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The Amazon Watch Campaign Against Ecuador’s Revolution

TeleSUR

February 12, 2016

by Stansfield Smith

 

rafael correa-delgado-presidente-ecuador

Wealthy nations refused President Correa’s request that they help cover the cost of foregoing economic development in the Amazon. [Photo Source]

The corporate-backed nongovernmental organization continues to misrepresent the Ecuadorean government’s environmental record.

Amazon Watch has waged a continual disinformation campaign against President Rafael Correa’s Citizens Revolution in Ecuador.

In 2013, the West snubbed Ecuador’s Yasuni Initiative, a proposal to keep Yasuni rainforest oil untouched in a revolutionary anti-global warming initiative if the Western countries reimbursed Ecuador for half the value of the oil.

Amazon Watch used the Initiative’s failure not to expose Western government indifference to real action on global warming, but instead declared, “Correa’s own contradictory policies and mismanagement of the initiative may have been its ultimate undoing.”

Perhaps Amazon Watch’s most outrageous article was one in support of the right-wing backed anti-Correa protests in August 2015:

“While police massacre indigenous protesters and citizens, the Government of Rafael Correa dances in the Presidential plaza … All of the rights won by the indigenous nationalities have been repealed, just as the system of bilingual intercultural education, indigenous health services, economic funds, and political organization … Violent confrontations with citizens ensued and resulted in numerous people disappeared, imprisoned, tortured, and dead across the country.”

That this is deliberate disinformation can be seen from a film of the protesters that day attacking the police in an attempt to seize the presidential palace.

It may not be clear why Amazon Watch engages in this disinformation against this target of the U.S. government, President Correa, but it is clear this nongovernmental organization relies on corporate funding, and markets to corporate elite clientele tours to the “pristine” Amazon and its “natives.”

It is also clear that U.S. rulers are preoccupied with combating China as the only world power it sees directly threatening its global domination, a central reason for the anti-Chinese Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In fact, China provides loans at low interest rates, does not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, respects other countries’ paths of economic and political development, and encourages South-South cooperation as a counter to Western hegemony. It cannot be a coincidence that Amazon Watch portrays China as the new colonizer, as the global power responsible for the concocted environmental and human rights abuses they attribute to Correa.

 

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee, co-administrator of Facebook page, Friends of Ecuador –North America, leader of former Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5, has been on delegations to Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia in 2015.]

 

Propaganda as “News”: Ecuador Sells out Indigenous & the Environment to China

Propaganda as “News”: Ecuador Sells out Indigenous & the Environment to China

February 15, 2016

by Stansfield Smitth

Ecuador Image 1 Pachamama

 

Above: Pachamama Alliance Screenshot

 

The end of January a news article appeared, “Ecuador To Sell A Third Of Its Amazon Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies,” and has resurfaced again and again on the internet. Posted on progressive websites such as Reader Supported News, Daily Kos, “The PeoplesVoice.org,” “ThinkGlobalGreen.org,” the story often comes with maps of the affected area, and include pictures of indigenous peoples living peaceably with nature or protesting against oil drilling.

Almost all these stories refer back to one article three years ago, in March 2013, in Australian online journal Business Insider:

“Ecuador is planning to auction off three million of the country’s 8.1 million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, Jonathan Kaiman of The Guardian reports.” And, “Ecuador owed China more than $7 billion — more than a tenth of its GDP — as of last summer. In 2009 China began loaning Ecuador billions of dollars in exchange for oil shipments. It also helped fund two of the country’s biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects, and China National Petroleum Corp may soon have a 30 per cent stake in a $10 billion oil refinery in Ecuador.”[i]

The rest of the article becomes a platform for Adam Zuckerman of the US based NGO Amazon Watch to spin his tale of China colonizing Ecuador, with President Correa willingly selling out the environment and the indigenous peoples to pay off his China debt.

The problem is that the story is an invention. This same story slamming Ecuador President Correa and China for forcibly displacing indigenous people and destroying the rainforest for the sake of oil profits reappeared in June-July 2015. This just happened to coincide with a rightwing protests in Ecuador against Correa, over his raising taxes on the rich.

Business Insider takes its disinformation story from another March 2013 Guardian article titled, “Ecuador auctions off Amazon to Chinese oil firms” [ii] an article which provides no evidence to support its title. This Guardian article also mostly relies on Zuckerman of Amazon Watch.

Both articles never state Ecuador did actually sell Amazon rainforests to Chinese companies; they allege Ecuador “planned” to sell a third, though this “plan” is not corroborated by any evidence. Now almost three years later, no rainforest has yet to be sold to China, but the same concocted story is repeated.

Last November, International Business Times reported Ecuador’s China debt totaled $5 billion, while the country’s central bank said entire foreign debt was $20 billion,[iii] making China’s share only a quarter of the total. Ecuador also has one of the lowest foreign debt to GDP (22.4%) in Latin America.[iv] This hardly substantiates the view that Ecuador is in hock to China.

The Guardian has a history of dishonest reporting on Ecuador. Christian Tym[v], Aliya Alwi,[vi] and Carlos Abad[vii], Ecuador Ambassador to Britain, have all addressed it.

What has happened is that in January 2016 – three years after the Guardian article – Ecuador sold exploration rights to a Chinese company for $80 million to search for oil in an area of the Amazon one and half times the size of Los Angeles. To place this in context, global oil exploration is an almost trillion dollar business.[viii]

Certainly Ecuador has a right to explore for oil, as do Chinese companies, which unlike Western corporations, agree to technology and technological know-how transfers to the countries they do business with.

And, for comparison, the Alberta tar sands oil fields are 1,500 times the size of the small area Ecuador opened up for oil exploration in the Yasuni. In comparison, too, last May Obama approved oil drilling in the Artic Sea, where 20 billion barrels of oil and 90 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are now more available due to the melting of Arctic ice sheets.

Why do we repeatedly see dishonest news articles about President Correa sacrificing the environment and the indigenous to China’s thirst for oil? This has even developed into an anti-Correa campaign by some US NGOs such as Amazon Watch, which is sullying its well-deserved reputation as a leader in the struggle to make Chevron pay for its environmental crimes in Ecuador.[ix]

There has been a several year old campaign attacking both Correa and China for drilling for oil in the Amazon, supposedly against the wishes of the indigenous who live there. However, as former president Humberto Cholango of the Ecuadoran indigenous federation, CONAIE stated:

“Many nationalities of the Amazonia say “look, we are the owners of the territory, and yes we want it to be exploited.” [x]

They find it against their interest to leave valuable natural wealth untouched while their people go without adequate schools, housing, roads, medical care and employment.

This anti-Correa campaign happens to coincide with the successes of Ecuador’s legal case against Chevron to make it pay up the $9.5 billion owed for its deliberate oil pollution of a vast area of the Amazon. Chevron, with its powers as a giant multinational corporation, has fought back in and out of court, even seeking to take to court the 30,000 victims and their lawyers. [xi]

Christian Tym also notes:

“Ever since Julian Assange was granted asylum, western media and NGOs have been taking free hits at Ecuador.”[xii]

The Amazon Watch campaign against President Correa

Amazon Watch has waged a continual disinformation campaign against Correa’s Citizens Revolution in Ecuador.[xiii] In 2013 the West snubbed Ecuador’s Yasuni Initiative, a proposal to keep Yasuni rainforest oil untouched in a revolutionary anti-global warming initiative if the Western countries reimbursed Ecuador for half the value of the oil. Amazon Watch used the Initiative’s failure not so much to expose Western government indifference to real action on global warming, but declared, “Correa’s own contradictory policies and mismanagement of the initiative may have been its ultimate undoing.”[xiv]

Perhaps Amazon Watch’s most outrageous article was one supporting the right-wing backed anti-Correa protests in August 2015. “While police massacre indigenous protesters and citizens, the Government of Rafael Correa dances in the Presidential plaza….All of the rights won by the indigenous nationalities have been repealed, just as the system of bilingual intercultural education, indigenous health services, economic funds, and political organization….Violent confrontations with citizens ensued and resulted in numerous people disappeared, imprisoned, tortured, and dead across the country.”[xv]

That this is deliberate disinformation can be seen from a film of the protestors that day attacking the police in an attempt to seize the presidential palace.[xvi]

It may not be clear why Amazon Watch engages in this disinformation against this target of the US government, President Correa. But it is clear this NGO relies on corporate backed funders,[xvii] and markets to corporate elite clientele tours to the “pristine” Amazon and its “natives.” [xviii]

It is also clear the US rulers are preoccupied with combating China as the only world power it sees directly threatening its global domination[xix], a central reason for the anti-China TransPacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, China provides loans at low interest rates, does not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, respects other countries’ paths of economic and political development, and encourages South-South cooperation as a counter to Western hegemony. It cannot be coincidence that Amazon Watch – or the Guardian – portray China as the new colonizer, as the global power responsible for the concocted environmental and human rights abuses they attribute to Correa.

 

 

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee, co-administrator of Facebook page, Friends of Ecuador –North America, leader of former Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5, has been on delegations to Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia in 2015.]

 

 

[i] http://www.businessinsider.com.au/ecuador-selling-its-rainforest-to-china-2013-3

[ii] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/26/ecuador-chinese-oil-bids-amazon

[iii] http://www.brecorder.com/markets/equity/americas/267764-ecuador-vows-to-pay-debt-for-first-time-ever.html

[iv] http://www.elciudadano.gob.ec/ecuador-es-uno-de-los-paises-latinoamericanos-con-menor-deuda-externa/

[v] http://www.importantcool.com/murder-amazon-guardians-quest-correa/#more-1634

[vi] http://www.importantcool.com/six-ways-the-guardian-is-wrong-about-ecuador-again/

[vii] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/27/the-right-to-protest-in-ecuador-is-absolutely-granted?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

[viii] http://www.reuters.com/article/oil-explorers-idUSL6N0PL2VD20140710

[ix] http://amazonwatch.org/news/2016/0121-ecuadorian-villagers-ask-un-to-block-chevron-from-attacking-human-rights-defenders

[x] http://lalineadefuego.info/2014/04/11/entrevista-a-humberto-cholango-dios-la-naturaleza-y-las-fuerzas-de-los-espiritus-de-los-lideres-van-a-proteger-para-que-la-conaie-no-caiga-en-manos-de-la-derecha/

[xi] https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/60984

[xii] http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/why-there-is-a-progressive-case-to-drill-baby-drill-in-ecuador/

[xiii] http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Ecuadors-Citizens-Revolution-Transformed-a-Nation–20150113-0022.html

[xiv] http://amazonwatch.org/news/2013/0816-ecuador-president-pulls-plug-on-innovative-yasuni-itt-initiative

[xv] http://amazonwatch.org/news/2015/0819-ecuadorian-government-violates-human-rights-and-the-constitution

[xvi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKcZnH0-zAo

[xvii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Amazon_Watch

1[xviii] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/category/non-profit-industrial-complex-organizations/organizations/amazon-watch/

[xix] http://monthlyreview.org/2015/09/01/dangerous-circumstances/,

 

 

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

The Art of Annihilation

February 9, 2015

Part seven 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  • Part VIII [Final Segment]


A Playground for the Rich

“No other industry so flagrantly prospers off of colonialism – none penetrates and threatens Indigenous cultures so deeply.” — Is the Sacred for Sale: Tourism and Indigenous Peoples

  zoe2013-10-04-amazontan

Above: Zoë Tryon, ambassador for Amazon Watch and Fundación Pachamama. Photo from the article “Escape From the Amazon: A Gringo Adventure,” October 7, 2013

Zoe went on to explain that she had done the ritual with over 100 people. ‘What people?’ I asked. ‘Mainly Jewish bankers who had come to exorcise their Wall Street demons and mommy issues,’ she replied in a matter of fact wayA glimpse into further insanity and the western commodity culture that now permeates the Achuar ethnicity is beyond embarrassing. June 6, 2008, The Daily Mail: “Looking at Zoë (Tryon), she is the physical embodiment of this linking of worlds, dressed today for our three-hour canoe ride to the Achuar village in a designer dress by Wheels and Dollbaby (an Australian label she is keen to let me know is stocked in Harvey Nichols), wellington boots and chunky jungle-made jewellery. The respect she has gained among the Indigenous people is remarkable; the Achuar president tells me that he regards Zoë as his people’s ambassador: ‘She is our mother and our sister. We want her to prick the conscience of the world and awaken them to the importance of the rainforest and its people.'”

A glimpse into some of those who visit the Achuar territory can be easily accessed via the internet. In one such article, a guest of “the honorable” Zoë Tryon’s tribal journeys (Tryon formerly resided with Pachamama co-founders, Lynne & Bill Twist) is refreshingly both candid and vulgar, summarizing the full ignorance of an average American traveler. The very traveler we are to believe will be “transformed” by their experience and have their conscience “pricked” (Awakening the Dreamer so to speak) prior to flying back home to save the world. On October 1, 2013, Zoë’s guest to the jungle writes:

“Nick was a billionaire real estate mogul from LA who was going through a divorce from his actress wife…. He told me that his trip to the jungle was a ‘spiritual’ quest…. I told him I was there on a spiritual quest to boost my Facebook and Twitter ‘cred’ and that I hoped to get a bikini shot underneath a waterfall. Zoe went on to explain that she had done the ritual with over 100 people. ‘What people?’ I asked. ‘Mainly Jewish bankers who had come to exorcise their Wall Street demons and mommy issues,’ she replied in a matter of fact way…. The next morning, the shaman got in his canoe and paddled home…. ‘I need to get out of here.’ ‘Where do you need to go?’ she laughed. ‘Back to Quito. To a mall. I need a manicure. A pedicure. I need ice cream. I need Zara and diet coke.’ She looks at me like I’m not serious and then realizes I am totally serious. We organize a plane and I anxiously wait at the end of the dirt runway until it got there. Four hours later we were finally eating ice cream and having our nails done.”

In 2012 Tyron established her own non-profit, One of the Tribe, establishing partnerships with U.S. based Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama and Creative Visions. Tyron also serves as an Ambassador for Amazon Watch and Fundación Pachamama.

CK-ZOE59

Above: Zoe Tyron relaxing at Kapawi Eco Lodge. Photograph:Clare Kendall

The rare exclusiveness, for those who can afford it, is not lost on the elite, rather it is marketedContact with the Earth’s last remaining and most isolated Indigenous peoples must be considered an extraordinary privilege. One could argue that for the elite few who experience such a rare “encounter,” there is little to differentiate between this encounter and most all other colonial conquests in Earth’s history. The rare exclusiveness, for those who can afford it, is not lost on the elite, rather it is marketed: “We will have the rare privilege of interacting with the Achuar People in the early stages of their contact with the modern world.” [Source] The exclusivity and desire of the Euro-American elite is heightened with the understanding that they are among the chosen few to experience, perhaps for the last time, what little remains of pristine nature and Indigenous cultures. The very same pristine nature and Indigenous cultures the West has been destroying for centuries via predatory industrialization and the rabid genocide of Indigenous peoples. Such tourists, having just stepped into the Anthropocene, comprise the very, very few who will encounter the exotic and bear witness to the living vanishing prior to planetary ecological collapse. Not unlike witnessing the last rhino on Earth or any other last remaining species to walk the planet – this “rare privilege” of interaction must be considered one of many ultimate accomplishments for the bourgeoisie’s own personal “bucket list.” The more rare the spectacle, the higher the cost, the more coveted the experience becomes.

As citizens who were spoon-fed the myth of American exceptionalism, it seems likely that collectively, we as Euro-Americans have become so desperate to escape ourselves, we now find ourselves attempting to latch onto Earth’s last authentic living/breathing cultures. Simply for no other reason than we can no longer tolerate who we have become. The atrocities committed in our names have become far too egregious for any respectable citizen to further hide behind a feigned ignorance and blindness. Thus, starved for true meaning, the “otherness” of Earth’s living ecosystems and authentic Indigenous cultures is not internalized or understood – rather, it is voraciously consumed.

It is critical to note that interaction between foreign women and local men has been known (and documented) to cause community conflicts (Tapuy, 1996). One can safely assume bikini-clad foreign women being guided in canoes (by Achuar men) for leisure creates such conflict (and most likely intense jealousy) considering it has been documented that valuable time spent away from families and family responsibilities causes stress and conflict amongst many of the Achuar families/communities. Further, it has been documented that the Achuar are very jealous people, which is said to be a common trait in their culture. To understand the emotions that such selfish actions will undoubtedly evoke, yet still choose to fulfill one’s own personal wants and interests, is beyond the pale.

Cannibal Tours

Cannibal Tours

“[The film] affords a glimpse at the real (mostly unconsidered or misunderstood) reasons why ‘civilised’ people wish to encounter the ‘primitive.’ The situation is that shifting terminus of civilisation, where modern mass-culture grates and pushes against those original, essential aspects of humanity; and where much of what passes for values in western culture is exposed in stark relief as banal and fake.” — Dennis O’Rourke

Of course one does not have to read hundreds of papers via academia (another sector targeted and utilized by foundations/oligarchs) in an attempt to understand how members of isolated tribes might actually feel as fetishized “subjects” of fascination by the middle/upper class, predominantly white tourist. In some rare instances, the “subjects” speak for themselves with their thoughts, insights and feelings, unedited – shared by way of film. Such is the case in the understated masterpiece “Cannibal Tours” in which the interview of a village elder by the name of Camillus is woven throughout the film. Director Dennis O’Rourke (now deceased) communicates the commodification of human interactions (and relations) by simply filming people in their natural state. The raw honesty captured, in particular the thoughts of Camillus (unknown – 1987), is so tender and veracious, the film is almost unbearable to watch. Feelings of confusion, discontent and frustration as felt by the local native people are transparent; the superiority and ignorance of the tourist, demonstrated in effortless candour, is ugly and biting.

 “The commodification of human relations is highlighted through such photography of the locals, whereby the tourists (‘equipped with their essential “weapon”-camera’) assign monetary values to the interactions with the locals by payments. This action also introduces the element of power inequality between tourists and the natives, whereby the tourists are viewed as the one with monetary power, and the power to ‘control’ the locals, even to the extent that the locals, in the attempt to meet the tourists’ expectations, will alter certain elements of their cultures or rituals just to cater to the tourists’ likings. Through such examples, the notion of ‘re-colonisation’ can be seen whereby the whites (tourists) are seen as the wealthy and powerful group, whereas the locals are seen as the powerless with little wealth, that they have to rely on the money gained through tourism to keep their economy going.” — Commodification of culture and human relations [Source]

Although the documentary is filmed in Sepik River in Papua New Guinea (released in 1988), almost 30 years later we can recognize parallels. Note the scrappy Coca-Cola truck situated in the village (27:20). Just as Coca-Cola, having conquered the globe, has ventured into isolated jungles in the quest to unearth new untapped markets (as market share must grow indefinitely), industrialized/globalized and parasitic capitalism, having also conquered the globe, must also find new markets. As a response to this predatory economic system, we witness the targeting and sophisticated seduction of the last peoples remaining in isolation – within pristine natural settings, ripe for commodification. Note the face-painting (formerly reserved for traditional ceremonies), turned into a marketing component and an exotic novelty for the Euro-American tourist. Today, Indigenous peoples are rapidly abandoning their enviable subsistence economies – in exchange for impromptu, makeshift markets on the airstrips as the wealthy tourists descend. In a desperate attempt to sell their wares, they are in pursuit of the greenback – the greenback, backed by nothing.

“[A] Luxury top class tourist lodge with opportunity to encounter Achuar culture” — Trip Advisor Website

One could argue that since the filming of this documentary, the Euro-American has become more enlightened, with ecotourism NGOs and managers more cognitive of “politically incorrect” behaviour. Yet New York Times art critic Ken Johnson disagreed with such an assumption. Johnson once stated that if Voltaire were still around to tell the story of globalization, two of his principal character types would be “the enlightened, transnational citizen of the world and his imbecilic twin, the tourist.” It is crystal clear which character type the movie Cannibal Tours captures, yet what is not clear is the fact that under the system of industrialized capitalism, in tandem with Western ideologies of privilege and consumerism sweeping the globe, the choice of which type of traveller one wishes to emulate has already been decided.

“O’Rourke’s camera shoots the whole of a social relation that is taking over the world, the relation between the seeing and the seen. This double anthropology subtly shows how connoisseurship and condescension are linked, and how little the Western tribe of tourists understand their own culture.” — Camera Work Website

Cannibal Tours – Dennis O’Rourke’s 1988 documentary (Running time: 1:08:06)

Cannibal Economics

“The desire for profit without exploitation runs so strong, like that for ‘true love,’ even intellectuals can trick themselves into finding it where it does not exist, where… it can never exist.” — Cannibal Tours by Dean MacCannell

Consider the following study notes on Posada Amazonas eco-lodge, built in 1998. It is owned by the Indigenous Ese-Eja community of Infierno (Peru) in partnership with Rainforest Expeditions:

“[A] capitalist mindset has not only been introduced to Infierno but […] it also in some ways has been imposed upon them… this paradigm shift among community leaders whose conversations now include discussions of cost benefit analyses, product quality control, and marketing niches. The ethnographic literature also suggests a connection between ecotourism and the adoption of the Ecologically Noble Savage paradigm… this paradigm shift stemming from the commodification of the rainforest where the previous practical traditional use has been transformed into an instrumental tool for conservation and commodification for sale…. [There is] evidence not only of the adoption of the Ecologically Noble Savage stereotype in the Community, but the people’s active appropriation of it.” [Source: Take a Picture with a “Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, 2011]

In other words, evidence suggests that today, many formerly isolated Indigenous have learned (taught via the Euro-American) to successfully exploit the West’s idea/stereotype of the “ecologically noble savage” and effectively manipulate the tourists thereby fulfilling the exact function of branding and marketing agencies. In effect, the ecologically noble savage persona/stereotype is a growing commodity created specifically for foreign consumption, via ecotourism.

Kapawi: A Gift of Debt

“Neither the travel company nor the Achuar made a profit, and in 2008 Canodros transferred ownership of the lodge back to the Achuar. The future of this eco-jewel is now at risk.” [Source]

“Allí está el progreso, confía, sin embargo, por ahora extrañan el aporte mensual que Canodros les entregaba puntualmente hasta el 2007, por el arriendo de su territorio.” — April 18, 2010

“It has been enormously successful as a social experiment, and as a means of attracting external funding for conservation, health, communications, transportation and education, but not as a money-making venture….” [1]

According to a World Bank resource document (written by Nature Conservancy in partnership with USAID), the Kapawi development commenced with a stunning initial investment of USD $1.8 million by USAID.

While the document states clearly that “logging, oil exploitation and intensive agricultural projects had not been developed in the area when the Kapawi project was initiated in 1994 (Koupermann, 1997),” it is also quite clear from existing documents that many Achuar were convinced/came to believe that the ecolodge was the only way forward if the tribes were to resist oil development from destroying their communities.

“As my Achuar friend Domingo Peas said, ‘We are not business people, we never did it in the past… but we must learn in order to protect our territory and our forest,’ says Paulina Rodriguez, operations manager of the Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve.”

There is no doubt that the descriptive and emotive text coupled with the sensual, prototypical rainforest imagery (utilized to “sell” Kapawi) conveys to the audience that it is only by way of ecotourism, and ecotourism alone, that the Achuar can continue their mission of conservation. This is in stark contrast to the fact that the Achuar practised truly sustainable conservation for centuries before colonization began only decades ago. This constructed message is also in stark contrast to the fact that tourism has greatly contributed to and continues to exacerbate an ever accelerating planetary climate crisis.

According to the El Universo newspaper (ironically founded by El Universo heir Perasso who conceptualized the Kapawi development with Kouperman):

“Pachamama, a vital ally: Pachamama Foundation, dedicated to accompany the Indigenous peoples in defense of their territory, is supporting the tourism operation in Kapawi since its inception eleven years ago. ‘We will continue to work with them when they take control of the ecolodge, for which they provide training and alternatives for sustainable development,’ said Belen Paez, executive director of the Ecuadorian arm of this entity headquartered in San Francisco (California, USA). In addition, the German Reconstruction Bank allocated 3.5 million euros (about $ 4.9 million) to the sustainable development of the Achuar people, a portion of which will be for Kapawi.” [El Universo, October 21, 2007, Source. Emphasis added.]

It is not clear where or how the 3.5 million euros designated to the sustainable development of the Achuar people (a portion for Kapawi) by The German Bank for Reconstruction (Kredietanstalt für Wiedraufbau – KfW) was spent … or how it was/is to be re-paid. [Note that the bulk of this loan appears to be for “the zoning and protection of Indigenous territories, via Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI) applied in the framework of ‘debt-for-nature swaps’ (e.g., in Ecuador).”] It is critical to note that the normalized concept of “debt-for-nature swaps” – “offered to” the very resource rich/poverty stricken states who have suffered under centuries of colonization and gross exploitation – must be considered the most nefarious of injustices. [From 2004-2011, KfW funded €3.58 million for the Tropical Forest Conservation Morona-Pastaza project in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and the Nacionalidad de los Achuar en Ecuador (NAE). Source]

 “The western economy has eroded the traditional economy. An example is in the sale of chichi [a homemade drink]. Now, many Achuar are less inclined to work or support each other without pay.”

The Kapawi development appears to have transitioned from a Western-perceived independence and freedom, to a global and very real indebtedness, liability and perpetual servitude. Considering that the results mirror our very own entrapment within the industrialized capitalist system, it is safe to assume that this was the plan from inception.

“With up to 45% of their total income coming from direct employment in Kapawi and a further 21% deriving from handicraft sales (Rodriguez 2000:3), ecotourism is now a vital factor in the local economy. The problem is that while the community may eventually be able to control the enterprise, it has no control over the market. If Canodros, the company managing and financing Kapawi, with its experience and connections in the travel business, cannot bring in the tourists it needs in order to break even, it is unlikely the Achuar will be able to, especially when faced with growing competition from other operations in the region and in neighboring countries.” [1]

It is publicly stated of the Kapawi development that “the initiative’s board is composed of five people – representatives of Achuar com­munities both from the province of Pastaza and from the province of Motona Santiago, and a President of the Achuar Nation of Ecuador (NAE) – all of whom are Achuar. The board meets every six months to carry out an analysis of the project.” [Dec 20, 2012] However, again, the reality appears to be somewhat different.

“Mr Crespo is also on the board of the Kapawi Lodge, an internationally famous, pioneering tourism project. Deep in the Ecuadorean Amazon, rainforest warriors from the Achuar people now manage a luxury ecotourism resort, supported by the board.” World Finance Website

On The Business Year website, it is disclosed that economist and director general of Analytica, Ramiro Crespo, is currently Vice-President of the Paideia Foundation and Director of the Kapawi project. [“After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Ramiro Crespo went on to pursue a Master’s in Economic Development at Georgetown University. He was an economic commentator for four years at Radio Bolívar. In addition to holding the position of Director General of Analytica, he is currently Vice-President of the Paideia Foundation and Director of the Kapawi project.” The Business Year – October 2012 | Bio]

Analytica is an investment bank in Ecuador specializing in debt restructuring, research, mergers and acquisitions, and trading. Analytica also sponsors a university in Quito, Universitas Equatorialis, offering degrees in environmental engineering, with Fundación Natura, the local chapter of the World Wildlife Fund.

“Analytica is among the hundred most important companies in the world in 2010 according to British magazine World Finance. Recognition ‘World Finance 100’ list rigorous nomination and selection, Analytica places with companies like Apple, BMW, ING Bank, Citigroup, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Between 35 institutions worldwide including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, Analytica is the only company in the list of a country in Latin America specializing in financial services. The merit of the professional team of Analytica evidence the increasing sophistication of regional financial sector. The premiere was announced in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum meeting held in late January 2011. The annual list of the best companies and individuals in the year, ‘World Finance 100’ accompanies the publication of the World Finance Magazine, January / February 2011, essential source for global investors with its look to emerging markets.” Analytica Website

The amount of debt that Kapawi has incurred (so it appears) could be staggering even by Western standards. Consider that Pachamama administers Aerotsentsak, the airline corporation created, operated and eventually to be owned by FINAE. The costs associated with maintaining an airport, airplanes and an airstrip, even if small, must be intense. What of the original loan ($1.9 million) by USAID? What of the money invested by Conodros Tourism Corporation? What of the 3.5 million euros allocated by the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW)? Was this withdrawn as initially agreed upon when the project was “given” fully to the Achuar approximately four years ahead of schedule? [“After this period, Canodros will withdraw all investment and the Achuar will manage the entire operation.”][Source] As part of the contract that would allow Canodros to transfer full ownership to the Achuar four years earlier than originally agreed upon, Conodros agreed to create a two-year trust fund and pay for extensive upgrades/renovations. [2] That Conodros would invest a further substantial amount of money in Kapawi – in order to terminate a contract – suggests that ending the partnership, even at a significant cost, was still a far better business transaction than maintaining the contract for four more years.

A sad irony is that the bulk of the monies received [3] from the Kapawi development (before being “given” full ownership) were spent on the never-ending maintenance of the airstrip and the school/education (“The School of Ecotourism”). Further, for four full years, the little monies allocated to the Kapawi communities were taken by one family. [“Because of the poor use of funds (40% for the community of Kapawi), and because of people who took advantage of the Achuar trust, good faith and naiveté, there is money [missing] from four years, and no one knows how or on what it was spent.”][Source]

“Meager profits flow back into the surrounding Achuar communities, which have been able to build schools; they allow lodge guests to visit.” – Travel and Leisure

Today Kapawi is desperate to increase the volume of wealthy tourists, whom they are now dependent upon. New high-end excursions that added to the resort’s itinerary include “Private Canoe River Cruise by Candlelight,” “Romantic Ceremony at Kapawi,” “Achuar Wedding in the Community,” and the “Natem Ceremony.” [Natem ceremony: “Interestingly, a day before, the shaman mentioned that he is now a catholic, which is [an] oxymoron.” Source]

It would appear that, tragically, the Achuar Indigenous peoples (among countless other Indigenous communities no doubt), in good faith yet via coercion, have inadvertently subjected themselves to loss of full control over their territories. One must contemplate how these massive bank loans are secured, considering the only asset (albeit most valuable) the Achuar could offer as guarantee would be pristine rainforest/land. Through heavy debt and financial obligations and a relatively new, strategically developed dependence on the global economy (via the necessity for an infinite stream of wealthy foreign tourists), Indigenous communities now participate in the continued colonization, or in the case of REDD (the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program), the neocolonialization of Indigenous resources and people.

“Colonial Mentality” critics argue that “people, once subject to colonial or imperial rule, latch onto physical and cultural differences between the foreigners and themselves, leading some to associate power and success with the foreigners’ ways. This eventually leads to the foreigners’ ways being regarded as the better way and being held in a higher esteem than previous Indigenous ways. In much the same fashion, and with the same reasoning of ‘better-ness,’ the colonised may over time equate the colonisers’ race or ethnicity itself as being responsible for their ‘superiority’…. [I]mportation or continuation of cultural mores or elements from former colonial powers may be regarded as a form of neo-colonialism.” [Source]

“As profit outweighs protection, the sustainability of nature is rewritten as the sustainability of capital; the protection of nature is inverted to be the protection of profits; and the morality of democratic multigenerational planning is transmogrified into the pursuit of competitive advantage in the free market of nature.” Managing the Other of Nature: Sustainability, Spectacle, and Global Regimes of Capital in Ecotourism [Source]

Although it is said (by NGOs and foundation-financed academia) that eco-tourism projects such as Kapawi were conceived as a means to employ the Achuar and to provide revenue to combat the pressures of multinational corporations, one must wonder how this would in fact keep the multinationals at bay, then, or today. Of course, NGOs were not about to say back then what they will not say today nor will say in the future: that the key reason for involvement is ultimate control of the land and soft-power colonization of the people with their integration into the industrialized capitalist system. Like the multinationals, corporate NGOs also froth at the mouth over the prospect of exploiting these same territories – the NGOs financed by the very same multinationals, via tax-exempt foundations. Like circling vultures, the rapacious capitalists – even the self-proclaimed “compassionate capitalists” – leave no stones unturned. As discussed prior, if those in power of vulnerable states do not walk the delicate tightrope of somewhat satisfying the insatiable system, they will soon face the consequences of the West taking what they will not give willingly. Nature finds herself surrounded by predatory capitalist pathology.

“An insider who is employed by a leading green group explained to the journalist Johann Hari the motivations: ‘It’s because they will generate a lot of revenue this way. If there are national targets, the money runs through national governments. If there are subnational targets, the money runs through the people who control those forests – and that means TNC, Conservation International and the rest. Suddenly, these forests they run become assets, and they are worth billions in a carbon market as offsets. So they have a vested financial interest in offsetting and in subnational targets, even though they are much more environmentally damaging than the alternatives. They know it. It’s shocking.'” — Some Key REDD+ Players

Consider that if on average there are 1,000 visitors at Kapawi per annum (a number cited in several documents), at an average rate of US$3,000 per tourist, this equates to a revenue stream of $3 million per year. Now consider there is no mortgage, no property tax, no utility bills. One must contemplate why there is no profit. After lawyers, consultants, auditing technologies, eco-services, audits, environ­mental impact assessments, marketing agencies, advertising, tourist agencies, teachers, biologists, experts, accountants, engineers, travel expenses, one must contemplate how much of this income finds its way back to imperial states versus how much remains in the community. The answer is likely a reprehensible one that few wish to acknowledge.

While on the surface, CBE (community-based ecotourism) projects support traditional knowledge and cooperation, in real-life, Indigenous communities are told they must be competitive as international tourism is pushed as imperative to survival along with other free-market prescriptions. Ultimately this amounts to cultural assimilation – or annihilation. As yesterday’s missionaries instilled the fear of God, today’s modern-day missionaries instill the fear of operating losses. Further, as Lebanese-Australian professor Ghassan Hage (Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne) demonstrates, accumulation of capital underpins an ideology of race, in which multiculturalism works best when citizens yearn and strive to achieve Whiteness. [4]

Considering that foundations such as Rockefeller et al strategize for the protection/expansion of hegemonic power decades in advance, one could reasonably hypothesize that community-based ecotourism was developed and incremented as a deliberate stop-gap measure to control rainforests (via said protection) until a solid economic system/infrastructure for the commodification of all nature was firmly in place. Although such a theory may seem a bit far-fetched, it is not inconceivable considering foundations and “think-tanks” lead in the intense study of, and shaping of, behavioural change. The time involved in commercializing all aspects of society until saturation was achieved amongst the populace (ensuring tomorrow’s “consumers” would submissively acquiesce to an ideology of mass-commodification and privatization) would have been well-understood by foundations and think-tanks alike. Considering the 21st century explosion of land grabs, in tandem with the race to privatize and commodify the Earth’s remaining commons with little focus remaining on ecotourism, such a theory is deserving of further investigation.

DIRECT ACTION –THE ONLY TACTIC THAT HAS EVER WORKED

And although Americans, passive by decades of conditioning, may believe that integration into the industrialized economic system may be the only “solution” against the short-term “temptations” that present themselves when multinationals arrive to plunder for the First World, further reading tells us that the Achuar have far more effective methods than we do. Consider the blog post on February 28, 2008 written by a Kapawi tourist. In the post, the author writes that “Recently, Ecuador’s Minister for Energy arrived here in Achuar territory. He was accompanied with armed men and came representing the Burlington oil company to make an ‘offer’ to buy the Achuar’s land for oil development. The Achaur swiftly refused the deal and to prove their point, kidnapped the Minister for several days before returning him to Quito unharmed. The story went unreported in the national press.” This is not an uncivilized act (as both the colonial and modern-day missionaries would have you believe), rather, it is a no-nonsense act of self-defense. Despite the access to information made possible via the internet, similar success stories of true direct action that are truly effective continue to be grossly marginalized if not censored altogether in most all media. [June 7, 2013: Colombian guerilla group holding Canadian mining executive hostage takes aim at Ottawa; August 27, 2013: Kidnapped Canadian mining exec freed by Colombian rebels (“Last month, Toronto-based Braeval Mining Corp. said it was pulling out of Colombia.”)]

Further, the Achuar’s neighbours to the north, the Targaretti tribes (in the central Ecuadorian rainforest) have managed to stay isolated from industrialized “civilization” (industrialized civilization being the most uncivilized way of living that has ever existed). The Targaretti are the last tribes in Ecuador to refuse contact with Western civilisation and continue to live a traditional and nomadic way of life. One could argue that this tribe has no means of protecting/obtaining legal claim to their ancestral lands (because they have no monetary means of obtaining legal representation, etc.) and that this fact leaves them in a most precarious position, unable to defend themselves against the bulldozers and oil companies who are now encroaching upon their lands. Yet, the simple truth of the matter is that the Targaretti peoples fully understand what privileged Euro-Americans collectively refuse to acknowledge: the state only fears what it cannot control.

“On the one hand, eco-tourism has been presented as a negotiated response to the imperatives of ecological preservation within an ecocidal system of global capital. On the other hand, it is an insidious and largely unsuccessful attempt at articulating the social misery of global capital with(in) distinct cultural and environmental limits.” — Kerala: Exploring Future Frontiers in Tourism Development, 2000 [Source]

 +++

Next: Part VIII (to be published in 2016)

 

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

[2] As part of the agreement to transfer the Kapawi ownership early, at the end of 2007 Canodros committed to create a trust fund that would hold autonomous assets of US$296,512 with CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi S.A.) as the beneficiary. This trust was to cover the working capital, the air transportation operation and the payment of labour. The trust fund was to last two years until December 2009 with any funds not dispersed being transferred to CEKSA. As well, Canodros S.A. committed to the reconstruction of the facilities. This additional investment was reported to be US$748,056.05. Reconstruction included new cabin foundations, roofs, complete renovations of bathrooms, repairing the boardwalk, and an updated/improved sewage system. The main assets for Kapawi were also replaced. This included canoes, outboard motors, refrigerators, freezers and kitchen equipment. As well, an update and improvement of the photovoltaic system was undertaken that would allow for a savings of 1500 diesel gallons per year. (The October 2001 appraisal valued Kapawi assets at US$1,036,690 (infrastructure US$826,034; equipment, furniture and household goods: US$210,656.)

[3] Kapawi development income according to a 2003 report published in 2005 (prior to the Achuar being “given” the establishment): (US funds)

  • The income from the $10.00 per guest fee that went directly to Achuar territory based on an average 1,800 tourists amounted to an average of $18,000 per year
  • The income from the monthly rent/concession fee as per agreement by Canodros Tours was approximately $3,400.00 per month which amounted to about $40,000 per year. [This amount was renegotiated and increased to a higher amount in the midst of the contract when the Indigenous noticed a substantial increase in tourists with no increase in payment.]
  • The estimated annual income to Achuar from Kapawi was approximately $58,000 and broken down as follows:
  • 40% ($16,320) to one community: Kapawi (10 Quichua & 13 Achuar families)
  • 40% ($16,320) to one association: Amunday Association of six communities
  • 5% ($2,040) to FINAE for administrative costs
  • 15% ($7,120) shared among 53 Achuar communities

The community of Kapawi spent their money (40%) on:

  • Maintenance of the 800-metre airstrip through manual labour (“work that never ends”).
  • Health: In case of emergency, such as a bad case of malaria, funds are offered, 50% as a loan, and 50% as a donation.
  • Education: $80 per month. The School of Ecotourism in the community of Kapawi can be reached in 50 minutes by canoe from the lodge. They use funds to buy books, pay teachers, and for transportation. [It is not clear who the teachers (teaching tourism) actually are. It is unlikely that the teachers are Achuar.] In this document, Cristina Serrano of Canodros Tourism is cited as the leader/representative of the Ecotourism School.

The community of Amunday Association spent their money (40%) on:

  • $150 monthly to two communities
  • $100 monthly to three communities
  • $30 for education in the School of Education

 

[4] Ghassan Hage, expanding on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, theorized on the notion that multiculturalism is a “field of accumulating whiteness,” adding that multicultural cohesion exists primarily when Black and Black bodies gain cultural and symbolic capital – by accumulating Whiteness. [White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society] Hage aligns a desire for cultural capital with a yearning to accumulate Whiteness, which he ardently differentiates from being White: “‘Whiteness’ is an everchanging, composite cultural historical construct. It has its roots in the history of European colonisation which universalised a cultural form of White identity as a position of cultural power at the same time as the colonised were in the process of being racialised…. As such, no one can be fully White, but people yearn to be so. It is in this sense that Whiteness is itself a fantasy position and a field of accumulating Whiteness.”

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

The Art of Annihilation

December 17, 2014

Part three 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  • Part VIII [Final Segment]

Pachamama Art

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

Weapons of Mass Destruction

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

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

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

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

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

Avaaz | An Extension of the Imperial State

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

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

There is reason as to why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Chains: World Bank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unconscious Hypocrisies

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

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

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

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

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

Aversive Racism: A Universal Language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R2P Media Pysops

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

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

A Glimpse into the Left Approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destabilizing Arsenals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next: Part IV

 

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

 

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

SUPPORT BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT EVO MORALES AGAINST ESCALATING DESTABILIZATION CAMPAIGNS

Image: 2010. Note that Morales greets his Indigenous sisters and brothers freely, without need of intense security /body guards.

“As the United States Departments of State and Defense gear up for a new round of destabilization campaigns in South America in 2013 and 2014, the second generation of democratic renewal under leaders like Evo Morales faces a grave threat. Unlike the crude coups and dictatorships of the Cold War and earlier banana republics, this anti-democratic offensive makes exaggerated use of ephemeral pseudo activism in the form of color revolutions used so extensively by the CIA in North Africa and Eastern Europe. Recent snubbing of the US and Canada by South American governments at the Organization of American States may signal a resistance to returning to the days of old, but until they reject neoliberalism and its corrupting influence, they are still susceptible to international markets opening the door to US military control.” – Jay Taber, Center for World Indigenous Studies Website

 

National Meeting (Quito, April 29, 2012) of former Indigenous Leaders of Ecuador -Encuentro Nacional de ex Dirigentes Indígenas del Ecuador- (with the participation of a hundred historical leaders of the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador)

 

Our friend and comrade Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is currently facing growing destabilization attempts, seeking to weaken his government, which was democratically reelected, and thus to truncate the Cultural and Democratic Revolutionary process that he has been heading since 2006.

 

Evo Morales Ayma, as a Latin American leader formed in the heat of the struggles of the indigenous peoples to change neocolonialist and capitalist relations, has been able to guiding a process of historical transformations that has been a contribution not only to his country, but to the region and the world.

 

He has set up the basis for the new Plurinational State of Bolivia, with a long-term perspective orientated by the philosophy of Vivir Bien (Living Well), for the construction of which a whole series of State policies are being put in place, focusing on decolonization, depatriarchalization, strengthening sovereignty and in depth socio-economic change.

 

He has been able to introduce fundamental aspects of the worldviews of our peoples in the most recent global debates, putting forward concrete initiatives to defend the rights of Mother Earth, and with an active participation in integration initiatives from and for the peoples, such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

 

These enormous steps of progress have been possible due to the leading role played by the Bolivian people, following the principle of ‘ruling by obeying’ in the exercise of government.  This popular support has been crucial for facing the tenacious opposition engaging national and international interests and forces, which has resorted to all sorts of means of disrupting this process of change: from direct violence to symbolic racist violence, from coup conspiracies to the manipulation of popular causes.

 

From the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, and from all those of us who feel part of the historic changes that the region is going through, we express our unconditional support for President Evo Morales Ayma, as well as our commitment to the defense and advancement of the Cultural and Democratic Revolution in Bolivia.

 

Masi, Mashi, Ir?, Comrade, we support you!

 

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Peace Nobel Prize, Guatemala

Ricardo Ulcuango Farinango, Ambassador of Ecuador to Bolivia

Irene León, Sociologist, Ecuador

Magdalena León T., Economist, Ecuador

Manuel Imbaquingo, Indigenous Leader, Ecuador

To endorse this statement:  Español | English | Português | Français

WATCH: President Morales Speaks to Imperialism

Also read:

U.S. Orchestrated Color Revolutions to Sweep Across Latin America in 2013-2014

The International Campaign Against Evo Morales

Published Feb 15, 2012 by Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

An extended version was originally published in English on Jan 23, 2012 by Political Context and Canadians for Action on Climate Change.

http://www.cambio.bo/opinion/20120215/la_campana_internacional_contra_evo_morales_64561.htm

Bolivia: The US Is Spying on Latin America Under the Cover of USAID and other NGOs

 “I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Feb 10, 2012

China Daily

LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday accused the United States of spying on his and other Latin American countries.

The Bolivian president said the spying is done under the cover of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Morales said the United States, through the cover of development aid operations of those organizations, knows “all the details of the activities of the social sectors and union leaders” in those Latin American countries.

The president regretted that some union leaders were allegedly used by these NGOs to stir disputes such as the one over a highway project in an indigenous territory in his country.

Peak Hypocrisy | U.S. Backed Organizations Exploit Crisis in Bolivia

September 30th, 2011

by Cory Morningstar

In their scathing “open letter” (whereby they appoint themselves judge, trial, jury and executioner – advising people that Evo Morales is essentially corrupt and has lost all support), The U.S. Democracy Centre states:

 “The events of the past week represent something new rising in Bolivia. The people – who have now listened to many Morales speeches about protecting the Earth and guaranteeing indigenous people control over their lands – have risen to defend those principles, even if their President has seemingly abandoned them. Ironically, Morales has now inspired a new environmental movement among the nation’s younger generation, not by his example but in battle with it.”

The Democracy Centre would do well to listen to their own admonitions.

If The Democracy Centre’s mandate was, in reality, to protect the Earth, guarantee Indigenous Peoples control over their land, rise to defend these principles, and inspire a new environmental movement among their nations younger generation, The Democracy Centre would (as would the U.S.-funded NGOs such as Avaaz and Amazon Watch who are exploiting this horrific crisis to its full potential) be endorsing, promoting and campaigning on the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba (in which over 20,000 Indigenous Peoples participated).

They have not.

And finally, is it not completely egregious for any U.S. organization (funded with foundation money via corporations and plutocrats) to have the audacity to dictate the values of human rights and non-violence to any country, when U.S. bombs are “reigning” down on occupied countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, while covert U.S. wars are underway in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. These wars are murdering untold numbers of men, women and children – all in the name of resource exploitation, all under the grossly false auspices of democracy and liberation. The elite, institutional left take no issue in denouncing the Morales government yet remain silent on the war crimes committed by the U.S. – the biggest imperialist power in the world.

Bolivia is and will remain a country who desperately struggles to resist Imperialism and fight for their autonomy – against all odds.

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Read more about The Democracy Centre and their “open letter”: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/29/about-the-u-s-democracy-centre-an-open-letter-to-our-friends-about-the-current-situation-in-bolivia/

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U.S. Influence | 2010 Ecuador crisis

“The script used in Venezuela and Honduras repeats itself. They try to hold the President and the government responsible for the “coup,” later forcing their exit from power. The coup against Ecuador is the next phase in the permanent aggression against ALBA and revolutionary movements in the region.” – Venezuelan-American lawyer Eva Golinger

“Venezuelan-American lawyer Eva Golinger claimed that the coup attempt was part of a systematic, US-supported plan to destabilise member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). She alleged that US ambassador Heather Hodges was sent to Ecuador by former US President George W. Bush “with the intention of sowing destabilization against Correa, in case the Ecuadoran president refused to subordinate himself to Washington’s agenda,” and that Hodges increased the budget of USAID and the NED for social and political groups that “promote US interests.” Golinger claimed that certain “progressive” social groups received “financing and guidelines in order to provoke destabilising situations in the country that go beyond the natural expressions of criticism and opposition to a government.” According to Golinger, USAID’s 2010 budget in Ecuador $38 million. Golinger referred to the indigenous political party Pachakutik Movement’s press release on 30 September asking for Correa’s resignation on the grounds that his “dictatorial attitude” had generated “serious political turmoil and internal crisis.” In the statement, Pachakutik leader Cléver Jiménez said that the “situation” of the police and armed forces in the coup attempt “should be understood as a just action by public servants, whose rights have been made vulnerable.” Golinger alleged that Pachakutik was funded by NED and USAID and that its call for Correa’s resignation and its support for the mutiny was an example of the US plans to destabilise ALBA member states. Pachakutik strongly denied having “any relationship at all with the organism known as USAID, previously NED, not today nor ever” and accused the Ecuadorian government of having accepted USAID/NED funding. Golinger responded by referring to a National Democratic Institute (NDI, one of the four institutes funded by NED) report from 2007 describing Pachakutik being trained by the NDI in “Triangle of Party Best Practices and strategic planning methodologies” as part of NDI’s Latin American/Caribbean Political Party Network of over 1400 individual members, funded under NED Core Grants 2000-031, 2001-048, 2003-028, and 2004-036.” [Source: Wikipedia]

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A must watch documentary which clearly illustrates why extreme care and caution is so incredibly important during such a crisis. The stealth and deceit can be nothing less than staggering.

The War On Democracy

The story of the manipulation of Latin America by the United States over the past 50 years, including the real story behind the attempted overthrow of Hugo Chávez in 2002 (with English subtitles)

Versión en español

‘The War On Democracy’ was produced and directed by John Pilger and Christopher Martin and edited by Joe Frost. The film, John Pilger’s first for cinema, explores the current and past relationship of Washington with Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.

Using archive footage sourced by Michael Moore’s archivist Carl Deal, the film shows how serial US intervention, overt and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the region since the 1950s. The democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, for example, was ousted by a US backed coup in 1973 and replaced by the military dictatorship of General Pinochet. Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have all been invaded by the United States.

John Pilger interviews several ex-CIA agents who took part in secret campaigns against democratic countries in the region. He investigates the School of the Americas in the US state of Georgia, where Pinochet’s torture squads were trained along with tyrants and death squad leaders in Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina.

The film unearths the real story behind the attempted overthrow of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez in 2002 and how the people of the barrios of Caracas rose up to force his return to power.

It also looks at the wider rise of populist governments across South America lead by indigenous leaders intent on loosening the shackles of Washington and a fairer redistribution of the continent’s natural wealth.

John Pilger says: “[The film] is about the struggle of people to free themselves from a modern form of slavery”. These people, he says, “describe a world not as American presidents like to see it as useful or expendable, they describe the power of courage and humanity among people with next to nothing. They reclaim noble words like democracy, freedom, liberation, justice, and in doing so they are defending the most basic human rights of all of us in a war being waged against all of us.”

‘The War On Democracy’ won the Best Documentary Award at the 2008 One World Awards.

The panel’s citation read: “There are six criteria the judges are asked to use to select the winner of this award: the film’s impact on public opinion, its appeal to a wide audience, its inclusion of voices from the developing world, its high journalistic or production standards, its success in conveying the impact of the actions of the world’s rich on the lives of the poor and the extent to which it draws attention to possible solutions. One film met every one of these. It was the winner of the award: John Pilger’s ‘The War on Democracy’.”

Read John Pilger’s article about the making of ‘The War On Democracy’ which appeared in the Guardian in June 2007.

http://www.johnpilger.com/videos/the-war-on-democracy

ABOUT U.S. AMAZON WATCH (TAKE ACTION: Help stop police repression in Bolivia)

The U.S. Amazon Watch issues an urgent action on September 28th, 2011. The action can be found below. This U.S. corporate green consists of many institutional activists from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Greenpeace.

Groups Funding Amazon Watch and RAN:

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Blue Moon Fund
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
The Overbrook Foundation
Moriah Fund
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Educational Foundation of America
The David & Lucile Packard Foundation
Boston Foundation
Wallace Global Fund

Further: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Amazon_Watch

In the article Saving Trees and Capitalism Too, Michael Barker explains:

“Describing a group funded by the world’s leading capitalist elites as grassroots demonstrates how desperately well-meaning environmentalists cling to the illusion that by working with capitalists (not the grassroots) they will be able to counter the destruction wrought on the planet by capitalists (evidently for the benefit of the grassroots).” …

Goldman Sachs’ commitment to capitalist conservation was clearly not entirely due to RAN activism, as the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs (1999-2006), and subsequent Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, served as the chair of the Nature Conservancy’s board of directors from 2004 until 2006 (a noted member of the “Big Green”). [11] In addition, Paulson had served as the chair of the Peregrine Fund, an environmental group he had been connected to since 1990. The close working relationship between Goldman Sachs and the Nature Conservancy continues to this day, and since 2008 former Goldman Sachs managing director, Mark Tercek, has served as the president of the Nature Conservancy. Likewise, Tercek’s commitment to free-market environmentalism means that he presently sits on the steering group of the Prince of Wales Rainforest Project, on the board of directors of Resources for the Future, and serves on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Chilean advisory council. [12] Tercek’s latter service, with regard to Chile, is particularly noteworthy as prior to heading up the Nature Conservancy he had headed the Goldman Sachs Center for Environmental Markets and its Environmental Strategy Group. This is significant because in late 2004 Goldman Sachs donated a sizable chunk of Chile to the Wildlife Conservation Society – using land which it had obtained by purchasing defaulted bonds from US forestry company Trillium Corporation. On these Chilean conservation efforts Tercek would have worked closely with the current chair of Resources for the Future, Lawrence Linden, who while based at Goldman Sachs worked in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society to create a massive 735,500 acre nature preserve on the island of Tierra del Fuego, Chile.

Here it is appropriate to introduce American multimillionaire Douglas Tompkins, as this key bankroller of environmental activism (and the “dean” of the new eco barons) has similarly bought hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land in southern Chile though his Conservation Land Trust to create a reserve called Parque Pumalin. Over the years Tompkins’ Foundation for Deep Ecology (which was formed in 1989) has been an important funder of forest activism including, to name just a few, the work of RAN, Earth First!, and Amazon Watch. Indeed, in 2008 at RAN’s 14th annual World Rainforest Awards Ceremony, Tompkins and his wife Kristine were honoured as environmental heroes. Consequently it is of more than passing interesting that an influential critic of deep ecology, the late Murray Bookchin, was of the opinion that with regards to deep ecology, “no other ‘radical’ ecology philosophy could be more congenial to the ruling elites of our time.” [13] To take just one example, the interest of leading “humanitarian” capitalists in deep ecology was illustrated when Tom Brokaw penned the foreword for Tom Butler’s book Wild Earth: Wild Ideas for a World out of Balance (Milkweed Editions, 2002). [14]

Further in the article Barker states:

The sad irony is that many activists, like Brune, are already being fooled by the double-speak and false promises of not-for-profit corporations. So while Kenny Bruno – who co-authored two books with Joshua Karliner (in 1999 and 2002) – is well-known in progressive circles for producing the seminal critique of corporate greenwashing, the tables have turned and he is now acting as corporate greenwasher in his capacity as the campaign director for Corporate Ethics International. [30] The executive director of this greenwashing initiative is none other than former RAN board member Michael Marx (see footnote #6), an elite conservationist who was recently critiqued in Macdonald Stainsby and Dru Oja Jay’s excellent self-published report, “Offsetting Resistance: The Effects of Foundation Funding and Corporate Fronts,” (July 2009). [31] Marx’s organization Corporate Ethics International, ties many of the groups examined so far together through its project known as the Business Ethics Network, which includes Amazon Watch, CorpWatch, and RAN.

From the Amazon Watch 2009 Annual Report: “In Copenhagen at the UN COP 15 international climate policy conference, Amazon Watch accompanied indigenous leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon who

traveled to represent thousands of indigenous Amazonians whose rainforest territories are extremely vulnerable to climate change. There we intervened in the negotiations about REDD (Reducing

Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries) to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are explicitly guaranteed. Otherwise, an official REDD scheme could be a threat

to the rights and livelihoods of indigenous and forest-dependent peoples and enable unjust land grabs in the name of forest preservation. Thanks to our support, our indigenous partners gave

dozens of press interviews participated in the indigenous caucus, where they voiced concern over the use of carbon offsets and market-based mitigation mechanisms to reduce emissions.”

In the above statement it is critical to acknowledge the strategic, carefully crafted language corporate NGOs are so skilled at. Amazon Watch is not demanding no REDD – they are stating they are seeking assurances that rights on REDD be guaranteed. In reality – we know REDD is a disaster for Indigenous Peoples and so does Amazon Watch. In this same statement, Amazon Watch does not state they endorsed the views or concerns of the Indigenous delegates who presented at the UN – they simply are stating that “thanks to them” the gave the Indigenous delegates an opportunity to present their concerns.

In the Amazon Watch action alert below, one must recognize the irony in the fact Amazon Watch proposes to citizens that they send emails to the Foreign Minister. This is the very same Foreign Minister that the protesters kidnapped and used as a human shield, in doing so putting his safety at risk and escalating tensions to levels not seen prior to this incident. And yet, revealing, Amazon Watch does not disclose this information. Now try to imagine the reaction of the U.S. government / U.S. foundations if such a kidnapping had occurred whereby an Israeli minister was taken hostage by Palestinian protestors. What if this same abduction had occurred in the U.S. or Canada with a senator or a member of parliament being taken hostage by Canadian Indigenous protesters? We can safely assume that the swat team would have killed each and every protester involved. Of course silence on such facts and discussion is necessary in order to continue running the argument that is all about a peaceful environmental protest against a dictatorial government.

+++

From: Amazon Watch <news>

Date: September 28, 2011 2:32:57 PM EDT

To:

Subject: TAKE ACTION: Help stop police repression in Bolivia

Reply-To: Amazon Watch <news>

Amazon Watch
Dear Andrew,We know from recent history when indigenous peoples stand up and defend their rights, they face the risk of violent repression. That is exactly what we saw, sadly, in Bolivia this past Sunday.VIDEO: Stop the Police Crack-Down! Respect Indigenous Rights!

Join Amazon Watch, tell Bolivia:
Stop police crack-down! Respect indigenous rights!

Since his inauguration in early 2006, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has cultivated an international image as a staunch defender of indigenous peoples’ rights and of Mother Earth. His government incorporated international indigenous rights norms into the 2009 constitution and hosted an international climate conference in 2010, among other actions.

In the last month, however, indigenous communities from the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) have been marching in protest against a planned road that would pierce through the heart of their Amazonian reserve. Tensions have risen in recent weeks as they walked hundreds of kilometers from the Amazonian lowlands toward La Paz, culminating last Sunday with a violent police eviction of camping marchers.

The scene was reminiscent of excessive use of police force against indigenous marchers in neighboring countries. Given that Bolivia’s President is himself of indigenous background, however, we have higher expectations. The government of Evo Morales should exemplify full respect for the rights of local indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent around major development projects that are going to gravely impact their environment and way of life.

Of course, I am shocked to see how the marchers have been tear-gassed, fired on with rubber bullets, and beaten by Bolivian police. Join me: Send a letter to the Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, telling him concrete action is desperately needed if President Morales wants to maintain his international image of a rights defender.

For TIPNIS and the defense of Bolivian indigenous peoples’ rights.

Andrew E. Miller

Andrew E. Miller
DC Advocacy Coordinator

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