any REDD mechanism. Rather, it maintains a very critical position, this being insufficient and incomplete to combat climate change mechanism, whose origin is in a biased account of the forest that does not include the Indigenous world, does not recognize rights for nature and the commodification and intended to be inserted into the woods in the perverse world market.”

This sounds like an honourable, even radical, position. And it is. But consider the following text exactly three months later on November 8, 2011, also from the Pachamama Foundation website:

María Belén Páez, director of Pachamama Foundation, spoke about the REDD mechanism during the plenary of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). In her speech, she addressed the following topics [translated from the Spanish]:

Financing: The REDD finance mechanism should be transparent, reliable, and accessible.

Additionality: The reductions under the REDD mechanism must be in addition to emission reductions required under the Kyoto Protocol for developed countries, ie, [REDD credits providing carbon offsets] should not replace these reductions.

Integrity: It is important that the parties agree that funding for REDD ensures social and environmental integrity, in addition to sustainable development and good governance.

Innovation: Funding for REDD should focus on a variety of innovative sources.

Carbon markets: Carbon trading has been declared as merchandise with the worst performance in the world. Its growth has stagnated and declined. Forests are not within this market due to concerns about leakage and impermanence of the forest.

Offset credits: It has been shown that these loans are prone to fraud and market manipulation. They should not be part of any package of funding for REDD.

Multi-functionality: It is important to recognize that forests have multiple functions in addition to their ability to store carbon. Payments resulting from REDD have to compensate more than the amount of reduced tonnes of carbon, for example, their spiritual and other environmental services. [Emphasis added to the word spiritual.]

Effectiveness: To improve the effectiveness of REDD and the ultimate goal of reducing pressures on deforestation and forest degradation, countries should be compensated not only for reducing emissions, but also for the implementation of measures to improve governance, respect for human and collective rights, and conservation of biodiversity.

Although Páez, executive director of Pachamama Foundation, publicly voices opposition to both carbon markets and offsets, she speaks as though financing/payments for REDD, from sources outside of environmental markets, are a realistic option. The intent of REDD by capitalists is to turn the services provided by Earth’s forests into globally tradable commodities. Sources of REDD finance are intentionally presented as hazy and vague while simultaneously espousing half promises that non-market finance will miraculously materialize from nowhere. The simplistic notion that altruistic REDD finance funds from “innovative sources” will come raining down from the sky is a sugar-coated Venus flytrap that easily lures those that are greedy, extraordinarily naïve or cloaked in denial,particularly those dependent upon the non-profit industrial complex.

Note the phrase “spiritual services” as cited by Páez. One must ask how “payments results in REDD” would/could compensate for the loss of spiritual services. Can an exemplary amount of money compensate for spiritual services? If you are a spiritual capitalist, the answer appears to be yes.

At COP17, Páez “represented civil society” (even though unelected to do so) and Accra Caucus (of which Pachamama Foundation is a member). [1] Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change is a network of southern and northern NGOs representing around 100 civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations from 38 countries, formed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Accra, Ghana in 2008. The Caucus works to place the rights of Indigenous and forest communities at the centre of negotiations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and to ensure that efforts to reduce deforestation promote good governance and are not a substitute for emission reductions in industrialized countries. [“A full list of members of the Accra Caucus is available on request.” Source. Note that requests were made to acquire this full list, with no success.] Incidentally, Accra Caucus is also partner to the UN REDD Desk. [2] For further information it provides a link to the partner, Rainforest Foundation. At this link we find that Pachamama Alliance is also an “actor” within the UN for implementing REDD, as is Fundación Pachamama. [3]

As mentioned prior, Pachamama Foundation is also partner with the Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Defensa de la Naturaleza y el Ambiente (CEDENMA) (Ecuadorian Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment). At COP17, Natalia Greene, program coordinator of “Political Plurinationality and Rights of Nature” at Pachamama Foundation was also responsible for chairing CEDENMA, of which she is president.

“Nationally we have participated as a representative of the Ecuadorian Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment (CEDENMA) in building REDD spaces and policies with a MAE (Ministerio del Ambiente) mechanism to guarantee the rights of Indigenous peoples. — Pachamama Foundation [Source]

The Spanish website of CEDENMA (an “Agency Partnership and political representation of Ecuadorian civil nonprofit organizations”), which represents the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, “a network of organizations and individuals committed to the adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce the rights of nature individuals” (to be discussed further in this report) is registered to an address in West Jacksonville, Florida, US. Under the link “I am Nature,” the website redirects you to Pachamama Foundation’s YouTube channel. The vast majority of the members are of US/foreign origin with masses of tentacles to hegemony. In one instance, the “collaborators” cited are World Bank, USAID, US Fish and Wildlife Service, WWF, Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and many other hegemonic institutions.

Theatre

 “Political rhetoric and sophistries do not exist, after all, in order that they be believed; rather, they have to serve as a common and agreed upon alibi.” Milan Kundera

The matrix of alliances and the repertoire of concerned/attentive language as briefly touched upon above is a brief overview and screenplay of exquisite theatre – theatre also performed for the benefit of the actors and extras themselves, carefully ensuring that all involved can bear to face themselves each morning when they must wake and look in the mirror. As defined by Kundera, it’s an “agreed upon alibi” to alleviate the conscience.

It is a spectacular feat to continually walk the fence wearing Prada heels. The script dictates that corporations, foundations, governments, organizations/NGOs (hierarchal/top down) must unequivocally demonstrate that “civil” society and Indigenous peoples, in particular, have been absolutely involved in the entire process of decision-making. Again, language is instrumental: safeguards; Free, Prior and Informed Consent; transparency; social and environmental integrity; self-determination; sustainable development; cultural integrity; good governance; respect for human and collective rights; rights-based forestry;and conservation of biodiversity, etc. etc. The list of ethical, beautiful and soothing turns of phrase that both ease and suppress well-founded anxieties flows like the River Nile. The i’s will be dotted and the t’s must be crossed. There will be nothing left undone that allows for litigation, that allows for any groups to claim they were not consulted. The capitalists will claim that civil society was not only consulted, they were invited to come to the table, with a heavy emphasis on outreach to Indigenous peoples. It’s all theatre, ladies and gentleman. And everyone in the production knows how the show ends. The ending was written long before anyone was assigned to their roles or studied their lines.

This is not activism. This is corporatized environmentalism – the ultimate oxymoron. A thriving industry for hegemony cloaked under the thin guise of ethics and human rights.

No big greens intend to actually stop REDD. In fact, many NGOs are planning to profit from the scheme just as they have from forestry, for example, Forest Stewardship Council, founded by WWF: “Probus is retained by the Forest Stewardship Council, founded by WWF, to advise on non-conflict of interest global funding mechanisms for environmental stewardship councils and NGO development of global sustainable timber and aquaculture standards. In tandem with the financial aspects of environmental stewardship, Probus develops corporate structuring to enable large NGOs to gain independent revenues via ‘for-profit’ sister companies without impinging upon the impartiality and not-for-profit or charitable status of the NGO.” In the end, “important concessions” will have been made to “protect the Indigenous” and these special considerations will be celebrated as “win win!” victories. Yet, the considerations for concessions were also written into the script with many undoubtedly pre-determined from inception. The predacious capitalist gives nothing he does not wish to give. [Further reading on WWF’s certificationschemes and green washing can be found here, here, and here.]

Via the financial institutions, the media and the non-profit industrial complex, the capitalists perform the most malevolent activities that inflict further pain and destruction onto Earth’s most vulnerable societies, sentient beings and living ecosystems. Yet as long as they appear to be polite, conciliatory, and attentively listening to grievances, feigning concern for the associated plight and risks, alongside the pie in the sky “benefits,” of course, the majority of people will acquiesce to the predetermined, “politically feasible” reformist “solution.” Behind closed doors, the ménage of human drones defending capital do not waver. Tenacious as hell, they quietly shuffle forward – impassive, undeterred, absolutely focused on their strategic objectives. This may take years. It may take decades. It matters little. Time is of no essence. The end justifies the means. Call it Machiavellian. Or call it what it is: steady state pathology.

One simply has to look at The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to see how such conventions are essentially worthless. Our children today are unlikely to live to old age due to cataclysmic ecological collapse, yet each waking day, the global economic system that ensures our annihilation continues unabated. Which begs the question: Why would anyone in sound mind believe that Indigenous Rights will be respected in the final scramble for the Earth’s last remaining natural resources?

Tragedy is, then, an enactment of a deed that is important and complete, and of [a certain] magnitude, by means of language enriched [with ornaments], each used separately in the different parts [of the play]: it is enacted, not [merely] recited, and through pity and fear it effects relief (catharsis) to such [and similar] emotions. — Aristotle, Poetics, VI 1449b 2–3

“[A]nd through pity and fear it effects relief to such [and similar] emotions.”

The embracing of deception (deception that must be swallowed whole, and willingly, if one is to protect their privilege) is warm and consoling. Not unlike a tightly spun cocoon. A metamorphosis into the same pathology we claimed to oppose.

Lying to oneself is easy for those within the non-profit industrial complex. They profess to oppose it – knowing full well that their funding (meaning their privilege and very identities) is fully dependent on what they claim to contest coming to fruition. In many cases, concern and voiced opposition are sincere. It makes no difference. Everyone understands the rules of the game. They understand from the onset that what they object to (at least publicly), which almost always falls under the expansion of capital, is going to be realized. They will voice their distrust and unease and demonstrate just how incredibly noble and ethical they are (with great concern for the natives, of course – natives in faraway exotic places, that is) prior to the proposed policy/scheme being realized. It’s theatre for the audience. Theatre for our conscience. Theatre for the absurd.

Feeding at the REDD Trough

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Image: Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex

It’s easy to talk smack against REDD when one (in this case, Pachamama Foundation) is partnered with UN REDD Desk and funded by Norway Rainforest Foundation (RFN), et al. All it takes is a heightened level of hypocrisy and superiority.[“RFN’s finances are to a significant degree based on multiyear contracts with Norwegian public authorities regarding long-term financial assistance. The organization derives additional funding from individuals and bequests (including from regular private donors designated ‘Rainforest Guardians’); contributions from members of the business community such as Nordic Choice Hotels; and international funds and foundations such as the Ford Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation Fund…. In Indonesia, RFN and its partners have made use of the opportunity presented by the international attention which followed the country becoming a target of many REDD initiatives, including a USD 1 billion bilateral agreement between Norway and Indonesia, in order to provide advice, criticism and input in dialogue with the government and in the media…. As stated by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), ‘the Rainforest Foundation Norway support to the Civil Society National Climate and REDD working group in DRC has brought full Congolese civil society participation and involvement in developing the national REDD+ strategy and all of its components.'”] Norad is a key funder promoting REDD. [4]

“Norway continues to be UN-REDD’s first and largest donor, committing US$52.2million for 2008-2009, US$31 million for 2010, and at least US$40 million for 2011-2012.” [Source: June, 2011]

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Image: The WWF, REDD and Tanzania

The current/previous Board of Directors on the Rainforest Foundation (US division) include representatives of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AMG Wealth Partners, George Soros Open Society Foundations, Kingdon Capital Managementamong others. After the billion dollar deal was announced between Norway and Indonesia, it was revealed that Norway’s Government Pension Fund – Global had millions invested in many of the predatory corporations circling in on vulnerable Indigenous land owners in Papua and West Papua. This included a corporation that forced a four year old boy to sign land release contracts (PT Henrison Inti Persada, a subsidiary of the Noble Group, which it purchased from Kayu Lapis Indonesia Group, and Medco International and LG International – which sought 1 million hectares of Papua for industrial timber plantations).

Pachamama Alliance and Foundation may (and do) go far further in their criticisms against REDD and other market mechanisms, but at the end of the day they will fulfill the needs/interests of the foundations (fed by corporate profits). Just like every other NGO whose entire existence is dependent upon those profits.

The necessity for healthy dissent is critical. No one understands this more than the foundation. The oligarchy acknowledges there must be space for dissent and venting. To not ensure these needs are met is to invite elements that could lead to economic sabotage and revolutionary revolt. To have a handful of groups publicly objecting to the implementation of policies/schemes when one funds hundreds/thousands of groups to ensure their success is not threatening to the oligarchy whatsoever – rather, it ensures the populace will continue to believe (the falsehood) that they remain part of a true and healthy democracy. Who cares if a handful of groups highlight dangers of REDD – when the cat is already in the bag and the so-called “opposition” is addicted to and reliant on the foundation dole?

If the UN had a program called UN Climate Colonialism Desk (and that is what the UN REDD Desk essentially is), would we all join as “partners” to ensure we had “our say”? It is common knowledge that partners are sought after to 1) increase credibility, legitimacy and brand, and 2) accelerate the original intent/purpose. [5] Some organizations may attempt to justify such partnerships, but at the end of the day, they have lent much needed credibility and legitimacy to yet another instrument of colonialism that should have been isolated, exposed and scorned.

One can be absolutely certain that a key goal of the oligarchy, which has finally overcome most all obstacles in the indefatigable goal to implement REDD (two decades in the making, sought by Rockefeller, Ford, etc. [6], is to now expand REDD throughout Ecuador, Latin America and the rest of the world now that REDD+ framework has been achieved at COP19/Warsaw. [December 13, 2013: “WWF has worked towards realizing REDD+ for many years, engaging both on the ground in the key tropical forest nations of Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Colombia, the Guyanas and Brazil, as well as at the global policy and finance levels.”]

It is essential to note that none of the NGOs (over 100 at this point) participating in the Pachamama “solidarity” campaign disclose the fact that the Pachamama Foundation is financed by US interests. As an example, on December 5, 2013, The REDD-Monitor, demonstrating solidarity with Pachamama Foundation, voices its criticisms of the Ecuador Government, writing:

“As in other countries, REDD in Ecuador takes place in parallel to business as usual, including the suppression of the right to dissent. On its website, the UN-REDD programme reports that, ‘In order to reverse forest loss, Ecuador is implementing a series of initiatives to reduce deforestation in the country as part of good governance of forest resources and to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing GHG emissions related to this activity.'”

The REDD Monitor goes further, correctly spelling out why REDD is a false solution to climate change. Yet the REDD Monitor never mentions that both Pachamama Alliance and Pachamama Foundation are UN REDD “actors,” and financed by the very oligarchs (via foundations) that are heavily invested in REDD. For a poverty stricken state such as Ecuador, the support and pursuance of REDD is, without doubt, misguided and regrettable. For multi-million dollar NGOs (which, although unelected, claim to represent civil society) to support and pursue REDD is without doubt inexcusable. Yet, as far as support for REDD is concerned, the government of Ecuador alone will be the egregious villain while Pachamama Alliance and Foundation will be the virtuous victims. (It must be noted that the REDD Monitor is also a beneficiary of funding from Rainforest Foundation Norway.)

At this juncture it is critical to note two items of great significance.

“According to a recent policy brief from the Overseas Development Institute, $2.72 billion has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007.” — Rich Nations Agree to Fund Forest Protection for Climate, November 20, 2013 [7] [“Since 2007, USD 2.72 billion has been pledged to five multilateral climate funds and two bilateral initiatives that support efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+).”]

The $2.72 billion that has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007 is approximately the same monetary amount (with a similar timeline) that Ecuador required for the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. The Yasuni-ITT Initiative was the proposal by the government of Ecuador to refrain indefinitely from exploiting the oil reserves of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field within the Yasuni National Park, in exchange for 50% of the value of the reserves, or $3.6 billion over 13 years from the international community. During the six-year history of the initiative, only $336 million had been pledged, and of that only $13.3 million had actually been delivered. [Source] Hence, the project, however flawed, has failed, opening President Correa up to yet another attack by “the left.” [“It is worth remembering that the first trust set up to receive donations was designed, among others, by Yolanda Kakabadse, president of the World Wide Fund for Nature and trustee of the Ford Foundation, and businessman-environmentalist Roque Sevilla, both well connected in the NGO conservation world.” [Source]

This represents the greatest case of victim blaming, which has been the hallmark identifier of the Western response to the non-Anglo plight the world over. Correa and the state have little choice but to exploit these resources (in the case of Yasuni-ITT, 200 hectares (the actual size to be affected contested by some) directly impacted within the million-hectare National Park). This is due to the fact that the global economic system dictates that Ecuador MUST provide these raw materials for financial capital and everyday goods and services – or face the consequences of the West taking what Ecuador will not give willingly. The weak-willed left will point the finger at the leaders in the Global South who must acquiesce for the lives of their people rather than point the finger at the torturers of the Global North, who turn the screws while continuing to inflict the centuries-long pain of this parasitic relationship. Reparations be damned.

Yet a sister campaign, the international outcry regarding the projected tar sands mining/strip-mining designated to destroy 300,000 hectares of the Canadian Boreal Forest, is nowhere to be heard. [“The projected strip-mining of 740,000 acres (300,000 hectares) of forests and wetlands in the tar sands will result in the loss of breeding habitat for between 480,000 and 3.6 million adult birds. The corresponding impact on breeding will mean a loss of 4.8 million to 36 million young birds over a 20-year period, and 9.6 million to 72 million birds over a 40-year period.” [Source] Rather, we hear only cries against a single pipeline (the Keystone or KXL) – a campaign in large part funded by Buffett moneythat has allowed oil, gas and a 21st century oil-by-rail industrial revolution to expand and flourish. Production stopped at the source (on American soil) is of no focus. International cries for production to be crushed prior to drilling are only directed/applied to resource-rich states and their “dictators” (a phrase only applied to the uncooperative) who refuse to get down on all fours and lick the feet of imperialism. Once imperial states take control of foreign soil and natural resource wealth (via occupation, coercion or puppet presidencies), we never hear of campaigns to “keep the oil in the soil” again. A case in point would be the oil-rich state of Nigeria or recently illegally invaded and now occupied Libya where foreign interests pump and steal the oil as fast as modern day technology allows.

There is valid point to be made that defending the rights of nature cannot be based on the promise of compensation, yet the reality is that we, civil society, have a “movement” that refuses to make anti-capitalism the very foundation of all dialogue. A movement financed in full by the very interests we claim to oppose.

The fact of the matter is, if NGOs had campaigned for Yasuni (with no allowances for carbon offsetting / markets), rather than working behind the scenes with corporate interests and leading greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting Annex 1 statesto sanction / advance REDD, perhaps our situation today would be far different. But of course, this is not why the non-profit industrial complex exists. Instead, these NGOs and their foot soldiers, financed by the oligarchs, attacked the Ecuadorian Government, framing the failure as Correa’s alone, strategically pardoning the leading GHG-obstructionist states from their failed obligation and reparations while simultaneously ignoring the nature of the capitalist beast. [Opinion: Yasuní: Entre el eco-fundamentalismo y el Socialismo del Buen Vivir]

“It is becoming more apparent every day that there is no radical Left in this period, just a bunch of middle class intellectuals, politicians, preachers, businesspeople, and academics, many of whom are seeking or receiving government jobs, grants, contracts, or elevation to high political office from the very corporations or the capitalist state they claim to be fighting. They just want us to replace one group of masters for another, while the system itself keeps humming along.” Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin

And while NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance/Foundation, Avaaz (partner of Rockefellers Pro-REDD Climate Group), Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, etc. assist in the corporate capture of our commons, consider this:

“The work of environmental scientists supporting the UN’s GEP [green economy program] will give scientific authority to the project, but the important decisions will have already been made…. The project is a deepening commitment to neoliberal free markets…. Meanwhile, scientific institutions, environmental NGOs and government agencies are working to build institutional infrastructure to give scientific authority to the UN’s GEP.… The historical critique of capitalism presented by John Bellamy Foster (2002) and others describes that the appropriation of the commons is an integral aspect of capitalism. Capitalism is always looking for new means of producing profit from activities that were otherwise not managed through commodity relationships.” Dr. Joanna Boehnert, Re-imaging the Commons as “The Green Economy”

The second item of significance is the State of Bolivia’s “Proposal for the Development of the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests,” which was presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)in August of 2012. Although in appearances many organizations have voiced opposition to REDD and carbon markets, it appears that absolutely none have seized the opportunity to campaign on the alternative proposal presented by the State of Bolivia.

Consider this: As the Bolivia delegation stood alone (and continues to stand alone) on the world stage opposing carbon markets (which include REDD) while also developing and presenting alternatives, behind the marketing and branding veneer of the non-profit industrial complex, some realities are crystal clear. “In September 2011, the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference took place in Bonn, Germany. About 1,500 people from 70 countries turned up. On the third day of the meeting, a remarkable thing happened. Not a single participant at the conference put up their hand to disagree with a declaration which promotes REDD as a carbon trading mechanism.”

“No one raised their hand to object to a single word in the declaration text. In an email distributing the document, Dodd states that, ‘The Declaration was accepted unanimously by the 1500 NGOs and other stakeholders present.'” Manufacturing Consent on Carbon Trading, Chris Lang

The declaration ended with “the call for governments to support forest certification. The ‘gold standard’ of forest certification is the Forest Stewardship Council. Yet FSC has certified vast areas of monoculture tree plantations. FSC also certifies industrial logging in primary forests. But none of the 1,500 people in the meeting objected to any of this – or any of the other statements in the more than 9,000-word declaration.” [Source]

So-called “progressive” media (also financed by and dependent upon foundation funding) apparently have no interest in alternatives to carbon markets either. Bolivia continued to fight for Mother Earth during the 18th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Doha, Qatar. The Bolivian delegation reaffirmed its rejection of the use and expansion of the carbon market as a tool to reduce emissions that cause climate change in the world and presented a proposal with alternative tools in carbon markets. But what use are such alternative tools in the growth of global capitalism? In the mind of the Western world, this is akin to a child handing a bow and arrow to a warrior who is accustomed to using an Uzi, when in fact the “civilized” is now dependent upon the “savage” for help in solving the problem of Earthly destruction. But it appears we would rather die a thousand deaths than actually take this under consideration. As the world hangs in the balance, there is no more time left for the Western world to hold such ideologies. Yet, this will more than likely be the mindset that the West, as a collective, takes to the grave – taking all of the world with it.

Like Bolivia’s alternative proposal for carbon markets, the essential People’s Agreement (April 2010, Cochabamba), has been also been vigilantly marginalized and buried by the non-profit industrial complex. There has been almost zero support for any of these ground-breaking proposals/declarations. When climate justice groups on an international climate justice listserv were asked openly if there were flaws in these alternative proposals, the response was silence. Rather, the environmental “movement,” dominated by the privileged left while residing in the leading GHG-obstructionist NATO states, prefers to condemn leaders of ALBA states as phony “extractivists.”

“I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.” Teju Cole

Imperialism and enslavement is a narrative as old as time. The transformation of Western influence over sovereign states of the world can be traced back to what transpired after the overthrow of French colonizers by Haitian slaves in 1804.

As a result of their audacious desire to be free – a basic human right co-opted mainly by global white male supremacy – the Haitian slaves traded physical oppression, which had been the norm to that juncture, for an economic domination that they were unable to resist. Since then, this has been the blueprint imposed by the West over all the nation states that have attempted to overthrow physical domination.The forms of subjugation have changed over these past 200 years, yet subjugation remains.

Reddy to Manipulate

Consider the following:

In the February 21, 2013 article (Growing Coalition Joins Indigenous Leaders in Houston) featured on the Pachamama Alliance website, the following information is reported, demonstrating the close relationship between Pachamama Alliance and The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE). [8]

… [O]ther citizen groups also turned out and spoke up to show their solidarity and support Vargas and Narcisa Mashienta, a Shuar leader and coordinator of Fundación Pachamama’s Jungle Mamas program who also traveled to Houston.

The leaders brought with them an open letter from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador’s Amazon (CONFENIAE), which called for solidarity from the national and international community to resist oil exploitation in Ecuador’s remaining Amazon rainforest, among the most biodiverse in the world….

The petition has also garnered positive media coverage in Ecuador and internationally, ensuring that the issue of oil exploitation in what’s left of Ecuador’s Amazon would become part of the popular discourse and debate around Ecuador’s recent presidential election. (That election was held on February 17th and Rafael Correa was re-elected for a third term as President.)

Fundación Pachamama, Amazon Watch, and other allied NGOs have joined forces with Avaaz.org …. [Further Reading: AVAAZ: IMPERIALIST PIMPS OF MILITARISM, PROTECTORS OF THE OLIGARCHY, TRUSTED FACILITATORS OF WAR]

It is clear and reasonable that the Indigenous populations would oppose the drilling of oil on their ancestral land and that they have every right to defend it. Yet, there is another grave threat to the forests and their ancestral lands. And this very real threat is REDD. Pachamama Foundation is certainly “lending a hand” in ensuring that the devastating impacts of drilling oil are understood in the Indigenous populations, yet when it comes to REDD, the market incentive is discussed as though it can somehow be “made to behave” and evolve into an ethical, non-threatening market mechanism. This is a clear example of how foundation dollars and Western interests come into play. Drilling for oil is an obvious threat to forests. However, REDD, although equally threatening, does not “look” like oil. Workers don’t show up in coveralls, work boots and dirty rigs. REDD arrives in a shiny new Land Rover, full of designer suits, new Italian shoes and shiny white faces. Like CO2, the commodification of the forests is invisible.

Video (Running time: 9:26). Chief Aritana Yawalapiti explains how his people and his region are aggressively targeted by NGOs (ISA) to agree on REDD+ projects. [Published August 22, 2010 by documentary filmmaker Rebecca Sommer.]

On August 3, 2009, CONFENIAE (the logo and letterhead list of members includes organizations of the Shuar, Kichwa, Achuar, Waorani, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Zapara, Shiwiar and Andoa Peoples) demonstrated that they were vehemently opposed to REDD:

 “We reject the negotiations on our forests, such as REDD projects, because they try to take away our freedom to manage our resources and also because they are not a real solution to the climate change problem, on the contrary, they only make it worse.

“We inform COICA, of which we are a part, that, as Ecuadorian Amazonian representatives with the right to voice and vote, that no person, entity, NGO, etc., is authorized to speak on our behalf in favor or against any issue without our knowledge and participation.”

Yet, in a paper titled “Making REDD a Success – Readiness and Beyond” by Woods Hole Research Center published about a year later (December 2009), both CONFENIAE and COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (Amazon region) are now identified as REDD partners with Pachamama Foundation, the World Bank, WWF, etc. on page 5. The Woods Hole Research Center’s work on REDD is financed by USAID, The World Bank, Goldman Sachs, WWF and many others (page 2).

[“The WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Woods Hole Research Center, CIFOR, Wildlife Conservation Society and other ‘conservationist’ NGOs are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from REDD+.” Source]

“In recognition of the vital role of Indigenous Peoples in the REDD process, the Forum, in collaboration with COICA and the national Indigenous network in each country, convened three national-level workshops on REDD for Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Partners in these workshops include EDF, IPAM and the Pachamama Foundation.” — “Making REDD a Success – Readiness and Beyond” by Woods Hole Research Center [Source]

The “forum” referred to in the above quote is the Forum on Readiness for REDD. EDF refers to Environmental Defence Fund USA and IPAM refers to the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (Brazil).

Demonstrating further disrespect for the State of Bolivia, which has been ardently opposed to REDD and carbon markets, “The Forum” conducted REDD workshops with Indigenous communities in Bolivia via FAN-Bolívia (Fundacion Amigos de la Natureza) [Funders and Donors] with REDD partner CIDOB (The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia). [“… various social sectors have been infiltrated by USAID, which openly funded CIDOB, by the NED, and by the army of NGOs, which unfortunately has become another mechanism for hegemony to evade responsibilities.” Source]

[CONAIE was formed out of the union of two already existing organizations, ECUARUNARI and CONFENIAIE. ECUARUNARI, the regional organization of the Sierra that has been functioning for over 20 years, and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), formed in 1980, created that same year the National Coordinating Council of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONACNIE).]

As mentioned prior, documents demonstrate that Pachamama Foundation has also partnered with USAID-WCS.

Attorney and writer, Eva Golinger(winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico, 2009), speaking in reference to USAID/NED:

“This type of funding/aid/advice is very complex and effective because it enables US agencies to infiltrate groups of all spectrums. I am not alleging all of these groups and their members are US agents or receive US funding, but the evidence is quite clear that certain factions within them have close relations w/ US agencies and receive their funding. And, they share a common agenda, against President Rafael Correa. That is undeniable.

“I have never said all of CONAIE or Pachakutik receives funding from US agencies, I have always said sectors, individuals and elements connected to them do receive such funding and training.

“Anyone who dismisses receiving funding or training from NED/USAID and related agencies as having no impact on politics has no understanding of the complex workings of these US agencies. They attempt to recruit, infiltrate and capture influential groups, parties and people who then promote US agenda. This is fact. Unfortunately, they are quite successful.”

The emphasis on local participation, encouraged and even mandated by the foundations and financiers, laid the pivotal groundwork for Indigenous participation regarding REDD. In the 2007 report led by Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz, for the Gates foundation (“Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South”), this is referred to as “cultivating the fringe”: “If possible, fund the fringe, but if this is perceived as too high a risk then invite them to the table by including them in conferences and convenings.” [Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South: A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation | Source]

It is difficult to place any blame on the Indigenous communities/groups who have entered (or been coerced) into REDD partnerships. The manipulation by the elite foot soldiers within the complex is as smooth as fresh-churned butter. It is important to note that although many Indigenous Peoples are traditional, there are also those “selected” by the World Bank et al that have been completely assimilated by the Western culture and do fully understand that REDD, along with every organization and institution advancing/implementing it, is compromised or fraudulent, or both.

On December 14, 2013, it was reported that “At odds with Ecuador, USAID moves to leave. USAID expects to close its doors in Ecuador by September 2014 due to an increasingly acrimonious relationship with President Rafael Correa. This comes six months after it was kicked out of Bolivia.” The article quoted Steve Striffler, a professor of Latin American studies at the University of New Orleans who studies Ecuador, who stated “[T]hese countries are able to carve out independence from the US in a way they weren’t in the past. The idea they would have kicked out USAID 10 or 15 years ago is unimaginable…. In some ways these actions, and the [USAID decision] can be put in there too, are intended to say that we are an independent sovereign nation…. In the perspective of many in Latin America, and with good reason, USAID is seen as an agent of US imperialism.”

 

 

End Notes:

[1] “Since 2008, we are a member of Accra Caucus, a coalition of civil society in countries with tropical forests, seeking recognition and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their lands, territories and resources, and traditional uses of forest policies in fighting climate change.” [Source]

[2] “The UN-REDD Programme was launched in September 2008 to prepare and implement national REDD+ strategies in developing countries and was formed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UN-REDD currently has 29 partner countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, of which 13 are receiving support for national programme activities, worth US$55.4 million.” [Source, June, 2011]

[3] The Pachamama Foundation is listed as an “actor” on the UN REDD Desk website, which states: “The Pachamama Foundation was created in 1997 in Ecuador as the sister organization of the Pachamama Alliance that was itself born in Ecuador following the visit of a group of tourists from California, USA, to the Achuar territory, home of an indigenous group that maintains its traditional lifestyle within the tropical rainforest in a remote region of the Ecuadorian Amazon.” [Source: http://theredddesk.org/countries/actors/pachamama-foundation]

[4] “Furthermore, through its ongoing REDD project, which got under way in May 2009, RFN and its local partners have sought to influence the REDD process in the DRC by disseminating information at the grassroots level on the opportunities and challenges of REDD – to local communities, small NGOs, and members of government and research institutions. RFN has also strengthened the capacity of a large number of Congolese civil society organisations to influence the REDD agenda of the DRC, both at the national and at the international level and has, alongside its partners, succeeded in securing civil society participation in the DRC’s National Steering Committee for REDD.” [Source] “There are many more layers that are pushing for legitimizing and expanding REDD+. For example, key funders that are promoting REDD+ are the Climate and Land Use Alliance (Ford Foundation, Packard Foundation, Climate Works, Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation), the Clinton Foundation, the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, Germany), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to name a few.” [Source: Some Key REDD+ Players]

[5] “This multi-donor trust fund states that “the final phase of REDD+ involves developed countries paying developing countries carbon offsets for their standing forests,” making it clear that they see REDD+ as a carbon trading scheme. [Source: June 2011]

[6] The following text appears March 8, 2010 in an article titled Getting REDDy to Cross the Finish Line, Two Decades in the Making: “It’s hard to imagine with all the progress REDD has achieved, that it all started less than 20 years ago with the Rio Summit in ’92, when the makings of a global sustainability architecture in the form of a climate treaty began to take shape. But a forestry treaty had yet to happen …. With over 20 years of experience in the forestry sector, Michael Northrup, Program Director of Sustainable Development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was invited by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to give a Distinguished Lecture, ‘After Copenhagen: Implications for U.S. Climate, Energy, and Forest Policy’ at the high brow, exclusive Cosmos Club. Northrup casually described to the 30 or so people in the room where we are with REDD today and how we got here. Plus he played the ‘name game’ as he knew most of the people in the room.”

[7] “Rich Nations Agree to Fund Forest Protection for Climate: Promises turn into ‘definite’ dollars. REDD+ finance, the money needed to set up and implement a system that pays countries to leave forests standing, has followed a long road since the 2007 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where nations pledged to take meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation. A 2008 study found it would cost between $17.2 billion and $28 billion per year to cut the global rate of deforestation in half. According to a recent policy brief from the Overseas Development Institute, $2.72 billion has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007 through five multilateral funds and two bilateral funds, more than half of it to Indonesia and Brazil. About one-tenth of the pledges have been disbursed to projects on the ground.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=rich-nations-agree-to-fund-forest-protection-for-climate&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20131120

[8] The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Spanish: La Confederación de las Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana) or CONFENIAE is the regional organization of indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon or Oriente region. Nine indigenous peoples present in the region – Quichua, Shuar, Achuar, Huaorani, Siona, Secoya, Shiwiar, Záparo and Cofán – are represented politicalily by the Confederation. CONFENIAE is one of three major regional groupings that constitute the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). It is also part of the Amazon Basin indigenous organization, COICA. [Source: Wikipedia]

 

For All Those Who Were Indian In A Former Life

Manataka American Indian Council

by Andrea Smith

The New Age movement has sparked a new interest in Native American traditional spirituality among white women who claim to be feminists. Indian spirituality, with its respect for nature and the interconnectedness of all things, is often presented as the panacea for all individual and global problems. Not surprisingly, many white “feminists” see the opportunity to make a great profit from this new craze. They sell sweat lodges or sacred pipe ceremonies, which promise to bring individual and global healing. Or they sell books and records that supposedly describe Indian traditional practices so that you too, can be Indian.

On the surface, it may appear that this new craze is based on a respect for Indian spirituality. In fact, however, the New Age movement is part of a very old story of white racism and genocide against the Indian people. The “Indian” ways that the white, New Age “feminists” are practicing have little grounding in reality.

True spiritual leaders do not make a profit from their teachings, whether it’s through selling books, workshops, sweat lodges, or otherwise. Spiritual leaders teach the people because it is their responsibility to pass what they have learned from their elders to the youngest generations. They do not charge for their services.

Furthermore, the idea that an Indian medicine woman would instruct a white woman to preach the “true path” of Indian spirituality sounds more reminiscent of evangelical Christianity than traditional Indian spirituality. Indian religions are community-based, not proselytizing religions. For this reason, there is not ONE Indian religion, as many New Agers would have you believe. Indian spiritual practices reflect the needs of a particular community. Indians do not generally believe that their way is “the” way, and consequently, they have no desire to tell outsiders about their practices. Also, considering how many Indians there are who do not  know the traditions, why would a medicine woman spend so much time teaching a white woman? A medicine woman would be more likely to advise a white woman to look into her OWN culture and find what is liberating in it.

However, some white women seem determined NOT to look into their own cultures for sources of strength. This is puzzling, since pre-Christian European cultures are also earth-based and contain many of the same elements that white women are ostensibly looking for in Native American cultures. This phenomenon leads me to suspect that there is a more insidious motive for latching onto Indian spirituality.

When white “feminists” see how white people have historically oppressed others and how they are coming very close to destroying the earth, they often want to disassociate themselves from their whiteness. They do this by opting to “become Indian.” In this way, they can escape responsibility and accountability for white racism.

Of course, white “feminists” want to become only partly Indian. They do not want to be part of our struggles for survival against genocide, and they do not want to fight for treaty rights or an end to substance abuse or sterilization abuse. They do not want to do anything that would tarnish their romanticized notions of what it means to be an Indian.

Moreover, they want to become Indian without holding themselves accountable to Indian communities. If they did they would have to listen to Indians telling them to stop carrying around sacred pipes, stop doing their own sweat lodges and stop appropriating our spiritual practices. Rather, these New Agers see Indians as romanticized gurus who exist only to meet their consumerist needs. Consequently, they do not understand our struggles for survival and thus they can have no genuine understanding of Indian spiritual practices.

While New Agers may think that they are escaping white racism by becoming “Indian,” they are in fact continuing the same genocidal practices of their forebears. The one thing that has maintained the survival of Indian people through 500 years of colonialism has been the spiritual bonds that keep us together. When the colonizers saw the strength of our spirituality, they tried to destroy Indian religion by making them illegal. They forced Indian children into white missionary schools and cut their tongues if they spoke their Native languages.

Sundances were made illegal, and Indian participation in the Ghost Dance precipitated the Wounded Knee massacre. The colonizers recognized that it was our spirituality that maintained our spirit of resistance and sense of community. Even today, Indians do not have religious freedom. In a recent ruling the Supreme Court has determined that American Indians do not have the right to sue under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. They have also determined that if Indian religious freedom conflicts with any “compelling” United States interest, the government always supersedes Indian peoples’ freedom of religion.

Many white New Agers continue this practice of destroying Indian spirituality. They trivialize Native American practices so that these practices lose their spiritual force, and they have the white privilege and power to make themselves heard at the expense of Native Americans. Our voices are silenced, and consequently the younger generation of Indians who are trying to find their way back to the Old Ways becomes hopelessly lost in this morass of consumerist spirituality.

These practices also promote the subordination of Indian women to white women. We are told that we are greedy if we do not choose to share our spirituality. Apparently, it is our burden to service white women’s needs rather than to spend time organizing within our own communities. Their perceived need for warm and fuzzy mysticism takes precedence over our need to survive.

The New Age movement completely trivializes the oppression we as Indian women face: Indian women are suddenly no longer the women who are forcibly sterilized and tested with unsafe drugs such as Depo Provera; we are no longer the women who have a life expectancy of 47 years; and we are no longer the women who generally live below the poverty level and face a 75 percent unemployment rate. No, we’re too busy being cool and spiritual.

This trivialization of our oppression is compounded by the fact that nowadays anyone can be Indian if s/he wants to. All that is required is that one be Indian in a former life, or take part in a sweat lodge, or be monitored by a “medicine woman,” or read a how-to book.

Since, according to this theory, anyone can now be “Indian,” then the term Indians no longer refers specifically to those people who have survived five hundred years of colonization and genocide. This furthers the goals of white supremacists to abrogate treaty rights and to take away what little we have left. When everyone becomes “Indian,” then it is easy to lose sight of the specificity of oppression faced by those who are REALLY Indian in THIS life. It is no wonder we have such a difficult time finding non-Indians to support our struggles when the New Age movement has completely disguised our oppression.

The most disturbing aspect about these racist practices is that they are promoted in the name of feminism. Sometimes it seems that I can’t open a feminist periodical without seeing ads promoting white “feminist” practices with little medicine wheel designs. I can’t seem to go to a feminist conference without the woman who begins the conference with a ceremony being the only Indian presenter. Participants then feel so “spiritual” after this opening that they fail to notice the absence of Indian women in the rest of the conference or Native American issues in the discussions. And I certainly can’t go to a feminist bookstore without seeing books by Lynn Andrews and other people who exploit Indian spirituality all over the place. It seems that, while feminism is supposed to signify the empowerment of all women, it obviously does not include Indian women.

If white feminists are going to act in solidarity with their Indian sisters, they must take a stand against Indian spiritual abuse. Feminist book and record stores should stop selling these products, and feminist periodicals should stop advertising these products. Women who call themselves feminists should denounce exploitative practices wherever they see them.

Many have claimed that Indians are not respecting “freedom of speech” when they demand that whites stop promoting and selling books that exploit Indian spirituality. But promotion of this material is destroying freedom of speech for Native Americans by ensuring that our voices will never be heard. Feminists have already made choices about what they will promote (I haven’t seen many books by right-wing, fundamentalist women sold in feminist bookstores, since feminists recognize that these books are oppressive to women.) The issue is not censorship; the issue is racism. Feminists must make a choice either to respect Indian political and spiritual autonomy, or to promote materials that are fundamentally racist under the guise of “freedom of speech.”

Respecting the integrity of Native people and their spirituality does not mean that there can never be cross-cultural sharing. However, such a sharing should take place in a way that is respectful to Indian people.

The way to be respectful is for non-Indians to become involved in our political struggles and to develop an on-going relation with Indian COMMUNITIES based on trust and mutual respect. When this happens, Indian  people may invite a non-Indian to take part in a ceremony, but it will be on Indian terms.

I hesitate to say this much about cross-cultural sharing however, because many white people take this to mean that they can join in our struggles solely for the purpose of being invited to ceremonies. If this does not occur, they feel that Indians have somehow unfairly withheld spiritual teachings from them. We are expected to pay the price in spiritual exploitation in order to gain allies in our political struggles.

When non-Indians say they will help us, but only on their terms, that is not help – that is blackmail. We are not obligated to teach anyone about our spirituality. It is our choice if we want to share with people who we think will be respectful. It is white people who owe it to us to fight for our survival, since they are living on the land for which our people were murdered.

It is also important for non-Indians to build relationships with Indian communities, rather than with specific individuals. Many non-Indians express their confusion about knowing who is and who is not a legitimate spiritual teacher. The only way for non-Indians to know who legitimate teachers are is to develop ongoing relationships with Indian COMMUNITIES. When they know the community, they will learn who the community respects as its spiritual leaders. This is a process that takes time.

Unfortunately, many white feminists do not want to take this time in their quest for instant spirituality. Profit-making often gets in the way of true sisterhood. However, white feminists should know that as long as they take part in Indian spiritual abuse, either by being consumers of it or by refusing to take a stand on it, Indian women will consider white “feminists” to be nothing more than agents in the genocide of their people.

OUR SPIRITUALITY IS NOT FOR SALE!

 

Editor’s Note:  The article above first appeared in the “Cultural Survival Quarterly”, Winter 1994 and was written by Andrea Smith, who is a member of “Women Of All Red Nations” in Chicago, and she is the Chairperson for Women of Color for the “National Coalition Against Sexual Assault”.  While branded by right-wing Catholics as controversial, pro-gay, pro-abortion and a radical feminist, her opinions bear a strong resemblance to truth that some people find offensive.  We do not.

 

Anthropocene Boosters and the Attack on Wilderness Conservation

Independent Science News

May 12, 2015

by George Wuerthner

 

A growing debate has serious consequences for our collective relationship to Nature. Beginning perhaps twenty years ago, a number of academics in disciplines such as history, anthropology, and geography, began to question whether there was any tangible wilderness or wild lands left on Earth. These academics, and others, have argued that humans have so completely modified the Earth, we should give up on the notion that there is anyplace wild and instead recognize that we have already domesticated, in one fashion or another, the entire planet for human benefit.

These individuals and groups are identified under an umbrella of different labels, including “Neo Greens” Pragmatic Environmentalists” “New Conservationists” “Green Postmodernism” and Neo-environmentalists” but the most inclusive label to date is “Anthropocene Boosters” so that is the term I will use in this essay.

The basic premise of their argument is that humans have lived everywhere except Antarctica and that it is absurd to suggest that Nature exists independent of human influences. Wilderness was, just like everything else on Earth, a human cultural construct—that does not exist outside of the human mind (1). With typical human hubris, Anthropocene Boosters suggest we need a new name for our geological age that recognizes the human achievement instead of the outmoded Holocene.

Great Egret (Casmerodius albus)

Not only do these critics argue that humans now influence Nature to the point there is no such things as an independent “Nature”, but we have a right and obligation to manage the Earth as if it were a giant garden waiting for human exploitation (2). Of course, there are many others, from politicians to religious leaders to industry leaders, who hold the same perspective, but what is different about most Anthropocene Boosters is that they suggest they are promoting ideas that ultimately will serve humans and nature better.

From this beginning, numerous other critiques of wilderness and wildness have added to the chorus. Eventually these ideas found a responsive home in some of the largest corporate conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy as well as some think tanks like the Breakthrough Institute  (3), Long Now Foundation (4), The Reason Foundation (5), and others.

The Anthropocene Boosters make a number of assertions.
1.    Pristine Wilderness never existed, or if it did, is now gone. Making wilderness protection the primary goal of conservation is a failed strategy.
2.    The idea that Nature is fragile an exaggeration. Nature is resilient.
3.    Conservation must serve human needs and aspirations, and do so by promoting growth and development.
4.    Managing for “ecosystem services”, not biodiversity protection, should be the primary goal of conservation.
5.    Conservation efforts should be focused on human modified or “working landscapes” not creating new strictly protected areas like national parks, wilderness reserves and the like. Wildlands protection is passe.
6.    Corporations are key to conservation efforts, so conservationists should partner with corporate interests rather than criticize capitalism or industry.
7.    In order to garner support for these positions, conservation strategies like creation of national parks and other reserves are attacked as “elitism” or “cultural imperialism” or “colonialism.” (6)

Many holding these viewpoints seem to relish the idea that humans are finally “masters of the Earth”. They celebrate technology and the “path of progress” and believe it will lead to a new promised land where Nature is increasingly bent to human desires, while human poverty is alleviated. For instance, Stewart Brand, of Whole Earth Catalog fame, embraces the idea of altering evolution with genetic modifications of species by “tweaking” gene pools. (7)

These trends and philosophical ideas are alarming to some of us who work in conservation. The implications of these goals and observations imply no limits upon consumption that is destroying the planet’s ecosystems and contributing to a massive Sixth Extinction of species. Whether intentional or not, these ideas justify our current rapacious approach that celebrates economic and development growth.

These ideas represent the techno-optimism of a glorious future, where biotech, geoengineering, nuclear power, among other “solutions” to current environmental problems save us from ourselves.

Many Anthropocene Boosters believe expansion of economic opportunities is the only way to bring much of the world’s population out of poverty. This is a happy coincidence for global industry and developers because they now have otherwise liberal progressive voices leading the charge for greater domestication of the Earth. But whether the ultimate goals are humane or not, these proposals appear to dismiss any need for limits on human population growth, consumption, and manipulation of the planet.

Many of those advocating the Anthropocene Booster world view either implicitly or explicitly see the Earth as a giant garden that we must “steward” (original root from “keeper of the sty” or caretaker of domestic livestock) the land. In other words, we must domesticate the planet to serve human ends.

But the idea of commodifying Nature for economic and population growth is morally bankrupt. It seeks only to legitimize human manipulations and exploitation and ultimately is a threat to even human survival.

Our book, Keeping the Wild—Against the Domestication of the Earth, explains why this is so. It advocates a smaller human footprint where wild Nature thrives and humans manage ourselves rather than attempt to manage the planet.

However let us take these assertions one by one.

Pristine wilderness
First is the Anthropocene Booster’s assertion that “pristine” wilderness never existed, and even if it did, wilderness is now gone. Boosters never define what exactly they mean by wilderness, but their use of “pristine” suggests that they define a wilderness as a place that no human has ever touched or trod (8).

That sense of total human absence is not how wilderness advocates define a wild place. Rather, the concept of a wilderness has much more to do with the degree of human influence. Because humans have lived in all landscapes except Antarctica does not mean the human influence is uniformly distributed. Wilderness is viewed as places largely influenced by natural forces, rather than dominated by human manipulation and presence. Downtown Los Angeles is without a doubt a human-influenced landscape, but a place like Alaska’s Arctic Wildlife Refuge is certainly not significantly manipulated or controlled by humans. Though certainly low numbers of humans have hunted, camped, and otherwise occupied small portions of the refuge for centuries, the degree of human presence and modification is small. The Alaska Refuge lands are, most wilderness advocates would argue, self-willed.  By such a definition, there are many parts of the world that are to one degree or another largely “self-willed”.

Nature is resilient
Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy’s Chief Scientist, is one of the more outspoken proponents of the idea that Nature is not fragile, but resilient.  Kareiva says “In many circumstances, the demise of formerly abundant species can be inconsequential to ecosystem function.” He cites as an example the loss of the passenger pigeon, once so abundant that its flocks darkened the sky, whose demise, according to Kareiva, had “no catastrophic or even measurable effects.”

Stewart Brand also sees no problem with extinction. Brand recently wrote “The frightening extinction statistics that we hear are largely an island story, and largely a story of the past, because most island species that were especially vulnerable to extinction are already gone.” (10)

Indeed Brand almost celebrates the threats to global species because he suggests that it will increase evolution, including biodiversity in the long run.

Such a cavalier attitude towards the demise of species, and the normalizing of species declines, undermines the efforts of many conservation organizations to preclude these human-caused extinctions.

Many biologists disagree with Brand and the authors he references. They believe we are on the verge of a Sixth Mass Extinction. There have been other extinctions, but this is a preventable mass extinction. We know it is occurring and the cause of this extinction spiral is human-domination of the Earth and its resources (11).

There is something callous and morally bankrupt in asserting that it is OK for humans to knowingly drive species to extinction.  There seems to be no expression of loss or grief that we are now pushing many species towards extinction. Humans have survived the Black Plague, the Holocaust, and many other losses over the centuries, but one doesn’t celebrate these losses.

Conservation must serve human needs
Another pillar of the Anthropocene Boosters platform is that conservation’s main purpose must be to enhance and provide for human needs and desires. Of course, one consequence of conservation is that protected landscapes nearly always provide for human needs—contributing clean water, biodiversity conservation (if you think that is important), moderation of climate change, to name a few.

However, the main rationale for conservation should surely be much broader and inclusive. Despite the fact that most conservation efforts do have human utilitarian value, the ultimate measurement of value ought to be how well conservation serves the needs of the other species we share the planet with.

The problem with Anthropocene Boosters promotion of growth and development is that most species losses are due to habitat losses. Without reigning in population and development, plants and animals face a grim future with less and less habitat, not to mention changes in their habitat that makes survival difficult if not impossible.

Even when species do not go extinct, the diminishment of their ecological effects can also lead to biological impoverishment, for instance, when top predators are eliminated from ecosystems.

Conservation should focus on “working landscapes” not creation of more parks and wilderness
The term “working landscapes” was invented by the timber industry to put a positive spin on their rapacious operations. Americans, in particular, look favorably upon the “work ethic” and industry coined the phrase to capitalize on that affirmative cultural perspective. Working landscapes are typically lands exploited for economic development including logging, livestock grazing, and farming.

While almost no conservationists would deny that there is vast room for improvement in these exploited landscapes, the general scientific consensus is that parks, wilderness reserves and other lands where human exploitation is restricted provide greater protection of ecosystems and biodiversity.

For this reason, many scientists, including such eminent biologists as Harvard biologist, E.O. Wilson, are calling for protecting half of the Earth’s terrestrial landscapes as parks and other reserves.

Conservationists should stop criticising corporations
Some Anthropocene Boosters believe conservationists should stop criticizing corporations and work with them to implement more environmentally friendly programs and operations.

Almost no conservationist would argue that corporate entities should not adopt less destructive practices. However, it is overdevelopment that is the ultimate threat to all life, including our own. Implementing so called “sustainable” practices may slow the degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems and species decline, but most such proposals only create  “lesser unsustainable” operations.

At a fundamental level, the promise of endless growth on a finite planet is a dead end street, and it is important for conservationists to continuously harp upon that message. To halt criticisms of corporations invites greenwashing, and precludes any effective analysis of the ultimate problems of development and growth.

National parks and reserves are a form of cultural imperialism
Many Anthropocene Boosters, in order to validate their particular view of the world, go beyond merely criticizing environmental and conservation strategies. They seek to delegitimize parks and other wild lands protection efforts by branding them with pejorative terms like “cultural imperialisms”, “colonialism” and other words that vilify protected lands.

The creation of parks and protected areas began with Yellowstone National Park in 1872  (or arguably Yosemite, which was a state park earlier). The general Anthropocene Boosters theme is that this model has been “exported” and emulated around the world and that Western nations are forcing parks upon the poor at the expense of their economic future.

Notwithstanding that nearly all cultures have some concept of sacred lands or places that are off limits to normal exploitation, to denigrate the idea of parks and wildlands reserves as “Imperialism” because it originated in the United States is crass. It is no different than trying to scorn democracy as Greek imperialism because many countries now aspire to adopt democratic institutions. Western countries also “export” other ideas, like human rights, racial equality and other values, and few question whether these ideas represent “imperialism.”

Of course, one of the reasons protected areas are so widely adopted is because they ultimately are better at protecting ecosystems and wildlife than other less protective methods.

But it is also true that strictly protected areas have not stemmed the loss of species and habitat, though in many cases, they have slowed these losses. When parks and other reserves fail to safeguard the lands they are set aside to protect, it is typically due to a host of recognized issues that conservation biologists frequently cite, including small size, lack of connecting corridors, lack of enforcement, and underfunding.

To criticize parks for this is analogous to arguing we should eliminate public schools because underfunding, lack of adequate staffing, and other well publicized problems often result in less than desirable educational outcomes. Just as the problem is not with the basic premise of public education, nor are the well-publicized difficulties for parks a reason to jettison them as a foundation for conservation strategies.

Another criticism is that strictly-protected parks and other reserves harm local economic and sometimes subsistence activities. In reality that is what parks and other reserves are designed to do. The reason we create strictly protected areas is that on-going resource exploitation does harm wildlife and ecosystems or we would not need parks or other reserves in the first place.

While park creation may occasionally disrupt local use of resources, we regularly condone or at least accept the disruption and losses associated with much more damaging developments. The Three Gorges Dam in China displaced millions of people. Similar development around the world has displaced and impinged upon indigenous peoples everywhere. Indeed, in the absence of protected areas, many landscapes are ravaged by logging, ranching, oil and gas, mining and other resource developers, often to the ultimate detriment of local peoples and of course the ecosystems they depend upon. In the interest of fairness, however, people severely impacted should be compensated in some way.

Nevertheless it should also be recognized that the benefits of parks and other wildlands reserves are nearly always perpetual, while logging the forest, killing off wildlife, and other alternatives are usually less permanent sources of economic viability.

Summary
The Wild does have economic and other benefits for human well-being. However, the ultimate rationale for “Keeping the Wild” is the realization there are intangible and intrinsic value to protecting Nature. Keeping the Wild is about self-restraint and self-discipline. By setting aside parks and other reserves, we, as a society and a species, are making a statement that we recognize that we have a moral obligation to protect other lifeforms. And while we may have the capability to influence the planet and its biosphere, we lack the wisdom to do so in a manner that does not harm.

Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of the Earth is a new book edited by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler. In bringing together essays in one volume, we seek to examine and challenge the assumptions and epistemology underlying the Anthropocene Booster’s world view. We seek to offer another way forward that seeks to preserve wildness, wildlands, and Nature and ultimately a co-existence that emphasizes humility and gratitude towards this planet—our only home.

List of people, corporate partners, key words, strategies, and concepts.

(1) Cronon, William The Trouble with Wilderness in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature (1995)
(2) Marris, Emma (2011). Rambunctious Garden. Bloomsbury NY.
(3) Breakthrough Institute
(4) The Long Now Foundation
(5) Ronald Bailey 2011 The Myth of Pristine Nature.
(6) Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier and Robert Lalasz  Conservation in the Anthropocene.
(7) Steward (Brand 2015) Rethinking Extinction.
(8) Interview with Emma Marris.
(9) Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier and Robert Lalasz  Conservation in the Anthropocene.
(10) Stewart Brand (2015) Rethinking Extinction.
(11) Brian Miller, Michael Soulé, and John Terborgh, The “New Conservation’s” Surrender to Development.

 

[George Wuerthner is Ecological Projects Director of the Foundation for Deep Ecology]

The Dying Planet Index: Life, Death and Man’s Domination of Nature

The White Horse Press

Environmental Values 24 no.1: 1-7, 2015

by Clive Spash

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Excerpt:

During my time working in Australia for the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) I visited a nondescript building on the rural work site outside Canberra. This restricted access building held the Australian National Wildlife Collection. What the building in fact held was the preserved dead bodies of species, some of which were extinct. The curator was especially pleased at having collected rare specimens. He told of finding one such for sale in a rural market and how he proceeded to order more from the vendor so other collections around the world could have a specimen as well. That this egalitarian act on behalf of collectors would have wiped out the last remnant of a species did not seem to have crossed his mind. Looking at the bottles of rare pickled amphibians and drawers of compressed and preserved bodies of birds was for me a bizarre experience. In this mortician’s chamber the careful cataloguing of decline was ongoing but with some kind of abstraction from the reality of it all. There was nothing wild here and certainly no life. The Australian National Dead Animal Collection would certainly have been a more accurate and truthful description.There was nothing wild here and certainly no life. The Australian National Dead Animal Collection would certainly have been a more accurate and truthful description.

I was reminded of this incident by publication of the Living Planet Index (LPI) measuring the abundance of more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. In the most recent report this had decline by 52 per cent since 1970; that is, ‘in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half’ (WWF 2014: 4). The statistical decline of species on Earth is another reminder of how humanity watches, observes and statistically enumerates the ongoing destruction. Like the CSIRO collection, the LPI is not a measure of life but rather the death toll relating to human appropriation of resources for human ends. Presenting death as life seems to fit well with the optimistic messages in the rest of the WWF report, which finds an organisation that was once concerned with wildlife now stating ‘we love cities’ because urbanisation is becoming the dominant form of human lifestyle. Meanwhile they treat Nature as capital that is valued for supporting production to provide new greener consumption possibilities and financial rewards. This is the economic discourse now common amongst the environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs). The contradictions of supporting extractivist capital accumulation and consumerism while wanting to conserve Nature are reconciled as easily as calling death life.Like the CSIRO collection, the LPI is not a measure of life but rather the death toll relating to human appropriation of resources for human ends.

The ongoing decimation of the natural world is now reaching such heights that the term Anthropocene is being put forward as encapsulating the overwhelming influence of man on natural processes. You might expect this to raise concern over stopping abusive and unthinking advance of economic growth and technology and promoting the need for precaution. However, Baskin opens this issue by describing how the urgency of problems is being used by an elitist expert grouping to promote the rapid implementation of global management and high-tech ‘solutions’ bypassing democratic institutions. This same approach is reflected in the Better Growth, Better Climate report (GCEC 2014), which recommends strong economic growth stimulated by public investment in new technologies and deregulation to aid corporate innovation (Spash 2014).

In a strange twisted logic the dominance of man and his destruction of the environment via technology and industrialisation changes from a negative to a positive. Rather than ignorant and unthinking innovation risking life on Earth this becomes man controlling everything. Here man may be taken as meaning male because this discourse strikes me as highly patriarchal, with the overt goal of dominating and controlling all that Nature represents. As Baskin explains, the Anthropocene is for many a modernist triumph signalling the final dissolution of Nature because everything is now man-made.

Download the full editorial here.

 

[Clive Spash is an economist who writes, researches and teaches on public policy with an emphasis on economic and environmental interactions. His main interests are interdisciplinary research on human behaviour, environmental values and the transformation of the world political economy to a more socially and environmentally just system.]

J’Accuse Human Rights Watch [Eritrea]

The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) was an egalitarian movement in which 30% of the fighters were women. Eritrean Women’s important role in the War for Independence: Eritrean Women fought in the war for Independence from Ethiopia, helping to continuously elevate their status in society as time progressed. Women played a vital role in winning Eritrea’s independence on the battlefield, but also in the community, as health care providers, educators, army assistants and of course as nurturing grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousins and sisters to their families. Eritrean women continue to be held in high regard and respected in today’s society in their many different positions in society. They do all of this while continuing to nurture and pave the way for their children, grandchildren and future generations. Source: knowledgeequalsblackpower

 

Letter to Mr. Kenneth Roth (Executive Director of HRW)

April 20, 2015

by Daniel Wedi Korbaria 

I – WORLD REPORT ERITREA

Dear Mr. Roth,

Reading your latest annual report on Eritrea (2014), at first, I strongly doubted it was even my country. But, unfortunately, it was my homeland you were writing about.

I would be really pleased if you could help me understand a few passages.

First, I was wondering whether by putting the logo of Bisha’s gold mine at the centre of Eritrea’s map corresponded with an inexplicit message to point out the country’s natural resources or just to make the report more appealing to the reader?

Secondly, you compile your report with a heavy load of according to, reported by, it said, it told, he describes, etc. It also seems appropriate to mention that Human Rights Watch does not operate within Eritrea, neither it acquires reliable information from inside the country. So HRW continues, through its reports, to spread unconfirmed stories and fabrications.

The report states: “Eritrea is among the most closed countries in the world; human rights conditions remain dismal. Indefinite military service, torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and religion provoke thousands of Eritreans to flee the country each month.”

Young Eritreans are fleeing their country. That is true. They run away for extended military service, this is also true. But why does the report fail to rightly address Ethiopia’s incompliance with the EEBC final and binding decisions, Ethiopia’s continuing illegal occupation of Eritrean territories? Is Human Rights Watch aware of the no war – no peace situation persisting since the end of the conflict in 2000 and that forces everyone to stay alert?

Given our history, which has taught us in the most terrible way how this world and politics work, you should already understand that any genuine, patriotic, and conscious Eritrean would just never naively accept incorrect reports by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Eritrea.

The UN unlawful decisions have negatively affected the course of Eritrean history. It started in 1952, with the federation of Eritrea to Ethiopia and the total annexation ten years later by Emperor HaileSellasie. During the thirty-year struggle for freedom more than 100.000 Eritreans sacrificed their lives during which the UN only watched silently and it was only because of their ultimate sacrifice that we have been able to become a Nation!

So Mr. Roth, I wonder where the UN was when Eritreans were getting killed by the regimes of HaileSellasie and MengistuHailemariam? Was the UN not aware of the Red Terror Campaign? Was the UN not aware of the Napalm bombs used to kill innocent civilians? Why wasn’t a “Special Rapporteur” of the UN on Eritrea constituted during these bloody years?

“Eritrea has no constitution, functioning legislature, independent judiciary, elections, independent press, or nongovernmental organizations; it does not hold elections.”

We have been strongly demonized for not welcoming foreign NGOs, although they seem to have become a way of western control in Africa. Like many other Eritreans, I believe in the principle of self-reliance and a way for me to proudly-and-rightly contribute to the development of my nation is by paying the two percent tax.

“Children as young as 15 are inducted and sent for military training, according to recent interviews by refugee agencies.”

This statement is utterly false. In Eritrea every child has to go school and their main concern age would be about their homework, semester exams and probably falling in love with his/her classmate. The military training only starts at the completion of the secondary school.

“Some prisoners are offered release on condition that they sign statements renouncing their faith. Three deaths during captivity were reported by foreign based religious monitoring groups in 2013, but given the difficulties of obtaining information, the number may be higher.”

Or maybe even lower?

In my country, from thousands of years, Christians and Muslims have co-existed in peaceful harmony and total respect of each other’s faith. Islam and Christianity are both secular religions that have become part of the Eritrean history and culture. Having said that, Eritreans remain conscious about those western-driven religions, which aim at controlling and dividing populations. In Eritrea, it is the established religions, especially the Orthodox Church, that have been targeted by Christian fundamentalist groups from the West.

“Eritrea has been under United Nations sanctions since 2009 because of its support for armed Islamic insurgents in Somalia and its refusal to release Djibouti prisoners of war captured during a 2008 invasion of Djibouti’s border territory.”

Supposedly, Human Right Watch should act as a neutral observer but the biases are quite obvious. Nothing could be more false than linking Eritrea with warlords in Somalia, invasion of Djibouti’s territory – all started as Ethiopia’s propaganda and proved to be totally unfounded. Moreover, the Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2111 (2013) -13 October 2014- boldly states: “The Monitoring Group has found no evidence of Eritrean support to Al-Shabaab during the course of its present mandate.”

Similarly, the recent UN sanctions have been unjustly imposed on the Eritrean people by the US pressure, eternal ally of Ethiopia since the times of Emperor HaileSellassie.

Blatant was the take of US when Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, in 1952, openly declared: “From the point of view of justice, the opinion of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea Basin and world peace make it necessary that the Country (Eritrea) be linked with our ally Ethiopia.”

In my opinion dear Mr. Roth, your reports on Eritrea also seem to carry on such legacy.

Below some few examples of Human Rights Watch’s curriculum.

1) IRAQ: in your article Indict Saddam published on Wall St. Journal (Mar. 22, 2002) you conclude saying: “That delegitimization would not guarantee his ouster, but it would certainly help build consensus that he is unfit to govern, and thus that something must be done to end his rule.”
By now, everyone knows what has later happened to Saddam Hussein and the cycle of chaos and instability reigning in Iraq since the end of the ‘rule’. I wonder what your opinion on ‘human rights’ after Saddam is and whether you believe Iraqis have been better off since US and UK intervention. How many people have died because of foreign intervention? Will Human Rights Watch ever denounce the crimes of Bush and Blair among others?

In the Briefing Paper (February 20, 2003) Section II: Weapons of Mass Destruction it was clear that Human Rights Watch believed on Iraqi’s possession of weapon of mass destruction, as the report stated: “No party to a conflict in Iraq would be legally justified in using any weapon of mass destruction under any circumstances. Given that a stated rationale for a potential attack on Iraq is the desire to remove any threat from weapons of mass destruction (WMD), there are two issues that are of particular concern. The first is a deliberate use of WMD by Iraqi forces against invading coalition forces or as an act of vengeance against Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi government might also use conventional weapons to commit mass atrocities against Iraqis.(…) Similarly, any use of biological weapons by either party to the conflict would violate international law. The 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) prohibits the development, production, acquisition, and stockpiling of biological weapons.”

Did Human Rights Watch ever explain that these weapons were never found? Has HRW ever taken responsibility for the consequences of its sinister fabrications? Has HRW ever apologized to anyone?

2) SYRIA: the Syrian uprising started on spring 2011 and World Report 2011 on Syria (Events of 2010) reports: “There was no significant change in Syrian human rights policy and practice in 2010. Authorities continued to broadly violate the civil and political rights of citizens, arresting political and human rights activists, censoring websites, detaining bloggers, and imposing travel bans. (…) The international community’s interactions with Syria have focused almost exclusively on its regional role. Key European Union and US officials have condemned the arrest and trials of prominent activists, but their interventions have had no impact on Syria’s actions.”

Does Human Rights Watch consider the atrocities of war in Syria being the reason of the situation of earlier years? Is HRW satisfied with today’s human rights situation?

3) LIBYA: the protests in Benghazi began Tuesday the 15th of February 2011 and about a year earlier, the World Report 2011 on Libya (Events of 2010) reads as follows: “Libya has no independent NGOs and Libyan laws severely restrict freedom of association. (…) in June Libya ordered UNHCR to close its office and expelled its representative (…)”
Ten days since the beginning of the uprising, 63 Organizations around the World signed a Petition to the General Assembly as reported by Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. She reported the words of Jose Luis Diaz, Head of Office and Representative at the UN for Amnesty International: “Allowing Libya to continue to serve on the Human Rights Council today would be an affront to those suffering in Libya and to human rights defenders across the globe who are demanding Libya’s suspension.”

So, again I ask: is Human Rights Watch satisfied with the human rights situation in Libya since the defeat of MuammarGadhafi? Has the country’s human rights situation gotten any better?

4) SUDAN: before the Sudan was split, the report: Sudan, Oil, and Human Rights (November 25, 2003) Human Rights Watch advices all oil companies to suspend their activities in Sudan. “None of these nor any oil company, including TotalFinaElf, nor industry contractors and subcontractors, should resume or commence operations in Sudan unless(…)”

Below other two recommendation, the first was addressed to the Government of Sudan: “Adhere in full to the IMF Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency and publish a detailed account of military expenditures and the source of such revenue under IMF guidance (…)”
The second was addressed to the US: “Condemn abuses by all parties to the conflict-including the Sudanese government armed forces and its ethnic militias, SSDF, Baggara militias, Popular Defence Force, SPLM/A, and others-and insist that those responsible for abuses be held accountable. Continue existing sanctions on Sudan until concrete and measurable progress has been made toward ceasing human rights abuses.”

I wonder why would Human Rights Watch consider the US a crucial party to be involved in the affairs of Sudan? Can the US even be regarded as a benign guardian or fair mentor lecturing other countries about human rights standards?

Again, is HRW satisfied with the human rights situation of Sudanese people today?

II – BACK TO ERITREA

Here are the contents of the report Eritrea: Mining Investors Risk Use of Forced Labor on the gold found in Eritrea (15 January 2013). It reads: “Hear No Evil: Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Eritrea’s Mining Sector,” describes how mining companies working in Eritrea risk involvement with the government’s widespread exploitation of forced labor (…) “If mining companies are going to work in Eritrea, they need to make absolutely sure that their operations don’t rely on forced labor,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, business and human rights researcher and senior Human Rights Watch.

“Based on the Bisha experience the greatest risk of abuse may occur during the construction phase of these projects. (…) All mining firms working in Eritrea should undertake Human Rights(…) It is negligent for mining companies to ignore the risks of forced labor that clearly exist in Eritrea, (…)”
In other words, HRW efforts can clearly be interpreted as another futile attempt to undermine Eritrea economically.

Already seven months before (June 20, 2012), in US: Joint Letter Regarding US Engagement at Upcoming Human Rights Council Session, Frank Jannuzi (Deputy Executive Director, Amnesty International USA) wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State Department of the United States).

“Dear Secretary Clinton, The joint statement on Eritrea signed by 44 countries at the March HRC Session marked a positive step forward in drawing international attention to grave human rights violations in that country. The dire situation in Eritrea merits further attention from the Human Rights Council, and we call on the U.S. to work with partners to mobilize African leadership for a strong resolution at the June session that will establish a Special Rapporteur to report on the widespread and systematic human rights violations that have been continuing in Eritrea for over a decade. Sincerely yours… ”
Co-signatory Juliette de Rivero (Director of Human Rights Watch in Geneva).

It seems quite obvious that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are moving in perfect symbiosis.

In the report: Ten Long Years of September 24, 2011 HRW was recommending with the Government of Eritrea, writing: “Allow independent monitors such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN and African Commission special mechanisms access (such as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) to Eritrea’s detention facilities.” (…) “Human Rights Watch and other independent human rights entities, including the UN special Rapporteur on Eritrea, have documented serious patterns of human rights violations in Eritrea.”

A judgment already written, it seems.

Finally, a recommendation to all countries of the world: “Abide by the guidance of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that particular categories of asylum seekers may be at risk upon return, in particular, persons avoiding military/national service; members of political opposition groups and Government critics; journalists; trade unionists; members of minority religious groups; members of certain minority ethnic groups; and victims of trafficking. Facilitate full access for UNHCR to Eritrean asylum seekers.”

At the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, President Obama declared: “I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea. We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers. We are helping other countries step up their efforts and we have seen results.”

And when Obama speaks of ‘groups that help women and children escape’ might he be alluding to the refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan? And what are these results of which he speaks of? Our young people running away?

“(…) Eritrean refugees have become a crucial source of information on the human rights situation in Eritrea given that Eritrea has not allowed United Nations special rapporteurs or other international human rights investigators to visit the country” states the latest report of Human Rights Watch dated 26 September 2014, although it does not sufficiently address on these other international investigators.

But young Eritreans also flee from the refugee camps in Ethiopia or Sudan. What happens there? HRW explains: “Few Eritreans seek refuge in countries near Eritrea – including Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and Sudan – because those countries force them to live in closed remote refugee camps, deny them access to work, or detain and abuse them in inhuman and degrading conditions”
Almost justifying their journey through the desert and sea, which has led to a terrible number of deaths.

I wonder how many of those drowned in the Mediterranean Sea does HRW feel on its conscience. How many of those who vanished in the desert did HRW actually meet and did question? How many of them did HRW deceive with a false pretense of humanitarian reception in refugee camps? Did HRW really listen to their voices, catch the hopes painted in their eyes? Does HRW consider the voices of all Eritrean migrants including those who did not lament of a ‘dictatorship’ in Eritrea? Probably not.

“Cui prodest?” said the Latins. The Exodus helps neither Eritrea nor its President. So who would be more interested in ripping Eritrea of its young people than the United States and Ethiopia? Human Rights Watch too?

Dear Mr. Roth, as Human Rights Watch wrote: “The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on June 27 to establish the Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Eritrea “since independence” in 1991” clearly stating that abuses have been a recurring factor in Eritrea since liberation. Was the situation during the Ethiopian annexation regime of Colonel MengistuHailemariam and before harmonious?

The one charm about the past is that it is the past – Oscar Wilde

Dear Mr. Roth, are you truly committed in protecting the human rights of Eritrean citizens?
If so, as an Eritrean citizen I ask you and HRW to understand that since the 1950s the very first human right has been denied to us: the right to peace. I challenge you to help us assure peace, the respect of Eritrea’s sovereignty and guarantee that our borders are finally respected.

The right to peace should be the root and the mother of all human rights. To deprive a nation of this fundamental right is, for me, to deprive it of its very right to exist.

Eritrea is a country that has continuously committed to development through its own efforts and without the usual borrowing from legalized loan sharks, that has made incredible progress in the achievement of almost all eight Millennium Development Goals (according to UNDP, Eritrea is among the only four countries in Africa to succeed), ensuring a long-term solution to water shortage through the construction of several dams – which has also served to guarantee food security. Dams are used to retain water, without water there would be no food, and that would highly compromise the well-being of this and future generations.

So again I ask: can a country like Eritrea, which has consistently shown its commitment to social welfare and development, instead be accused of depriving its citizens of fundamental human rights?
It is with noble ideals of serving future generation on long-term commitment that the Eritrean People build their country from scratch today. How can HRW just belittle the efforts of Eritreans by labeling it ‘forced labor’?

Is it plausible that a Country, which has uniquely managed to reduce infant and maternal mortality, eradicate malaria and extraordinarily reduce HIV rates, can be called “Hell on Earth”? Eritrea is also one of the few countries in the world that offers its students free education from kindergarten to College. A Country that in 2014 successfully involves students and teachers in projects to plant 4,000,000 trees to prevent desertification, a Country that cares for the well-being of those who will come tomorrow and for them today plants Eritrea’s future trees. Is it credible that a Country that puts all this determination and care should be accused, tried and punished for serious crimes against its people?

I find these allegations to be very unreal and HRW attitude to perpetrate the crime of theft and deprivation of basic human rights to the Eritrean people. An injustice that, however, will not escape history books.

But it is never too late to repair and a letter can be an opportunity to encourage you with that. HRW should be on the side of Eritreans who are still fighting for justice. The solution to all ills has already been recognized and ruled on paper by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) but, inexplicably, it was never respected nor implemented. Twelve long years have been wasted and that has served for some to provide their own distorted versions of history. Brush up on those records and you will find the whole truth printed in large letters, and it’s simpler than HRW may believe.

Dear Mr. Roth, if you properly looked at our History, you would have discovered all the injustices that we have faced and still do. Since the days of our grandfathers, Eritreans were made Ascari of the Italians fighting in Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia, during which nearly one million Eritreans never returned home. Then we suffered other oppressors: English rule for 11 years and Ethiopian occupation for 40 years, which set off the thirty year-war for Liberation with more than 100,000 Eritreans killed. Again, thousands of youngsters were martyred because of the border war 1998-2000.

Today, those young Eritreans who are “tired” of the environment Eritrea was forcefully put into, end up drowning in the sea as it happened in the Tragedy of Lampedusa despite many human rights NGOs instead encourage them to leave. All while we Eritreans continue to suffer!

Mr. Roth, however you want to put it, we would always send up talking about the death of these Eritreans.

Therefore Mr. Roth, not only as an Eritrean citizen, but also as a global citizen, I launch my own J’Accuse to Human Rights Watch and to you as his lawful Representative.

J’Accuse Human Rights Watch to be part of the creative mind to foment the global chaos of our times, and that will continue time and time again, as in the past, to be used to justify more wars;

J’Accuse Human Rights Watch to be the one of best tools ever invented by the Western Powers to destabilize and promote new-colonization of Africa; and

J’Accuse Human Rights Watch to be who, in the name of human rights, is dictating laws around the World particularly focusing its attention on the African continent!

Expressing my inner disregard for such “humanitarian” job, hope you can live up to the day when there will be a new Era for Africa, the day of an African Renaissance, the day when there will be an International African Court of Justice to indict Human Rights Watch and similar “humanitarian” organizations for crimes against humanity.

And I hope that day will come very soon!

Yours sincerely,
Daniel Wedi Korbaria (Eritrean artist)

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Crimes Against Humanity: Pro-War NGOs

Public Good Project

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Above: Participants sit in bleachers at the packed World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, 2010, Photo by The City Project

As Cory Morningstar reported in 350: Agent Saboteur, the April 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, was the first and only climate conference that was led by indigenous peoples and recognized by the United Nations. The People’s Agreement — that resulted from this conference — called for 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide, and a 1 degree Celsius limit.

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Attending the 2010 conference in Bolivia — created in response to the failure of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — was 350 co-founder Kelly Blynn. After undermining emission reduction targets at Copenhagen, Blynn’s role at Cochabamba was to press for 350 parts per million, and a 2 degree Celsius limit, thus protecting the fossil fuel industry and the very lucrative 350 brand.

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Four years later — financed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Warren Buffett’s NoVo Foundation – 350 used the Charms of Naomi as a powerful new tool of social engineering by Wall Street. The civil society fad led by Ms. Klein in 2014 evolved into a cult of celebrity worship, as she and Bill McKibben hypnotized thousands of college students into believing divestment of fossil fuel was part of a magical social revolution.

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Above: Image from Fossil Free Website (Endorsements)

The KXL hoax — yet another example of hypnotic behavior absent critical judgement — was funded by Buffett in order to distract attention from his oil-by-rail empire, now threatening communities across North America with “bomb trains” for fossil fuel export. By the time Klein’s followers figure out they were duped into being Buffett’s pawns, he and his friend Bill Gates will have made a fortune shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude.

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In the U.S. Army War College manual on psychological warfare, the stated objective is to destroy the will and the ability of the enemy to fight, by depriving them of the support of allies and neutrals. Some of the methods used in the manual are sowing dissension, distrust, fear and hopelessness. Since this manual was published, a new type of psywar has emerged in the form of false hope.

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Above image: Communications in Conflict

With support from foundations like Ford, Gates, NoVo, Rockefeller and Soros’ Open Society Institute, U.S. propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that serve as a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide. Embodiments of false hope – like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 – use social media as a means of social manipulation.

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In Welcome to the Brave New World—Brought to You by Avaaz, Morningstar notes that Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello has had a long relationship with the convicted inside-trader George Soros, and was one of the most pro-war members of the U.S. Congress. Along with Ricken Patel, Perriello made it popular for civil society to become complicit in crimes against humanity.

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In 2014, the New York public relations firm Purpose created a campaign to rally international support for NATO to bomb Syria. The campaign was backed by the New York lobby Avaaz. The CEO of Purpose, Jeremy Heimans, is a co-founder of Avaaz. His associate, David Madden, is co-founder of Purpose, Avaaz and MoveOn—a Democratic Party associated PAC. Avaaz and MoveOn are funded in part by the billionaire hedge fund mogul Soros.

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In Imperial Civil Society, Jay Taber observes that the power of moral sanction is something Wall Street takes very seriously. So seriously, that hostile takeovers of authentic civil society organizations, and full-fledged displacement by corporate false fronts, has led compromised NGOs to promote privatization, austerity, and military aggression. According to Maximilian Forte, the main purpose of the burgeoning civil society fad – that comprises the international bureaucracy of neoliberalism — is to take over basic functions and powers of the state.

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Destabilizing foreign governments, using NGOs like Avaaz as provocateurs, puts authentic non-profits and journalists at risk. Indeed, the imperial network of financiers like Soros makes NGO entrepreneurs in the pro-war champagne circuit accomplices in crimes against humanity.

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As affiliated entities, 350, Avaaz, Ceres, MoveOn and Purpose enable the Democratic Party to market itself as a friend of the environment and supporter of democracy, while simultaneously serving Wall Street’s agenda. What those familiar with serious fraud might call “the long con”. As Morningstar describes The Art of Social Engineering by Avaaz, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media.

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Paralyzed in a state of collective hypnosis, naive followers of the non-profit industrial complex have become missionaries of empire. From Bolivia to Syria, NGOs now help destabilize and overthrow foreign regimes hostile to American dominance. “Avaaz,” says Morningstar, “is arguably the world’s most powerful NGO”.

Internet Fraud: Avaaz, Purpose, 350

April 11, 2015

by Jay Taber

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Soliciting donations and selling memberships in an enterprise that is wholly contrary to that promoted on the Internet is a federal felony in the United States. Internet fraud in the US is policed by the Federal Trade Commission, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney General.

Avaaz, Purpose and 350 use the Internet for fraudulent purposes, i.e. “humanitarian intervention” and fossil fuel divestment campaigns. As these organizations are a product of the Democratic Party, and tools of Wall Street moguls like Buffett and Soros, they will not be prosecuted for fraud.

They could be charged under international law for abetting crimes against humanity, but with the UN controlled by the US, this will not happen. That leaves civil society moral sanction. Moral sanction against these NGO adjuncts to the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense, because they are politically immune to prosecution by the Department of Justice.

 

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]