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Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA Part VIII [Final Segment]

February 1, 2016

Part eight of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer.

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII

guayasamin

“Maternidad” by Oswaldo Guayasamin

Cultural Imperialism, Trends & Expanding Markets

“Cultural imperialism is defined as the cultural aspects of imperialism. Imperialism, here, is referring to the creation and maintenance of unequal relationships between civilizations favoring the more powerful civilization. Therefore, it can be defined as the practice of promoting and imposing a culture, usually of politically powerful nations over less potent societies. It is the cultural hegemony [1] of those industrialized or economically influential countries, which determine general cultural values and standardize civilizations throughout the world.” [Source] In this way, Eurocentric NGOs serve as the faux social constructs avec philosophic roots as key instruments of social-class domination.

Cultural imperialism can take various forms, so long as it reinforces cultural hegemony. Ecotourism easily fills the role of an opaque vellum that attempts to cover cultural imperialism.

[C]ultural imperialism promotes the interests of certain circles within the imperial powers, often to the detriment of the target societies … or forms of social action contributing to the continuation of Western hegemony…. Cultural imperialism can refer to either the forced acculturation of a subject population, or to the voluntary embracing of a foreign culture by individuals who do so of their own free will…. According to one argument, the “receiving” culture does not necessarily perceive this link, but instead absorbs the foreign culture passively through the use of the foreign goods and services. Due to its somewhat concealed, but very potent nature, this hypothetical idea is described by some experts as “banal imperialism.” For example, it is argued that while “American companies are accused of wanting to control 95 percent of the world’s consumers,” “cultural imperialism involves much more than simple consumer goods; it involves the dissemination of American principles such as freedom and democracy,” a process which “may sound appealing” but which “masks a frightening truth: many cultures around the world are disappearing due to the overwhelming influence of corporate and cultural America. [Source]

One could quite easily make the argument that Pachamama Alliance is a specialized, elite tourist agency that employs brilliant, emotive marketing strategy targeting today’s wealthy spiritual capitalists – all under the guise of a tax-exempt NGO – in essence, what amounts to a bourgeois front and agreed upon alibi for the shared white guilt espoused by the white saviours.

Kaypocoke

We convince the Indigenous to participate in their own demise by encouraging and teaching them to replicate our models and become consumers. For, as we consumers (formerly known as citizens) lose what little remains (if anything) of our own culture, we seek to not just taste, but devour other cultures … because we, collectively as consumers, have become insatiable in an unprecedentedly ugly way. We long to devour what we have collectively destroyed.

In the book Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas, Arnaldo Rodriguez remarks that the difference in principles between the community and private enterprise can be so conflicting that, at times, the community prefers to destroy the enterprise, even if it belongs, in part, to them, noting that communities in the Amazonian region are very hesitant to create enterprises where benefits are not distributed immediately and equally, making it very difficult for them to partner with private enterprise.

Rodriguez concluded that community?based ecotourism in the Amazon was subject to an overdose of enthusiasm and that the time and cost involved in partnering with communities is substantial.

One can imagine the difficulty a healthy capitalist would have in appreciating the concept of the sharing of all wealth equally. Private economic “solutions” (which protect the capitalist system at all costs) always protect the Eurocentric, white-privileged mode of life: market-based, deregulated, with ever-expanding commodification.

It is said that today, after a slow and difficult process, 70-86% (reports are conflicting) of the Kapawi Ecolodge (cooks, cleaners, waiters, boatmen and guides, i.e., service industry positions) are Achuar (“32 staff at the reserve and two at the urban offices,” Source). One must ask who holds the remainder of positions (30%). It is likely that the more prestigious, decision-making positions are held by foreigners (espousing and upholding Western ideologies) who are likely paid high wages, in stark contrast to what the Achuar are paid.

As an example, personnel who were contracted outside of the Achuar, such as Kapawi Ecolodge general manager Andres Ordoñez, still maintain their positions today. [Source]

Andres Ordoñez

Ronald Sanabria, Vice President of Sustainable Tourism, Rainforest Alliance (left), and Andrés Ordóñez, General Manager, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve Source: The Rainforest Alliance 2013 Annual Gala

One “cultural management challenge” for Canodros was that of time, an imaginary concept that keeps the West in a stranglehold of productivity: “In the first six months after the lodge first opened, the Achuar did not appreciate the importance of the concept of time to the guest of the lodge. When guests at the lodge book a tour, the tour guide is expected to be at the designated place at the agreed upon time. When the tour guide is not there, guest satisfaction declines precipitously. This problem was resolved through lots of meetings, and lots of explanation. Canodros provided watches to the employees, but ultimately time is a philosophical concept, and the Achuar could not understand why the outsiders were always in a hurry. Now the Achuar accept the outsiders’ philosophy of time and work within the philosophy….”

Here it is critical to note that the Achuar are/were a dream-based culture. That is, every aspect of their daily lives is lived through the interpretation of their dreams – meaning there is no sense of time, destiny, or fate in their beliefs. [Source] [emphasis added]

Many of the Achuar employed by the Kapawi development must travel several days by foot to get to the lodge. They then work for approximately one month before returning to their community. In a 1999 study it was reported that “[A]t Kapawi, employees work on a 22 day cycle, and off for eight days to help with families and community needs.” If one considers the travel to the lodge takes up to 3 days (one way), the eight days off to help with families and communities is in reality, tantamount to a mere 2 days per month.

Because of the long excursion (4 full days of travel to and from the lodge), it is reasonable to assume that eventually Kapawi employees may decide to purchase a canoe similar to the Kapawi’s motorized canoes (diesel engines and at least one solar: “our canoes are equipped with four-stroke outboard motors“) used for the tourists. Perhaps this is already occurring. It must be acknowledged that prior to the Kapawi development, there was no development whatsoever: no motorized canoes, no generators, no diesel. Upon opening the development, diesel (pollution) to transport, entertain (canoes) and serve (generators) the wealthy was introduced to the communities. The Canodros Tours website boasts that “in addition, the update and improvement of the photovoltaic system was made, which will allow a saving of 1,500 gallons of diesel consumption per year.” The actual consumption of diesel per year is not publicly disclosed. Solar provides 60% of the electricity as of December 2012.

Further to the introduction of diesel into an area formerly free of pollution, airplane flights were also introduced as each and every guest must fly in. The private flight (about one hour each way) over the rainforest is part of the exclusive allure. One blog writer comments that 5 planes were employed to transport her and her group to the Kapawi development.

Does anyone recognize the irony in the development of an “eco” resort that created and perpetuates a new dependency upon fossil fuels among the Achuar? In a development where 1800 visitors are required each year just to break even, the more “successful” the development, the more fossil fuels required to fly in the international tourists. Although the foundation for these developments is said to be “eco-tourism as an alternative economic model to the exploitation of oil,” the eco-tourist developments are in fact absolutely dependent on the further expansion of oil. These developments do not replace the market – rather, they participate in expanding the market.

The number of tourists to visit Kapawi is approximately 550-1000 per annum (the highest reported number found being 1500). The goal of the Achuar, now fully responsible for the corporation, is to increase the number of tourists to 2,000 per year. Perhaps they will achieve this. Perhaps they will achieve 3,000 per year. Yet does this constitute success? More oil, more diesel, more flights, more canoes, more lodges, more dependence on the purchase of outside supplies to accommodate the Euro-American tourist. This represents an unintentional, yet very real, strengthening of the very system annihilating our planet and her most vulnerable peoples; a strengthening of the very system that demands ever-expanding exploitation of pristine living ecosystems and locations such as Achuar territory.

Rainforest Alliance is just one NGO that openly works with capital in “reaching new markets.” In this conference (Innovations in Sustainability and Certification, sponsored by Citibank, May 15, 2013) on the discussion: “Innovations in Travel: Reaching New Markets – Panelists discuss consumer trends towards experiential tourism,” the stage is shared by Andrés Ordóñez, General Manager, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, and a consultant for Rainforest Alliance.

Yet another new market (aside from environment markets, certification, REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, etc.) is the Ecuadorean Amazon’s “vast network of slow-moving, interconnected river ways.” Recognizing this market, a group is currently designing and constructing a system of solar-powered boats and recharge stations on the rivers of Achuar Territory. [“Our project will not only sustain the welfare of a nation and protect a biodiverse ecosystem, but will also provide an innovative model that can be replicated around the globe.”] To make this venture possible, the group is working with the Pachamama Foundation with a grant from the Foreign Ministry of Finland. Further development in formerly untouched and pristine territories (“new markets”) – as the world burns.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is identified as one of the national and international funders that provided the Kapawi Corporation with the bulk of the finance capital for the development of this project, which resulted in the first solar engine canoe announced on June 14, 2012. GIZ is a federally owned organisation. It works worldwide in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and its mandate is to support the German Government in achieving its development objectives. The GIZ has been criticized on various occasions for being engaged in funding projects and programmes that are violating the human rights of the people actually living in the countries being “developed.” In March 2013, it was criticized by human rights groups for its engagement with Namibia’s Land Reform programmes and policies, that are violating the rights of indigenous peoples as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by dispossessing Himba people and Zemba off their traditional lands and territories. [Source]

Experiential tourism is a new product of the tourism industry. “Catering to the imaginations of experience-seekers, personalized, customizable or theme innovations that stimulate imagination or cater to fantasies are enticing consumers looking for uncommon experiences. The addition of an unconventional ‘experience’ piques interests and raises the perceived value of a good or service.” This new trend fits well with the 21st century trend of spiritual capitalism.

Recently, the Kapawi development has expanded with a secondary location in the village of Ti’inkias. In the Pachamama Journeys itinerary for June 7-19th, 2014,it states the following: “Head to the nearby town of Shell where we’ll take a 45-minute flight deep into the Amazon rainforest to the Achuar village of Chichirat. After a traditional Achuar greeting with their traditional beverage, nijaamanch (known as chicha) and visit with the local elder and his family, we’ll walk to the Bobanaza river for a beautiful motorized canoe ride down to the village of Ti’inkias.” The cost of this trip, per person, is $3,475.00 not including your flight to Ecuador. An additional charge of $10.00 (per guest) will go directly to the Achuar community.

Such ventures quench incessant desires not unlike heroin or any other self-indulgent drug: a self-absorbed search for the affirmation of one’s superiority. In the age of a starved and toxic Western commodity culture, induced by an acquiescent, pathological, collective insanity, even a taste will suffice.

In the US states of North and South Dakota, the land of the Lakota Indians is under siege due to the intense fracking boom in the Bakkens. And yet US Big Greens do not assist these communities. Why the need to travel thousands of miles to the jungles of the Amazon located in a sovereign state when the natives on the soil we walk upon are under siege? It’s simple: the Lakota are not “exotic,” they are not easily co-opted by the non-profit industrial complex. When Americans collectively acquiesce to the development of Bakken oil to continue rampant consumptive patterns, corporations/foundations/oligarchs need not destabilize their own governments whom they fully control and run.

While in theory (marketing/branding is perhaps more precise) Pachamama voices the necessity for the modern world to heed the vision of the Achuar, in reality they have transferred and continue to transfer Western ideologies, standardization, and values onto the Achuar – slowly altering the Achuar to reflect us. There are no signs whatsoever of the Achuar culture and knowledge influencing the Western mindset or culture in any meaningful way. At the end of the day, the white saviours – the foundations, NGOs and academia – believe that we understand how the world must work better than the Achuar, better than anyone.

If you want to help the Amazon rainforest and her peoples, then help. To name just a few tangible actions, get off the grid, use public transit, transition to a plant-based diet, plant a garden, and stop consuming – separating what is essential to a healthy life from mere wants that are not necessities whatsoever. One thing is certain. Flying to any luxury resort (in the name of ecology no less) will only escalate our accelerating planetary collapse. It is also certain that this kind of consumption guarantees and expands the exploration for and drilling of oil – the very fossil fuel we claim to wish to keep in the ground. Above all, say no to imperialism.

And finally, in an age of Western peak consumption/commodification, let us also share one of the most disturbing displays of our commodity culture, waste and decadence… yet which must be considered correct and beneficial from our perspective and pedestal of whiteness and superiority:

“The children of the Amazon according to their culture and beliefs did not celebrate Christmas, after the entrance of the Catholic Church, this has been changing but with a low impact, and as a company each year we organize a celebration for the children not focused in the Christmas celebration but dedicated to them, in the year of 2010 I had the opportunity to participate in the organization of the event with donations of friendly companies to give the Achuar children a small present. [Source] Dec 11, 2010

 

“On December 15th of 2012 we did at Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve the Christmas party for all the communities, we had more than 250 people that belong to different communities which surround the hotel. It was a day full of emotion and joy, because we did many games not only for children but for adults too.” [Source]

One must wonder if the introduction of Christmas is to “give” to the Achuar or appease the wishes of the tourists.

ChristmasGifts

Photo: “With our co workers in Quito, we organized the program with many games, surprises and the distribution of gifts for the kids that went to Kapawi. After a formal invitation that is transmitted by radio to the communities, around 250 children came with their representatives. We were lucky to have with ourselves a television program cast called Vele Vele Vele helping us with the animation of this main event.” [Source]

Like a Greek tragedy, concerned and well-intentioned citizens (including the majority of self-proclaimed environmentalists and activists) seek the solutions for an unprecedented ecological crisis from the very institutions that have contributed the most to unparalleled ecological devastation, running hand in hand with the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples on a global scale. The non-profit industrial complex makes palatable the unpalatable on behalf of the establishment, whom they answer to and depend upon for their existence.

Rather than break away from the unprecedented destructiveness of industrialized capital or Western culture, tragically and willingly, we in the North collectively contribute to its re-articulation.

Wealth for the Chosen (Predominantly White) Few

 

tourism

Ecotourism was and continues to be big business. Lead authors in this field have gone on to consult for influential organizations (such as the UN, the Nature Conservancy, USAID, state governments), lecture, found prosperous organizations and opened tourism-related businesses, and become senior fellows of prestigious institutes, professors, directors, and authors of best-selling textbooks and guidebooks. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), founded in 1990, is the oldest and largest non-profit organization in the world “dedicated to making ecotourism a tool for sustainable tourism development worldwide.” [TIES was founded by Megan Epler Wood who founded the firm EplerWood International in 2003.]

In the mid-1990s, the TIES organization launched a national review of community benefits of ecotourism in Ecuador. Dr. David Western, TIES founding president/chairman, recently appointed as the new Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), would insist on bringing his “international expertise” on ecotourism in Kenya to improve community ecotourism development methodologies in Ecuador. The conference that followed (Ecotourism at the Crossroads) was then both funded and managed by KWS in partnership with TIES. [Source] KWS is somewhat notorious for corruption and scandals as well as complicity in “conservation” deals, more recently, one in which Kenya’s Samburu peoples were violently evicted from their land.

Kenya Wildlife Services has become one of the more parasitic NGOs working in partnership with USAID and Nature Conservancy. (“The court has turned a blind eye to the pleas of the Samburu community and allowed these illegalities to subsist. The transfer [of the land to the KWS] is totally unlawful and it’s in flagrant violation of the interests of the Samburu community.” | Source)

“We decided that a national conference could galvanize interest from industry in more community involvement in development on community managed lands. This conference came to be known as Ecotourism at the Crossroads. It was funded by KWS and managed by KWS and TIES…. By the end of 1998, TIES had galvanized national forums on community benefits from ecotourism in two landmark countries, Ecuador and Kenya.” — Community Ecotourism on the Frontiers of Global Development Part 1, part of our special series Ecotourism Then and Now, commemorating the 20th anniversary of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) |Source

Daniel Koupermann (Amazon guide at EcoTrek, later to be an executive at Canodros and Pachamama co-founder, see Part I ) has established Andean Paths, an Ecuadorian travel company. According to Ecuador Travel Vacations website, Koupermann was “one of the first developers of ecotourism in Ecuador. The designer and builder of Kapawi Eco-Lodge…” This statement is misleading to some extent considering that 140-150 men (the majority Achuar) devoted two years of their lives in building Kapawi. (“He has developed strong relationships with most of the leaders and the powerful shamans in Achuar territory. In addition, he has been involved with yacht operations in the Galapagos Islands, the development of a community-based tourism program on Isabela Island and the implementation of a condor-viewing program in Cajas National Park. He is President of Fundación Pachamama (www.pachamama.org.ec), the Ecuadorian arm of The Pachamama Alliance, (www.pachamama.org) which is a well-known non-profit organization that supports the indigenous groups in the Amazonian Region of Ecuador.”)

Soft Power: Eco-Colonial Tourism

“The historical legacy of colonialism frames tourism in a way that is based on an economy in which the host culture continues to be extracted. Culture tourism is a new form of extractive resource colonialism.” — Devon Peña

 

“The hardest part of the transition process is to change their way of thinking, their culture.” – Miguel Carrera, Kapawi Lodge [Source]

 

“The tremendous lack of communication and trust between indigenous groups and the private sector has been the foremost hurdle for development in Latin American countries. Indigenous organizations have seen private enterprises as abusive institutions eager to exploit indigenous culture and resources. The private sector, on the other hand, tends to consider indigenous people untruthful and indolent. If these misunderstandings are resolved, a new niche for socially responsible development will evolve….” — Arnaldo Rodriguez, Pachamama Founder, 1999

Tourism has always been culturally destructive and exploitative by nature. In most cases, if not all, this seems inevitable. The reality is that when a tourist meets the Achuar, the encounter is a commercial transaction. This cannot be disputed. As the commodity (and main selling feature) within the exclusive “package” being sold is the Achuar people themselves, it would be difficult to argue that the Achuar identity is being commodified, appropriated, and sold for consumption to the bourgeoisie classes.

The production and consumption that ecotourism embodies could only be considered sane in a world of planetary crisis where risk of total annihilation now appears a blasé certainty. The spectacle is of an unbridled privileged class for whom care and regard for future generations is secondary to fulfilling one’s own material desires and ego.

The global economic context of ecotourism is created on a foundation upholding centuries of colonialism, imposed slavery, misery, violence and ethnocentrism. While on the surface the rhetoric ratifies the claim that eco-tourism ensures local participation, autonomy, and global democracy, below the surface, critical social and environmental crises are not only simply and brilliantly re-articulated, they are also being perpetuated.

“It took time but now we are about to select the best [of the Achuar employed by Kapawi] and send them away to learn English and management skills” [Source]

“Equally, the Himba in Namibia survived everything that a hostile arid environment could throw at them for centuries until they became a tourist attraction in the 1970s. Their communities were overrun and many Himba are now beggars and alcoholics. These days, tribes are regularly diminished in the name of economic advancement. The refugee Burmese Kayan women in Thailand, who wear brass coils round their necks, each year attract thousands of tourists, who pay to visit them in their camps. Their communities are disintegrating as alcoholic dependency grows.” [Source]

Could such cultural degradation and disintegration happen to the Achuar?

coke1

2010: Amazon indigenous leaders in Quito to see “Avatar” on the big screen in 3D.

Indeed, signs of disintegration showed themselves almost from inception. In 2004, disintegration was shared by Chalalan, Posada Amazonas, Kapawi (Achuar) representatives. Dire warning signs were documented in a 2003 study group paper titled Lessons in Community-based Ecotourism, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). CEPF is a joint program of l’Agence française de développementConservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. [The role of WWF: In a 2 year study, WWF coordinated the preparation of an Ecosystem Profile for the Caucasus ecoregion with the help of 130 “international and regional experts”.] Private sector partners included De Beers Namaqualand Mines in South Africa, Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Ghana and Unilever in the Philippines.

In the paper, the troubling signs (which aptly mirror a deteriorating Western society) were minimized by using the terminology “*perceived threats.” The very real threats/warnings, shared by the Indigenous participants, were documented as follows:

  • Less time with family
  • Distance from family, saving money and they go to the city to have fun instead of returning home to family
  • Less time for family work: in the chacra and house and so now there’s a need to contract labor
  • Customs about family gifts, such as food have disappeared. Family solidarity is missing.
  • The mingas before were more common in the community of Kapawi; now they want money for community work
  • Abandoned children
  • Tourism has taken time away from the Community Council to address other community matters
  • More drunkenness
  • There is a greater number of decisions to make but the process remains slow
  • Greater separation between parents and children
  • Because they work in the lodge, people believe they are richer and so they get charged more for things
  • Now we change money for communal work, with individual contracts, or, alternatively, we pay to get out of communal work obligations.
  • Greater neglect of families
  • Some engage in fewer everyday activities, such as hunting, fishing, farming and extraction because they are waiting for profits from tourism and other opportunities for work.
  • Some have misunderstood how much they were going to benefit from ecotourism, and so they do nothing.
  • Instead of tending to their chacra, etc., there are just waiting for tourism money.
  • Personal interests for developing ecotourism apart from the community enterprise

Aside from the Indigenous peoples in such “experiments” adopting aspects of neoliberalism (erosion of cooperation, rise of competition), we can safely assume that the manifestations of Western culture since this publication of this paper in 2005 have only further amplified.

“One of the main challenges of our work is finding a balance between respecting the Achuar culture and way of living, while at the same time having them respect the needs of the business. You have to be patient and have limits. Often things come up. Someone comes from community, misses his family, or needs to go hunting. They tell me, ‘You white people need money, but I don’t need it.’ Then they take a machete and just go in the forest. I’ve had cases when I have to go and do a job for them.” — Gabriel Jaramillo, longtime administrator at Kapawi

 

“No-one yet knows whether today’s children, armed with 21st century skills, will still want to preserve their traditional way of life.” [Source]

The socially appeasing terminology “monitoring impacts” has given licence to implement and study the further expansion of globalized markets under industrialized capitalism, Western influence and its effects on Indigenous populations and cultures – via NGOs.

“Eco-tourism is a transformative policy of inclusion and democratization, as well as a product of racialized justification for modernization, in which marginalized peoples are subject to a new dependency and a new colonialism.” – The PostColonial Exotic, Marketing the Margins

Competition to gain access to Western commodities (guns, etc.) has created tension, disputes and violence between neighbouring Indigenous tribes for many decades. It is telling that for almost two years after Canodros signed the contract with the Achuar, tensions and dissatisfaction arose due to a key misunderstanding. The Achuar were under the impression that Canodros was an NGO. (“The company assumed the role of an NGO, and people from the communities went for books and medicines.” “One of the first areas for disagreement was that the Achuar thought Canodros was a NGO and should provide health care and other services.”) Thus, the Achuar (in thanks to conditioning of the missionaries and non-profits) were expecting that “gifts” would commence after signing the contract. It took at least two years of dialogue before this misconception was resolved. This perhaps shows that it is merely healthcare and very basic services (education, agricultural support, etc.) that the Achuar/Indigenous desire. Indeed, one researcher estimated that the said need for monetary income was probably less than $300 per family, per annum (Rodríguez, 1996).

Perhaps the greatest threat to the oligarchs is that with left-leaning governments gaining power, these governments will be (and increasingly are) finally able to provide these basic needs – thereby making the acceptance and embracing of imperial non-profits and missionaries obsolete. No imperial NGOs/missionaries on the ground effectively means no access. Thus, ensuring people’s basic needs are met (which is only possible when states are sovereign and free from foreign interference) must be considered an invaluable and key tool against destabilization efforts by imperial forces.

If neocolonialism is defined as the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a country (usually former European colonies in Africa or Asia) in lieu of direct military or political control, then surely REDD and carbon market mechanisms fall under this definition. Further, if such control can be economic, cultural, or linguistic, by promoting their own culture, language or media in the colony, corporations embedded in that culture can make greater headway in opening the markets in those countries, so surely ecotourism can also fall under this term.

Going yet further, if neocolonialism can be considered the end result of relatively benign business interests leading to deleterious cultural effects, then surely this applies to Indigenous populations all over the planet that have, via good intentions and misplaced trust, tragically been manipulated, thus succumbing to the jaws of predatory institutions such as USAID, Conservation International, the World Bank, etc., and now live with the consequences slowly taking hold.

In the spirit of role-playing, once again, imagine this same scenario where it is the Arabs “helping” the Achuar. Imagine the Muslims were teaching the Achuar adults and children Arabic. It is safe to conclude that such a scenario would unleash an angry outcry from the Western world, where the falsehood of Euro-American superiority and racism are invisibly woven into the very fabric of society. This begs the question (or perhaps it answers the question) as to why these concepts/developments, initiated and guided by Euro-Americans, are embraced and applauded by the global community, with no objections to be found.

Let it be noted: we object.

The Irony

“So it is clear to us that imperialism is not a product of capitalism; it is not capitalism developed to its highest stage. Instead, capitalism is a product of imperialism. Capitalism is imperialism developed to its highest stage, not the other way around…. Finance capital, the export of capital, monopoly, etc., are all articulations of a political economy rooted in parasitism and based on the historically brutal subjugation of most of humanity…. This is not something that only happened a long time ago. The world’s peoples are suffering the consequences of capitalist emergence even now…. Today’s white left is also locked into a worldview that places the location of Europeans in the world as the center of the universe. It always has.” — Omali Yeshitela

The left does not wish to acknowledge that under an industrialized capitalist system, everything depends on infinite expansion of capital – capital with far higher value than the interests of the people. The supremacy of capital ensures alternative political processes (as we witness in ALBA states: Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and several Caribbean countries) are counteracted on both the national and international level by international / corporate media, international capital, and the oligarchy that seeks to subdue sovereign states and lock them within the confines of imperialism.

Until there is a global conversation as to how we are going to achieve a true virtual zero carbon existence in the near-term future, judging Venezuela, Ecuador, or any other petro-state is nothing but denial, ignorance or bravado. All roads lead to the Global North and to the US specifically, with the entire infrastructure entirely dependent on oil, gas and coal. Vulnerable states can give up their resources with their own conditions, or by force. Citizens of the Global North are not about to give up their Western lifestyles, which is tantamount to giving up one’s privilege.

Consider that “America’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 105 percent. Ecuador’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 23 percent. The real problem lies in those who run the economy, who run the society, because they protect the interests of the financial capitalists. It’s the capital, financial capital in particular, that runs the economy. The real problem is that the capital owns the society, it owns the people.” [Source]

And as the US administration continues to demonize Venezuela, millions of US citizens have to choose between paying the heating of their homes or covering other basic needs. The irony is that in order to help, the government of Venezuela implemented a programme, in collaboration with state-owned oil company PDVSA’s largest subsidiary CITGO, which provides heat to 500,000 US citizens annually. The program was initiated in 2005. [Published on Dec 13, 2013 teleSUR] Video (running time: 1:28)

 

 

Coming full circle back to Pachamama Alliance’s co-founder John Perkins, the message from Perkin’s link on his Dream Change website to “buycott” is most profound:

“Have you ever wondered whether the money you spend ends up funding causes you oppose?”

For once we agree.

We consider the closure of the U.S. Fundación Pachamama by the Ecuadorian government a small victory against imperialism and a victory for all Ecuadorians. We applaud all governments taking measures to do the same. Anyone who is against imperialism / colonialism should support such efforts.

The future of capitalism (strengthened or dismantled?) will be determined by the collective resolve bound with struggle against parasitism and imperialism. Yet perhaps the best determining factor of whether or not we succeed in dismantling and obliterating capitalism will be our smashing of the pedestal within the ivory tower, upon which capitalism depends for its survival.

One could argue that the authors of this paper demonstrate paternalism in rejecting the notion that the Achuar were/are free in all decision-making capacity and have embraced Western values of their own free will. There is no doubt that these dynamic men, women and communities embody an ethical intelligence far exceeding any intellect claimed by the Euro-American. That being said, an ethical intelligence is no match for the pathology espoused by defenders of and believers in a predatory capitalist system dependent upon infinite growth, where white “values” embodied in the global economy are forever sacrosanct and must/will always dominate and prevail.

The colonization of Latin America has never ended. Like a chameleon, it simply changes its colours. Like a parasite, it simply changes its hosts.

One may argue that Western writers/thinkers/activists/citizens have no right to make judgments on whether or not such cultural influences and shifts, brought on by projects teeming with ethical and philosophical conflicts, are to be tolerated or accepted. Yet this line of debate effectively shuts down the urgent need to look at these interactions under a much needed critical light, thereby effectively securing and protecting the very hegemonic power structures that slowly erode and deteriorate autonomous nations via soft-power manipulation.

In real life, we call this well-orchestrated genocide.

+++

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet if I tell you that capitalism must be defeated, you smirk and walk away.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet you acquiesce to the voice of the colonizer while you dismiss the Indigenous voice with an unspoken superiority.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet you accept that the words and thoughts of Indigenous Peoples must be conveyed by way of white mouths.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet I witness your acceptance of blatant, highly financed, white paternalism.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

And I know you are a liar.

 

END

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part VI of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

February 5, 2015

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

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII

 

The Achuar

The Achuar are a group of indigenous peoples in the Amazon, with a rich, ancient culture. Their territory resides over 700,000 hectares of the last unspoiled region of Amazon tropical rainforest in Ecuador. Until the 1970’s, they lived untouched by the modern world. Since 1991, the majority of the Achuar in Ecuador belong to a political organization called FINAE (Federation of Ecuadorian Achuar Nationalities). Today, the organization is called NAE (The Ecuadorian Achuar Nationality or Achuar Nation of Ecuador) and the Achuar people that NAE represents are organized into ten regional associations that contain a total of 68 communities and approximately 8,000 Achuar people. [2]

Pachamama Alliance Website: “The Achuar are a group of indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, currently numbering around 6,000. Their ancestral lands – nearly 2 million acres in all – straddle the modern borders of Ecuador and Peru, a remote area that has allowed them to preserve their way of life with little outside influence or colonization.” Yet this is hardly true. The information that follows on the Pachamama Alliance site states as much: “Throughout their history, the Achuar have been self-sufficient and autonomous, sustaining their family groups through hunting and gardening. Once semi-nomadic people, most Achuar now live in small villages, a result of contact with Christian missionaries in the 1960s. While their remote territory largely protected them from colonization, the Achuar did experience some change to their ancestral way of life and observed the destruction of neighboring indigenous cultures and communities.” It is incredible and simultaneously incredibly patronizing that while Pachamama Alliance acknowledges the Achuar have been self-sufficient and autonomous – at the same time they influence and encourage the Achuar to become part of, thus dependent upon, thus trapped in, an economic system incapable of reform. Pachamama continues that “[W]hile the Achuar expressed that their work with Pachamama in Ecuador was important, they also insisted that it was equally important for their Northern partners to ‘change the dream of the North’ – to work within their own ‘modern’ culture, shifting it from wasteful consumerism to a less destructive, more sustainable paradigm.” While this may sound lovely, Pachamama’s “work” in Ecuador does not contribute to “changing the dream of the North” – rather, it enables the nightmare of the North to continue.

“Nate [Saint] had spent the past three months flying over an Auca village he called Terminal City, showering it with candy, pots, combs, tools, machetes, and even photos of the smiling men holding the same gifts to familiarize the Indians with their suitors. He had made fourteen drops in all. If he did not occupy Auca territory soon, Rachel [Saint] [3] would.” — Thy Will Be Done, Operation Auca, The Akha Heritage Foundation

 

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” — James Joyce, Ulysses

Video (below, 4:27): “… the third wave of missions into the jungle… Take a look at the way CLIPAE (Council of Indigenous Leaders of the Ecuadorian Amazon Region) is raising up Indigenous people to serve the Indigenous Church…. The work is not easy and some of the villages are extremely remote, at times taking up to 8 or more days to walk to.”

http://vimeo.com/36366029

One could argue that the authors of this article demonstrate paternalism in rejecting the notion that the Achuar were/are free in all decision-making capacity and have embraced Western values of their own free will. There is no doubt that these dynamic men, women and communities embody an ethical intelligence far exceeding any intellect claimed by the Euro-American. That being said, an ethical intelligence is no match to the pathology espoused by defenders/believers in a predatory capitalist system dependent upon infinite growth where White “values” embodied in the global economy are forever sacrosanct and must/will always dominate and prevail.

The colonization of Latin America has never ended. Like a chameleon, it simply changes it colours. Like a parasite, it simply changes its hosts.

Earlier it was suggested that we try to imagine Soviets establishing Soviet NGOs espousing Soviet ideologies/policies on American soil during the Cold War. Few would argue that such an undertaking would have been tolerated then or now. Now, for a just a moment, try to imagine if Muslims were setting up residence in Ecuador and throughout Latin America – distributing the Koran throughout the jungles. In this scenario, one’s instant reaction (anxiety/panic for most Euro-Americans) has already been programmed/pre-determined by the establishment via psychological warfare. White skin: good. Brown skin: Irrelevant. Black Skin: Danger. Islam: Extremists. One can send their regards to the Obama Administration who propels the international terror psy-ops campaign largely targeting Muslims and Muslim tribes. Publicly, the U.S. “save” tribal people of Amazonia while Muslim tribal people in the Middle East are framed as terrorists or fanatics. Both forms of power (soft power versus hard power) are imperial in nature.

Kapawi: Integrating the Achuar with the “Modern” World

Michael-Allosso-our-Achuar-guide

Frenemies. Michael Allosso, The Ocean Conservancy, our Achuar guide: “We flew in small planes into the remote jungle near the Peruvian border. Here, a group of indigenous people called the Achuar (unknown to the outside world until 1972) are developing ecotourism as an alternative to oil company deforestation.” [Source] For more on The Ocean Conservancy read Marine Protection Reserves as Privatization Scam, Wal-Marting the Oceans.

 “Along with television, tourism is one of the most potent agents of globalisation – tourists are the shock troops of Western-style capitalism, distributing social and psychological viruses just as effectively as earlier colonists spread smallpox, measles and TB in their wake.” – Green Tragedy: The Blight of Eco-Tourism, June 12, 2002

Replace television with iPads. Add the spread of TB to animals, and measles into the rainforest, and welcome to 21st century eco-colonialism.

Consider that in Chobe, Botswana, mongooses are thought to have caught the human disease TB from rubbish heaps outside a tourist lodge that were contaminated with the human pathogen. Less clear is how the meerkats became infected. [Source] If human pathogens are infecting animals via ecotourism ventures, then we must consider how Indigenous tribes, having been forever isolated from the outside world, can protect themselves from these same pathogens that have been transmitted to animals.

On December 16, 2011, it was reported that “a major outbreak of measles in Kapawi, province of Pastaza, forced authorities to declare a quarantine in the community living around 300 indigenous Achuar…. We have contacted Kapawi Lodge who informed us that operations at the lodge are running smoothly and everything normal – no changes in terms of tourism operations. All staff have been vaccinated.” It is not clear where the measles were contracted from, yet it begs the question as to how Indigenous tribes, including children and elderly who have no immunities to these diseases, can possibly protect themselves. One can be fairly certain that if these communities are receiving vaccinations, such highly controversial conduct would not be readily discussed with the public.

“[D]iscussions about local participation, even in the most inclusive eco-tourism planning, often entail a discourse about the ‘use’ of local cultures for knowledge, employment, and commodity production (Drake 1991). Such discussions limit potential local resistance to development or ‘resentment’ (Olindo 1991) by ‘educating’ locals for employment – so as to have locals function in the service of eco-tourism and not against it (Boo 1991).” — Managing the Other of Nature: Sustainability, Spectacle, and Global Regimes of Capital in Ecotourism, by Joe Bandy [Source]

“Kapawi (lodge) has helped FINAE prepare for such contact with the outside world by linking them to a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in San Francisco that provides technical expertise and funding for a variety of Achuar projects. According to its website, the Pachamama Alliance was created to help ‘preserve the Earth’s tropical rainforests by empowering the indigenous people who are its natural custodians…. Since its inception in 1995, the Pachamama Alliance has raised roughly a million dollars to help revitalize Achuar culture and tradition, defend Achuar lands, and build leadership and capacity in FINAE.'” [1]

One must wonder how Americans help “revitalize Achuar culture and tradition” by creating a dependence on a money economy – development under the guise of conservation? And although Pachamama Founders would have the public believe they were called by the Achuar via what amounts to luminescent dreams and ethereal smoke signals, the spiritual stratagem could be considered liberal marketing bravado for today’s transcendental philanthropist and celestial capitalist.

“Almost twenty years ago Carlos Pérez Perasso, co-founder of Conodros S.A., a Galapagos Islands tour operator, linked up with Daniel Kouperman, an experienced adventure tour guide familiar with the Amazon jungle, to help create a hotel in the rainforest. It took them more than a year of discussions with the Achuar before the project could proceed.” [Source]

Perasso (1935-2002) was the former director/heir of the newspaper El Universo, entrepreneur, and founder of the tour operator Canodros. (His son, César Pérez Barriga, is current president and deputy director of the Buenos Aires Canodros as well as manager/heir to El Universo newpaper.)

Daniel Kouperman is a co-founder of Pachamama Alliance and past president (and board vice-president) of the Pachamama Foundation situated in Ecuador.

“Construction began in ’94, and by mid ’95 Daniel asked a group of ‘purposeful tourists’ to come down and help organize support for the project. Among the first group were two exceptional people, Lynne and Bill Twist, who became the founders of non-profit NGO, The Pachamama Alliance, which established a partnership with the Achuar. Construction was completed in ’96 and began operation in April of that year.” [1]

“Ordoñez (manager of the Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve) says that the intercultural management is complex. The transition of Kapawil Lodge from Conodros to the Achuar, though formalized years ago, is still a work in process. ‘The Achuar colleagues did not comprehend 100 percent how to manage the company,’ he says. That, however, is slowly changing, thanks in part to the Pacha Mama Foundation, a non-profit organization that was created precisely to support the Achuar of Ecuador through various projects.

 

“One of those projects was Aero Achuar in which Pacha Mama helped the community acquire an airplane to establish their own air transportation service. Kouperman, who is also president of the Pacha Mama Foundation in Ecaudor, says two young Achuar members have obtained pilot licenses and are in their first 500 hours of training. Another Achuar member is a fully trained and licensed mechanic.

 

“Pacha Mama was also involved with training future managers of Kapawi. An agreement among Pacha Mama, the NAE (Achuar Nationality of Ecuador), and the Universidad Especiales Turisticas (UCT), has sent four Achuar youth to work towards a degree in Hotel Management at UCT. ‘They are the first [Achuar] who have had education in hotel management … and in a way are looked upon as examples because they are the first to study something in order to take charge of the company. It is a heavy responsibility,’ says Ordoñez.” [December 9, 2011, Source]

“Not all of the changes introduced by Kapawi have been easily assimilated by the Achuar. One challenge has been determining how to divvy up benefits produced by the lodge. “Issues come up, politics are involved, there are struggles for power,” noted Andre Barona. For example, the eight different associations of FINAE receive different amounts of money from tourism, but three of the associations closest to Kapawi generally receive the highest income. One community, Kapawi, receives $700 per month. Of Kapawi’s (the community’s) eighteen families, five dominant families of Quichua descent control most of the money. FINAE and Achuar leaders are generally intimidated by the more powerful Quichua families and so have done little to reclaim money.” [Source: Stanford School of Business Case Study, 2003]

The above documented observations begin to aptly demonstrate how a Eurocentric vision (ecotourism development) first initiated by an outsider (the CANODROS tourist corporation), with the assistance of the U.S. Pachamama Alliance, creates new divisions among the Achuar. The observations below begin to demonstrate how Western values and ideologies begin to permeate into Achuar communities. In the case of a private business venture, the required penetration of Western value is vital:

“To sell Kapawi, Canodros maintains a sales office in the U.S., and participates in travel marts around the word, in any given year hosting booths in Brazil, Argentina, Chicago, Berlin, Costa Rica, New York, Chicago, and Geneva. Time will tell whether such efforts were useful either for the idealistic goal of helping the Achuar integrate with the modern world on their own terms, or for the more practical goal of generating a good return on Canodros’ business investment.” [1]

 

“Another test for Canodros has been mixing two very different cultural modes and perspectives, all in one tourism operation. ‘One of the main challenges of our work is finding a balance between respecting the Achuar culture and way of living, while at the same time having them respect the needs of the business. You have to be patient and have limits,’ offered Jaramillo. ‘Often things come up. Someone comes from community, misses his family, or needs to go hunting. They tell me, “You white people need money, but I don’t need it.” Then they take a machete and just go in the forest. I’ve had cases when I have to go and do a job for them.'” [1]

 

“Visibly, however, Achuar may not appear as traditional as tourists would like. Though they continue to use some of their Achuar necklaces and headbands, and though they paint their faces for special occasions, most often they wear western clothes. Kapawi cultural experiences were described in Traveler’s Magazine this way: ‘There’s no glossing on Achuar villages themselves, which to First World eyes look desolate and poor. The Achuar wear Levi’s and t-shirts with logos….'” [1]

 

“‘Right now, they don’t feel they own the project. They know it, but don’t feel it,'” related Jaramillo. “At this point, if the project loses money, they won’t care. Kapawi has been exerting so much effort while the Federation has been able to sit back.'” — Gabriel Jaramillo, administrator at Kapawi [1]

 

“Yet, despite the awards, Kapawi has had to struggle to sustain profits and keep the tourists coming. ‘It’s definitely not easy to run Kapawi,’ conceded Andre Barona, General Manager for Canodros. ‘You have to be committed in at least two senses: for the impact you want to make and the bottom line. No one gets stock options for lessening impact.'” [1]

ClayInCanoe_fullsize

Photo: Tourists in a boat with an Achuar naturalist/guide at Kapawi Lodge, Ecuador, 2005.

As previously stated, Kapawi, the most expensive ecotourism development in the Ecuadorian Amazon, was to be given entirely to the Achuar in the year 2011. By that time, it had been estimated that Canodros would have paid $664,959 in rent (a rate later renegotiated/increased), and $150,000 in accumulated tourist fees to the Achuar (10.00 per tourist), along with helping leverage several hundreds of thousands of dollars in NGO contributions. Yet, the transfer happened ahead of schedule:

Pachamama.org, November 1, 2009: “Nearly two years ago, Kapawi Ecolodge was transferred to full ownership and close to full management by the Achuar nation. As anticipated, it has been a time of much change and learning for the Achuar, as they develop a deeper understanding of what it means to successfully run a world-class lodge located right in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Kapawi Ecolodge has always been very special to Pachamama as the two organizations came into being at around the same time. Since then Pachamama has been a close ally to the Achuar supporting them in this bold and challenging project.” [Source]

Yet while Pachamama Alliance boasts publicly on their website that “Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve is a thriving refuge run by the indigenous,” the reality, again appears quite different.

Although this early transfer is essentially framed as a “gift” by the generous developers/colonizers, in reality, it has been given back years ahead of schedule, [4] at least in part because it was a financial drain to the Canodros tourism corporation:

“A travel company called Canodros is running it. The agreement was that they would run it on Achuar land for 15 years and then give it back to the Achuar people, but sadly the owner of the company has now passed away and his sons didn’t share his vision for Kapawi as it wasn’t making much money. So they’ve decided to give it back after 10 years and unfortunately they haven’t been doing what was planned, training people or looking after the employees in the way that we would like to see them looked after.” [August 21, 2007, Zoe Tryon – Anthropologist and All-round Amazonian Woman]

Compare the above version to the “I Am Achuar” website which is registered to a private registrant in California:

“As planned, Canodros transferred the ownership of Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve to the Achuar on January 1, 2008. The project is now operated by the Achuar through their tour operator CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi Sociedad Anonima), a legal structure that has a category of a Tour operator, in charge of the ownership, operation and management of the lodge. [Source: http://www.iamachuar.org/] It is worth noting that the Achuar now have the responsibility of a legal corporation.]

To be clear, we have an indigenous population that was formerly sustainable in a true sense, now fully responsible for a corporation – a struggling tourist resort – with all/any liability, debt and stress that accompanies it. [Although some reports regarding the feasibility/profitability of Kapawi are conflicting (Rodriguez reports that earnings of over $1 million in direct and indirect contributions for the Achuar were distributed to local communities from Kapawi’s profits between 1996 and 2005 ($1,226,000) [Source]), the fact that the Canodros corporation incurred great financial cost to unload it approximately 4 years prior to the contract ending, is most telling.]

 At the beginning of years 1970 the Achuar was the only Jivaros that [had] not suffered any loss of culture due to the contact with the western world. In 1995, the Achuar signed an agreement to develop the project Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, which became his first source of income. On 1996, Pachamama Alliance was founded on San Francisco, California. At the same time, the Pachamama Foundation, its Ecuadorian office was founded in Quito. [Source: Canodros Website]

lynne-allen-gilberto-lynne

Photo: North American tourist marries Achuar tour guide

Pachamama excels in sharing stories of eagles and condors …. Yet one can be quite certain they will not be sharing stories of American Kapawi tourists who married their Achuar tour guides any time soon. One cannot know exactly how many times this occurs, yet at least one instance is evident, as described by the Kapawi tourist/U.S. citizen, Lynne Allen, on her personal blog. Allen recounts that on her last canoe ride of her 5-day stay, her guide professed his love for her. Allen describes her frustrations in obtaining a VISA for her new husband [“I tried sponsoring Gilberto on a student visa to the United States. The U.S. immigration people were not cooperative, despite the fact that he was admitted to the University of Florida’s language program, a six-month-long intensive. I had to guarantee that I had $9000, so my bank wrote me a letter verifying that fact…we soon realized that a spousal visa was probably our best chance to be together.”], as well as his integration into American values [“I introduced him to some of my family’s customs, such as a rather over-the-top Christmas, with loads of presents, well-filled stockings and a huge dinner with friends.”]

Allen states “[T]here has been no transition from the old culture to the new one and the villagers have picked up the worst of the new culture. They have little or no education or training. But they do have cell phones, internet accounts, televisions and DVD’s. They would pump up the generator and watch movies on television despite telling me stories about how they had nothing. Everyone would call me on their cell phones and ask for money.” – A Shuar Indian from the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador and A North American Teacher Find True Love (Emphasis in original.)

And we are to believe this is success?

Economic Colonialism via the School Curriculum

“Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a country (usually former European colonies in Africa or Asia) in lieu of direct military or political control. Such control can be economic, cultural, or linguistic; by promoting one’s own culture, language or media in the colony, corporations embedded in that culture can then make greater headway in opening the markets in those countries. Thus, neocolonialism would be the end result of relatively benign business interests leading to deleterious cultural effects.” [Source]

Disciplined capitalists of hegemony leave nothing to chance. The Kapawi eco-tourism project would be no exception. A high quality English instruction program commenced in the Kapawi Achuar community and Kapawi Ecolodge in November 2005.

“Create a program designed specifically for the needs of the Achuar community in terms of content and teaching methods, to maximize, not only the efficiency of the results, but also the enjoyment of studying English and the acceptance of the English program as part of the community by the Achuar.”

At the beginning of the description of the project, the author highlights the “temptation” of the Achuar (“it is very difficult for them to resist the temptation” (of short-term revenues). It is not surprising such terminology is used in reference to the Achuar when one considers a Catholic mission is situated in Kapawi:

“Volunteers will be living in the Catholic mission at the community (there is no religious pressure) which provides a very comfortable stay and volunteers will have their own room. There are four very nice sisters who work at the mission and the school who make one feel very welcome.”

A reference to the Catholic mission is also found on the Kapawi blog: “The community worked with the people from the hotel for the installation of almost 500 meters of pipeline so that in a future we can take the water near to the village house and from the catholic mission which is in Kapawi.”

“Unfortunately, Achuar leaders trained in the short term won’t be the ones managing the project in 15 years; rather, today’s twelve-year-olds will be in charge. With that in mind, Kapawi has helped get materials about tourism and ecotourism added to the regular school curriculum. Meanwhile, an environmental education project funded by a private donor connected with Pachamama offers six weeklong workshops each year to grades one through six.” [1] [Emphasis added.]

“The community has a school built by missionaries.” [Source]

 “It was a proud moment for the Achuar nation who clearly understand that university education is essential to the development of future Achuar leaders, not just in eco-tourism management but in all fields if the Achuar are to achieve a sovereign, holistic and sustainable development that strengthens the Achuar nation as a whole.” — Pachamama.org, November 1, 2009 [Source]

Profitability must be prioritized over safeguarding both living ecosystems and culture, as that is the nature of the capitalist beast. Even legitimate concern can only lend itself as far as the profitability of eco-tourism may allow. Profit not only outweighs protection; in the 21st century, profit, along with growth, is sacrosanct.

[English] “is taught by Professor Kate Krumrei (25 years), volunteer Texas (USA), which qualifies the Achuar as good students, but they must overcome shyness to communicate more fluently with foreigners. During his academic training, Kuji particularly enjoyed accounting classes and costs. ‘The most important thing in business is to establish how much you spend and how much you receive, so know your profit.'” – April 18, 2010

 

“Achuar leader added that young people are the most committed to the operation of the ecolodge, because they believe that through tourism revenue will more and more natives can finish high school, attend college and become professionals.” – April 18, 2010

 

“At Kapawi, there is an English teaching program offered to every worker. Ramiro Vargas, an Achuar guide, traveled to the United States to attend a language school. When he returns, he will replace a non-Achuar naturalist guide; the idea is to continue program until the Achuar are properly trained to run lodge and the marketing structure.” [Source]

A minga (Quechua) is a traditional work cooperative of sorts, a communal work party in the Andes and the Amazon. A fairly new venture (2012), International English Minga (IEM), in partnership with the University of San Francisco, the Pachamama Alliance and NAE, refers to itself as a catalyst for “wide-scale collaboration” giving way to “global community work parties and common purpose” and building “better pedagogy.” The said mingas (which include approximately 17 Americans who fly into the Amazon) focus on the teaching of the English language to the Achuar. Although this is said to be a partnership of exchange, there is no indication of the San Francisco student teachers reciprocating by learning the language of the Achuar – which is endangered. A well-intentioned White saviour/Minga veteran believes that “this Minga will be a catalyst which brings the concept of Minga into this new century – that experts of all kinds will want to come and want to partake in this amazing new way of teaching and learning.” While minga implies it will safeguard indigenous peoples’ interests, it demonstrates superiority and reinforces coloniality by imposing “expert” knowledge from the “West” upon the local people.

One must note the willful (perhaps instilled is more accurate) disregard and avoidance of any examination of White/First World privilege with no meaningful efforts whatsoever to counteract it. Rather, they are completely oblivious to it. Yet, this, too, is to be fully expected in our corporatized educational institutions.

It is of interest that in the photographs provided by the students on the IEM website, the Achuar people are rarely painted when in a natural social setting. Although the face/body painting was reserved as a practice for special occasions, today the painting is fully exploited for the benefit/entertainment of Kapawi tourists and outsiders. Stunning photographs of the beautifully painted Achuar serve as the prime advertising imagery for attracting international tourism. In the 2011 thesis, “Take a Picture with a Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, Ami Temarantz explores Indigenous identity in the online marketing of three ecotourism lodges, including Kapawi. The paper demonstrates how those (the Indigenous) exploited by such “social experiments” [5] (experiments designed to create dependency upon international tourism and an industrialized capitalist economy), are compelled to engage in the “ecologically noble savage myth” vis-à-vis emotive and spiritual “language that appeals to the Western ecological imagination” – in order to attract the Euro-American tourist in a highly competitive and aggressive industry. Under these social experiments, aspects of everyday life (the lives of Indigenous peoples) may or may not be suppressed “in order to cater to the fetishistic tourist image of ecological nobility” an Indigenous authenticity preferred by the West. Yet, not surprisingly, authenticity is willfully avoided by the tourist when it comes to perceivable threats (dangerous insects, for example) or physical difficulty (such as having to trek through the jungle carrying one’s own luggage). The adoration and desire for authenticity, as if by magic, all but disappears when access to luxury on demand is threatened. As an example, the romanticism of Indigenous authenticity would no doubt quickly dissolve if a tourist had to launder their own bedding each day in the river.

How Indigenous communities, now saddled with intense pressure to allure, seduce and satisfy White privilege, can continue to evolve naturally under such conditions appears to be of little interest to White saviours. Again, as throughout history, the Achuar are presented as the lucky beneficiaries of Western development and ideologies, thereby, yet again, assigned to their historic role as the passive novelties/objects of rapacious colonial ambition.

The success of Kapawi depends literally on the Achuars’ ability to tend to and fulfill the needs, wants, expectations and fantasies of the elite rich – the same elite group responsible for the bulk of global greenhouse gas emissions, thus, the same group responsible for the ongoing genocide of Earth’s most vulnerable peoples, nonhuman life, and our collapsing living ecosystems. (The monetarily wealthiest 1% are responsible for 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.)

Further, for how long will the Achuar be satisfied spending their lives literally serving White privilege (“a haven of ease, good taste, and understated luxury”) only to return at the end of each long day (or weeks on end) to dirt floors and discarded Nike t-shirts? How this can truly be considered a foundation to build relationships based upon mutual respect and equality is anyone’s guess.

Airplane pilots, mechanics, flying students to English schools in the US, and university degrees in hotel management: if this does not fall under the description of colonization, one must wonder what does.

 

Next: Part VII

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Source: Case study: THE KAPAWI INDIGENOUS-CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP FOR ECOTOURISM IN ECUADOR

[2] “Kapawi ?Lodge,? Ecuador:? A? full? partnership? project? with ?the? Indigenous? Organization? of? Ecuadorean? Achuar? nationalities ?(OINAEI).?” [Source] (OINAEI is also referred to as the Indigenous Organization of Achuar Nationality of Ecuador.) OINAEI is now formally recognized as NAE (Achuar Nationality of Ecuador or Achuar Nation of Ecuador).

[3] “Rachel [Saint] was sure that she could testify that the Auca’s destiny did belong to her brother’s sacrifice. It merely confirmed her prophetic visions. The shedding of Nate’s blood atoned for the sins of the Auca (as she insisted on calling the Huaorani, even after learning their language), sanctifying her own calling to bring them out of Satan’s realm. To Rachel, the portrait of tribal life rendered by Dayuma, her informant on the Huaorani language, verified her own belief in a universe molded by the struggle between Good and Evil. Dayuma spoke in a trembling voice of her grandfather’s tales of Winae, the small vampire of the forest night. In these stories Rachel saw not the normal human fear of a jungle full of predators and rubber slavers, but the power of Satan himself. In her mind, there was no question that the tribe’s traditional shaman was a witch doctor doing Satan’s bidding. Likewise, she was sure that the Indians’ polygamy had dark metaphysical, not cultural, roots. The fact that her own brother had suffered martyrdom at the hands of at least one of Dayuma’s brothers was another intimate sign of deep Christian meaning in the Auca destiny of salvation through blood atonement. In June 1957, Dayuma and Rachel began Cam’s (William Cameron Townsend (founder of Summer Institute of Linguistics) whirlwind tour of 27 American cities. A legend was being born.” [The Akha Heritage Foundation]

[4] The transfer of ownership slated for January 1, 2011 took place in June 2008. The Kapawi–Conodros contract signed in 1996 came to an end in 2007. The process (to end the contract/partnership) began in November of 2003 and ended on September 18th of 2007 with the Pachamama Foundation serving as the consultant for the Achuar. [Source]

[5] Paper: Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part V of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

February 5, 2015

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

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII

 

The Conceptualization of Kapawi

The Kapawi Ecolodge, although marketed as a vision first conceptualized by the Achuar, was, in reality, first conceptualized by entrepreneur newspaper mogul Carlos Pérez Perasso and Dan Kouperman, an experienced adventure tour guide. [“The newspaper The Universe was founded in 1921 in the coastal city of Guayaquil, by Ismael Pérez Pazmiño. Management has historically remained in the hands of heirs Pérez. Carlos Pérez Perasso, also a Galapagos Islands tour operator, raised the prestige of the newspaper until it became the largest daily national newspaper in Ecuador, and one of the most influential.” [Source] [See part I of this investigation for further background on El Universo and how the ideologies upheld by this powerful family have undoubtedly influenced/impacted isolated Achuar communities.)

“There were always passengers on board [occupancy rates were high], and as it was a good business. So, the directors began to wonder, why not expand?” — Arnaldo Rodriguez

“It was the early 1990s, and Canodros had become a well-known tour operator in the Galapagos by then, doing well with their ship Explorer. ‘There were always passengers on board [occupancy rates were high], and as it was a good business. So, the directors began to wonder, why not expand?’ Rodriguez remembered. ‘We had originally picked an area in the highlands, and started looking for people to associate with.’ The directors and Koupermann were intrigued by the idea of exploring the lowlands, especially because visitor interest in the rainforest seemed to be on the rise. In fact, they hoped that 40% (2,800 passengers per year) from the Galapagos operation might have an interest in visiting the Amazon, and they began imagining an Achuar ecolodge as an add-on to Galapagos.” [1]

“When we approached them in 1993 for the first time they lived in communities and had contact with the state via military detachments, the ministries of health and education, and the Silesian missions, Dominicans, and Evangelicals,” says Kouperman, who is also quick to caution how an outsider should perceive the Achuar.” [Source]

Kouperman was and is not overly sentimental, his ambitions strikingly clear: “To assume that primitive and isolated cultures with little contact with the western world are not going to change is a utopia[n] [idea]. These cultures are dynamic and always adapt to the times.” [Source]

In Kouperman’s world, the Achuar’s “adapting to the times” is a good thing.

One could argue that the Achuar people have simply undergone a natural and internal evolution toward capitalism that would have evolved even without the influence of Pachamama Alliance and their business alliances – but who would have the audacity?

As Euro-Americans who have destroyed an entire planet (i.e., the uncivilized), it is somewhat incredible that we have the audacity to bring “our knowledge” to the remaining few who have successfully survived (legitimately sustainable, in the most real sense of the word) for centuries outside of the industrialized civilization (i.e., the civilized).

And yet we need to believe that they somehow need us. Perhaps this lie assists in denying the fact that we are a culturally and emotionally starved people – a commodity culture that cannot yet admit that our choice for material wealth, which supersedes our (gutted) instinct to protect our children from harm at all costs, is collectively pathological. Emotionally malnourished, we have perhaps produced an entire populace drowning in subconscious self-loathing and self-hatred. Anorexia nervosa pales in comparison to the distorted self-image of Euro-Americans.

“The Third World has thus become not just a playground for Western fantasies (Maoz, 2005:223), but also the world producer of ‘natural’ resources such as authenticity, nativity, exoticism, sensuality, the picturesque, adventurism, spectacle, and even catastrophe and destruction (see post-Tsunami tourism).” [Source]

Revolution and enslavement do not always comes by way of a gun; likewise colonialism. Prior to the NGOs of the non-profit industrial complex becoming the missionaries of the 21st century, we had the “founding fathers” of colonialism, 19th and 20th century missionaries of the church:

“Between 1968 and 1970, Catholics and Evangelicals began to enter Achuar territory with an evangelizing intent. Although the missionaries met with limited success in their quest for souls they did initiate a process of increasing intercultural contact that would slowly begin to change the Achuars’ way of living. For example, it was the Catholic missionaries who suggested to the Achuar that there might be some advantage to living in small villages, which is how many Achuar live today.” — Kapawi Ecolodge Website | The Achuar Community of Ecuador’s Recent History

The Kapawi website states “[Y]our official Amazon Jungle excursion begins in Shell, near the Amazonian frontier town of Puyo. This is the headquarters for the Achuar people outside of their rainforest territory. Shell can be reached overland from Quito in about four and one-half hours by public bus, or by private car, van or motor coach.”

GeoPolitics | The Missionary Hub of Quito

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” ? Aldous Huxley

Distributing Bibles in Guatemala 

Past: Historical photo of MAF in the early years, distributing bibles in Guatemala.

FirstCard(2) 

Present: Photo: MAF International, the ‘mobile ministry’: “The project has grown from putting a few Christmas videos on the cards, to adding Christmas carols, images, audio, the ‘JESUS Film’ series and an audio Bible. A Christmas message recorded by an MAF staff member is also included. The message encourages people to remember Jesus this Christmas, and discusses how to become a Christian. December 18, 2013, Source

maf 

Above: MAF utilizing social media to “share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed.”

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254891_orig

Above: From MAF Africa website: “Our vision is to see isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in the Name of Jesus Christ and for all people to have access to both the Gospel and resources that advance God’s Kingdom.” [Source]

Not found on the Kapawi website is the history of Shell, which is significant. The town named Shell (also La Shell, or Shell-Mera) is named after the Royal Dutch Shell Company and the smaller town of Mera, which is 5 miles (8 km) to the northwest. It was established in 1937 as a Shell Oil Company base. Around 1949, Shell became reoccupied by the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), founded in 1945.

On January 8, 1956, MAF-US pilot Nate Saint and four other missionaries who had been attempting to make contact with the Huaorani tribe under the auspices of Operation Auca were killed by the Huaorani when they landed (via plane) in Huaorani territory. Key political forces leading up to and beyond “Operation Auca” included, but were not limited to, the CIA, Nelson Rockefeller, President Eisenhower, Ecuadorian President Galo Plaza and William Cameron Townsend (founder of Summer Institute of Linguistics).

1952: When the first Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) (founded by William “Cam” Townsend) team arrived in Ecuador, the Huaorani (also known as Waorani, Waodani and Waos) had been reduced to approximately 400 due to enslavement and massacres by rubber barons. The Quichuans, who lived in the area, were said to be terrified of the Huaorani, giving them the derogatory name Auca. Auca is a modification of the Quechua word awqa – which translates to “savage.” “No one in the SIL party entertained any illusion about conquering the Aucas for Christ. No one volunteered. They all accepted the wisdom of other missionaries that the hundred Auca spearmen who had held up civilization’s advance would have no compunction sending white foreigners quickly to their God of Love.” [Source] That is until SIL’s Rachel Saint stepped forward. It was through her brother, MAF-US pilot Nate Saint, that Rachel Saint learned of the Huaorani’s existence. She became enamoured with a vision that she had been chosen by God to “save” the “brown tribe in the green forest.” While this was unfolding, Shell’s Director, General James Doolittle, was conducting a secret investigation of the CIA’s covert operations in Ecuador at US President Eisenhower’s request (Doolittle would befriend Nate Saint in 1954). Upon receiving the findings (in 1954) Eisenhower gave the report to CIA’s Allen Dulles.

“Two months later, he appointed a new special assistant on Cold War strategy and psychological warfare. As the president’s personal representative on the National Security Council, this man would oversee the global escalation of CIA covert warfare. A Planning Coordination Group, which came to be called simply the “Special Group,” was established. In a position of authority over policy second only to the president himself and actually exercising much more power than he did, three men –CIA director Allen Dulles, Undersecretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., and Undersecretary of Defense Roger Kyes – would be in command, chaired by the president’s new special assistant: Nelson Rockefeller”. — Rachel Saint vs. The Huaorani

On a bitterly cold winter day in Chicago (December 17, 1955), one week prior to Rockefeller’s resignation as the presidential assistant for psychological warfare and Cold War strategy, one of the Cold War’s least-known but most significant events took place outside an airport hangar. Amidst a crowd and the press, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley dedicated a plane (a CIA assett named the Helio Courier) [2] that would transport Wycliffe Bible Translators into the depths of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Present was the notorius Ecuadorian ambassador Jose Chiriboga, “sanctioning the penetration of Ecuador’s remaining Amazonian lands by a well-connected American missionary organization.” [3] “This day marked the beginning of the Inter-American Friendship Fleet [4] [that] he [William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics] was promoting in Washington’s corridors and of the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS) as an important instrument of the Cold War.” The dedication of the Helio Courier, to be operated by SIL, spelled out that MAF’s Nate Saint’s reign over the Ecuadorian Oriente skies was coming to a close. [Source]

Cam had spent most of his furlough year in the United States in a fruitless effort to convince the oilmen of Tulsa that JAARS was the answer to their prayers, not just his. He needed a publicity coup to win them over and to persuade businessmen in other cities to buy the Helios he had ordered.” — Rachel Saint vs. The Huaorani

The foreign/corporate control and plunder of oil and natural resources within pristine, untouched third-world countries was difficult if not impossible due to tribal people who would stop at nothing to protect their lands and people. Consider that Shell’s work crews had fallen to Indian spears and poisoned darts from blow guns. [Source] Ultimately, subjugation, allowing access, was won utilizing missionaries, bibles and “gifts.” “Planes were becoming the most important means for governments involved in ‘nation-building’ in the Third World to secure, penetrate, and colonize frontiers with landless peasants.”

Cam needed more money to buy more planes but the recognition of JAARS’s “unique potential” was not enough to convince the establishment to part with their money.

Then, as the Akha Heritage Foundation [5] has documented, “as if from the Hand of God, lightning struck in the glint of spears.” [6]

The spear struck on January 8, 1956, when MAF’s Nate Saint and four other missionaries killed in Operation Auca were transformed into martyrs by American television. (“Life magazine published a gripping account of Christian martyrdom, which caused a worldwide sensation. The doors of nationally known politicians, such as Vice President Nixon and former president Harry Truman, now opened to Cam’s Helio promotions.”) Via American television, Rachel Saint was made into the most famous missionary in the United States. (“Overnight 30 million Americans could recognize the woman with intense eyes who had dedicated her life to converting her brother’s killers.”)

Although it appeared Operation Auca was now over, it had, in fact, only just begun.

+++

“I speak of the Christian religion, and no one need be astonished. The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor. And as we know, in this matter many are called but few chosen.” ? Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence (Chapter 1 in The Wretched of the Earth, 1961)

Two years later, in 1958, the Hospital Vozandes del Oriente (the dream of Nate Saint) was established as the first hospital in that region of Ecuador. In August 1964, Nate Saint Memorial School opened in Shell for missionary children. In 1985, a new Hospital Vozandes was opened on the other side of the Motolo River. [“Hospital Vozandes-Shell was borne of the late missionary Nate Saint’s passion to see the people of Ecuador’s rainforest hear the gospel of Christ. It was dedicated in 1958 as Epp Memorial Hospital in Shell, known in Ecuador as Hospital Vozandes del Oriente HVO).”][Source]

In 1949, Dr. Catherine Peeke joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and worked in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador as a linguist and translator. Peeke then began two years of language study of the Waorani people in Ecuador. For 14 years, Dr. Peeke worked closely with SIL staff member Ms. Rosi Jung (from Germany) and with several Waorani to complete the translation of the New Testament in the native language. After the dedication of the Waorani New Testament in 1992, Peeke retired but returned to Ecuador several times as a volunteer. Both Peeke and Jung traveled to jungle villages to teach the Waorani in the use of the translated Scriptures. In retirement, Peeke completed a bilingual dictionary in Waorani and Spanish. She passed away in 2014, a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church, Weaverville, North Carolina. [Source and source]

Ecuador, Texaco, and missionaries from the SIL/WBT collaborated to pacify the Huaorani and end their way of life.

It was during this period, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that most Huaorani were “contacted” by “cowode” (strangers) for the first time. The missionaries who worked with Texaco had their own converging interests. SIL/WBT described the “Aucas” as “murderers at heart” and its operation to convert them as “one of the most extraordinary missionary endeavors” of the twentieth century, “living proof of miracles brought to pass through God’s word.” [Source]

Jaime Roldós Aguilera (November 5, 1940 to May 24, 1981) was President of Ecuador from 10 August 1979 until his death on 24 May 1981. In his book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, Pachamama co-founder John Perkins tells us that Rondo accused the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) (the evangelical missionary group from the US) of sinister collusion with the oil companies: “SIL had been working extensively with the Huaorani tribe in the Amazon basin area, during the early years of oil exploration, when a disturbing pattern emerged. Whenever seismologists reported to corporate headquarters that a certain region had characteristics indicating a high probability of oil beneath the surface, SIL went in and encouraged the indigenous people to move from that land, onto missionary reservations; there they would receive free food, shelter, clothes, medical treatment, and missionary-style education. The condition was that they had to deed their lands to the oil companies.”

And while Perkins reveals Rockefeller connections that threatened Roldós (it is apparent that Perkins admires Roldós greatly), he fails to comprehend the imperial ties/interests within his own organization – including grants and Rockefeller financing:

“Rachel Saint, the sister of one of the murdered men, toured the United States, appearing on national television in order to raise money and support for SIL and the oil companies, who she claimed were helping the ‘savages’ become civilized and educated. SIL received funding from the Rockefeller charities. Jaime Roldós claimed that these Rockefeller connections proved that SIL was really a front for stealing indigenous lands and promoting oil exploration; family scion John D. Rockefeller had founded Standard Oil – which later divested into the majors, including Chevron, Exxon, and Mobil. […]

“But Roldós would not cave in to intimidation. He responded by denouncing the conspiracy between politics and oil – and religion. He openly accused the Summer Institute of Linguistics of colluding with the oil companies and then, in an extremely bold – perhaps reckless – move, he ordered SIL out of the country. Only weeks after sending his legislative package to Congress and a couple of days after expelling the SIL missionaries, Roldós warned all foreign interests, including but not limited to oil companies, that unless they implemented plans that would help Ecuador’s people, they would be forced to leave his country. He delivered a major speech at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium in Quito and then headed off to a small community in southern Ecuador.”

Is history repeating itself? It is no secret that those in charge of psy-ops simply “rinse, lather and repeat” the same tried and true destabilization strategies that dupe the masses over and over again. Today, substitute environmental markets for oil corporations, NGOs for religious missionaries. Rondós’s speech is echoed through both Educador’s President Correa and President Morales of Bolivia today.

Roldós died there in a fiery airplane crash, on May 24, 1981 with all the markings of a CIA-orchestrated assassination.

“Osvaldo Hurtado took over as Ecuador’s president. He reinstated the Summer Institute of Linguistics and their oil company sponsors. By the end of the year, he had launched an ambitious program to increase oil drilling by Texaco and other foreign companies in the Gulf of Guayaquil and the Amazon basin…. Omar Torrijos (president of Panama), in eulogizing Roldós, referred to him as ‘brother.’ He also confessed to having nightmares about his own assassination; he saw himself dropping from the sky in a gigantic fireball. It was prophetic. […] But Torrijos was not buckling. Like Roldos, he refused to be intimidated. He, too, expelled the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and he adamantly refused to give in to the Reagan administration’s demands to renegotiate the Canal Treaty. Two months after Roldós’s death, Omar Torrijos’s nightmare came true; he died in a plane crash. It was July 31, 1981.” [Source]

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

Hallefuckinglujah

“I must confess, I hadn’t been to Mass in 10 years or something, and suddenly I’m going to meet Mother Teresa. I cancelled all the meetings I had with the IMF, the World Bank, UNICEF, and everything that day. I went straight to a church. I went to confession. I did the rosary about a 100,000 times. I did everything I could to prepare myself.” — Lynne Twist (Pachamama co-founder) interview, 2009

Today, we have what constitutes a full-blown orgy or even a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah of 19th/20th century missionaries – infused with the modern day 21st century missionaries, the NGOs.

“In Ecuador, there is Catholicism, Mormonism, animism and paganism…. There is a need for the truth and for discipling people in the truth and all they are getting is lies from Catholicism and Mormonism. We have a responsibility to go all nations, tribes, tongues and peoples and we need to go back to places where we have been before and take the gospel there again.” — The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Experiencing the culture firsthand, February 23, 2006

It is imperative to note that while missionary Nate Saint with the four other missionaries are today considered heroic martyrs (killed by the Waodani people), there is no such martyrdom for the millions of Indigenous peoples slaughtered and enslaved by the Europeans for centuries.

Unlike stealth NGOs within the non-profit industrial complex, the Hospital Vozandes-Shell makes no attempt to tone down nor disguise colonization efforts:

“The lives of Waorni warriors and their families were saved and the gospel went forth among these jungle people…. Here we have the privilege of helping some 20 patients find personal faith in Christ each month.” [Source]

Today Shell is a much larger town, brimming with Spanish-speaking churches, hangars, a hospital, schools, hotels, and missionary guest houses. Nate Saint’s house still stands. The airport is also still a major base of operations for the Mission Aviation Fellowship.

The feature-length documentary film, Beyond Gates of Splendor, released in 2004, surmises the “success” of the missionaries as follows: “And now they are no longer the Auca, the savage…” [http://youtu.be/BD8LZFht9i4] The documentary closes with the showing of the former “killers” – now transformed into “God Followers.”

 

 

Today’s 21st century missionaries/NGOs have traded in the baggy hemp trousers and the long tunics of their predecessors for Bagir EcoGir all-organic suits. Espresso-coloured bamboo fibres avec buttons made from dried nuts of tagua palm ecologically harvested from the rainforest. Made exclusively for white male privilege – made possible by those exploited and paid next to nothing in the harvesting of the resources, by those exploited in sweatshops producing clothing they will never be able to afford in their lifetime. On the left, we have male, blond, blue-eyed Jesus. On the right, we have economic growth, and markets as sacrosanct.

Occupation

“The only way we’ll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba – yes Cuba too.” Malcolm X

The occupation of Shell commenced in 1937 with the Shell Corporation, recommenced in 1949 by Mission Aviation Fellowship, and expanded at the end of the 20th century with the presence/onslaught of non-profits/NGOs financed from abroad. The occupation continues to this day.

Occupations need not exist only in the form of military force; they can also be the result of compliance via psychological methods and soft power.

The definition of colonize is to “settle among and establish control over”; “the act of setting up a colony away from one’s place of origin.” Human colonization refers strictly to migration, for example, to settler colonies, trading posts, and plantations, while colonialism deals with this, along with ruling the existing indigenous peoples of styled “new territories.” The definition of an occupation is the “control of a country by a foreign military power”; “the seizure and control of an area by military forces, especially foreign territory and/or the term of control of a territory by foreign military forces.” Then how to define psychological/soft-power occupation as successfully practised by the former missionaries and 21st century missionaries/NGOs?

We can safely define soft-power occupation (the act of occupying; the state of being occupied) as 1) enculturation: the process by which a person adapts to and assimilates the culture in which he lives, 2) social control: control exerted (actively or passively) by group action and norms, 3) socialization: the adoption of the behaviour patterns of the surrounding culture, 4) cultivation: socialization through training and education to develop one’s mind or manners, 5) auto limitation: social control achieved as a manifestation of self-will or general consent, 6) acculturation: the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group, especially a dominant one, 7) psychology: the scientific study of all forms of human and animal behaviour, sometimes concerned with the methods through which behaviour can be modified.

 

Next: Part VI

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Source: Case study: THE KAPAWI INDIGENOUS-CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP FOR ECOTOURISM IN ECUADOR

[2] “Six months before, another unusually long-winged airplane had zoomed into the stratosphere before startled onlookers, but it would be another half year before the CIA’s U-2 would make its secret maiden voyage into Soviet skies. This plane, however, was ready now, and although its design came out of the same aeronautical origins as did the U-2, the Helio Courier was no secret. It could not be, for it was designed to be flown at low altitudes and low speeds, not in the heavens beyond sight and sound. Both planes would make history for the CIA. But the U-2’s mission would be exposed to the world within five years while the Helio’s use as a CIA asset would remain virtually unknown for three more decades.” Helio is the Greek word for “sun,” and courier is the Latin word for “messenger. [Source]

[3] “Richard J. Daley, looking the model of the stocky Irish American big-city politician, was a conservative but devout Roman Catholic. The newly elected mayor of Chicago was absolute ruler of arguably the most powerful Democratic machine in the United States. Daley had not risen to power championing the ambition of Fundamentalist Protestants in Catholic countries like Ecuador. Yet here he was, officially welcoming the crowd, including members of the press, to the dedication of an airplane that would bring the Wycliffe Bible Translators into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Standing beside Daley was Ecuador’s ambassador Jose Chiriboga, who had earned a reputation for shrewdness as mayor of Quito equal to Daley’s in Chicago. Only twelve years before, he had confounded his countrymen by signing over half of Ecuador’s Amazon to Peru at Washington’s behest. Pearl Harbor had made hemispheric unity essential, Chiriboga had explained, and the war between Ecuador and Peru had to end, even if that meant that Ecuador would lose land rumored to be coveted by Standard Oil’s Peruvian subsidiary, International Petroleum Company. And now here was Chiriboga again, as ambassador of a self-described radical nationalist government, sanctioning the penetration of Ecuador’s remaining Amazonian lands by a well-connected American missionary organization.” [Source]

[4] “To ‘strengthen the Good Neighbor feeling even more,’ Townsend suggested, the planes should be referred to as the ‘Inter American Friendship Fleet.'” — The Development of the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1934-1982

[5] “We are strongly opposed to mission organizations which would remove Akha Children and destroy Akha language, literature, culture and identity. We believe that the defense of land rights and other human rights is at the heart of any just system, and we would oppose those who remain silent while these abuses continue.” [Source]

[6] “In September 1955, the same month that Ambassador Chiriboga announced that the Ecuadorian government no longer recognized the Oriente concessions of a Canadian-owned company, Peruvian Oils and Minerals Company, Nate suddenly launched Operation Auca.” [Source]