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

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

Groups Funding Amazon Watch and RAN:

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


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

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

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

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

Further in the article Barker states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


From: Amazon Watch <news>

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


Subject: TAKE ACTION: Help stop police repression in Bolivia

Reply-To: Amazon Watch <news>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew E. Miller

Andrew E. Miller
DC Advocacy Coordinator


We need your support!

For fourteen years, Amazon Watch has been an effective force in supporting indigenous environmental movements on the front lines of halting destructive develpment.



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