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Bolivia VP Alvaro Garcia Linera on the ebbing Latin American tide

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

September 9, 2016

 

defending-the-revolution

Defending the Revolution, Venezuela, 2002 [Source]

 

Extracts of vive-president Garcia Linera’s address at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (May, 27, 2016).

 

We are facing a historical turning point in Latin America. Some are talking about a throwback, about restorers moving forward. The truth is that in the last twelve months, after ten years of intense progress, of territorial diffusion of the progressive and revolutionary governments in the continent, this progress has stalled, in some cases it has given ground, and in some other cases its continuity is in doubt. Wherever conservative forces have succeeded, an accelerated process of reconstitution of the old elites of the 80s and 90s, which seek to take control of the management of the state, is under way.

In cultural terms, there is a determined effort by the media, by NGOs, by organic right-wing intellectuals, to devalue, to call in question, and discredit the idea and the project of change and revolution.

They are targeting what can be considered the golden, virtuous Latin American decade.

It has been more than ten years. Since the decade of 2000, in a pluralistic and diverse way, some being more radical than others, some more urban, some more rural, with very different languages but in a very convergent way, Latin America has experienced the period of greatest autonomy and greatest construction of sovereignty that anyone can remember since the founding of the states in the nineteenth century.

The four characteristics of the Latin American virtuous decade

First, the political aspect: social promotion and popular forces taking over state power, overcoming the old turn-of-the-century debate on whether it is possible to change the world without taking power – the popular sectors, workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, women, the under-classes, have outstripped that theoretical and contemplative discussion in a practical way. They have assumed the tasks of controlling the state. They have become representatives, congresspersons, senators, they have taken office, mobilized themselves, pushed back neoliberal policies, they have taken charge of the management of the state, changed public policies, made amendments to budgets. In these ten years we have witnessed popular, plebeian presence in state management.

Second, the strengthening of civil society: trade unions, guilds, settlers, neighbours, students, associations, started to diversify and to multiply in different areas during this decade. The neoliberal night of apathy and democratic simulation was broken, giving way to the recreation of a strong civil society that assumed a set of tasks in conjunction with the new Latin American states.

As far as the social aspect is concerned, in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, we witnessed a substantial redistribution of social wealth. In opposition to the policies favouring the ultra-concentration of wealth which turned Latin America into one of the most unequal regions in the world, from the decade of 2000 onwards, driven by the progressive and revolutionary governments, a powerful wealth redistribution process got underway. This redistribution of wealth led to a widening of the middle classes, not in the sociological sense of the term, but in the sense of their consumption capacity. The consumption capacity of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and subordinate social sectors expanded.

The differences between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, which was 100, 150, 200 times in the 90s, had been reduced at the end of the first decade of the century to 80, 60, 40, in a way that broadened the contribution – and equality – of the different social sectors.

We have experienced post-neoliberal proposals, which have allowed the state to resume a strong role. Some countries carried out processes of nationalization of private companies or create new public enterprises, expanded state involvement in the economy in order to generate post-neoliberal ways of managing the economy, recovered the importance of the domestic market, recovered the importance of the state as a distributor of wealth, and recovered state participation in strategic areas of the economy.

In foreign affairs, we set up an informal, progressive and revolutionary international at continental level. This allowed for great strides in the constitution of our independence. In this decade, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has been offset by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). This represents the evolution of Latin American integration without the United States – without tutelage.

Overall, then, the continent, in this virtuous decade, has carried out political changes: the people’s participation in the construction of a new type of state. Social changes: the redistribution of wealth and the reduction of inequalities. Economy: active state involvement in the economy, the expansion of the domestic market, the creation of new middle classes. Internationally: the political integration of the continent. It is no small feat in only ten years, perhaps the most important years for integration, sovereignty, and independence in our continent since the nineteenth century.

However, we must acknowledge the fact that in recent months the process of diffusion and territorial expansion of the progressive and revolutionary governments has stalled. We are witnessing a comeback of right-wing sectors in some very important and decisive countries in the continent. Obviously, the Right will always try and seek to sabotage the progressive processes. For them, it is an issue of political survival, a question of control and dispute. It is important that we assess what we have done wrong, where we have encountered limits, where we have stumbled – what, in short, has allowed the Right to resume the initiative.

The five limits and the five contradictions of the Latin American virtuous decade

Contradictions within the economy: it is as though we had given little importance to the economic issues within the revolutionary processes. When you are in the opposition, the important things are politics, organization, ideas, and mobilization, along with more or less attractive, credible, structuring proposals. But when you are in government, when you become the state, the economy is crucial. And progressive governments and revolutionary leaders have not always assumed this crucial importance of the economy. Taking care of the economy, expanding redistribution processes, and boosting growth are the pillars of any revolution.

All of Lenin’s writings after War Communism are about the search for ways of restoring the popular sectors’ confidence through economic management, the development of production, distribution and wealth, the deployment of autonomous initiatives by peasants, workers, small and even big businesses, so as to ensure a sound economic foundation for the stability and welfare of the population, given that you cannot build Socialism or Communism in one country; given that economic relations are regulated by the world market, that markets and currencies do not disappear by decree, nor through the nationalisation of the means of production; given that the social and community economy may only arise in a context of global and continental progress. Meanwhile, it is up to each country to resist and create the basic conditions for survival, for the welfare for its people, keeping political power in the hands of the workers. You can make any concessions you want, you can talk to whomever if this helps with economic growth, but you must always guarantee that political power is in the hands of the workers and the revolutionaries.

The discourse must be effective, and create positive collective expectations on the basis of minimum material satisfaction of necessary conditions. If these conditions are not met, any speech, however seductive, however promising, gets diluted.

A second weakness in the economic area: some of the progressive and revolutionary governments have adopted measures that have affected the revolutionary bloc, thus strengthening the conservative one.

Obviously, a government must govern for all – this is the linchpin of the state. But how does one operate in that duality: governing for all, taking all into account, but, first of all, the citizens? No economic policy can obviate the people. When one does this, believing that it will win the support of the Right, or that it will neutralize it, one makes a big mistake, because the Right is never loyal. We can neutralize the business sectors, but they will never be on our side. Whenever they see that the popular side of things is faltering, or when they see weakness, business sectors will not hesitate for a minute to turn against the progressive and revolutionary governments.

You can issue a decree saying that there is no market, but the market will still be there. We can issue a decree putting an end to foreign companies, but the tools for cell phones and machinery will still require universal, planetary knowhow. A country cannot become autarchic. No revolution has endured or will survive in autarky and isolation. Revolution is to be global and continental or it will be a parody.

Obviously, the progressive and revolutionary governments prompted an empowerment of workers, peasants, workers, women, youth, which was more or less radical depending on the country. But political power will not last if it does not go together with the economic power of the popular sectors.

The state is no substitute for workers. It can collaborate, it can improve conditions, but sooner or later it will have to start devolving economic power to the subordinate sectors. Creating economic capacity, building associative productive capacity of the subordinate sectors, this is the key that will decide the possibility of moving from post-neoliberalism to post-capitalism in the future.

The second problem the progressive governments are facing is redistribution of wealth without social politicization. If the expansion of consumption capacity, if the expansion of social justice is not accompanied by social politicization, we are not making common sense. We will have created a new middle class, with consumption capacity, with capacity to satisfy their needs, but they will be carrying the old conservative common sense.

What do I mean by common sense? I mean the intimate, moral and logical precepts by which people organize their lives. It has to do with our intimate basics, with how we stand in the world.

In this regard, the cultural, ideological, spiritual aspects become crucial. There is no real revolution, nor is there consolidation of any revolutionary process, if there is not a profound cultural revolution.

When one is in government it is as important to be a good minister, or member of parliament, as to be a good union, student or local revolutionary leader, because this is where the battle for the common sense is fought.

A third weakness of the progressive and revolutionary governments is moral reform. Clearly, corruption is a cancer that corrodes society – not now, but 15, 20, 100 years ago. Neoliberals are an example of institutionalized corruption for the reason that they turned public affairs into private ones, and they amassed private fortunes by robbing the collective fortunes of the Latin American peoples. Privatizations have been the most outrageous, immoral, indecent, obscene example of widespread corruption. And this we have certainly fought against – but not enough. While restoring as common goods the res publica, public resources, and public goods, it is important that personally, individually, each comrade, President, Vice-President, ministers, directors, members of parliament, managers, in our daily behavior, in our way of being, we never relinquish humility, simplicity, austerity and transparency.

There is an insufflated moral campaign in the media lately. We can make a list of right-wing congressmen, senators, candidates, ministers, who had their companies registered in Panama to evade taxes. They are the corrupt ones, the scoundrels who have the nerve to accuse us of being corrupt, of being scoundrels, of having no morals. But we must insist on showing where we are and what we stand for through our behavior and daily life. We cannot separate what we think from what we do, what we are from what we say.

A fourth element that I would not say has anything to do with weakness, is the issue of the continuity of leadership in democratic regimes. In democratic revolutions, you have to live and put up with your opponents. You have defeated them, you have won in discursive, electoral, political, moral terms, but your opponents are still there. This is a fact that comes with democracy. And constitutions establish limits – 5, 10, 15 years – for the election of authorities. How can you give continuity to the revolutionary process when you have to abide by these limits?

They will say: “the populists, the socialists, believe in caudillos”. But what real revolution does not embody the spirit of the time? If everything depended on institutions, that is not revolution. There is no true revolution without leaders or caudillos. When the subjectivity of the people defines the destiny of a country, we are witnessing a true revolutionary process. The issue, however, is how we get on with the process given that there are constitutional limits for the continuity of the leader.

Perhaps collective leadership, building collective leaderships that allow the continuity of the processes, has greater possibilities in a democratic context. This is one of the concerns that must be resolved through political debate. How do we give subjective continuity to the revolutionary leaderships so that the processes are not truncated, nor limited, and can be sustained in historical perspective?

Finally, a fifth weakness that I would like to mention, in a self-critical but propositive way, has to do with economic and continental integration. We have made very good progress in political integration. But every government sees its geographic space, its economy, its market, and when we look at the other markets, limitations arise. Economic integration is no easy matter. You can talk a lot about it, but when you have to check the balance of payments, investment ratios, technological matters, things tend to slow down. This is the big issue. I am convinced that Latin America will only be able to become the master of its destiny in the twenty-first century if it can become a sort of continental, plurinational state that respects the local and national structures of the current states, with a second floor of continental institutions dealing with finance, economy, culture, politics and trade. Can you imagine if we were 450 million people? We would have the largest reserves of minerals, lithium, water, gas, oil, agriculture. We could drive the globalization processes of the continental economy. Alone, we are prey to the greed and abuse of companies and countries from the North. United, we in Latin America would be able to tread firmly in the twenty-first century and mark our destiny.

The tide is on the ebb

We should not be scared. Nor should we be pessimistic about the future, about the coming battles. When Marx, in 1848, analyzed the revolutionary processes, he always spoke of revolution as a process by waves. He never imagined revolution as an upward, continuous process. He said revolution moves in waves: a wave, another wave, and then the second wave advances beyond the first, and the third beyond the second.

Now the tide is ebbing. It will take weeks, months, years, but this being a process, it is clear that there will be a second wave, and what we have to do is prepare for it, debate what have we done wrong in the first wave, where we have failed, where errors have been made, what have we lacked, so that when the second wave happens, sooner rather than later, the continental revolutionary processes can go well beyond the first wave.

We are in for hard times, but hard times are oxygen for revolutionaries. Are we not coming from down below, are we not the ones who have been persecuted, tortured, marginalized in neoliberal times? The golden decade of the continent has not come free. It has been your struggle, from below, from the unions, the universities, the neighbourhoods, that has led to a revolutionary cycle. The first wave did not fall from the sky. We bear in our bodies the marks and wounds of the struggles of the 80s and 90s. And if today, provisionally, temporarily, we must go back to the struggles of the 80s, 90s, 2000s, let us welcome them. That is what a revolutionary is for.

Fighting, winning, falling down, getting up, fighting, winning, falling down, getting up – right up to the end of our life. That is our destiny.

But we have something important in our favour: historical time. Historical time is on our side. As Professor Emir Sader says, our opponents have no alternative, they do not carry a project that can overcome ours. They simply make their nest on the mistakes and envies of the past. They are restorers. We know what they did with the continent, in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador. We know what they did, because they ruled in the 80s and 90s. And they turned us into miserable, dependent countries, they drove us to extreme poverty situations and to collective shame. We already know what they want to do.

We are the future. We are the hope. We have done in ten years what dictators and governments over the last hundred years did not dare to do: we have recovered the homeland, dignity, hope, mobilization, and civil society. So, this is what they run up against. They are the past. They are the regression. We are the ones who move with the historical time.

But we must be very careful here. We must re-learn what we learned in the 80s and 90s, when everything was against us. We must gather strength. We must know that when we go into battle and lose, our strength goes to the enemy, boosting his own, while we are weakened. When it comes to it, we must know how to plan well, to gain legitimacy, to explain, to conquer again the people’s hopes, support, sensitivity and emotional spirit in each new fight. We must know that we have to go into battle again, the tiny and gigantic battle of ideas, in the mainstream media, in the newspapers, in the small pamphlets, at the universities, schools, and the unions. We must know that we have to rebuild a new common sense of hope, of mysticism. Ideas, organization, mobilization.

We do not know how long this battle will be. But let us get ready for it if it lasts one, two, three, four years. The continent is on the move and sooner rather than later it will no longer be a matter of just 8 or 10 countries: we will be 15, we will be 20, 30 countries celebrating this great International of revolutionary, progressive peoples.

 

Behind the Bolivia Miner Cooperatives’ Protests and the killing of the Bolivian Vice-Minister

 

The Bolivian cooperatives’ protests and their August 25 killing of the Bolivian Vice Minister of the Interior Rodolfo Illanes requires us to question our assumptions about cooperatives.  What are the Bolivian mining cooperatives? Most began during the Great Depression as miners banded together to work a mine in common.  However, like many cooperatives in the US that arose out of the 1960s, they have turned into small businesses. Regardless of their initial intentions, cooperatives existing in a surrounding capitalist environment must compete in business practices or go under.

The Bolivian mining cooperatives themselves underwent this process, and have become businesses whose owners hire labor.  Roughly 95% of the cooperative miners are workers, and 5% are owners.  It is common for the employed workers to be temps, or contracted out employees as we refer to them here. They have no social security, no job security, no health or retirement benefits.

The mining cooperatives made ten demands on the government, and during the second week of August, they announced an indefinite strike if the government did not meet their demands, later adding another 14 to the first 10.

The three most significant demands included rejection of the General Law of Cooperative Mines, which guaranteed cooperative employees the right to unionize, since they are not cooperative co-owners. The cooperatives owners did not want their workers represented by unions.

Reuters, and the corporate press, true to form, falsely claimed the opposite, that the cooperative miners were protesting against the government and demanded their right to form unions.

A second demand was loosening of environmental regulations for the mining cooperatives.

The third key demand was to revoke the law disallowing national or transnational businesses from partnering in cooperatives. At present cooperatives have 31 contracts with private businesses, most signed before the Evo Morales era.

The cooperatives want the right to form partnerships with multi-nationals and exploit the natural resources without the laws protecting the environment.  Opening the cooperatives to such privatization ran counter to what was voted on in the Constitution: “The natural resources are the property of the Bolivian people and will be administered by the State.”

The Evo Morales government nationalized Bolivia’s natural resources in 2006.  Because of this the government share of the profits with corporations from the sale of gas and other natural resources has risen from around 15% to 85%. Previously under neoliberal governments, about 85% of the profits went to corporations. As a result, the Bolivian state has gained an extra $31.5 billion through 2015, which it has used to develop industry, infrastructure, schools, health care and hospitals to the mostly Original Peoples population.  It has also provided many subsidies for the poor, benefiting 4.8 million Bolivians out of a population of just over 10 million. This has cut in half the number of Bolivians living in extreme poverty.

During the August cooperatives’ protests, the Evo Morales government had repeatedly stated it was open to dialogue, but pointed out it cannot violate the Constitution when faced with the demands of the cooperatives, which are thinking only of their personal profits.

Vice Minister Illanes went to meet with the miner cooperatives’ leaders of the FENCOMIN, Federacion de Cooperativas Mineras.  He was tortured and killed and so far 9 have been charged, including the President of FENCOMIN, who was a leader in the violent protests.

Before this, Bolivian TV broadcast news of rioting miners charging at police, hurling stones and even sticks of dynamite. The police responded with tear gas to disperse the protesters.  A number of police were injured during the protests. On August 24, two miners were shot at close range during the road blockades. If the police were responsible, it contravened the order of President Morales not only not to shoot, but to not bring firearms in the area of the road blockades.

Vice Minister of Coordination with Social Movements, Alfredo Rada, said after the murder that the issue of the mine cooperatives should be part of a national debate. He pointed out the cooperative workers are exploited by the owners, who have created a hierarchy inside the organizations for their private benefit. Rada added, “We respect true cooperativism, where all are equal, but these companies have been converted into semi-formal capitalist businesses.”

After the murder of Vice-Minister Illanes, Evo declared, “Once again, the national government has squashed an attempted coup.”  He added that the miners had planned to entrench themselves at the roadblocks they had established and that documents confiscated from the offices of the cooperative miners mention “overthrowing the government.”  He stated that some of the private business and cooperatives’ owners had deceived their workers.

The US has sought to undermine Evo Morales, going back to his first presidential election campaign.  Bolivia’s Cabinet Chief Juan Ramon Quintana stated over the past eight years the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has funded around 40 institutions in Bolivia including economic and social centers, foundations and non-governmental organizations, at a total amount of over $10 million.  US soft coup efforts reached their heights during the separatist movement by the rich white elite in the Media Luna, and during in the TIPNIS protests in 2011.

In the fall of 2015 the US developed the Strategic Plan for Bolivia to reverse the progressive popular changes in Bolivia and restore neoliberal-neocolonial rule. This was written by Carlos Alberto Montaner, a counter-revolutionary Cuban exile, US Congresspeople such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in charge of USAID for Latin America, and chief leaders of the Bolivian opposition.  One early result was the defeat of the Bolivian referendum to allow Evo Morales to run for president for a third term.

Venezuelan President Maduro has pointed out that the Dilma coup, the killing of the Bolivian minister, are part of an imperialist attack on the progressive governments of Latin America.  “It is a continent-wide attack by the oligarchies and the pro-imperialist right wing against all the leaders, governments and popular movements, progressive and revolutionary left” said Maduro. “With Dilma in Brazil, with Evo in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, with Daniel in Nicaragua and with all the peoples and social movements of Latin America, Venezuela is going to struggle for a sovereign, independent, humane, and popular future.”

So far the US anti-war, anti-interventionist movements have not strongly responded to the escalating US coup attempts against progressive elected Latin American governments.

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity, is a long time Latin America solidarity activist, and presently puts out the AFGJ Venezuela Weekly.]

Operation Condor: For More Than 50 Years the CIA Went Deep into Ecuadorean Society

teleSUR

June 8, 2016

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to declassified documents and testimonies of previous agency officials, had a permanent operation to intervene in political and social decisions of Ecuador.

Starting from the 60s, the CIA infiltrated governments, police, civilian groups, and NGOs to advance U.S. interests in the country, and continues to fight for its power and influence in the region.

Unfortunately, few have knowledge of the political moves that led to the intervention of foreign intelligence forces and the deadly consequences it had for South and Central America, as well as the impact on the new world order.

Background

The Cuban Revolution had succeeded in 1959 and anti-colonial resistance groups began to flourish in Latin America. The Soviet Union maintained its geopolitical strength in part through supporting its new ally, Cuba. It was the beginning of another Cold War for the U.S.

In the early 1960’s, nationalist Ecuadorean President Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra and his later successor, Vice President Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy, were pressured by the agency to break diplomatic relations with the new socialist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. When both refused to isolate Castro’s government, both were successively ousted by the country’s military forces, backed by CIA operations.

Ecuador, like other South American countries, was part of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor in the 1970s. This plan endorsed state-sponsored terror to control what was perceived to be the threat of communism and eliminate subversive sectors of society.

Operation Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships the U.S. helped set up in the region. Two prominent presidents in Latin America, Panama’s Omar Torrijos and Ecuador’s Jaime Roldos, strongly opposed the U.S. measures.

Roldos and Torrijos were both killed in a plane crash, and according to declassified CIA documents their deaths could have been connected to this plan, as other leftist leaders were also targeted throughout the region.

Investigators continue to believe that Roldos’ death is tied to a CIA operation in the country, since the president wanted to reorganize the hydrocarbon sector, a strong threat to U.S. interests in Ecuador.

CIA Going Deep

Among the agency’s less known activities include the infiltration of hundreds of its agents into diplomatic offices, political parties and military forces in Ecuador.

Agents at airports would report on passengers traveling to socialist countries such as Cuba and Russia, and mail sent to these countries was opened and recorded for the CIA to analyze. Any “special interest” guest in a hotel would be surveilled constantly. Even the medical staff in charge of President Velasco Ibarra reported on their weekly tasks to a CIA station in the country.

Spies kept extensive lists of data on targets such as full name, residences, workplace, phone number, preferred leisure activities and locations, hobbies, the name and dossier of spouses, and the names of schools attended by the children of targets, among other information.

Relevant information of interest to the agency was then passed onto U.S. headquarters.

The agency’s main targets at the time were the young socialist or communist political groups in universities. The Revolutionary Union of Ecuadorean Youth (URJE) was considered the most dangerous organization and the main target for destabilization, along with its parent party, the Communist Party of Ecuador.

Agents would infiltrate social groups and systematically work to discredit their popularity while fabricating or planting evidence to ensure that leaders were falsely prosecuted for crimes such as the bombing of right-wing political headquarters or even churches.

The CIA counted on the support of right-wing media outlets who published false information and didn’t question the sources or veracity of facts.

It was through such methods that the leftist movement lost unity and power in political and social spaces in the country.

Despite the documentation and testimonies verifying these activities, the CIA so far hasn’t acknowledged that its mission in the country also involved infiltrating social movements, radio stations, airlines, hotels and even hospitals.

New Methods, Same Strategy

The current Ecuadorean government has maintained that U.S. financial aid groups linked to the CIA are acting against leftist organizations in Latin American.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are seen by many as tools used by the U.S. government to advance their political, economic and social interests.

Many opposition groups and media networks in Latin America are funded by USAID, the NED or other U.S. based private and public institutions. In addition to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, other leftist presidents have denounced that these institutions are operating to destabilize their governments as was the case with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and NED funding to opposition groups, and more recently the civil liberties groups behind the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

According to President Correa, these organizations were acting politically to promote social unrest and opposition towards his government’s policies. In 2012, Correa threatened to kick out the USAID after accusing it of financing opposition groups and of involving itself the country’s internal politics.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are seen by many as tools used by the U.S. government to advance their political, economic and social interests.

Many opposition groups and media networks in Latin America are funded by USAID, the NED or other U.S. based private and public institutions. In addition to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, other leftist presidents have denounced that these institutions are operating to destabilize their governments as was the case with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and NED funding to opposition groups, and more recently the civil liberties groups behind the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

According to President Correa, these organizations were acting politically to promote social unrest and opposition towards his government’s policies. In 2012, Correa threatened to kick out the USAID after accusing it of financing opposition groups and of involving itself the country’s internal politics.

He said other progressive governments were analyzing whether or not to take the same actions.

Some reports also indicated that President Rafael Correa could be targeted by the CIA, given his strong opposition to U.S. intervention in the country and region. Since taking office, he has closed a U.S. military base in Manta and expelled two U.S. diplomats who worked for the CIA. He has also given asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to Julian Assange.

As it did 50 years ago, the CIA continues to intervene and infiltrate through new methods and new assets in Ecuador.

Operation Condor: An Era of State Terror Made in Washington, DC

teleSUR

For those who opposed U.S.-backed dictatorships in South America, “Operation Condor” was either a living nightmare or a death sentence — or both.

Officially, Operation Condor was an intelligence-sharing arrangement that was established in 1975 among Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru. However, it is now widely understood that the notorious Cold War-era “black operations” plan was masterminded, funded, and backed to the hilt by the U.S.A.

Operation Condor was the culmination of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign that entailed the ruthless silencing, murder, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of left-wing opponents of U.S. imperialism and the fascistic military dictatorships backed by the CIA and supported by infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

As the U.S. renews its attempts to dislodge democratically-elected governments through various means in a continuation of its historic offensive against the popular movements of Latin America, we look back at the still-fresh memories of Operation Condor and the major human rights abuses perpetrated by Washington and its allies.

The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Declassified documents have revealed that U.S. security agencies viewed Operation Condor as a legitimate operation designed to "eliminate Marxist terrorist activities."
The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Declassified documents have revealed that U.S. security agencies viewed Operation Condor as a legitimate operation designed to “eliminate Marxist terrorist activities.” Photo:Reuters
According to the CIA "the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile)." In this photo, Supporters of President Salvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet
According to the CIA “the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile).” In this photo, Supporters of President Salvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet’s troops following the former’s ouster. Photo:EFE
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet’s dictatorship lasted 17 years and claimed thousands of lives. Photo:Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile
Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (L) and Chilean dictator Gen. Pinochet (R) wave to crowds in Santiago, Chile.
Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (L) and Chilean dictator Gen. Pinochet (R) wave to crowds in Santiago, Chile. Photo:Reuters
In Bolivia, a CIA-backed military coup led to the overthrow of leftist President Juan Torres. Following the coup, dictator Hugo Banzer had over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, tortured, raped and executed.
In Bolivia, a CIA-backed military coup led to the overthrow of leftist President Juan Torres. Following the coup, dictator Hugo Banzer had over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, tortured, raped and executed.
Members of the "Madres de Plaza de Mayo" human rights organization hold a banner demanding information on their missing sons and daughters before marching from the Congress to the Presidential Palace, Oct. 28, 1982.
Members of the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” human rights organization hold a banner demanding information on their missing sons and daughters before marching from the Congress to the Presidential Palace, Oct. 28, 1982. Photo:AFP
Worker being arrested during a protest against the Argentine dictatorship in Buenos Aires, March 30, 1982
Worker being arrested during a protest against the Argentine dictatorship in Buenos Aires, March 30, 1982 Photo:AFP
Photographs of the disappeared in Argentina.
Photographs of the disappeared in Argentina. Photo:Colección AGRA, Archivo Memoria Activa
Graffiti in Buenos Aires, 2011 demanding justice for victims of the "Dirty War" and a trial for the military junta.
Graffiti in Buenos Aires, 2011 demanding justice for victims of the “Dirty War” and a trial for the military junta. Photo:Wikipedia
One of the cells used during the reign of Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now a museum in Asuncion dedicated to those murdered under Operation Condor.
One of the cells used during the reign of Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now a museum in Asuncion dedicated to those murdered under Operation Condor. Photo:EFE
An exhibit of photographs displaying the victims of Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Sept. 23, 2014.
An exhibit of photographs displaying the victims of Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Sept. 23, 2014. Photo:EFE
An exhibit of images relating to human rights violations during Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 23, 2014.
An exhibit of images relating to human rights violations during Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 23, 2014. Photo:EFE
Argentine forensic expert Rogelio Agustin Goiburu (r.) of human rights group
Argentine forensic expert Rogelio Agustin Goiburu (r.) of human rights group ‘Verdad, Justicia y Reparacion’ (Truth, Justice and Amends) works with others to excavate human remains discovered in the grounds of a police barracks in Asuncion, Paraguay in August 2010. The skeletal remains of 11 people were found based on information that they were victims of the government of General Alfredo Stroessner, dictator from 1954 to 1989. Photo:Reuters
Flowers are left behind on the memorial of disappeared persons at a general cemetery in Santiago, Chile.
Flowers are left behind on the memorial of disappeared persons at a general cemetery in Santiago, Chile. Photo:Reuters
Former Argentine dictator and general, Rafael Videla (2-R) and other defendants are seen during their trials to investigate crimes committed during Operation Condor, in Buenos Aires.
Former Argentine dictator and general, Rafael Videla (2-R) and other defendants are seen during their trials to investigate crimes committed during Operation Condor, in Buenos Aires. Photo:AFP
Former Argentine military members Santiago Riveros (2-L) and Eugenio Guanabens (C) are seen in Buenos Aires in 2013 among other defendants during their trials over crimes committed during Operation Condor.
Former Argentine military members Santiago Riveros (2-L) and Eugenio Guanabens (C) are seen in Buenos Aires in 2013 among other defendants during their trials over crimes committed during Operation Condor. Photo:AFP
A man holds a sign with the image of Chile
A man holds a sign with the image of Chile’s late former president Salvador Allende during the May Day demonstration in Valparaiso city, Chile, May 1, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A group of victims of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay meet in downtown Asuncion, February 2, 2013.
A group of victims of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay meet in downtown Asuncion, February 2, 2013. Photo:EFE
Protester holds sign listing deceased dictators that notes "One common past, one destination."
Protester holds sign listing deceased dictators that notes “One common past, one destination.” Photo:Reuters
Brazilians take part in an annual national march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016.
Brazilians take part in an annual national march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A woman holds up a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama with the words "persona non grata" during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Argentina
A woman holds up a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama with the words “persona non grata” during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Argentina’s 1976 military coup in Buenos Aires, March 24, 2016. Under Barack Obama’s tenure, Brazil has seen the installation of a new, unelected, and unpopular right-wing coup government.

The Amazon Watch Campaign Against Ecuador’s Revolution

TeleSUR

February 12, 2016

by Stansfield Smith

 

rafael correa-delgado-presidente-ecuador

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Oil, Contact, and Conservation in the Amazon: Indigenous Huaorani, Chevron, and Yasuni

CUNY Queens College, Department of Political Science and Environmental Studies Program

January 10, 2013

by Judith Kimerling

Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2013

Eye On Amazon Watch

Image courtesy of Eye on Amazon Watch

Abstract:

Texaco’s discovery of commercially valuable oil in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador ignited an oil rush that made the conquest of Amazonia a national policy imperative. Texaco (now Chevron), Ecuador, and missionaries from the Summer Institute of Linguistics carried out a campaign to “contact” and pacify Indigenous Huaorani (Waorani) who lived in areas slated for oil development. Chevron’s operations also caused massive environmental damage which led to the ongoing, and increasingly complex, litigation now known as “the Chevron Ecuador Litigation.” This Article begins with a brief review of events leading to the litigation and an analysis of petroleum policy, Amazon and indigenous lands rights policy, and environmental protection policy in Ecuador. A discussion of the litigation (in the United States, Ecuador and the Hague) follows. Recent developments in the litigation are shifting much of the focus of the legal and political contest from allegations about Chevron’s misconduct to allegations of misconduct by the lawyers and activists who manage the litigation in Ecuador, and have eclipsed the situation on the ground, where environmental conditions continue to deteriorate and peoples’ rights are still being violated. The Article then examines the situation of the Huaorani who are struggling to survive and protect what remains of their ancestral territory in Yasuni National Park and the Tagaeri-Taromenane Intangible Zone. It includes a discussion of the gap between promises in the law and the reality on the ground, and ways in which conservation bureaucracies and NGOs are also violating the rights the Huaorani and posing new threats to Huaorani territory and self-determination.

Download the paper: SSRN-id2332782

Update via TeleSUR, August 8, 2016: US Court Rules in Favor of Chevron in Ecuador Pollution Case

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Court-Rules-in-Favor-of-Chevron-in-Case-Against-Ecuador-20160808-0009.html

Eagle and Condor meet in Oneida

December 26, 2015

Irene Leon, advisor to the Ecuadorian foreign minister addresses members of three different Oneida clan families.

Irene Leon, advisor to the Ecuadorian foreign minister addresses members of three different Oneida clan families.

ONEIDA OF THE THAMES TERRITORY – On Sunday, October 25, a 10 person delegation headed by Irene Leon, advisor to the Ecuadorian foreign minister, was welcomed at the Kayanere’ko:wa longhouse within the K^onthyokwanhasta on Elijah Rd, on Oneida Nation territory. This gathering was the latest step in the development of an ongoing relationship between three traditional Oneida Nation clan families who follow the Kayanere’ko:wa (the Great Peace), and the movement known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

Sunday’s delegation was received by some 35 members of the Turtle, Wolf and Bear clans, including Hoyane (chiefs) and clan mothers. The delegation from Ecuador included representatives from Alliance Pais, the coalition of social movements backing the current Ecudorian government as well as long time Chilean activists.

The main purpose of the delegation was to strengthen an ongoing relationship with traditional Onkwehon:we clan families that has been building since early April of last year. On April 8, 2015, a delegation of some 30 members from the Latin American community in Toronto accompanied Wilmer Barrentios, the Venezuelan ambassador to Canada for a meeting at the Kanien’kehà:ka (Mohawk) long house at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. At that meeting, diplomatic protocols were observed and lines of communication were opened between the Venezuelan government and clan families represented within the K^onthyokwanhasta or peoples wampum.

[The complete transcript of the diplomatic exchange from that visit is available online via the Two Row Times newspaper. The audio of the speech made by Venezuelan Ambassador Barrentios event, and the speech given in reply by Kanenhariyo on behalf of the Mohawk Longhouse are both available via the What’s Going On? Podcast. For more information about the K^onthyokwanhasta, check out Episode 9 of the What’s Going On Podcast.

Following the ambassador’s visit, representatives from the Ecuadorian government who had joined the delegation of April 8, continued to develop relations with the clan families involved in the K^onthyokwanhasta movement. The Ecuadorian consulate in Toronto reached out to members of the K^onthyokwanhasta in Oneida and Six Nations and Akwesasne, and asked for their help in coming to Washington on April 19th and 20th to stand together with the people affected by the ecologically destructive acts of Chevron.

In answering this call for help, over 100 traditional Onkwehon:we people from Oneida, Grand River, Tyendinaga, and Akwesasne drove to Washington for a rally outside the offices of the world bank in order to support the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and their $10 billion dollar lawsuit against oil giant Chevron for its pollution of the Amazon – an ecological disaster ranked as one of the greatest in human history.

Rotiskenrakehte gather outside of the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC in April of 2015.

Rotiskenrakehte gather outside of the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC in April of 2015.

The participation of the Onkwehonweh delegation was enthusiastically welcomed by the thousands of Ecuadorians present at the Washington rally, and the intervention in support of their southern cousins, was widely reported and made front page news in the daily papers in Ecuador.

Follow-up meetings were held with Ecuadorian representatives after the event, and Kanasaraken from the Bear Clan of the Akwesasne Mohawks was sent to Ecuador as a representative of the K^onthyokwanhasta for a meeting and a series of workshops concerning the anti-Chevron campaign.

This campaign, which has trended on Twitter with the hashtag #chevronsdirtyhand, has seen the Latin American community in Canada build relationships with Onkwehon:we people as well as with anti pipeline movements such as the Unist’ot’en camp in BC which stand in the way of a major tar sands pipeline backed by Chevron. The gathering at the Oneida longhouse on Sunday, October 25, thus represented a continuation of this ongoing relationship.

In addition to bringing a message of greeting and solidarity from the Ecuadorian social movements, Ecuadorian representative Irene Leon made a formal invitation to the three clan families who were present to send a delegation to the global indigenous summit that the Bolivarian movement is planning in June 2016.

At this conference, the presidents of 10 different Latin American nations will be present to meet with representatives of indigenous peoples from across the Americas. The aim is to bring together indigenous peoples movements across the Americas with the ALBA governments to address common problems and to build an international alliance of social movements and indigenous peoples. The conference is set to occur during the course of the summer equinox from June 19-21, 2016 and will be held in Ecuador.

Sunday’s meeting was an indication that the rebuilding of traditional Onkwehon:we ways of governance is alive and well. The meeting was opened with the traditional Thanksgiving address, and the visitors were informed that they were being welcomed on behalf of not only the ancestors, the elders, the men and women, and the children, but also the faces yet to come – the people in whose interests all decisions must be made.

The Ecuadorian delegation and the K^onthyokwanhasta sat on opposite sides of the Longhouse and counseled amongst each other in coming to decisions which were expressed to the other side of the fire by their speakers. Both groups expressed satisfaction that their ongoing relationship was being strengthened by regular contact and discussion together. Regarding the invitation to the International conference in June 2016, the Oneida clan families decided that further discussion was required before making a formal decision about attending the conference. They informed the Ecuadorian delegation that they would return a formal answer to them once they had fully consulted with their people.

The Ecuadorian delegation provided their hosts with gifts including a coffee table photo book which showed pictures of the environmental devastation caused by Chevron and also provided a glimpse into the lives of indigenous peoples in Ecuador and the stunning landscape and natural environment that is their home. Chilean members of the delegation performed a song about the struggles of the Mapuche peoples, and presented the longhouse with a portrait engraved in copper of socialist president Salvador Allende who was murdered in a CIA sponsored coup on September 11, 1973. A flag of the Alliance Pais movement bearing the visage of Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and Che Guevera’s famous saying “Hasta la victoria siempre” (forwards to victory) was also offered to the Longhouse. The gifts were graciously accepted, and the guests were invited to partake in a delicious meal prepared by the hosts.

Once the gathering reconvened after lunch, further business was attended to. Recognizing the efforts of the Ecuadorian government in dealing with transnational corporations acting against the interests of indigenous peoples, the Oneida clan families asked for assistance from the Ecuadorians in understanding and addressing developments on their territory involving large corporations. In particular, the Oneidas asked for help with understanding corporate agreements made without their consent. The Ecuadorian delegation agreed to provide their international expertise in dealing with global corporations, and made a public commitment to follow up with a series of workshops on how transnational corporations operate, and how the Ecuadorian, Venezuelan, and Bolivian governments are working towards an alternative vision for their peoples.

The Ecuadorians asked for a letter of support for their anti-Chevron campaign and the Oneida clan families agreed to write such a letter. The Oneidas in their turn asked for a letter of support from the Ecuadorians that would recognize the relationship that has been built together with the K^onthyokwanhasta over the past six months. The speaker from the Oneida families explained that the traditional clan families are not part of the elected band Council system and are not seeking provincial or federal recognition from the Canadian government. The clan families that make up the K^onthyokwanhasta are the basis of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and they don’t speak for anyone else, only themselves.

Traditional protocol was used to ensure that all parties had expressed what they had come to the meeting to say, and the meeting was concluded with a closing address and the taking of a group photo to commemorate the continued building of a relationship between the peoples of the land of the Condor and the peoples of the land of the Eagle. As in the other gatherings which have defined this newly emerging relationship, there was an air of happiness and very positive energy from all involved in the meeting.

 

For more information about the work of the K^onthyokwanhasta, please contact Jagwadeh at 519-865-6407 or Anthony at 226-234-5342.

 

For more information about the campaign against Chevron and the work being undertaken by Ecuadorian social movements in North America, please visit the website www.antichevron.ca or the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/chevronsdirtyhand please contact Santiago Escobar at 647-920-6446

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

The Art of Annihilation

February 9, 2015

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

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


A Playground for the Rich

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

  zoe2013-10-04-amazontan

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

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

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

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

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

CK-ZOE59

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

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

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

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

Cannibal Tours

Cannibal Tours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannibal Economics

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

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

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

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

Kapawi: A Gift of Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIRECT ACTION –THE ONLY TACTIC THAT HAS EVER WORKED

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

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

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

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Next: Part VIII (to be published in 2016)

 

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

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


EndNotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Art of Annihilation

February 5, 2015

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

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

 

The Conceptualization of Kapawi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GeoPolitics | The Missionary Hub of Quito

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

Distributing Bibles in Guatemala 

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

FirstCard(2) 

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

maf 

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

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254891_orig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

Hallefuckinglujah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Occupation

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next: Part VI

 

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

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

 

EndNotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

US-Funded NGO in Ecuador Accused of ‘Political Meddling’

TeleSUR

September 10, 2015

 

A composite image shows a number of tweets issued by Fundamedios that Ecuadorean official allege show the political nature of the work by the NGO.

A composite image shows a number of tweets issued by Fundamedios that Ecuadorean official allege show the political nature of the work by the NGO. | Photo: El Telegrafo

Ecuadorean officials allege that Fundamedios has engaged in “partisan political activities.”

The U.S.-funded non-governmental organization Fundamedios received notice that a state regulator in Ecuador has begun the process for the dissolution of the organization, saying the organization was not sticking to its mandate.

The National Secretariat of Communication, known as the Secom, claims that Fundamedios has deviated from its stated mission, intervening in political matters; something that is prohibited by Ecuadorean law and the organization’s own internal statutes.

Fundamedios says on its website that its “main task is to support media and journalists through its network of monitoring threats to freedom of expression and association.” The organization began its activity shortly after Rafael Correa took the presidency in 2007.

According to the Secom, Fundamedios engaged “partisan political activities” by sharing material on its social media accounts, publishing articles unrelated to its stated mission and inserting itself into political debates in the country.

On repeated occasions Fundamedios has declared its support for political organizations and personalities opposed to the government of Rafael Correa on matters completely unrelated to freedom of expression.

Decree 16, issued by the Ecuadorean government, states that organizations that deviate from their mission are subject to dissolution. The organization has 10 days to argue its case.

“Fundamedios is a political actor in this era that the country is living in,” Orlando Pérez, director of public newspaper El Telegrafo, told the Andes news agency.

However, in an interview with El Comercio, the organization’s director denied the charges, saying, “We did not deviate a millimeter from our statutes, we are fulfilling our objectives.”

Fundamedios’ Impartiality Questioned

The work of the organization mostly consists of issuing “alerts” regarding alleged attacks against journalists in Ecuador.

The organization is funded in part through a US$84,000 grant from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy. U.S. Ambassor to Ecuador Adam Namm told El Telegrafo that Fundamedios received US$300,000 in 2012 from USAID, which receives its funds from the U.S. government.

In a press conference called to denounce the decision by the Secom, the director of Fundamedios, Cesar Ricaurte said that the decision to dissolve his organization constituted an “attack against the press.”

However, Ricaurte is openly hostile toward journalists who work for public media outlets, on one occasion calling a journalist an “agent of the state” who was guilty of “persecution” by virtue of her work for a public outlet.

Many of the alerts regarding alleged “attacks” on the press involve directives issued by a state regulatory agency known as the Supercom, which is tasked with ensuring that outlets respect Ecuadorean media laws. The law ensures that sensitive material is broadcast at appropriate times and that outlets report news accurately.

When media outlets contravene the law, Supercom has the authority to mandate the outlet comply by publishing corrections.

Fundamedios is also selective about the cases it chooses to champions, only coming to the aid of journalists who work for private media outlets and declining to support journalists who work for state-run media.

Several journalists were the victims of physical attacks by demonstrators during often-violent opposition protests that took place in Ecuador in August. The situation was so dire that several journalists called a press conference to denounce the attacks, Fundamedios declined to support these journalists and failed to issue any “alerts” regarding these aggressions.

The organization issued an “alert” over alleged attacks against Fernando Villavicencio, a former opposition politician now working as a journalist. Villavicencio was a fugitive from justice for over a year after being found guilty of slandering president Rafael Correa, accusing him of orchestrating the 2010 coup. Villavicencio was caught on camera physically assaulting Jose Luis Quinteros, a journalist with a public TV outlet. Fundamedios remained silent on this issue.

A number of other NGOs hostile to the government of Rafael Correa, such as Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, have come to the defense of Fundamedios.

Updates:

September 13, 2015:

Journalists in Ecuador Back Decision Against US-Funded NGO

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Journalists-in-Ecuador-Back-Decision-Against-US-Funded-NGO-20150913-0027.html

September 16, 2015:

Media Experts Criticize Ecuadorean NGO for Political Posturing

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Media-Experts-Criticize-Ecuadorean-NGO-for-Political-Posturing-20150916-0028.html

September 26, 2015:

US-Funded Media NGO Given Reprieve by Ecuadorean Authorities

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Funded-Media-NGO-Given-Reprieve-by-Ecuadorean-Authorities-20150926-0015.html

Further reading:

March 12, 2015:

How the US Funds Dissent against Latin American Governments

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/How-the-US-Funds-Dissent-against-Latin-American-Governments-20150312-0006.html

Don’t get confused, in Ecuador the people support Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution

August 18, 2015

By Santiago Escobar

Ecuador Article

Photo: On April 15, the coordinator of Pachakutik, the political front of CONAIE movement,
met with banker and right-wing politician, Guillermo Lasso. Pachakutik and Lasso
agreed to rally against the government.

On August 13th, 2015 bankers, right-wing groups, few indigenous people, foreign funded NGOs, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media, called to a general strike against the government of President Rafael Correa, but did not succeed in their destabilization attempts.

This plot started as a “marcha indigena” (“indigenous rally”) during which people supposedly marched over 700 kilometers across several provinces to finally reach the capital of Ecuador, Quito. However, in fact most participants traveled by SUV and gas-guzzling trucks owned by infamous CONAIE and Ecuarunari members. ‘Infamous’ because all their glory and revolutionary past vanished when these historic indigenous organizations succumbed to the old elites and joined the right wing agenda lead by banker Guillermo Lasso, who according to Wikileaks is a key contact and has strong ties to the US Embassy in Ecuador.

Don’t get confused the current CONAIE and Ecuarunari are no longer the same from the 1990s and 2000s when they stood up and fought against neo liberal governments.

Why they protest

In June 2015 wealthy elites claimed that two new bills aimed at addressing inequality and the concentration of wealth, would affect small business, families assets and all kind of entrepreneurship. In fact however, these bills would only impact less than 2% of the Ecuadorian population and no poor and middle class families. President Correa opted to temporarily withdraw the bills in an effort to promote a national debate around the pressing problem of inequality.

In this context the leadership of CONAIE and Ecuarunari not just met with banker Lasso, but also got public support from the notorious far-right mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, the leader of Partido Social Cristiano (PSC). His PSC party has been linked to the disappearance and torture of labor, indigenous and student activists in the 90s. Part of the opposition group is also Andres Paez who has strong ties to Chevron Oil Corporation.

In this hodgepodge, Jorge Herrera head of CONAIE and Carlos Perez of Ecuarunari, both have used the same rhetoric as the ultra-reactionary Venezuelan opposition, calling to defend “freedom”, and fighting against a supposed dictatorship of Correa and to avoid becoming as Venezuela. Furthermore, both Herrera and Perez made statements against the proposed two new bills. Carlos Perez even stated that Ecuador and Venezuela are ‘like Germany and Italy’ (alluding to fascism), and that all current progressive governments in Latin America especially Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are ‘fake leftists who are only making people poorer’.

Furthermore, these opposition groups have not accepted the invitation by Correa’s government to have an open and public dialogue, only confirming that this is part of a regional plan aiming to topple the revolutionary governments across Latin America. This real objective is also revealed by the opposition now calling the “marcha indigena” to become an indefinite general strike, which includes road blocks and violent rioters, perfectly synchronized on the heels of right-wing demonstrations against taxes on the ultra-rich.

Already in 2014 the president correctly identified that “People must prevail over capital,” adding that politics is about whose interest governments serve, asking the questions: “Elites or the majority? Capital or humankind? The market or society?

Policies and programs depend on who holds the balance of power.”

What the Correa administration has achieved

Ecuador now collects three times more in taxes than it did in 2006 (when tax evasion was rampant), allowing the government to invest in much needed infrastructure and services. As a result of this social change, President Correa has been rated as one of the most popular presidents in Latin America throughout his administration. Furthermore, political stability has returned to the Andean nation.

Correa and his supporters have won 10 elections since 2007. Promoting equality and tackling discrimination has also been given greater emphasis than in the country’s past.

This has boosted the use of different native languages, which were formerly endangered. Laws to protect minorities have also been implemented, including a law which compels companies to reserve four percent of jobs for people with disabilities, and other quotas for minority ethnic groups – such as indigenous communities and Afro-Ecuadorians – in order to narrow inequality gaps. The same has been applied in the country’s higher education system, where indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorean community inclusion has soared.

The government has also invested more than $200 million in Intercultural Bilingual Education in order to maintain and encourage indigenous languages since the start of the Citizen’s Revolution.
Also, with the new Media Law – approved in 2013 – the indigenous communities have greater access to community media. The law assigns 34 percent of the country’s radio and TV frequencies to community media. So far, 14 radio frequencies have been assigned to each of the country’s indigenous groups.

As an Ecuadorian migrant living in Canada for the past 6 years, every time I visit Ecuador I am able to see the massive re-distribution of wealth that has taken place. Now the majority of people have access to quality services. Especially the access to health and education needs to be highlighted, as 8 years ago this was only a privilege of the few. After decades of being one of the poorest countries in the region, the current government has undertaken a series of deep reforms, which have delivered remarkable changes for Ecuador’s long-excluded majority, particularly for indigenous peoples.

Before the citizen’s revolution, the Ecuadorian economy was collapsed forcing many to migrate, but today all Ecuadorian migrants are again part of the country being able to elect members of Parliament to represent our particular needs and create policies to make our lives better while living abroad. This allows us to maintain a real connection and participation with our homeland; and with numerous benefits in place for returning migrants, many are finally able to return home.

Ecuador’s fight for sovereignty has come at a price

Ecuador has shown an anti- colonial/imperialist foreign policy in order to tackle Western domination. The Correa government shut down the U.S. military base in Manta, asserted control over the country’s oil and other natural resources, taking them away from domination by multinationals, and canceled the punishing international debt. In the past three times as much was spent on debt repayment than on social services. Affecting big players in the financial world, specially US and European elites.

However, this fight for sovereignty has come at a price. On Sept. 30th 2010, a police strike ended up in a violent revolt against President Correa, who was held hostage and fenced in a hospital for several hours. Policemen openly called to assassinate President Correa the outcome of the clashes resulted in 10 deaths. Documents emerged showing massive U.S. funding for policemen and opposition groups, through USAID.

Despite this direct threat, Correa continued to assert an independent foreign policy; one of his boldest moves was granting Julian Assange asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012, a move that angered the U.K., Swedish and US governments.

Today the right wing opposition continues to receive funding from NGOs protecting US interests. According to the Bolivian and Ecuadorian heads of state, the “empire” is attacking Latin American nations with “soft coups”.

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the Ecuadorean right of using Indigenous movements to topple President Rafael Correa, and urged them not to be treated like instruments.
“I want to tell my Indigenous brothers in Ecuador to not allow themselves to be used against the Ecuadorean government,” said President Morales

Today the rich fight against the government of the poor

When you have a well-organized plot implemented by small indigenous groups, bankers, right wing parties, “radical leftists”, local and international corporate media and the US Embassy against a revolutionary government of the people, you clearly have to choose a side.

During the coup against Allende in Chile there were only two sides. During the coup against Chavez in Venezuela there were only 2 sides. During the coup against Zelaya in Honduras there were only 2 sides.

Today in Ecuador, there are only 2 sides. The side of the people and the citizen’s revolution or the side of the right wing indigenous traitors that share the same ideas, speech and demands as the bankers and the elites.

As president Correa put it: “Before the poor had to fight against the government of the bankers. Today, the rich fight against the government of the poor, for the ‘crime’ of seeking a bit of social justice”.

 

[Santiago Escobar is an Ecuadorian citizen living in Canada since 2009. He has spent the last 4 years working on migrant workers’ rights with migrant farm workers in the Niagara region. Prior to this Escobar organized with Social Movements in both Ecuador and Venezuela implementing People’s Media platforms. In 2009 Escobar became a whistleblower in the environmental law suit against the Oil giant Chevron exposing Chevron’s corruption and dirty tricks operations in Ecuador. The evidence provided have been used in international courts exposing Chevron’s corruption. Escobar also serves as the coordinator of http://www.antichevron.ca/ campaign in Canada.]

 

Follow up: Published on Aug 21, 2015

“David Hill’s article in the Guardian on August 20, entitled “Protests by 1,000s of Ecuadorians meet with brutal repression” is riddled with errors and misrepresentations. We explain to you why.” [TeleSUR]