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WikiLeaks’ Quito Cables Show How US Worked Against Correa

Green Left Weekly

September 8, 2014
By Linda Pearson
President Rafael Correa in Otavalo in northern Ecuador in 2011. Cables show the US embassy ‘warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future’ ahead of the 2006 elections. Photo by Miguel Romero via Wikipedia.

In the months leading up to Ecuador’s October 2006 presidential election, the US Embassy in Quito claimed to be impartial.

Rather than supporting one particular candidate, then-US ambassador Linda Jewell said the embassy only wanted to help facilitate “a fair and transparent electoral process”.

However, diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that behind the rhetoric of “democracy promotion”, the embassy sought to stop the election of “dark horse populist, anti-American candidate Rafael Correa”.

Correa’s support for a Citizens’ Revolution did not accord with the US’s vision for Ecuador. The US Embassy in Quito had worked to undermine Correa during his brief term as finance minister in 2005.

In an August 2006 cable entitled “Ecuador Election: What’s at Stake”, Jewell wrote: “While none of the candidates will return the bilateral relationship to the halcyon days when then-president-elect Lucio Gutierrez declared himself our ‘strongest ally in Latin America’, none of the top contenders would affect USG interests as thoroughly as Rafael Correa.”

Gutierrez may have been loved by the US government, but opposition to his neoliberal policies led to his overthrow in a popular uprising in 2005.

Opposing Correa

In regard to Correa, the embassy was specifically concerned about his promise to “cut off his hand before signing a renewal” of the US lease on the forward operating military base at Manta.

The embassy also judged that Correa was the “candidate most likely to get run out of office”, as he had promised to confront Ecuador’s unpopular Congress and powerful political parties.

However, the ambassador wrote, Correa “has staked out his harshest positions on economic issues, and his election would derail any hope for more harmonious commercial relations with the United States”.

Correa had promised to break with the neoliberal policies of his predecessors. Instead, he called for a more regulated economy and government control over the exploitation of Ecuador’s oil resources.

Moreover, he had said he would relegate the idea of a free trade agreement with the US “to the trashcan of history”.

The ambassador wrote: “We would expect Correa to eagerly seek to join the Chavez-Morales-Kirchner group of nationalist-populist South American leaders.”

A cable from November 2005 entitled “Ecuador Elections, One Year Out”, laid out the Embassy’s strategy to influence the presidential elections.

The cable cautioned that because of “political sensitivities” to US interference, “it would be neither politically wise nor programmatically effective to invest significant USAID resources in public presidential debates or other high-profile activities”.

Covert interference

An “election working group” had been formed by staff from the Embassy and USAID to come up with a more suitable strategy.

The embassy planned to “Monitor presidential campaigns for effects on USG interests, and build relationships with major presidential candidates and staffs”. Over the next year, embassy officials met frequently with Ecuadorian political parties, business leaders and academics to share views on the election and the prospects of a Correa victory.

Cables from this period variously described Correa as a “brash leftist ‘outsider’”, “a stalking-horse for Chavez” and a “disaster for Ecuador’s development prospects”.

To “encourage sound economic policies”, the November cable suggested “sponsoring forums for candidates to participate in to discuss economic issues/policies”.

The cable also suggested that “Focusing USG efforts on promoting voter education and public awareness about congressional candidates could help encourage Ecuadorians to elect more effective and responsible representatives”.

Several cables emphasised the importance of trying to influence Ecuador’s “lower classes”. Poorer Ecuadorians, according to the ambassador, “by virtue of their numbers, will select Ecuador’s next government at the polls in October”.

She suggested that “effective Embassy outreach to the lowest classes could conceivably help blunt the appeal of anti-American candidates”.

In August 2006, the ambassador wrote, “there are few signs that Ecuadorians or their candidates understand the dangers of supporting ‘populist politicians who promise magic solutions that haven’t worked anywhere.’

“We will be alert to signs that Ecuador’s poorest voters break toward Correa in the final weeks of the campaign.”

Another cable written by the ambassador said the US planned to spend a total of US$884,000 on the presidential elections. This included $384,000 to “fund civil society civic education and debates and monitor campaign spending”.

A further $300,000 was allocated to fund “domestic observation and quick counts”, and $200,000 to Ecuador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

According to its website, the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) spent more than $1 million in Ecuador in 2006.

The largest portion of this, $350,000, was allocated to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. It was to provide “technical assistance” to Ecuador’s “largest and most representative political parties”, which opposed Correa.

The NED was founded during the Cold War in 1983 to give the veneer of legitimacy to “political operations” previously carried out secretly by the CIA.

While claiming to be “dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world”, the group is better known for destabilising democratically elected government that threaten US interests.

Recent examples include the Ukraine, where NED projects helped foment opposition to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Backing Noboa

Concern over avoiding a backlash against open interference in Ecuador’s presidential election did not stop the US Embassy trying to work against Correa behind the scenes.

In August 2006, the ambassador wrote: “Beyond supporting a clean electoral process … we have few levers to influence Ecuadorian voters. Ecuador’s media elite is hyper-sensitive to perceived internal meddling, so overt attempts to influence voter decisions is fraught with risk.

“Privately, however, we have warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future, and have actively discouraged potential alliances which could balance Correa’s perceived radicalism.”

In October 2006, banana billionaire Alvaro Noboa won the first round of voting with 27% of the vote. Correa came second with 23%, followed by Gutierrez’s brother, Gilmar Gutierrez.

US diplomats tried to persuade the Gutierrez brothers and their Patriotic Society Party to back “right-of-center alternative” Noboa in the second round run-off, in order to defeat Correa.

In contrast to Correa, Noboa promised that if elected he would sign a free trade agreement with the United States and would not seek enhanced relations with Venezuela or Cuba.

Noboa also said he would negotiate a settlement with US oil company Occidental Petroleum, whose contract had been terminated and assets repossessed by the outgoing Palacio administration in May 2006.

The US ambassador met with the Gutierrez brothers on October 30 to “gauge potential Patriotic Society Party (PSP) support for Alvaro Noboa’s candidacy”.

According to a cable about the meeting, the ambassador warned the Gutierrez brothers that “a Noboa victory, while possible, was by no means a certainty” and a “Correa victory would threaten progress made under the Gutierrez government to put Ecuador’s economy on a solid footing”.

The cable reported that the ambassador had told Lucio Gutierrez that he could “protect this legacy by helping Noboa consolidate his lead in the polls, and break the cycle of political instability Gutierrez fell prey to by working together in the new Congress”.

The embassy’s deputy chief of mission added that the Gutierrez brothers “could make an enormous contribution by helping to counter Correa rhetoric and educate voters about the benefits of market-based economic principles and the FTA with the U.S.; PSP interests were clearly more aligned with Noboa”.

However, US overtures were to no avail. The Gutierrez brothers, according to the embassy, were too “consumed with their revenge agenda”.

Lucio Gutierrez was demanding legal action be taken against those who deposed his government in exchange for his party’s support in the second round of voting. According to the cables Noboa publicly agreed to this but refused to include Palacio among those to be prosecuted. This left the Gutierrez brothers feeling “miffed”, and they ultimately declined to endorse either Noboa or Correa.

 

 

[This article is the third of an ongoing series exploring diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Ecuador published by WikiLeaks. The articles are based on about 1000 cables that have mostly not been reported on in English before.]

 

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

April 25, 2014

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part one of an investigative report

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

  ALBA1          AlbaFist                                  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pachamama Logo

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

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

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

lynnetwistquote

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Capitalism

spiritualcapitalismisin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lynne-with-van-jones

Photograph: Lynn Twist with Van Jones: Values.com

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

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

The Origin of Pachamama Alliance: Ecotourism

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

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

The Pachamama Alliance website creates an emotive hook/storyline that it was the Achuar who first decided to “reach out to the modern world”: “In the 1990’s, facing oil development on their ancestral lands, Achuar elders decided to reach out to the modern world that was threatening their very existence. They issued a call for allies who would work to ‘change the dream of the modern world’ and transform the culture of overconsumption driving the destruction of the rainforest. The Pachamama Alliance was created as an answer to their call.”

The reality is slightly less poetic. The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USAIDsurui-27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Savior Industrial Complex

hunger-project

Photo: Lynn Twist Gallery: The Soul of Money Institute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Powerful of Marketing and Brand

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

EndNotes:

[1] http://www.pachamama.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2011form990.pdf

[2] http://www.lynnetwist.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(ARTICULO) Yasuní: Entre el eco-fundamentalismo y el Socialismo del Buen Vivir

nuestroamericano.org

Publicado en 21 agosto, 2013

Carlos Vera

En los últimos seis años se ha venido impulsando la iniciativa revolucionaria para mantener el crudo en el subsuelo del Parque Nacional Yasuní, reserva mundial de biosfera. Este proyecto tenía como objetivo que los países industrializados, que son los más contaminantes del planeta [1], asuman su responsabilidad para con el calentamiento global y finalmente realicen un aporte concreto y tangible para evitar la explotación de 846 millones de barriles de petróleo del campo Yasuní ITT [2]. La intención detrás de esta iniciativa era recaudar alrededor de $3.5 billones de dólares, suma que constituye un valor ínfimo en relación al potencial económico que significaría la explotación de este campo. Dicha suma sería destinada a programas que fomenten la reducción de la pobreza, la educación y el desarrollo social, así como el de fuentes renovables de energía, mantener los ecosistemas y las áreas Protegidas, reforestar áreas degradadas, generación de empleo sustentable y mejorar la eficiencia energética, por ende, cambiar la matriz productiva del Ecuador. Lamentablemente, solo se logró recaudar el 0,37% de este monto total, es decir, alrededor de $376 millones de dólares [3]. De este modo, el Presidente Rafael Correa anunció la derogación de la iniciativa Yasuní ITT, así como el inicio de la explotación petrolera en la zona.