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May the Earth Tremble at Its Core

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

November 9, 2016

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Photo credit: (AP Photo/Moyses Zuniga, File)

To the people of the world:

To the free media:

To the National and International Sixth:

Convened for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress and the living resistance of the originary peoples, nations, and tribes of this country called Mexico, of the languages of Amuzgo, Binni-zaá, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal de Oaxaca, Coca, Náyeri, Cuicateco, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlazinca, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Ñahñu, Ñathô, Popoluca, Purépecha, Rarámuri, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tsotsil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, Chontal de Tabasco, as well as our Aymara, Catalán, Mam, Nasa, Quiché and Tacaná brothers and sisters, we firmly pronounce that our struggle is below and to the left, that we are anticapitalist and that the time of the people has come—the time to make this country pulse with the ancestral heartbeat of our mother earth.

It is in this spirit that we met to celebrate life in the Fifth National Indigenous Congress, which took place on October 9-14, 2016, in CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas. There we once again recognized the intensification of the dispossession and repression that have not stopped in the 524 years since the powerful began a war aimed at exterminating those who are of the earth; as their children we have not allowed for their destruction and death, meant to serve capitalist ambition which knows no end other than destruction itself. That resistance, the struggle to continue constructing life, today takes the form of words, learning, and agreements. On a daily basis we build ourselves and our communities in resistance in order to stave off the storm and the capitalist attack which never lets up. It becomes more aggressive everyday such that today it has become a civilizational threat, not only for indigenous peoples and campesinos but also for the people of the cities who themselves must create dignified and rebellious forms of resistance in order to avoid murder, dispossession, contamination, sickness, slavery, kidnapping or disappearance. Within our community assemblies we have decided, exercised, and constructed our destiny since time immemorial. Our forms of organization and the defense of our collective life is only possible through rebellion against the bad government, their businesses, and their organized crime.

We denounce the following:

In Pueblo Coca, Jalisco, the businessman Guillermo Moreno Ibarra invaded 12 hectares of forest in the area known as El Pandillo, working in cahoots with the agrarian institutions there to criminalize those who struggle, resulting in 10 community members being subjected to trials that went on for four years. The bad government is invading the island of Mexcala, which is sacred communal land, and at the same time refusing to recognize the Coca people in state indigenous legislation, in an effort to erase them from history.

 

The Otomí Ñhañu, Ñathö, Hui hú, and Matlatzinca peoples from México State and Michoacán are being attacked via the imposition of a megaproject to build the private Toluca-Naucalpan Highway and an inter-city train. The project is destroying homes and sacred sites, buying people off and manipulating communal assemblies through police presence. This is in addition to fraudulent community censuses that supplant the voice of an entire people, as well as the privatization and the dispossession of water and territory around the Xinantécatl volcano, known as the Nevado de Toluca. There the bad governments are doing away with the protections that they themselves granted, all in order to hand the area over to the tourism industry. We know that all of these projects are driven by interest in appropriating the water and life of the entire region. In the Michoacán zone they deny the identity of the Otomí people, and a group of police patrols have come to the region to monitor the hills, prohibiting indigenous people there from going to the hills to cut wood.

 

The originary peoples who live in Mexico City are being dispossessed of the territories that they have won in order to be able to work for a living; in the process they are robbed of their goods and subjected to police violence. They are scorned and repressed for using their traditional clothing and language, and criminalized through accusations of selling drugs.

 

The territory of the Chontal Peoples of Oaxaca is being invaded by mining concessions that are dismantling communal land organization, affecting the people and natural resources of five communities.

 

The Mayan Peninsular People of Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo are suffering land disposession as a result of the planting of genetically modified soy and African palm, the contamination of their aquifers by agrochemicals, the construction of wind farms and solar farms, the development of ecotourism, and the activities of real estate developers. Their resistance against high electricity costs has been met with harassment and arrest warrants. In Calakmul, Campeche, five communities are being displaced by the imposition of ‘environmental protection areas,’ environmental service costs, and carbon capture plans. In Candelaria, Campeche, the struggle continues for secure land tenure. In all three states there is aggressive criminalization against those who defend territory and natural resources.

 

The Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Chol and Lacandón Maya People of Chiapas continue to be displaced from their territories due to the privatization of natural resources. This has resulted in the imprisonment and murder of those who defend their right to remain in their territory, as they are constantly discriminated against and repressed whenever they defend themselves and organize to continue building their autonomy, leading to increasing rates of human rights violations by police forces. There are campaigns to fragment and divide their organizations, as well as the murders of compañeros who have defended their territory and natural resources in San Sebastián Bachajon. The bad governments continue trying to destroy the organization of the communities that are EZLN bases of support in order to cast a shadow on the hope and light that they provide to the entire world.

 

The Mazateco people of Oaxaca have been invaded by private property claims which exploit the territory and culture for tourism purposes. This includes naming Huautla de Jimenéz as a “Pueblo Mágico” in order to legalize displacement and commercialize ancestral knowledge. This is in addition to mining concessions and foreign spelunking explorations in existing caves, all enforced by increased harassment by narcotraffickers and militarization of the territory. The bad governments are complicit in the increasing rates of femicide and rape in the region.

 

The Nahua and Totonaca peoples of Veracruz and Puebla are confronting aerial fumigation, which creates illnesses in the communities. Mining and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation are carried out through fracking, and 8 watersheds are endangered by new projects that are contaminating the rivers.

 

The Nahua and Popoluca peoples from the south of Veracruz are under siege by organized crime and also risk territorial destruction and their disappearance as a people because of the threats brought by mining, wind farms, and above all, hydrocarbon exploitation through fracking.

 

The Nahua people, who live in the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Morelos, Mexico State, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Mexico City, are in a constant struggle to stop the advance of the so-called Proyecto Integral Morelos, consisting of pipelines, aqueducts, and thermoelectric projects. The bad governments, seeking to stop the resistance and communication among the communities are trying to destroy the community radio of Amiltzingo, Morelos. Similarly, the construction of the new airport in Mexico City and the surrounding building projects threaten the territories around Texcoco lake and the Valle de México basin, namely Atenco, Texcoco, and Chimalhuacán. In Michocan, the Nahua people face the plunder of their natural resources and minerals by sicarios[hitmen] who are accompanied by police or the army, and also the militarization and paramilitarizaiton of their territories. The cost of trying to halt this war has been murder, persecution, imprisonment, and harassment of community leaders.

 

The Zoque People of Oaxaca and Chiapas face invasion by mining concessions and alleged private property claims on communal lands in the Chimalapas region, as well as three hydroelectric dams and hydrocarbon extraction through fracking. The implementation of cattle corridors is leading to excessive logging in the forests in order to create pastureland, and genetically modified seeds are also being cultivated there. At the same time, Zoque migrants to different states across the country are re-constituting their collective organization.

 

The Amuzgo people of Guerrero are facing the theft of water from the San Pedro River to supply residential areas in the city of Ometepec. Their community radio has also been subject to constant persecution and harassment.

 

The Rarámuri people of Chihuahua are losing their farmland to highway construction, to the Creel airport, and to the gas pipeline that runs from the United States to Chihuahua. They are also threatened by Japanese mining companies, dam projects, and tourism.

 

The Wixárika people of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango are facing the destruction and privatization of the sacred places they depend on to maintain their familial, social, and political fabric, and also the dispossession of their communal land in favor of large landowners who take advantage of the blurry boundaries between states of the Republic and campaigns orchestrated by the bad government to divide people.

 

The Kumiai People of Baja California continue struggling for the reconstitution of their ancestral territories, against invasion by private interests, the privatization of their sacred sites, and the invasion of their territories by gas pipelines and highways.

 

The Purépecha people of Michoacán are experiencing deforestation, which occurs through complicity between the bad government and the narcoparamilitary groups who plunder the forests and woods. Community organization from below poses an obstacle to that theft.

 

For the Triqui people of Oaxaca, the presence of the political parties, the mining industry, paramilitaries, and the bad government foment the disintegration of the community fabric in the interest of plundering natural resources.

 

The Chinanteco people of Oaxaca are suffering the destruction of their forms of community organization through land reforms, the imposition of environmental services costs, carbon capture plans, and ecotourism. There are plans for a four-lane highway to cross and divide their territory. In the Cajono and Usila Rivers the bad governments are planning to build three dams that will affect the Chinanteco and Zapoteca people, and there are also mining concessions and oil well explorations.

 

The Náyeri People of Nayarit face the invasion and destruction of their sacred territories by the Las Cruces hydroelectric project in the site called Muxa Tena on the San Pedro River.

 

The Yaqui people of Sonora continue their sacred struggle against the gas pipeline that would cross their territory, and in defense of the water of the Yaqui River, which the bad governments want to use to supply the city of Hermosillo, Sonora. This goes against judicial orders and international appeals which have made clear the Yaqui peoples’ legal and legitimate rights. The bad government has criminalized and harassed the authorities and spokespeople of the Yaqui tribe.

 

The Binizzá and Ikoot people organize to stop the advance of the mining, wind, hydroelectric, dam, and gas pipeline projects. This includes in particular the Special Economic Zone on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the infrastructure that threatens the territory and the autonomy of the people on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who are classified as the “environmental Taliban” and the “indigenous rights Taliban,” the precise words used by the Mexican Association of Energy to refer to the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People.

 

The Mixteco people of Oaxaca suffer the plunder of their agrarian territory, which also affects their traditional practices given the threats, deaths, and imprisonment that seek to quiet the dissident voices, with the bad government supporting armed paramilitary groups as in the case of San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca.

 

The Mixteco, Tlapaneco, and Nahua peoples from the mountains and coast of Guerrero face the imposition of mining megaprojects supported by narcotraffickers, their paramilitaries, and the bad governments, who fight over the territories of the originary peoples.

 

The Mexican bad government continues to lie, trying hide its decomposition and total responsibility for the forced disappearance of the 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

 

The state continues to hold hostage: compañerosPedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Rómulo Arias Míreles, Teófilo Pérez González, Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, and Marco Antonio Pérez González from the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco in Mexico State; Zapotec compañero Álvaro Sebastián from the Loxicha region; compañeros Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas; compañeros Pablo López Álvarez and the exiled Raul Gatica García and Juan Nicolás López from the Indigenous and Popular Council of Oaxaca Ricardo Flores Magón. Recently a judge handed down a 33-year prison sentence to compañero Luis Fernando Sotelo for demanding that the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive, and to the compañeros Samuel Ramírez Gálvez, Gonzalo Molina González and Arturo Campos Herrera from the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities – PC. They also hold hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous people across the country prisoner for defending their territories and demanding justice.

 

The Mayo people’s ancestral territory is threatened by highway projects meant to connect Topolobampo with the state of Texas in the United States. Ambitious tourism projects are also being created in Barranca del Cobre.

 

The Dakota Nation’s sacred territory is being invaded and destroyed by gas and oil pipelines, which is why they are maintaining a permanent occupation to protect what is theirs.

For all of these reasons, we reiterate that it our obligation to protect life and dignity, that is, resistance and rebellion, from below and to the left, a task that can only be carried out collectively. We build rebellion from our small local assemblies that combine to form large communal assemblies, ejidal assemblies, Juntas de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Councils], and coalesce as agreements as peoples that unite us under one identity. In the process of sharing, learning, and constructing ourselves as the National Indigenous Congress, we see and feel our collective pain, discontent, and ancestral roots. In order to defend what we are, our path and learning process have been consolidated by strengthening our collective decision-making spaces, employing national and international juridical law as well as peaceful and civil resistance, and casting aside the political parties that have only brought death, corruption, and the buying off of dignity. We have made alliances with various sectors of civil society, creating our own resources in communication, community police and self-defense forces, assemblies and popular councils, and cooperatives; in the exercise and defense of traditional medicine; in the exercise and defense of traditional and ecological agriculture; in our own rituals and ceremonies to pay respect to mother earth and continue walking with and upon her, in the cultivation and defense of native seeds, and in political-cultural activities, forums, and information campaigns.

This is the power from below that has kept us alive. This is why commemorating resistance and rebellion also means ratifying our decision to continue to live, constructing hope for a future that is only possible upon the ruins of capitalism.

Given that the offensive against the people will not cease, but rather grow until it finishes off every last one of us who make up the peoples of the countryside and the city, who carry profound discontent that emerges in new, diverse, and creative forms of resistance and rebellion, this Fifth National Indigenous Congress has decided to launch a consultation in each of our communities to dismantle from below the power that is imposed on us from above and offers us nothing but death, violence, dispossession, and destruction. Given all of the above, we declare ourselves in permanent assembly as we carry out this consultation, in each of our geographies, territories, and paths, on the accord of the Fifth CNI to name an Indigenous Governing Council whose will would be manifest by an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country under the name of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the electoral process of 2018. We confirm that our struggle is not for power, which we do not seek. Rather, we call on all of the originary peoples and civil society to organize to put a stop to this destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by reweaving ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.

This is the time of dignified rebellion, the time to construct a new nation by and for everyone, to strengthen power below and to the anticapitalist left, to make those who are responsible for all of the pain of the peoples of this multi-colored Mexico pay.

Finally, we announce the creation of the official webpage of the CNI: www.congresonacionalindigena.org

From CIDECI-UNITIERRA,

Chiapas, October 2016

For the Full Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Translation source: Enlace Zapatista

 

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

February 1, 2016

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

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

guayasamin

“Maternidad” by Oswaldo Guayasamin

Cultural Imperialism, Trends & Expanding Markets

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

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

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

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

Kaypocoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andres Ordoñez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

ChristmasGifts

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

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

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

Wealth for the Chosen (Predominantly White) Few

 

tourism

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

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

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

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

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

Soft Power: Eco-Colonial Tourism

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could such cultural degradation and disintegration happen to the Achuar?

coke1

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let it be noted: we object.

The Irony

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

For once we agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

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

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

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

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

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

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

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

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

And I know you are a liar.

 

END

 

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

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

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

April 25, 2014

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part one of an investigative report

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

  ALBA1          AlbaFist                                  

Above images: The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) unites Latin American and Caribbean peoples against U.S. and European attempts to destroy sovereignty of Latin American nations.

“From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex. The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening. The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm. This world exists simply to satisfy the needs – including, importantly, the sentimental needs – of white people and Oprah.” — Teju Cole

Revolution doesn’t always come in the form of a gun nor does enslavement always come by way of man. The 21st century version of colonialism has found a new weapon in NGOs.

In the December 11, 2013 article, Mother Earth in Chains, the author writes: “In the latest development in the struggle over nature and resources in Ecuador, the government, likely at the behest of President Rafael Correa, shut down the office of a highly respected environmental group known as Fundación Pachamama or Mother Earth Foundation last week. The group’s Facebook page now displays their green logo draped in chains.”

Yes, the Fundación Pachamama is chained – with shackles that bind to it to imperial interests.

Fundación Pachamama was set up in 1997 as the Pachamama Alliance (founded in 1995) “sister organization,” situated in Ecuador. [The origins of Pachamama Alliance and Fundación Pachamama are explored in depth later in this investigative report.]

Pachamama Logo

The Pachamama Alliance is a heavily funded U.S. NGO. [1] Past donors include the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. [Source] Revenue has increased from U.S. $1,911,036.00 in 2006 to U.S. $3,461,600.00 in 2011 (2011 form 990) with over $1 million focused exclusively on both Ecuador and Bolivia (grantmaking $706,626.00 / program services $391,622.00) in 2011. [“The Alliance’s main source of support is contributions, gifts and grants from foundations, corporations and individuals”] The Pachamama Alliance was founded in 1995 by Bill Twist, Lynne Twist and John Perkins. Lynne Twist is the co-founder of Pachamama Alliance and the Soul of Money Institute. [2] Twist is also involved in the “conscious capitalism movement” (as if there could be such a thing). [3] Lynne Twist serves/has served as: President of the Turning Tide Coalition, member of the Transformational Leadership Council, trustee of the John E. Fetzer Institute, board member of the Global Security Institute, board member of Educating Girls Globally, vice chair of The Institute of Noetic Sciences and board member of the Kudirat Institute for Nigerian Democracy (KIND).

In more irony, the KIND site highlights Obama rhetoric: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek. — Barack Obama” Yet, Nigeria’s problem is the west. It is U.S. imperialism: “The profits of Big Oil in West Africa, which now supplies nearly a fifth of US oil imports, has [sic] and continue to poison millions of Africans. It has turned their crops, their waters, their environment and even their children into sacrifices on the altar of corporate profit. And this horrendous price is only to bring the oil out of the ground and onto the world market, not the cost of burning it and adding its carbon to the atmosphere, but costs which are also paid by someone other than Big Oil. The long term survival of West Africa, and of humanity will only be ensured when we stop paying the homicidal and ecocidal cost of Big Oil. We believe that day is coming.” [As Gas Fires Burn, Devastated Nigeria Pays Horrific Price to Ensure Profits of Big Oil, February 7, 2012.] One thing is certain. There will be no democracy for Nigeria as long as foreign interests are present on Nigerian soil.

Twist asserts that scarcity is a myth, a product of culture. She writes: “Scarcity is a lie. Independent of any actual amount of resources, it is an unexamined and false system of assumptions, opinions, and beliefs from which we view the world as a place where we are in constant danger of having our needs unmet.”

lynnetwistquote

Image: “Abundance is a fact of nature. It is a fundamental law of nature, that there is enough and it is infinite.” Lynne Twist

Twist, whose roots lie in “The Hunger Project,” has been criticized for focusing on mindset above actually giving out food. [“As Mother Jones reported in December 1978 (Let Them Eat EST), the group had no intention of actually feeding the starving, just raising “awareness” of hunger – and est.] Twist never states that physical aid is unnecessary, only that we should try to understand the non-physical roots of poverty, a large component of which is the accepted belief in scarcity. [Source: Soul of Money Book Review] Twist believes that scarcity is more closely related to the belief that humans have limited their ability to think beyond the present, rather than lack of abundance of Nature’s resources. Although Twist may be correct to a degree, Twist’s solution appears to lie almost entirely within the mind: change the mind and reality changes.

Founder and board member John Perkins is perhaps most well-known as the “reformed” economic hit man with a newly found conscience. As Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm, John Perkins advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Arab/Islamic Regions. He worked directly with heads of state and CEOs of major companies. His books on economics and geo-politics have sold more than 1 million copies, spent many months on the New York Times and other bestseller lists, and are published in over 30 languages. [Source]

In his best-selling book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins describes economic hit men as “highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources.

Imperialism and the globalization of neoliberalism have long been the iron fist that dictates both power and influence. But today there is a third way – a kinder, gentler, more beguiling way. Clandestine operations of the past are no longer necessary in our Brave New World. Most all manipulations can now be overt under the newest fifth column: the NGO.

“Government propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that, along with corporate media and academia, serve as both a third wing of mass consciousness and a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide.” — Jay Taber, Through the Looking Glass, September 11, 2012

Spiritual Capitalism

spiritualcapitalismisin

Perkins is also founder and board member of Dream Change (with Eve Bruce) where Obama is featured under the banner the “champion of change” on the home page. Under the “Resources” section we find websites for applications (“buycott”), shopping and media. Under projects we find “Perma-Corporations.” [“Only when a corporation makes all of its decisions in a holistic way, valuing all ecological and societal systems in the highest regards, and considering their impacts on the entire global ecosystem, can a corporation truly be considered a perma-corp.”]

Perkins also serves on the advisory boards of Humanity Without Borders, Great Mystery (faculty), and Clear Path International.

To his credit, there are subtle signs that Perkins (now appearing to be very spiritual) is simply incredibly naive when it comes to the true machinations of the non-profit industrial complex. Although such naiveté is not impossible, it certainly would be incredulous. In a video published February 1, 2013 (by Ecotrust), Perkins is incredibly forward in his assessment of Correa and in the daunting pressures that Correa must face daily. In the video, Perkins makes reference to Ecuadorian President Jaime Roldós Aguilera who was assassinated by US agents for opposing the interests of the owners of their countries’ foreign debt. It is doubtful that we will find this video highlighted on the Pachamama Alliance or Avaaz homepage anytime soon. Rather, it can be found on the very bottom of a page on the Pachamama Alliance website: “Analysis on Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, oil, and Rights of Nature from author and Pachamama board member John Perkins.” (The video has garnered 0 views this week and 748 views in total as of April 24, 2014.

Also to his credit, Perkins shares some unpopular truths that would neither be admitted nor disseminated by any NGO: “Knowing the part I had played in destroying this beautiful country was once again taking its toll. Because of my fellow EHMs [economic hit men] and me, Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20 to 6 percent.”

Although Perkins may be correct that “widespread international resistance to this wanton waste of the rainforest is growing vehemently,” he fails to mention the fact that the “wanton waste of the rainforest” is a direct result of the industrialized capitalist system and insatiable consumption by the West. There is no widespread international campaign for voluntary austerity/mobilization for Annex 1 Nations, for the 1% creating 50% of the global GHG emissions. It’s all too easy for the privileged to place the blame on the Ecuadorian Government alone as they plan their next vacation while sipping on Starfucks lattes.

Pachamama Alliance/Foundation campaigns and alliances (Awakening the Dreamer, Soul of Money Institute, Bioneers, UpToUs, Generation Waking Up, Four Years. Go) are lauded by author and spiritual guru Paul Hawken [4] (founder of Natural Capital Institute, which was renamed WiserEarth as of January 1, 2011, and Highwater Research LLC / HighwaterGlobal Fund) who believes the Pachamama Alliance is “the most important single NGO in the world right now.” (November 2008 Pachamama Fundraising Luncheon) Hawken is also a “very special friend and advisor of Pachamama.” [Source]

“New Age spirituality would seem to be a strong candidate for the future of religion because its individualistic consumeristic ethos fits well with the spirit of the age.” — Steve Bruce, 2006

lynne-with-van-jones

Photograph: Lynn Twist with Van Jones: Values.com

Dream Change, Awakening the Dreamer, Soul of Money, Thrive Pioneers, are part and parcel of a growing New Age Environmentalism network with fairly subtle cult-like undertones. This movement, building on a foundation of “capitalist spirituality,” is a separate subject on its own and is currently being explored and deconstructed by Michael Barker, who writes: “Unfortunately, such magical thinking tends to flourish in times of dire economic crisis, and so one can only hope that concerned individuals who value the principles of the Enlightenment will continue to step forward to vigorously refute Hawken and his ilk’s widely disseminated nonsense.”

“…[I]t is imperative to analyze NGOs’ complicity with capital and coloniality, especially in the current global crisis of neoliberalism. Perhaps most innovative is the argument … that NGOs are not external to state, market or society. Rather, in the early twenty-first century, they have come to constitute ‘one more institutional form through which class relations are being contested and reworked.'” — Sonia E. Alvarez, Leonard J. Horwitz Professor of Latin American Politics and Society, in a review of NGO-ization: Complicity, Contradictions and Prospects, by A. Choudry and D. Kapoor

The Origin of Pachamama Alliance: Ecotourism

“[C]ultural capital of travel manifests itself through the contribution [that] independent travel brings to the forging of a ‘planetary consciousness’ – the global bourgeois subjectivity launched during the era of exploration to fit the new stage of global capital expansion (Pratt, 2002:9). Thus, to the extent that cultural capital plays a role in travel it is mostly because of the ability of Western travelers to capitalize the embodied components of cultural capital: racial, sexual, religious and linguistic differences thus become the ultimate objects of desire.” [Source]

Fundación Pachamama was set up in 1997 as the Pachamama Alliance (founded in 1995) “sister organization,” situated in Ecuador.

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.

The exclusive tourism development was to be located in pristine Indigenous territory in Ecuador. [5] The development was conceptualized in 1990 by Carlos Pérez Perasso (now deceased), Ecuadorean newspaper mogul/heir (El Universo) and founder of the tour operator Canodros SA, along with Daniel Koupermann, Amazon guide (at EcoTrek, later to be an executive at Canodros) and Pachamama co-founder. [6]

When Carlos Pérez Perasso died (in 2002), his son, César Pérez Barriga assumed responsibility as President of Canodros, as well as for fulfilling the promise of developing Hotel Kapawi and positioning it in the international tourism market.

El Universo is the oldest and one of the most powerful newspapers in Ecuador, representing one of the most conservative economic forces in the country. Its editorial writers are active supporters of the neoliberal policies of the right-wing political parties (i.e., Partido Social Cristiano and Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano). Of all coastal newspapers in Ecuador, El Universo enjoys the support of the most traditional and elite members of the coastal oligarchy. [Source: Making Ecuadorian Histories: Four Centuries of Defining Power, 2010]

Upon the death of Carlos Pérez Perasso in 2002, El Universo was taken over by his sons: Carlos Pérez Barriga (director), César Pérez Barriga (bequested the role of president of Canodros) and Nicolás Pérez Lapentti (both César and Nicolás as deputy directors).

On February 16, 2012 Ecuador’s Supreme Court upheld a sentence against El Universo, rejecting an appeal filed by the newspaper, as well as upholding a three-year prison sentence against Carlos Pérez Perasso’s sons, including a fine of $40 million for libel against President Correa. (Correa sued El Universo owners/directors along with Emilio Palacio, a former columnist of the newspaper and author of an El Universo opinion piece “No to the lies,” in which he called Correa a “dictator” and held him responsible for the deaths of civilians during the attempted coup on September 30, 2010.) [7]

Also on February 16, 2012, shortly after the sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court, Panama granted asylum to Carlos Pérez Barriga. (Correa: “We’re surprised… because these men are not politically persecuted but common convicted criminals.”) César Pérez Barriga, Nicolás Pérez Lapentti (who has US nationality) and Emilio Palacio had already taken up residence in Miami.

On February 27, 2012, President Correa pardoned these three executives and the journalist Palacio from the newspaper El Universo, along with two authors who also lost a separate libel suit. Correa also referenced El Universo in his LETTER TO MY PEOPLE, OUR AMERICA, AND THE WORLD, stating “We must learn from the present and history, to fight for a real social communication in which private businesses are the exception and not the rule, where freedom of speech is the right of all and not a privilege for the oligarchies that inherited a printing press and put it in shell companies in the Cayman Islands.”

It is critical to note the history and ideologies of El Universo, because between Carlos Pérez Perasso and his son, César Pérez Barriga, they have upheld a two-decade-plus influence upon the Achuar communities, developed through the Kapawi ecotourism development/partnership and very exclusive relationship that commenced in 1990 and continues to this day. It is doubtful that the ideologies espoused by the powerful Pérez family have been beneficial to building any kind of a reciprocal/respectful relationship between the Indigenous Peoples and the state.

“[T]he overall effect of sustainable tourism is negative, where, like ecotourism, philanthropic aspirations mask hard-nosed immediate self-interest.” — Stabler, M.J. (eds.) Tourism and Sustainability: Principles to Practice

+++

“The practice of eco-tourism development is a political-economic fantasy in which the violent capacities of transnational capitalism are denied and confirmed; capitalist authoritarianism is excused as backward yet re-established in seemingly decentralized forms; and the rapacious destruction of nature and genocidal destruction of the colonized is repressed from memory as it returns in the dislocations of a market-driven conservationism.” — Managing the Other of Nature: Sustainability, Spectacle, and Global Regimes of Capital in Ecotourism [Source]

In 1993, under the auspices of Canodros, a contract with FINAE (Federación Interprovincial de Nacionalidades Achuar del Ecuador) was signed after much negotiation. [Created in 1991, FINAE comprised eight Achuar associations, which altogether represented 58 Achuar communities of 5,000 people in an area of 7,000 square kilometers.]

The development was financed largely by a USAID loan of US$1.9 million.

The Kapawi ecotourism development (referred to as The Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve; also referred to as Kapawi Ecological Reserve) would debut as the highest capital investment in the Ecuadorian Amazon, opening for business in April of 1996. One hundred and fifty Achuar contributed their labor to build the Kapawi lodge over a full two-year period.

Other similar projects in Latin America were simultaneously being developed under the marketing of a very vogue, ecotourism niche including Chalalán (1992, Madidi National Park, Bolivia) and Posada Amazonas (1996, southeastern Peru). All sparked intense interest from such divergent groups as the World Bank, the Japanese government and corporate NGOs like Conservation International (CI). Culture, as capital, would be commodified under the guise of eco tourism. Kapawi, a “social experiment” [8], would serve as the ultimate model in the 20th century commodification of cultural capital. Posada partnered with Rainforest Expeditions (financing for construction and set-up of the lodge was obtained from the Peru-Canada fund) while Chalalán was a project of Conservation International. (“CI received grant funding from the Multilateral Investment Fund, an affiliate of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to begin the project.”)

“Some NGOs act as facilitators between other players in the ecotourism context, e.g., communities and the tourism industry, and protected area managers and communities. This role is a particularly valuable one since NGOs are frequently seen as neutral players among competing interests that have had difficulty collaborating before.” — Ecotourism Development: A Manual for Conservation Planners and Managers, The Nature Conservancy / USAID, Volume 1, 2002

The primary purpose of what was to become known as the Pachamama Alliance for the Kapawi development was to “bring down ‘purposeful’ tourists and enhance their role as partners with the Achuar” and to “provide access to technical expertise and funding to support them with the design and implementation of a variety of projects.” [Source: Kapawi Lodge: A Model of Local Participation & Sustainable Ecotourism in Ecuador, 1999] [“Both parties, Canodros and the Achuar, view the Pachamama Alliance as a third, informal partner to the agreement.”]

Shared similarities among these projects are the framing of the projects: conceptualized and sought out by the Indigenous peoples, rather than by tour operators, interests of capital, carbon hunters, etc. … isolated tribes and shamans (with little to no contact with the outside world) seeking foreign assistance with outsiders, and corporate NGOs miraculously responding to the “calls.” Note the similar framing/language on the Conservation International webpage:

“The Chalalán Ecolodge is a joint ecotourism initiative of the community of San José de Uchupiamonas and CI. In 1992, a visionary group of San José villagers realized that they needed an economic alternative…. Eager to improve their livelihood, community leaders sought out CI’s assistance in pursuing ecotourism. CI was receptive to the idea of using ecotourism as a tool to link biodiversity conservation with community development. Thus, CI set out to convince Bolivian authorities of the economic value of protecting and keeping Madidi’s forests intact. In 1995, CI received grant funding from the Multilateral Investment Fund, an affiliate of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to begin the project. With grant funds from IDB and technical assistance from CI, 70 families volunteered at least 20 days of labor to build the ecolodge….”

The corporate prowess of many conservation NGOs cannot be overstated. As an example, Conservation International corporate partners include several polluting industries such as ArcelorMittal, Barrick Gold, BP Foundation, Cargill, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Monsanto, Newmont Mining Corporation, Rio Tinto, Shell, Toyota Motor Corporation, Walmart, among many others. [Source: Some Key REDD+ Players]

The common business approach that suppresses any/all outcry against accusations of colonialism and exploitation is that all of these “eco-tourism” developments are co-owned and/or eventually owned in full, by the Indigenous communities. As an example, Kapawi was to be given entirely to the Achuar in the year 2011. By that time, Canodros would fulfill a contract to pay the Achuar $664,959 in rent (a rate later renegotiated/increased), and $150,000 in accumulated tourist fees to the Achuar ($10.00 per tourist).

Initially, the task was not easy (1992). Members of the Achuar community where the project would settle feared running out of land and were reluctant to start the construction of the grand hotel. After a year of discussions and difficult negotiations between representatives of Canadros (operator of tourism) and representatives of the Achuar people, a green light was given to the project in 1993…. With the building of the hotel and the jobs that were created, the Achuar community abandoned its subsistence economy (shifting cultivation, hunting, fishing and barter provided most resources) to consolidate the monetary economy. — April 13, 2008, The Achuar work hard for your business [translated from the Spanish]

One must note that although a main theme for the “reaching out” by the Indigenous to Pachamama is oil development, according to a World Bank resource document, written by Nature Conservancy in partnership with USAID, “logging, oil exploitation and intensive agricultural projects had not been developed in the area when the Kapawi project was initiated in 1994 (Koupermann, 1997). However, the Achuar had started to change their way of life over the last 20 years, as a result of the influence of missionaries, the government, and interaction with other cultures….” Further, a 1999 document cites an interview with Pachamama co-founder Bill Twist who stated that the Achuar territory was specifically selected/sought after (by Koupermann) precisely because it was NOT under threat of oil exploration. [“Daniel wanted an area completely remote and not under threat of oil exploration.” [Source]

Ample documents clarify that it was Dan Koupermann who requested of John Perkins that a group of “purposeful tourists” be brought to discuss the Kapawi development. It is not clear, however, how the relationship developed between Koupermann and Perkins, or, if the request for the assistance of John Perkins was directed by Pérez of Conodros, the newspaper heir/deputy director of El Universal. It is a question worth asking considering John Perkins served as an instrumental “economic” hit man. [“According to Perkins, he began writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man in the 1980s, but ‘threats or bribes always convinced [him] to stop.’ According to his book, Perkins’ function was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID. Saddled with debts they could not hope to pay, those countries were forced to acquiesce to political pressure from the United States on a variety of issues.” Source]

It is worth remembering Rousseau’s quote “Men are born free, but everywhere they are in chains,” recognizing that prior to the “invasion” of missionaries and non-profits on Achuar territory, the Achuar would have been among the very, very few people on the entire Earth’s surface that were the true exception to Rousseau’s prophetic words.

Video: The white savior industrial complex meets the global industrialized capitalist system: [Running time: 2:21. Created by Oren Ginzburg and narrated by David Mitchell for Survival International] [9]


We need to remind ourselves that the institutional concept of partnership is founded first and foremost on what can be acquired – not simply on what can be given. If it were not for the pursuit of monetary accumulation, or accumulation of capital, there would be no interest in such institutional partnerships whatsoever.

Like today’s false solutions such as bio-fuel and the “green economy,” ecotourism (under the guise of sustainable development) has provided/provides a sophisticated esthetic and appeasing discourse to modern-day free-market environmentalists capitalists. Via such “solutions,” the non-profit industrial complex, led by brilliant marketing squads, has succeeded in creating a solid, almost impenetrable, public discourse on environmental solutions. Reinforcing, legitimizing and accelerating further creation and expansion of markets and capital are wholly embraced as the key solution to collapsing ecosystems of unprecedented scale.

The Kapawi development is discussed at length further in this investigative report.

It is critical to point out that all the ecotourism schemes above share a common denominator – swaths of pristine forest ripe for certification schemes and environmental markets. The communities to which the corporate NGOS extend their “expertise” and “generosity” are not impoverished communities or barrios in or outside of cities, they are the world’s last sustainable peoples, who, most, until very recently, had no need or want for money, nor outsiders.

In this quote by co-founder John Perkins, it is clear that there is no distinction between Pachamama Alliance and Pachamama Foundation. (As well, it is difficult not to notice in the following quote that Perkins “doth protest too much” – to put it mildly….)

“This is an outrage! The Pachamama Alliance organization, that I co-founded in 1995, has been brutally and violently attacked by the Ecuadorian government because of pressure from international oil companies and the corporatocracy.” — John Perkins [Source]

In 2005, David Tucker, Executive Director of Pachamama Alliance, was trained by the elite Rockwood Institute. [10] Pachamama Alliance’s Yeshi Neumann (Consultant – Principle Educator) “trains social change leaders from the non-profit, philanthropic, labor and socially responsible business sectors in the Art of Leadership at Rockwood Leadership Institute.” Rockwood Institute is financed by NoVo Foundation (via Warren Buffett), George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and many others institutions of hegemony.

The closure of Fundación Pachamama, a U.S. non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in Ecuador, could be aptly described as a sovereign state breaking a significant link in the chain of imperialism, enslavement and indoctrination of Western ideologies.

The closure of Fundación Pachamama could also be described as an example of protecting one’s own country and her people from destabilizations and coups – a constant threat that the Western mindset refuses to acknowledge.

 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

It is of little surprise that this news of the closure was first reported by Wall Street Journal. Another nod to history repeating itself, this announcement by the Journal demonstrates that the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst is alive and well. The rallying cry of “Remember the Maine” has been replaced by any effective means of sloganeering to seduce a jingoistic Western citizenry to partake in a global demonization campaign. The behavioral economics of hatred creates a collective acquiescence that can lend itself to a possible war effort at worst or economic sanctions at best. It has never taken much hoodwinking to give Americans a rationale for not only commandeering resources, but destroying everything in their wake. The only difference between then and now is that we do not have one hundred years to change the historical discourse regarding the truth, since the sophisticated machinations today are much more serious and the outcome much more destructive – to not just a segment of the population, but the human species itself.

USAIDsurui-27

Pachamama Alliance co-founder/CEO Bill Twist continues to “guide the work in Ecuador” through their “sister organization,” Pachamama Foundation (or Fundación Pachamama), which has forged a strong relationship with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as an official monitor of UNDP investment in the Amazon region (i.e., carbon market mechanisms, false solutions, climate colonialism).

 “USAID, NED, NDI and other US agencies operate multimillion-dollar programs in Ecuador to fund and train political parties, organizations and programs that promote US agenda throughout the country. During both the 2002 coup in Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez and the 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, groups perpetuating the destabilization received US funding and support.” — Eva Golinger, October 7, 2010 Ecuador: What Really Happened

The Pachamama Foundation is also a partner of USAID-WCS (U.S. Agency for International DevelopmentWildlife Conservation Society) [Source: Report: USAID-WCS “Integrated Management of Indigenous Lands”] whose interests lie in “the growing markets and opportunities derived from environmental services including the REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries)…” (2009).

Throughout Latin America, USAID has earned the reputation of an organization whose offices are, in fact, intelligence centers scheming to undermine legitimate governments. Further, USAID is known to have contributed to the recent failed coup in Ecuador, during which President Correa narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. [11] [12] It is critical to point out that strong relationships with communities are very much encouraged by foundations. Building credibility, legitimacy and loyalty is a vital component of foundation funding. Building alliances in communities is integral to the success of imperial interests. Where divisions do exist in the community, or the state as a whole, they are exploited, honed and sharpened. Where divisions do not exist, they are created.

One only has to look at the @PachamamaOrg twitter account to recognize that this organization does not rely on the guidance of Indigenous peoples nor do they promote Indigenous ideologies and wisdom. Rather, for the most part they “follow” white neoliberals, thus promote neoliberal ideologies/policy under the guise of “spiritual capitalism.” Note that Al Gore of Generation Investment Management and Generation Foundation is their second “follow.”

An inconvenient truth arises when one learns that Gore, with partner/co-founder David Blood (from Goldman Sachs) is focused on “environmental markets” and “sustainable capitalism” (more pleasant euphemisms for the commodification of the commons). The U.S. NGO, Amazon Watch (Rockefeller and Ford are just two of its financiers) follows shortly thereafter at number 5.

“Only when one recognizes the manner by which capitalist elites proactively manipulate civil society and co-opt agents of progressive social change can progressive citizens present an effective challenge to elite domination. This challenge will involve undermining the legitimacy of all aspects of elite power, most especially in those areas which are least understood, like that of liberal philanthropy.” — Michael Barker

The most vital role of the non-profit industrial complex in the 21st century is to implement behavioral change amongst the global populace. More precisely, at this time, it’s to create a populace that will acquiesce to an illusory “green economy” – meaning the commodification of Earth’s final remaining resources – under the guise of environmental stewardship. The corporate capture of Earth’s natural commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale. With unparalleled repercussions for humanity and all life.

The popularity of the individual (e.g., Gore) or the group (e.g., 350.org) is the determining factor in whether something is socially acceptable. NGOs are viewed as good or irrelevant depending on the popularity of their particular leaders, as determined by the number of “followers” he or she may have in social media. This is merely the continuation of Western global structures that were honed at the domestic level, such as the Freedmen’s Bureau for freed slaves or the Dawes Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes in the U.S., now being carried over to the international level.

There is not only no inclusion of the Indigenous in the decisions, but the question is never raised as to whether or not it should be ENTIRELY up to Indigenous populations to decide whether to have their resources disturbed at all. This would be self-determination, which is the 2000-pound elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss. Leaving rights with the Indigenous and their land base is anathema to the West today, just as it was yesterday.

White Savior Industrial Complex

hunger-project

Photo: Lynn Twist Gallery: The Soul of Money Institute

 “The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” — Teju Cole

Charity Navigator shows the CEO of Pachamama Alliance, Basil Twist (son of founders Bill and Lynn Twist) earned $102,475 in 2011, not including travel, consultation, etc. However, this is somewhat paltry for the white savior industry, considering Ricken Patel, co-founder of Avaaz pulls in almost $190,000, not including travel, expenses and consulting. Yet, in the elite non-profit industrial complex even Patel’s income is paltry compared to Frances Beinecke, CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council at $376,317.00; CEO Mark Terek of the Nature Conservancy at $561,278.00; CEO Frederic D. Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund at $433,510.00; CEO Carter S. Roberts of WWF at 495,806; and CEO Steven E. Sanderson, of aforementioned Wildlife Conservation Society (USAID partner) topping the chart at $1,015,701 in compensation (Source). “Saving” the planet (for capitalists) is big business.

Pachamama Alliance is infamous for its annual lavish luncheons and symposiums sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company/PG&E Corporation and other corporate entities. The company e2k has produced the annual luncheon for the Pachamama Alliance for more than five years. In 2011, the form 990 reports that $96,875.00 was paid by Pachamama Alliance to e2k, which is owned by Michael Olmstead, who serves as a director of Pachamama Alliance. In 2012, “the Government of Botswana and Conservation International co-hosted the Summit for Sustainability in Africa, bringing together African heads of state and leaders from the private and independent sectors in a focused effort to explore how understanding, valuing and managing Africa’s natural capital can secure its future. e2k and Events for Change worked with Chris Wayne & Associates to produce this important gathering of African heads of state. The Summit immediately preceded the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, just a month later.” [Source]

The “white savior industry” is itself an oxymoron, as these NGOs actually endanger the citizens’ lives in most every country they enter – in this instance, all Ecuadorians. This is much like the original white savior industry: the missionary system that was used to save the “wretched souls of the savage native.” This absolved the European from guilt since he was doing God’s work. Thus, genocide and its accompanying depopulation and cultural destruction was righteous. Of course, resource accumulation as a natural byproduct of the “saving” performed by these self-described saviors was mere happenstance. In the same way that the missionary system was supported by the state as a means of making the way for industry, NGOs are the refined apparatus supported by the state as an initial intermediary toward the ultimate goal, which is global economic domination.

In retrospect, most anyone can and will easily condemn the colonizing of natives by missionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Yet, today, with NGOs having fulfilled this role to continue the practice into the 20th and 21st centuries – we collectively refuse to acknowledge it. We ignore it. We even defend it. The white paternalism continues with the blessing of the liberal left. “Maybe they are good!” the liberal left cries. “Maybe the Indigenous communities like them!” We can observe the photos of missionaries and their “subjects” in the past. There appears to be no resistance. Yet, we still comprehend that this was wrong.

So the question as to why we defend the modern day missionary must be asked. It appears that the conditioning/acceptance of white paternalism has been driven so deep into our collective psyche that we no longer recognize it. The early day missionaries enforced the belief of an illusory, fair haired Jesus with turquoise eyes. Today’s modern day missionaries force the belief of illusory carbon markets, sustainable tourism and Western ideologies. The liberal left cries “Correa is bad!” Is it acceptable to allow NGOs with well-established ties to western influence and hegemonic interests to set up house in states we do not like? Why? Because we are white and we say so? Euro-Americans have largely acquiesced to the rape and pillage of an entire planet, now passing planetary boundaries – surely we are in no position to lend advice.

A simple and logical question is why any US NGO needs to work outside of the most fucked up state on the planet – a police state quickly turning fascist … a pathological state that leads in the steady eradication of the Earth via insatiable consumptive patterns and addictions, creating perpetual illegal wars and occupations for plunder. Any sane American can understand there is no need to criticize elsewhere when you live within the most dangerous state on the planet. People in glass houses best not throw stones.

The fact that the Pachamama Alliance expresses outrage by the closure of Fundación Pachamama in Ecuador is yet another glaring example of how white privilege expects non-whites to not only bow down to their demands, but for all Euro-Americans of privilege to join them in their outrage. How dare “brown” leaders dispose of this “elite” organization! How dare their ties to white “expertise” not be respected! It never crosses their indoctrinated and commodified minds that it is they, themselves, that have everything to learn from the Indigenous – in a real sense, not in a branding or marketing exercise and self-serving alleviation of white guilt sense.

The Powerful of Marketing and Brand

Pachamama Alliance is a TckTckTck partner. TckTckTck was created by Havas Advertising, United Nations, and the world’s most powerful corporations. In 2010, the non-profit industrial complex, under the umbrella of TckTckTck, grossly and deliberately undermined the most powerful positions on climate change put forward at COP15 (the 15th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), led by the State of Bolivia, G77 and ALBA. Thus, TckTckTck groups were vital in securing current power structures – a certain path to oblivion for humanity and all life. At times a Venn diagram is needed to show the different characters and groups that are used as a tool of Western imperialism, but at the heart of all the connections is capitalism itself.

Prior to COP15, in March 2010, the Pachamama Alliance launched the “Four Years. Go,” campaign. A global communications and commitment brought to fruition by the Pachamama Alliance with Wieden + Kennedy (the world’s largest independent advertising agency network). This represents yet another campaign that serves to shift all focus from the root causes of climate change to the individual (“consumer”), thus protecting the industrialized capitalist economic system. Hundreds of allied organizations worked in unison to spread this campaign globally. The two other Pachamama Alliance campaigns of focus at present are Generation Waking Up and Jungle Mamas (the three campaigns together having received $924,599.00 in 2011 as reported in the form 990).

Such NGOs of hegemony are manipulative. They serve to implement the neoliberal policies sought by the elites that finance them via foundation funding. Don’t be fooled. They are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem – a massive and very integral part. The NGOs (financed to the tune of billions of dollars annually) within the non-profit industrial complex are the cement wall between society and the radical systemic change so urgently needed.

 

Next up: Part II: Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA: REDDy for Hypocrisy

 

[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, Political Context, Counterpunch, 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] http://www.pachamama.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2011form990.pdf

[2] http://www.lynnetwist.com/

[3] http://www.consciouscapitalism.org/

[4] “The Hawken-connection is pertinent to this article because although he has authored a number of pioneering books on green capitalism, what is less well-known is the topic of Hawken’s first book, The Magic of Findhorn (Souvenir Press, 1975), which explored the role that angels can fulfill in revising humankind’s destructive relationship with planet Earth. This book accomplished this stunning feat by eulogizing the early history of the Scottish-based Findhorn Community, a group that presently describes itself as ‘a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic education, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a positive and sustainable future.'” [Source]

[5] “Contract with the FINAE was signed in 1993, construction on the lodge began in ’94, and by mid ’95 Daniel Koupermann asked a group of  ‘purposeful tourists’ to come down and help organize support for the project. Among the first group were Lynne and Bill Twist, who became the founders of non-profit NGO, The Pachamama Alliance, which established a partnership with the Achuar (Bill Twist 1999). Construction was completed in ’96 and began operation in April of that year.” [Source]

[6] “Our Guide Daniel Koupermann, is the Ecuadorian co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance and Fundacion Pachamama, where he’s currently board Vice-President. He, along with his longtime friend and colleague, John Perkins, organized and guided Pachamama’s founding trip to the Achuar territory in 1995. Daniel is also the founding visionary of the acclaimed Kapawi Lodge, in partnership with the Achuar.” [Source]

[7] In Ecuador, Correa was briefly taken hostage inside a police hospital by rebellious police in 2010. Correa later won a libel suit against El Universo, one of Ecuador’s largest newspapers, for running an op-ed that called him a “dictator” who was guilty of “crimes against humanity” for having ordered an assault on “innocent civilians” to break him out of the hospital. Would such an op-ed in a very high profile outlet appear in Canada under similar circumstances? Judging by the Canadian corporate media’s hostility to non-violent student protestors in Quebec, I think we can safely assume that high profile corporate pundits would not libel a Prime Minster who had been taken hostage by armed students. [Source]

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

[9]”Some groups, such as Survival International, the London Mining Network and Intercontinental Cry, manage to keep involvement at arm’s length while trying their best to keep news channels open and information as objective as possible. Survival’s work as an advocacy group is most definitely via mainstream channels, and often using symbolic methods. In contrast to this, a glance at their website makes it horrifically clear where work is needed protecting some of the last remaining pure communities and also those that are seeking to re-assert their independence. That should be the motivation. Direct and relentless, if non-lethal, attacks on those parties carrying out such abominations seems perfectly justified; although in truth, unless the root causes, i.e. industrial civilization and its market forces, are undermined as well, then such point efforts will seem like pissing in the wind.” [Source: Underminers]

[10] http://www.rockwoodleadership.org/section.php?id=30 (funders)

[11] [Source] [Declassified Documents Revealed More than $97 Million from USAID to Separatist Projects in Bolivia (Source) | Nationalising Dignity: Morales’ Adios to USAID, May 2013 (Source)]

[12] Latin America under surveillance of US Southcom, September 9, 2012

 

WATCH: WWF SILENCE OF THE PANDAS | A Journey into the Heart of the Green Empire

HectorLaurenceWWFDorteWWFJasonClayWWF

Above: Three of many individuals creating mass-misery and ecological devastation via WWF. Clockwise: Dr Hector Laurence – WWF Argentina (also president of Agricultural Association AIMA and Director of two GMO companies (Morgan Seeds & Pioneer), Dörte Bieler – WWF spokesperson for Germany, Jason Clay – Senior Vice President, Market Transformation.

The WWF is the largest environmental protection organisation in the world. Trust in its “green projects” is almost limitless. Founded on September 11, 1961, it is the most influential lobby group for the environment in the world, thanks largely to its elitist contacts in both the political and industrial spheres and to its ability to walk a constant tightrope between commitment and venality.

This film will dispel the green image of the WWF however. Behind the organisation’s eco-façade, the documentary maker uncovered explosive stories from all around the world. This documentary reveals the secrets of the WWF. It is a journey into the heart of the green empire that will hopefully shatter public faith in such so-called conservation groups forever. [Synopsis below video.]

A film by Wilfried Huismann, Germany, 2011

Synopsis:

The WWF, the most famous and powerful environmental organization worldwide, is facing accusations of working too closely with industries that destroy the environment and of ‘greenwashing’ dubious companies. The Fund allegedly collaborates with companies that deforest jungles, displace farmers, destroy the habitat of animals and contaminate the environment, German journalist and documentary maker Wilfried Huismann reveals.

Failed Saviors | NGOs & Ecotourism [Africa, WWF, Nature Conservancy]

Source

Are ecotourism and wildlife conservation in Africa so sacrosanct in the minds of their supporters that they’ve dodged proper regulation or perhaps even swerved off moral pathways?

I obtained with pride a Conde Nast ecotourism award in 2004 for my client, Hoopoe Safaris of Tanzania. But in the decade since then my own ideas about ecotourism and NGO involvement in African conservation have changed.

There are two issues, here. The first is that “ecotourism” is no longer a legitimate marker for good tourism practices in Africa. The second is that wildlife NGOs have grown increasingly callous of the priorities of local populations. So the two are related. Both discount the preeminent interests of local people in the areas where their interests are pursued.

The common thread that I’ve watch develop over the last decade is that western-driven “charity” or “aid” or “consultation” or “community based tourism” has grown increasingly isolated from the people who theoretically will benefit from those foreign efforts.

Even if there aren’t contextual conflicts, disputes about goals or methodology, the ignoring of the local populations’ interests spawns conflict. Imagine what you might feel if a Chinese NGO came into your suburban neighborhood and began research then implementation of plans to cultivate an herbal remedy … like garlic mustard… in the city parks. You would at least expect participation in the discussion, and you would become infuriated if you weren’t consulted.

In the last decade local people throughout Africa have increased substantially in numbers and in education levels as well. Most parts of Africa have become well linked to the outside world through increased internet and cell phone access. This empowers the local communities to better scrutinize their so-called foreign benefactors.

ECOTOURISM IS A SHAM

The academic community has always been skeptical of ecotourism. A 2007 Harvard study of Tanzania ecotourism concluded that while most such projects seemed legitimate, there was a substantial percentage that weren’t. An analysis by Ohio State University in 2011 of Tanzania ecotourism was much more damning. The report actually named (accused) specific Tanzanian operators that were scamming tourists with the ploy of arguing their products were ecotouristic when they were anything but.

The above studies, and many more referenced within them, are convincing documents that ecotourism if not an out and out scam is a very poorly formed idea. The initial theories might be good, but implementation seems impossible. And the Ohio State study in particular described why self-appointed certification authorities weren’t working, either, so that the notion of creating some universal standard is mute.

The UN initially thought otherwise. It promoted ecotourism but has since backed away from the idea. Almost a year ago exactly I posted several blogs citing the growing skepticism with ecotourism throughout the world. Nothing has changed; ecotourism as commonly applied in the marketing of travel is neither honest or good.

Khadija Sharife in the Africa Report summed it perfectly last week in the post’s title, “The Drunken Logic of Ecotourism.”

WILDLIFE NGO ARROGANCE

But in the year since I and many, many others pointed out the disservice that foreign marketing ploys like “ecotourism” do to local peoples, another foreign fixture of African life has emerged as equally unfair and misleading: wildlife NGOs.

It will be harder to convince you of this, I know. The loyalty that the world’s great animal savior organizations command is legend. It’s one thing to suggest that a relatively small foreign-controlled tour company in Tanzania is not serving the local populations well. It’s another to make this claim against the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) or the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).

WWF’s long involvement in Africa stands mostly as a fabulous contribution to baseline research and good management of threatened and endangered species. But as with the morphing of the idea of ecotourism into a marketing scam, it could be that the long involvement developed a sense of propriety WWF should not have presumed.

Its most serious conflict is in Tanzania in the Rufiji delta, the outskirts of the great Selous game reserve, which has come under increasing scrutiny because of its enormous hydroelectric potential. A much greater controversy actually than the WWF one I describe below is the World Bank decision to support a hydroelectric dam that could seriously disrupt The Selous and Rufiji delta basin.

But the World Bank’s mission to help developed countries grow and prosper is contextually proper in weighing the consequences of a dam draining a game reserve. The debate is heated and ongoing, and everyone accepts one important debate: who should make the decision? Professionals weighing the overall value to Tanzanian society, or local people immediately impacted?

Quite unlike the World Bank, WWF skipped this important step when it began programs to inhibit rice farming on the outskirts of The Selous. Local rice farmers were obviously the first to be impacted, but they had no input into the decisions regarding the project and WWF sought none from them.

The project mission was always suspect to me, but the rapid implementation without adequate consultation with the local population reeks of arrogance. The entire project has now devolved into all sorts of criminal and unethical consequences. Eight WWF employees have resigned, plus the Tanzania country director, Stephen Mariki.

WWF should be complemented for trying to right this wrong, but the culture that led to their presumption of determining the life ways of local Tanzanian people is the real problem. And that will be a much harder thing to remedy than just abandoning the rice project.

The current most egregious wildlife NGO controversy, however, is on no path to reconciliation because the organization, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), continues to defend its position.

AWF encapsulates its overall mission in the phrase “heartlands.” Over the last several decades, AWF has created heartland areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa in which it concentrates its research and assistance. An essential purpose is to create wildlife corridors between established nationally gazetted protected wildlife areas like national parks to increase the potential for biodiversity and reduce the inbreeding that could otherwise effect large wild animal populations.

Noble. The problem for some time has been to create these corridors, land must be acquired from private holdings. This may have something to do with AWF’s close partnership with the Nature Conservancy in 2007.

But what happens when farmers or other landholders don’t want to sell? AWF’s response has been high-handed and now, it appears, infuriated local populations are gaining the initiative.

In and around their large Manyara ranch holding in Tanzania, AWF has negotiated versions of eminent domain with the Tanzanian government that caused enormous friction locally. And now in Kenya, their acquisition of land (which they subsequently tried to deed over to a new Kenyan Laikipia National Park) is on track to totally cripple all their good efforts in East Africa.

AWF insists it has been playing by the rules. But two thousand Samburu people don’t care if they were playing by the rules or not; they insist with credibility that they have been displaced illegally from their traditional lands by AWF’s high-handed moves.

Unlike WWF, AWF seems to be digging in its heels for a fight that will emasculate it. And if it goes down as I expect it will, so will the reputation and memories of good work that wildlife NGOs have been undertaking for decades in Africa.

Why is AWF resisting an acceptable settlement? AWF is a much younger organization than WWF, and its donor base is much smaller than WWF, much less publicly than individually endowed.

Nature Conservancy is itself a less publicly endowed organization limited to wealthy landowners mostly in Illinois. It could be that these two closely held NGOs feel less vulnerable to public opinion than a more globally funded organization like WWF.

Both these situations, with ecotourism and wildlife NGOs, represent not just outside interference, but outside indifference to the preeminent rights of local people. And because that indifference has been so arrogant – dare one say “racist”? – it led these otherwise noble organizations into presumptions of their legitimacy that denied the preeminent legitimacy of local peoples.

It led tourist companies to scam local peoples with ecotourism; and it led wildlife NGOs to become deluged by the power of their previous successes. It led both types of organizations to ignore the legitimate and preeminent needs of the local populations.

Africa is developing so rapidly I can see incidents of polite refusal, so to speak, of tourist projects and foreign wildlife programs that are put to bed rather easily. The recent controversy in the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) involving the translocation of rhino is a good example of “local populations” politely indicting foreign organizations trying to tell them what to do.

But in heated political arenas, this politeness will be lost. WWF had to back down altogether, fire staff and refund grants. AWF should do the same. When sensibilities are exchanged for political control, foreign tour companies and foreign wildlife NGOs have no hope of prevailing.

Beware, guys. A lot of good has come from your work in the last half century. Don’t blow it.