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TAKE ACTION: Tell Avaaz to STOP the Destabilization of Bolivia Campaign

The recent kidnapping (then release) of the Foreign Minister by the marchers shows how dangers the situation has become and the fear of real inter-indigenous clashes becoming real grows. Now is the time for us to help Bolivia and its people, not jump behind imperialist campaigns to overthrow a government that has lead the way in regards to fighting climate change.

Below is the letter written by Derrick O’Keefe of Vancouver, Canada. Please take the opportunity to copy and paste this message below and send it to Avaaz at avaaz@avaaz.org and luis@avaaz.org.

Even better – because we know Corporate Greens care far more about the brand and funding then they do about justice – please share this page on your own blog, Facebook and other social media we must use as tools to fight against the system. Thanks to Derrick O’Keefe for leading and not following.

Following this letter (below) is additional information on Avaaz and how REDD is connected to this escalating crisis occurring in Bolivia.

To the Avaaz team,

I too am concerned by the violence of the Bolivian police in this incident and the lack of consultation of local indigenous peoples. I support the call for dialogue, consultation and debate within Bolivia to resolve this situation, and hope that such a resolution will respect the local ecology and indigenous rights.

However, I feel your petition call-out is irresponsible for failing to mention the long-standing and ongoing pressure, interference and threats against Bolivia’s government and process of social change by the governments of the United States, Canada and Europe — the very countries to whose citizens you are appealing to sign this petition.

Your call-out also elides important context and complexities; most importantly the fact that other mass social movement organizations (which include other indigenous peoples) have pushed for the highway’s construction and were planning to block the march before police intervened. The tensions between so-called ‘development’ and the preservation of forests and indigenous rights are more challenging given hundreds of years of colonial and neo-colonial domination of this small, poor and landlocked country.

Failing to provide this context leaves your members and supporters without any motivation to pursue their most important political task: challenging their own government’s policies that unequivocally back their multi-national corporations and pursue alliances with the most anti-democratic, anti-environment political elements in Bolivia.

Finally, I must say that I have noted in the past that your group — for its many laudable efforts — does have a tendency to promote rather soft or easy causes. I have written you in the past encouraging you to organize a campaign against the NATO occupation of Afghanistan and its corrupt, puppet government, but I never heard a response. With the upcoming 10th anniversary of this brutal, disastrous war, this would be a perfect time for Avaaz to launch an appeal to oppose the US, Canadian and other NATO governments’ policy of endless war.

Sincerely,

Derrick O’Keefe
Vancouver, Canada

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HOW REDD IS INVOLVED IN THIS CRISIS

ABOUT AVAAZ:

One must ask themselves – why would Avaaz lend its international voice to this particular campaign? Recent ecological disastrous international events like the Olympics (recently in Vancouver, Canada) which destroyed massive amounts of land on Indigenous territories – was not of interest to Avaaz or any other corporate green. The Avaaz NGO (Soros funding) has never endorsed the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba.

Avaaz is a member of The Climate Group.

The Climate Group is pushing REDD: http://www.theclimategroup.org/_assets/files/Reducing-Emissions-from-Deforestation.pdf

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also acts as an incubator for in-house projects that later evolve into free-standing institutions – a case in point being ‘The Climate Group’, launched in London in 2004. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being that of the big NGO Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates unproven carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass as crucial technologies for a low-carbon economy. The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which works consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash”. The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India, and North America. It was a partner to the ‘Copenhagen Climate Council’.

http://www.theclimategroup.org/about-us/our-partners/

The manipulation by NGOs and corporations is clear in this interview (below) with Pirakuma Yawalapiti, the Xingu spokesperson speaking on the issue of carbon trading. This dialogue was filmed by Rebecca Sommer of EARTHPEOPLES, a global network for and by Indigenous Peoples. The interview is just one of hundreds that give documented testament to the deliberate manipulation of the threatened people most vulnerable to climate change. To view more videos and further understand the exploitation of Indigenous Peoples in pursuit of the profits behind REDD, please visit SommerFilms.

[In the interview, the NGOs/agencies who Yawalapiti speaks of (that are pressuring the Indigenous communities of Alto Xingu to agree to REDD projects they do not want) are FUNAI – National Indian Foundation Brazil / Fundação Nacional do Índio and IBAMA – Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources / Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis.]

WHAT MAINSTREAM MEDIA AND NGOs ARE NOT REPORTING

From the article: Bolivia: Amazon protest — development before environment? By Fred Fuentes

US interference

As the uprising against neoliberalism grew in strength, overthrowing a neoliberal president in 2003, US imperialism sought to use money to increase divisions within the indigenous movements.

In late 2005, investigative journalist Reed Lindsay published an article in NACLA that used declassified US documents to expose how US government-funded agency USAID was used to this effect.

USAID was already planning by 2002 to “help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS or its successors”.

The downfall in 2003 of president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada triggered a step-up in this subversive activity.

A particular target was CIDOB.

The group was in a crisis after Fabricano was accused of profiting from illegal logging and he accepted the post of vice-minister of Indigenous Affairs under Sanchez de Lozada.

Through USAID funding to the Brecha Foundation, an NGO established by CIDOB leaders, the US hoped to further mould the organisation to its own ends.

Referring to comments made by Brecha director Victor Hugo Vela, Lindsay notes that during this time, “CIDOB leaders allied with Fabricano have condemned the cultivation of coca, helped the business elite in the department of Santa Cruz to push for region autonomy and opposed a proposal to require petroleum companies to consult with indigenous communities before drilling on their lands”.

The CSUTCB (divided between followers of Morales and radical Aymara leader Felipe Quispe), CSCB, FNMCB-BS and organisations such as the neighbourhood councils of El Alto (Fejuve), and to a less extent worker and miner organisations, were at the forefront of constant street battles and insurrections.

CIDOB, however, took an approach marked by negotiation and moderation.

It was not until July 2005 that CIDOB renewed its leadership, in turn breaking relations with Brecha.

CIDOB was not the only target for infiltration.

With close to $200,000 in US government funds, the Land and Liberty Movement (MTL) was set up in 2004 by Walter Reynaga.

As well as splitting the Movement of Landless Peasant’s (MST), one wing of which operated out of his La Paz office, Lindsay said Reynaga, like Vega, tried to win control of the “MAS-aligned” CONAMAQ.

Demands

And it is also true that the demands of the Sub Central of TIPNIS, and in particular CIDOB, are far removed from any notion of communitarianism.

Although initially focused on opposition to the highway, protesters presented the government with an original list of 13 demands, then extended to 16, on the day the march began.

Among those were calls for indigenous peoples to be able to directly receive compensation payment for offsetting carbon emissions.

This policy, know as REDD+, has been denounced as the privatisation of the forests by many environmental activists and the Peoples’ Summit of Climate Change organised in Bolivia in 2010.

It has also been promoted as a mechanism to allow developed countries to continue to pollute while undermining the right underdeveloped to develop their economies.

Another demand calls for the replacement of functionaries within the Authority for Control and Monitoring of Forests and Lands (ABT).

This demand dovetails with the allegations made by Morales against CIDOB leaders, and never refuted, that they want to control this state institution.

Much focus has been made of the potential environmental destruction caused by a highway that would open the path to future “coloniser” settlements.

But these arguments have only focused on one side of the equation.

Much has been made of a study by Bolivian Strategic Research Program that concluded that 64.5% of TIPNIS would be lost to deforestation by 2030 as a result of the highway.

Few, though, have noted that the same study found that even without the highway 43% of TIPNIS would be lost if the current rate of deforestation continues.

The biggest cause of this is the illegal logging that continues to occur, in some cases with the complicity of some local indigenous leaders and communities.

An environmental impact studies by the Bolivian Highway Authority have found the direct impact of the highway on TIPNIS to be 0.03%.

But this has to weighed up with the fact that the highway would provide the state with access to areas currently out of its reach.

This would enable not only access to services, but a greater ability to tackle illegal logging and potential narcotrafficking in the area.

At the same time, the government has asked the indigenous communities of TIPNIS to help in drafting legislation that would impose jail terms of 10 to 20 years on those found to be illegally settling, growing coca or logging in TIPNIS.

Say no to an U.S. led international campaign whose goal is not to protect the environment (REDD and the privatisation of forests are at the complete opposite spectrum of protecting the Earth) but to undermine the process of change in a vulnerable country struggling to retain its autonomy.

Action Alert: Let Rainforest Action Network Know Global Ecological Sustainability Depends Upon Ending Old Forest Logging

Rainforest Action Network is a key supporter of failed Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) efforts to “sustainably” log tens of millions of hectares of primary and old-growth forests for lawn furniture, toilet paper and other throw-away consumer items. As RAN celebrates its 25th anniversary, let them know old forests will never be fully protected as long as they and others unquestioningly support “certified” yet ecologically unsustainable first-time industrial primary rainforest logging. Demand RAN vigorously defend their support for first-time primary forest logging over an area two times as large as Texas, or resign from FSC immediately. Encourage RAN to spend the next 25 years working to protect and expand old forests to maintain a habitable Earth.

By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet – March 13, 2010

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1.) Inform Yourself

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NOTE: This is a protest, not a petition, sending emails to many real decision makers on matters vital to the Earth.

RAN supports old forest logging
Caption: RAN’s 25th anniversary celebration and hiring of new executive director provides excellent opportunity to re-examine support for FSC and first time industrial logging of old forests two times the size of Texas. (link)

Old forests including tropical rainforests are the ultimate expression of life, evolution and ecology. The term “old forests” is used to describe primary unlogged forests, regenerating late successional natural old-growth, and planted mixed-species forests regaining old-growth characteristics. Here untold co-evolved species and genetic diversity exist and interact with each other and their environment to provide ecosystem services – water, nutrient and energy cycling – required for a habitable Earth. Forests logged industrially for the first time are permanently ecologically damaged in terms of composition, structure, function and dynamics. When primary forests are lost or diminished, it is inevitable that local ecological and social conditions deteriorate, regional weather and species distributions deviate, and the global biosphere and its ability to maintain conditions for life are weakened.

The forest protection movement, like many social justice movements before it, is at a crossroads. The slavery abolitionists had to choose between improving conditions for slaves or pursuing their freedom. American revolutionaries chose between greater autonomy under continued British colonialism or to fight for full freedom and liberty. Similarly, the forest movement has to decide whether we want to work to fully protect and restore old carbon and species rich forests as a keystone response to achieve global ecological sustainability, or continue to log – in only a slightly better manner – 500 year old trees in 60 million year old ecosystems for disposable consumer products. By definition, primary forests are destroyed.

Since 1993 best estimates are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has sanctioned the logging of sixty million hectares of primary and old-growth forests, and an equal amount is threatened in coming years. But no one really knows the full extent of the problem as FSC does not compile how many old forests it certifies for first time heavy industrial logging. This means FSC and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) — an FSC founding member and ardent supporter — are responsible for the past and threatened loss of about 460,000 square miles of primary and other old forests – an area the size of South Africa, or nearly two times the size of Texas. FSC has not responded to numerous requests to gather more accurate figures, when directly questioned FSC board members say they do not know, and even RAN who is a member was not provided this information.

In light of current and emerging ecosystem, biodiversity and climate science; as well as evident abrupt climate change and the ongoing biodiversity extinction crises, it is clear that FSC certification for primary and old-growth logging – except under specific circumstances such as small scale community eco-forestry practiced by local peoples – is one of the primary threats to old forests. This is particularly true when many other certification schemes and business as usual industrial rainforest logging make competing claims of sustainability. Internationally, forest carbon efforts – such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) – build upon the falsehood that logging primary forests, even establishing plantations where they once stood, is a desired outcome. In most countries it is impossible to suggest old forest logging end and development be based upon standing old forests, as the response is they are to be “sustainably” logged. It is becoming abundantly clear that ending industrial diminishment and working for the full protection and restoration of old forests are keystone responses to the climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem, water and poverty crises.

If RAN can target others for damaging the environment, then clearly their own involvement in such massive and unexplained logging of ancient forests is worthy of a campaign and deserves a reasoned response. Past protests have been shrugged off and twice RAN reneged on promises to get FSC to address the problem. RAN’s former executive director – who never thought it necessary to publicly defend their position – now heads the Sierra Club, another FSC supporter, and the controversy follows him there. Both organizations are already taking a strong and successful ecological position on coal, why not old forests? Sierra Club founder John Muir – who long defended a preservationist ethic against utilitarian conservationist approaches – is assuredly rolling in his grave. There is no chance old forest logging will ever end until otherwise ecologically attuned groups like RAN and the Sierra Club discontinue their FSC membership. Please demand these leading organizations vigorously defend their positions and resign from FSC immediately.

http://www.rainforestportal.org/shared/alerts/send.aspx?id=ran_ancient_forest_logging

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