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Tagged ‘ALBA‘

WATCH: White Saviors and Latin America: Profiting from Humanitarianism

ANTICONQUISTA


August 22, 2021

 

“ANTICONQUISTA will discuss the recent news coming out of Latin America. There are few if any media sites that provide an overview of what’s happening in Latin America especially for those of us in the diaspora. The omission and separation of our people from what is happening in the homelands is intentional. It alienates us from our people and from knowing the abuses and exploitation going on day to day. Our new program seeks to provide a roundup of news in Latin America to make those connections between our people. Continue to support ANTICONQUISTA and the work we do on Patreon and our website where we post articles. All of our money raised goes to funding anti-imperialist movements in or allied with Latin America. https://www.patreon.com/anticonquista https://anticonquista.com/“.

 

 

Defending Latin America’s Resistance Axis

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2021

By Stephen Sefton

 

Early in July this year Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke to a conference in which he outlined the main elements of the region’s Resistance Axis’ media and communications strategy. He stressed the rightness of the Resistance cause challenging Western imperialism, in particular Israel’s genocidal, colonialist settler occupation of Palestine. He pointed out the strength, unity and resilience of the Axis, led by Iran and Syria, but including Hezbollah itself and allied movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen. Nasrallah also emphasized the importance of the Resistance Axis leadership’s determination to report the facts of events in the region truthfully with rigorously honesty when offering analysis.

Together moral right and political strength, truthful reporting and analytic honesty have created and nurtured deep, broadly based, committed support across the region. Few observers doubt that the Resistance cause will ultimately triumph in Syria and Palestine, given the relentless relative decline of US and allied imperial power relative to Russia and China and the steadfastness of Iran and Syria. The formidable unity and solidarity of the movements successfully challenging the US and Israel in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen offer lessons essential for their resistance counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s remarks have particular relevance to the Resistance Axis composed of the ALBA countries led by Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela whose governments all strongly support Iran and Syria. In varying degrees, these countries have also long suffered relentless aggression from the United States, its allies and regional proxies, in Cuba’s case for over sixty years. Nasrallah’s criteria defnitely apply to the experience of this bloc of resistance to US and allied imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The moral right of these countries is founded on their historic struggle against imperial domination and on the fundamental principles of modern international law, namely, non-aggression and the right to self determination. To circumvent that profund moral right the US and its allies seek to apply their own illegal “rules based order” applying all kinds of aggression on the basis of false accusations of human rights violations processed through the corrupt institutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. As in the case of Palestine and wider West Asia, this genocidal Western aggression is driven by profound nostalgia for the era of unlimited colonial and neocolonial domination.

The moral right of the ALBA countries to their resistance is undeniable and so too is the formidable political strength, unity and resilience they have mobilized to defend their cause against relentless economic, diplomatic, media and psychological warfare, domestic terror and even military attack. Over centuries, all these countries’ peoples have resisted foreign domination. Cuba’s Revolution triumphed in 1959 and has resisted Yankee and allied onslaught and destabilization for over 60 years. Likewise, Venezuela since Comandante Chávez became president in 1998 and Bolivia since Evo Morales was elected president in 2006, have also endured relentless US and allied hostility and aggression. Nicaragua has been the target of US intervention ever since the Sandinista Front for National Liberation overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Despite everything the US and its allies have attempted in recent years, these countries have stood firm in defense of their right to self-determination. In their case too, the combination of moral right, political strength and unity, truthful reporting and honest analysis has consolidated not only solid domestic support to resist US and allied aggression, but also national consensus rejecting neoliberal policies promoting corporate greed, in favor of socialist development programs focused on the needs of the human person. The frustration and desperation of the US, its allies and their regional mercenaries and proxies will certainly intensify as their efforts continue failing to break down broad popular support for the ALBA countries’s governments. All four governments are now well aware of the methods deployed by the US and its allies to carry out their wildly misnamed “soft coups”.

To expose, disarm and defeat the increasingly desperate imperialist campaigns of aggression effectively, the Resistance Axis led by Iran and Syria has shown the importance of ever closer unity and coordination between governments, popular movements, media outlets and all expressions of popular consciousness and awareness. Nicaragua has not suffered the same economic and military aggression as Cuba and Venezuela, but its leadership, especially Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, have been subjected to perhaps an even more systematic and comprehensive campaign of demonization, as intense as that against Muammar al Gaddhafi prior to and during the destruction of Libya. In fact, most progressive and even anti-imperialist media outlets and intellectuals tended to accept at face value the false imperialist media account of the failed coup attempt in 2018.

However, by telling the truth honestly in the most determined way, Nicaragua’s government has largely overcome the concerted psychological warfare campaign deployed against it, preserving and reinforcing support and solidarity where it is most needed, both among Nicaragua’s people and internationally in bodies like the Foro Sao Paulo. The government’s dignified, forceful and persistent presentation of the country’s reality at a diplomatic level has successfully defeated efforts by the US and its allies to isolate the country. Similarly, good faith reporting by international organizations, like the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Panamerican Health Organization, UNESCO, or even the World Bank, on their work with Nicaragua consistently contradicts claims by the corrupt human rights organizations of the UN and the OAS that the country’s government is a repressive dictatorship denying basic rights to its people.

The failed coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, the coup in Bolivia in 2019, continuing constant aggression of all kinds against Venezuela and, most recently, the US organized and funded protests in Cuba and the accompanying intensification of the blockade, are all part of what Stella Calloni and other writers have identified as the new Plan Condor. This reality is very well understood by now, both across the region and increasingly among the anti-imperialist movements in North America and Europe. As Sayyed Nasrallah has explained in the context of occupied Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, by persistently reporting events in the region truthfully and analyzing them honestly our governments and popular movements can build and consolidate the moral and political strength and unity necessary to overcome the US and its allies and achieve the definitive Second Independence of Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

 

Nicaragua – Varieties of Neocolonial Solidarity

Tortilla con Sal,

TeleSUR

July 7, 2021

View of the facade of the Organization of American States (OAS), today, in Washington (United States). | Photo: EFE

Just as in 2018, Nicaragua is once again the subject of the kind of mass international bad faith news coverage and perception management more usually associated recently with US and allied government offensives against Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. In Nicaragua’s case the current offensive is aimed at influencing the country’s elections scheduled for next November 7th. Currently, all the opinion polls show that, should President Daniel Ortega stand again for election, he and his FSLN party will win easily with over 60% support against around 20% for the the country’s right wing opposition.

The campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government is clearly intended to encourage punitive coercive economic measures from the US and European Union governments aimed at influencing voter opinion in those November elections against President Ortega and the FSLN. Right now, the main false accusation is that “Ortega” has unjustly imprisoned over twenty opposition leaders, among them several presidential candidates. All US attempts to overthrow governments resisting US and allied government dictates depend on this kind of big lie. The standard big lie is that target governments are unpopular, repressive dictatorships. Invariably, the truth is very different if not the complete opposite.

For example, in 2009, the big lie in preparation for the coup against then Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was that the proposed Fourth Ballot referendum aimed to secure him re-election so as to impose a dictatorship. In Nicaragua’s case, the current big lie is that “Ortega” is arresting opposition leaders to prevent them defeating him in next November’s elections. These big lies only flourish in an essentially fascist culture of corporate dominated government in which truthful information is systematically suppressed and substituted by false beliefs.

Typical Western false beliefs or presuppositions are, for example, that the US and its allies are a force for good in the world, that Western culture is morally superior to others and that capitalism promotes optimal economic and social outcomes. These ridiculous false beliefs are fundamental tenets of Western intellectual life and public discourse. They make possible the kind of psychological warfare repeatedly unleashed against governments that obstruct the wishes of Western corporate elites and the governments they own.

An important component of Western psychological warfare shaping the moral dimension of any given disinformation assault is the essentially class based solidarity with the target country’s imperialist proxies. This neocolonial solidarity operates in reactionary and progressive varieties, both claiming a Western monopoly on freedom, democracy and defence of human rights. Both essentially agree that governments resisting Western demands deserve to be attacked one way or another.

The reactionary variety, prevalent mostly among the business and financial classes and related professionals, insists on abandoning international law in favour of intervention based on Western dictated rules. The progressive variety, prevalent mostly among non profit organizations, academics and other socially oriented professionals, agrees but is more diffident about the means of intervention deployed, demanding alibis to satisfy susceptibilities over humanitarian and human rights concerns. The right wing variety generally favors aggressive, overt or covert military-based solidarity with armed opposition rebellion, while the progressive variety favors smart-power coercive measures prioritizing solidarity with some version of opposition civil society or popular movements.

Nicaragua experienced the first right wing version of neocolonial solidarity during the Contra war of the 1980s when president Reagan declared, with more truth than he realized, that the CIA-run narco-terror campaign was “the moral equivalent of the founding fathers”. Subsequently, ever since the Sandinista FSLN party returned to government in 2007, Nicaragua has experienced principally the progressive version of smart power neocolonial solidarity developed under president Obama. That policy, supporting Nicaragua’s anti-Sandinista opposition, intensified under president Trump and continues unchanged now under “Biden”.

Self-evidently, these varieties of neocolonial solidarity thrive on their respective class loyalties and ideological susceptibilities. In 2018, a massive disinformation campaign covered up the Nicaraguan opposition’s extreme violence and their deliberate campaign of destruction. As Harold Pinter remarked in relation to the 1980s Contra War, even as the opposition violence of 2018 was happening, the murders, the extortion, the arson, the torture, it was made to seem that nothing happened. Now, when the Nicaraguan authorities have acted to preempt a repeat of that failed 2018 coup attempt, a furious psychological warfare assault is taking place to conceal the coup mongering opposition’s treasonous collusion with the US and EU country governments.

As regards progressive and left wing opinion in general, militant foreign supporters of Nicaragua’s ex-sandinista opposition have long been important protagonists covering up the ex.sandinistas’ anti-democratic collaboration with Western imperialist intervention. Even before the 2006 elections, the US authorities had coopted ex sandinistas as collaborators. But when Daniel Ortega and FSLN won those elections, successfully managed the crisis of 2008-2009 and then triumphed in the 2011 elections, US government support for the opposition switched to promoting efforts at outright regime change. Inside Nicaragua, the ex sandinistas, devoid of popular support, abused their non profit networks to camouflage their political opposition to the government and the accumulation of resources necessary to mount the 2018 coup attempt.

That systematic abusive subterfuge has been eliminated and its protagonists held to account. So now foreign supporters of the ex sandinista opposition again cloak their militant, aggressive, politically driven advocacy under phony human rights concerns. In 2018, they did so to cover up the violent role of the ex sandinistas in the failed coup attempt. Now, they falsely allege human rights abuses to cover up ex sandinista US collaborators’ treasonous criminality. The false human rights propaganda motif makes it possible for proponents of the progressive variety of neocolonial solidarity in North America, Europe and elsewhere, to work in parallel with their right wing counterparts. Even many supposedly left wing figures have written articles or signed declarations in support of the ex-Sandinista US collaborators and those people’s right wing allies in Nicaragua. They do so for three main reasons.

Firstly, many supposedly left-wing figures attacking the Nicaraguan authorities for defending Nicaragua’s independence and sovereignty have some degree of friendship with the ex-sandinistas now under investigation, so they defend them for essentially personal reasons. Secondly, it is likely that many supposed left wingers supporting the ex Sandinista US collaborators have been duped by the massive psychological warfare assault on Nicaragua without bothering to question it. A third main reason for that kind of neocolonial solidairty from people who should know better, is that they fear alienating their support networks and are simply signaling how virtuous they are so as to avoid criticism.

In any case, the current situation, just like the 2018 coup attempt, categorically defines where everyone’s loyalties lie. People genuinely committed to the principles of sovereign independence and self-determination recognize the Nicaraguan authorities are applying the country’s laws and criminal code to defend the country against US intervention aimed at overthrowing the elected government. People who believe the bogus human rights accusations and claims that the current criminal investigations are driven by electoral considerations are engaging in the kind of neocolonial solidarity regularly deployed to justify yet another operation of imperialist regime change. For anyone foolish enough to credit the ex sandinista leaders denials of complicity with the US government, this series of photographs should help disabuse them of that false belief.

 

[Stephen Sefton is a member of the Tortilla con Sal collective based in Nicaragua]

The Left is Consumed by Propaganda

Misión Verdad

July 21st 2018

La izquierda está consumida por la propaganda occidental

[The Left is Consumed by Propaganda]

 

Words of Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad during the 24th Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba held July 15th -17th in the course of the Foro’s discussion about art, communication, culture and intellectual work. Misión Verdad participated at the invitation of the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad 

Yesterday saw the start of an intense and definitely constructive discussion because it shows a great deal about what is currently happening in Latin America and the world. We can all agree that there is a crisis. It is the crisis of the world system as we know it, a global systemic crisis of capitalism. A crisis inherent in all of us, one people in Latin America are living now in our own lives, in our own bodies.

As you know, Venezuela was a victim in 2017 of perhaps the most refined model of intervention the West has yet designed, not just to take over State power that today is in the hands of anti-capitalist forces, but rather to dismantle States themselves as we have come to know them. In other words, Western thought derived from the Pact of Westphalia is in crisis. The Nation-State model that has served capitalism well for so many years is in crisis. Looking at those States, their crisis and the models of intervention, we think, based on our work, that a full understanding is lacking of what is happening right now, not just in Western thought but among ourselves as we live through these new processes of intervention. This is not to play the victim in relation to this issue, but it is a call to be alert. Why? Because Nicaragua is suffering intervention right now too.

In 2015 we said that this new model of intervention would be used in Nicaragua and we state here in Havana in 2018, that Cuba is a country that could be a candidate to suffer this model of intervention. Which is nothing less than a reconfiguration of countries’ cultural identities, and the hijacking of values and principles characteristic of the Left for many years. I’m talking about human rights, solidarity, youth, categories that are being reconfigured by bodies like, just to give one example, the Open Society Foundation.

Video with aerial views of the July 19th celebration in Managua, Nicaragua.

Unless everyone in this room knows what the open Society Institute is, then we have already lost the argument. Just one fact about the foundation : just in the last five years, it has invested one billion dollars in 120 countries, in 48 “color revolutions” that destroyed the whole of the Middle East. It started in Tunisia, went on to Egypt, continued in Libya and tried also in Syria. Imported into Latin America, Venezuela suffered 3 attempts at a “color revolution” in 2007, 2014 and 2017. We can say here today that Venezuela is the only country that has understood how to confront “color revolutions” and disarm them using political intelligence and audacity.

But this carries us into a slightly more complex debate, one a bit more invidious, a bit harder to face up to, namely the debate on the work of intellectuals. To begin with, we can ask ourselves whether intellectuals, above all left wing intellectuals, really understand what is happening. I wonder because President Maduro is probably among the world’s politicians most criticized politicians in the world media system, by the world’s banal media aristocracy.

Sadly, we have seen that the Left is not infallible when it comes to consumption of Western propaganda. The Left, maybe not so much the Latin American Left, but the European Left, if one can put things that way, has indeed assimilated the Western argument that there has been no democracy in Venezuela. Which takes us again into a slightly more profound debate : “What is democracy?” We have already noted that there is also a crisis of concepts, a reconfiguration and it’s not really we who are giving a new interpretation to these concepts, adapting them to our realities.

A view of the Cuban capital Havana. | Photo: Reuters

I don’t know if people are aware that the last ALBA declaration saluted the referendum held in Ecuador excluding Rafael Correa from Ecuadoran politics. An ALBA document. We have to view such points with much caution and much responsibility, because on this reading of democracy, Ecuador is democratic, Argentina is democratic, Brazil is democratic, but Venezuela is a dictatorship, never mind Cuba which for 50 years has been stigmatized as such.

The question is whether these concepts of democracy, human rights, liberty and revolution are of any use to us.

Yesterday, the Network of Intellectuals debated what is a revolution and what is not. One hundred years on from 1917. I don’t understand. When we are in a moment in which so far as we understand things, there is no reason for pessimism. We are in a marvelous moment. The world élites are fighting among themselves, devouring each other. For example, we see Donald Trump, representative of part of the world elite, fighting with his allies, trying to impose economic conditions on China, while the Chinese more or less laugh at them. Furthermore, we see them trying to impose threats in Latin America and Nicolas Maduro destroying the US plans to intervene in Venezuela.

We have won four consecutive elections in less than six months and here we’re touching on the last issue that we wanted to address here. Not just Latin America but the whole world today lacks an analytical framework belonging to us, the world’s peoples. Nothing is written now about Venezuela’s victories. There exists a kind of emotional state, above all among left wing intellectuals, of permanently having to start from zero, forever abandoning moments of achievement and success.

There’s a feeling that Venezuela was left on its own over the last few years without the leadership of Comandante Chavez. We get excited about the new victories, fine, we celebrate these new victories. We grasp that Venezuela has had four electoral victories where the Venezuelan opposition was left fragmented in at least four pieces, and that came about, I insist, through political intelligence and furthermore with the unassailable support of Venezuela’s popular base represented mainly by low income women and single mothers who are each responsible themselves for no fewer than a thousand people.

If it weren’t for these women doing politics for real, Venezuela would today be submerged in severe hunger. These women, threatened with that in 2017, organize,get on with life, co-exist, face down threats, do politics and thus guarantee the electoral victories of the Bolivarian Revolution.

I insist that Venezuela has created a Chavista formula. We asserted beforehand in this discussion group that we have to be constantly more Chavista because Chavismo, beyond the historical circumstances imposed on it, turned out to be a method of political action, a pragmatic method of interpreting reality and of working that reality so as to plan for the future with the same daring clearly evident in the meetings and experiences of Chavez and Fidel.

We are dealing with uncomfortable questions that any meeting trying to be honest should address. Power for what? At a time when the Western élites are destroying the whole system we are accustomed to, when its institutionality is being destroyed by its own creators. One has to insist : power for what? We should ask ourselves this, all of us involved in political processes and also of other people in theirs. Why does Manuel Lopez Obrador want power? Or Nicolas Maduro? Or Evo Morales? After the coming and going of grievous and occasionally shameful defeats in our region.

I don’t want to provoke more discomfort, but in 2017, between February and July of 2017, the supposed progressive regional leaders never mentioned Venezuela and the intervention process it suffered, except Cuba and Bolivia, obviously. This is not, shall we say, a victim’s complaint, but rather a call for reflection, above all to the intellectual Left, which seems to look at the world as if we were in1950 instead of 2018, in a moment when time is rushing on, and while it may be a more perilous time, it is also a marvelous time. If capitalism manages to remake its philosophical framework, its existential structure, then we will have lost the opportunity of a lifetime to impose a new culture, to think it through, to experience it and leave behind for good all the many centuries of subjugation in which we have been spectators and not participants.

Thank you.

The transcription and editing of this speech was done by the Cuban cultural web site La Jiribilla

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Video | Sao Paulo Forum Underway in Havana, Cuba: “Who we work for is the poor of our countries.”

WATCH: Maduro – Indestructible Loyalty

teleSUR

May 4, 2017

 

Defend Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro raises his fist next to a painting of President Hugo Chavez during the commemoration of the 21st anniversary of Chavez’s attempted coup d’etat in Caracas February 4, 2013


Our introduction to the teleSUR documentary is from the article “Dear Gustavo, it is with Great Sorrow that I Write” published by Venezuelan Analysis:

Juan Manuel Parado responds to a statement released by internationally renowned Venezuelan orchestra conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, on May 4th, “raising his voice” against the alleged repression in Venezuela. 

I read your appeal, Gustavo, and I am deeply sorry that a person such as yourself, who so many of us have applauded and respected, is making use of their prestige as an international artist to call on President Maduro to rectify [the situation], but that you do not call for reflection from [opposition leaders] Freddy Guevara, the Capriles and their followers, who are calling for deaths every day.

It would have been of great help if you, like Pope Francis, had encouraged the Venezuelan opposition, which is rejecting dialogue, to partake in dialogue, in the full exercise of politics.

It would have been quite helpful had you demanded that [OAS Secretary General] Almagro not get involved in our domestic affairs and even less that he try to have the Inter-American Democratic Charter applied [against Venezuela].

It would have been extremely elegant had you called on the criminal, armed and violent groups to demobilise; the ones that are besieging the motorways of Barquisimeto and Valencia, preventing the transit of civilians, neighbors, their own people, even if they are on their way to hospital.

How well you would have been received by the Chavista youth that admires you, if you recognised that they also have dreams, liberty and a sovereign homeland, although they might be based on sacrifice.

We would have given you a standing ovation if, on the day that Tulio Hernandez called on people to throw flower pots [to neutralize] Chavistas, you had rejected him with the strength of your voice, and that echoed across the planet.

Gustavo, my friend, the country is not just that middle class which is protesting in the east of the cities, nor is it just the poor who are resisting with increasing strength the attacks of this crisis. The country is all of us, brother, and when you, a figure who should represent all of these people, intervenes on behalf of those minorities that are using violence and hatred, you are undermining yourself, dividing yourself and you are losing legitimacy.

The great majority of the media which are today giving coverage to your voice, are lying about Venezuela. You, a prestigious artist, could have made use of that tool at your disposal to raise a point of order against the conflict that the country is living, by calling for dialogue and peace. I am sure that you would have had a lot of influence.

In your reflection, you say that the only weapons that you can give a country are books, paintbrushes, and musical instruments, but you don’t recognize that it is only the Bolivarian Revolution that has fully provided the people with those tools. You are not the only person to have dedicated your life to art as a tool for transformation. There are tens of thousands of us who have had the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to creative professions, thanks to the creation of publishing houses, the public Villa del Cine film production company, theatres, and by the way, thanks to the million-dollar support for the “Sistema” orchestra program where you came from.

You say that democracy is based on respect and recognition, but you do not call on those sectors that have never recognized that the majority of Venezuela voted for Maduro, and that is also an expression of the democracy that you defend.

Gustavo, in the shantytowns, in the countryside, and working class areas, we are also “smothered by this unbearable crisis”, but we are not going out to burn, nor to kill, those who we hold responsible. We are also part of the country, that same country that admires your genius, but who right now see your behavior with great sorrow.

To conclude, I call on you to urgently rectify this erroneous vision that you have made public with the full weight of your international voice… This people asks you for respect, with the same firmness with which we have shown so much respect for you.

Yaritagua, May 4th 2017

Translated by Rachael Boothroyd Rojas for Venezuelanalysis. 

[Head over to venezuelanalysis.com for more details.]

teleSUR presents an original documentary, Maduro – Indestructible Loyalty

 

 

 

Newly Elected Argentinian President Mauricio Macri Trapped «In the Net» of Populism

Strategic Culture Foundation

November 29, 2015

By Nil Nikandrov

From left: Presidents Evo Morales, Bolivia; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina; José Mujica, Uruguay; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil; and Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela, in 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.)

From left: Presidents Evo Morales, Bolivia; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina; José Mujica, Uruguay; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil; and Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela, in 2013. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/PR.)

Mauricio  Macri, the newly elected President of Argentina, will take the office on 10 December. This Liberal-Conservative politician, the leader of Republican Proposal (Spanish: Propuesta Republicana, PRO), a center-right political party, has won as a result of a fierce battle with Daniel Osvaldo Scioli, the candidate from the Front for Victory, the ruling left-wing Peronist electoral alliance.

Neither candidate managed to win the vote outright, forcing a run-off – the first in the country’s history. Macri won 51.4 per cent of the vote to 48.5 percent for ruling party rival Daniel Scioli. The gap is narrow, but Argentinian channels and radio stations were biased predicting the Macri’s victory from the very start of the race.

Daniel Scioli admitted defeat to his opponent even before the final count of the votes. «I respect the popular will, which has chosen an alternative», he said. Sciolli congratulated Mauricio Macri and his team on the victory and wished them good luck. He did not sound dramatic. The Front for Victory ruled the country for 12 years. Under the direction of Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and then his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007-2015) Argentina went through the difficulties inherited after the years of bloody military dictatorship and neoliberal experiments. The «kircherists» can be rightfully proud of their social-economic achievements and the fundamental and consistent policy aimed at protection of national interests.

The Mexican La Jornada editorial clearly explained what has recently happened in Argentina:

«The yesterday’s defeat should not be perceived as the refusal of Argentinians to do justice to the achievements of 2003-2015. It’s rather the result of internal and external factors that exist in the national context of the situation in the Western Hemisphere. Tycoons persistently tried to destabilize the governments led by the Kirschners, they were constantly under media attacks. Foreign interference also took place. And not only that. The powers that ran out of steam [el desgaste], the reduced demand for mineral resources led to economic slump, there were cases of corruption in the government… Experts agree that the triumph of Macri, as he moves to Casa Rosada [the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina – translator’s note], will bring the country back to neoliberal politics that resulted in devastation at the beginning of this century to spark a serious economic crisis undermining the government’s credibility and ability to govern».

Macri said he won the presidential race because the people were tired of economic and financial problems, the growing crime rate and corruption. Mass media echoed this thesis highlighting the results of the presidential race. What about the «new deal» promised by Macri in his victory speech? He is seasoned enough not to make any bombastic statements. Macri only called on Argentinians to work together joining efforts to meet the interests of the country and ensure a bright future. «This is the beginning of a new era that has to carry us toward the opportunities we need to grow and progress», Macri noted. Somehow, he left behind the populist mimicry actively used during the final stage of the race. Macri promised equal access to health care, free medicine for low-income seniors, the eradication of poverty, the creation of another one and a half million jobs and homes for all the needy.

In the victory speech Macri slightly mentioned the issue of overdue reforms, which would certainly spark social tensions, if implemented. The commercial and financial elite of Argentina, land owners, the military, a large part of middle class and the activists of non-government organizations expect Macri to do away with «populist structures». They want him to adopt more confrontational approaches and implement the policy of «open economy». Perhaps, the first thing he would do is the liberalization of currency market that would lead to devaluation of peso.

Macri promised to build Argentina with zero poverty, intensify the fight against drug trafficking and boost international cooperation to have good relationships with all countries. «We want to work with everyone. We know that the Argentine people have much to bring to the world», he said. It can be said now that Macri will not be able «to work with everyone». Not once he made unfriendly remarks toward the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro during the presidential race. The Macri’s meetings with Venezuelan opposition are used by US propaganda for subversive activities against the «Maduro regime». Macri continues to sound hostile towards the Venezuelan government after the race is over.

The newly elected president said he would propose that Mercosur, the trade bloc of South American nations, suspend Venezuela for its «undemocratic» actions against opposition politicians. What exactly does he mean? Some members of opposition took part in armed attacks. Over 40 people lost lives, as a result, including police. Obviously, the Macri’s statements are of provocative nature, because the Argentina’s neighbors, such as Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, as well as some other countries led by left wing democratic governments, will inevitably get involved in the conflict. As a result, the process of regional integration will be negatively affected at the time the region is going through hard times.

The ongoing financial and economic crisis has affected everyone. Macri will raise the stakes launching neoliberal reforms and inserting changes into the foreign policy. The support of the United States administration is guaranteed. Macri has been loyal since 2007 when he met Mike Matera, a CIA agent. Back then he called on the US embassy to take a tougher stand against then President Nestor Kirchner and then Christina Kirchner.

The new president of Argentina is a 100 percent pro-US politician. Some experts predict he won’t deteriorate the relations with Moscow and Beijing. These optimistic predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. Christina Fernandez and her government have done a lot to spur the progress in the Russia-Argentina relations and cement the bilateral strategic partnership as was agreed by the presidents of Russia and Argentina in April 2015.

It’s all in the past now. The situation has changed: Argentina, like other states led by left wing governments, is facing economic hardships. Its geopolitical position is negatively affected. For Macri, the cooperation with the United States is a natural thing to do. Some political scholars believe that the Macri’s win in Argentina ends the era of Christina Fernandez. On December 10, she’ll move out of the presidential palace. But it’s hard to imagine she’ll keep out of politics to become a passive bystander, especially now as the Sciolli suffered a defeat and the Front for Victory is in opposition.

Starting from December 10 President Macri will have to establish working relations with the opposition in the National Congress, where the Front for Victory and its allies dominate in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Argentine National Congress, and the Senate, the upper chamber of parliament. It’s hard to believe that Christina Fernandez and her supporters will let Macri destroy everything that has been created during so many years. A great effort was applied to ensure social stability, national progress and the well-being of the people. They won’t let it go down the drain. Any attempts «to cut» social benefits and state expenditure will spark mass protests.

The supporters of «Kircnerism» believe that shifting the foreign policy priorities is fraught with the loss of independence and national sovereignty. As Macri takes office, the Pacific Alliance and other geopolitical projects initiated and controlled by the United States will be given priority over other Latina American integration projects. Not «kircherists» only, but all those who support national interests, will fiercely oppose it.

 

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

The Art of Annihilation

January 26, 2015

Part four of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

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

 

+++Note from the authors: The bulk of research for this investigative report was conducted from December 2013 to April of 2014. New alliances/affiliations/stats that have since materialized may or may not be reflected at this time.

 

Social Panorama of Latin America

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has highlighted a slowing of progress in poverty reduction in Latin America, citing “rising food costs and weaker economic growth” as contributing factors. UN economists based in Santiago reported that 164 million people, or 28% of the region’s population, are still considered poor. That is nearly unchanged from 2012. Of those, 68 million of them are in extreme poverty – a poverty that most Americans cannot even begin to fathom.

Yet there are bright spots. ECLAC’s “Social Panorama of Latin America” report (March 2014) notes that Venezuela and Ecuador led the region in decreasing poverty in 2012. The largest drop was in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, where poverty fell by 5.6% (from 29.5% to 23.9%) and extreme poverty by 2.0% (from 11.7% to 9.7%). In Ecuador, poverty was down by 3.1% (from 35.3% to 32.2%).

This 5.6% decrease in Venezuela translates into a 19% decline in poverty overall, which Mark Weisbrot, co-director of Center for Economic and Policy Research, “noted is almost certainly the largest decline in poverty in the Americas for 2012, and one of the largest – if not the largest – in the world.”

Yes – they are extracting oil. (Ecuador relies on oil for a third of its national budget.) Just like the Harper Government, the Obama Government and most all other states that are able.

The main difference is that the US spends it on bombing other countries and killing innocent people – for profit and plunder – while Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador are spending it to lift their people (and others oppressed by imperial states) out of poverty. [Ecuador will increase by more than 50% the budget for Health, the executive will allocate more than 5.6 billion dollars by the year 2017 and also plans to hire about 19,000 doctors. Source]

Of course, the words militarism, imperialism and colonialism are not in the NGO dictionary. Nor is the word capitalism.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that it is the wealthy that created the climate crisis. It is the wealthy that perpetuate and propel the fossil fuel production/extraction economy.

As an example, the entire state of Venezuela accounts for only .057% of global emissions while 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population. (If you can afford to get on a plane and fly anywhere at all, this places you in the 1% category.)

Per capita (per person) emissions: Ecuador: 2.2 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | Bolivia: 1.15 tonnes CO2 of emissions per capita | Venezuela: 6.30 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | United States: 19.22 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | Canada 16.60 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | Congo: 0.3 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita.

As a further example, ALBA delivered relief aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon (video below published on September 19, 2013), while Imperial states continue to destabilize the Middle East.

http://youtu.be/TPkzOtpu5dg

The left would like to believe that anti-imperialist states can change the existing world order on their own; that without dismantling the industrialized, capitalist economic system, states such as Ecuador and Venezuela can and must simply shut down their oil production. (Of course, we have no such fantasies for our own voracious nations.) But, such a feat would achieve nothing more than food shortages for their citizens, many of whom are already starving. And on an international level, this will change nothing. Rather, imperial forces would ramp up efforts to destabilize, invade and occupy. Further, leaders of ALBA states do not claim they are capable of such a task:

“Ecuador is not trying to change the situation as it has come to be; yet we will try and protect our people from this unfair world order. This is what the integration of the Latin American nations is meant to help accomplish. United, we will become stronger and gain more weight on the international arena. I insist that even if we can’t change the current world order – as this is something too challenging for Latin America to tackle, we do not have enough influence – we nonetheless have a duty to protect our nations from this unfair and immoral world order driven by the interests of the capital alone.” — Interview with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, Oct 30, 2013 

How to Co-opt Revolutionary Ideas

cochabamba06

Participants sit in bleachers at the packed World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, Photo by The City Project

On April 19-22, 2010, following the failure of COP15 (where vulnerable states were grossly undermined), the State of Bolivia hosted The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. A global gathering of civil society and governments gathered in Tiquipaya, just outside the city of Cochabamba. “Particularly notable was the large number of Indigenous people from throughout South and North America, who played leading roles in defining the meeting’s environmental philosophy and drawing up a program for action. Morales urged the delegates to commit to learn and benefit from the wisdom of the world’s indigenous peoples.” [Source] Working Groups included a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, a World People’s Referendum on Climate Change, and the establishment of a Climate Justice Tribunal.

Two primary revolutionary declarations were achieved: The Peoples Agreement and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

The People’s Agreement was and remains the only democratically written climate agreement that actually could have addressed the magnitude and scale of our multiple ecological crises. Further, it came to be recognized by the United Nations, due in large part to the tenacity of a single person on behalf of a single state, Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations, Pablo Solón (from February 2009 to July 2011.) Today, somewhat ironically, Solón is the Executive Director of the NGO Focus on the Global South.

October 10, 2010 – Tianjin, China: “The proposals of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth have been maintained and expanded upon in the new negotiating text on climate change that emerged from the last round of negotiations in Tianjin, China. Throughout the process in Tianjin, attempts were made to substitute the negotiating text, which contains the positions of all countries, with a text that would be limited to recognizing the principal elements of consensus for Cancun.

The negotiating text that will be taken up in Cancun includes, among other elements, the following proposals from Cochabamba:

 

  • Reduce emissions by more than 50% for 2017.
  • Rights of Mother Earth.
  • Full respect for human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and climate migrants.
  • Formation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal.
  • No new carbon markets.
  • 6% of GDP in developed countries to finance climate change actions in developing countries.
  • Lifting of barriers to intellectual property that facilitates technology transfer.
  • No commodification of forests.”

 

[Source: Communiqué by the Plurinational State of Bolivia]

By the following year, although key issues of the People’s Agreement were presented in the Durban negotiation text, (again due only to the work by the Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations), [Dec 7, 2011] the People’s Agreement, more and more was quietly being marginalized and buried by even the more legitimate climate justice groups. After Durban, the People’s Agreement was displaced, in its entirety, by a gentle call for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The call for a “Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth” was then replaced with the call for “Rights of Nature.”

Global Alliance Rights of Nature

On April 12, 2012, in response to a Rights of Nature event, a NYC activist inquired on an International Climate Justice listserv: “The rights of mother earth enshrined in the Cochabamba Declaration. Is there a reason why Global Exchange isn’t promoting CD here? Seems like an ideal and key document to promote our fight against greed and for science-based climate policy, respecting indigenous rights and Mother Earth both inside the U.N. system and beyond.”

There was no response.

Almost immediately following the success of the 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth of, a new alliance was created named the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, which created/assigned an executive committee. “Their intention was to explore ways to expand the concept of Rights of Nature as an idea whose time has come.” [Source] This campaign is also referred to at times as The Rights of Mother Earth campaign.

A key founding partner was the heavily funded U.S. NGO, the Pachamama Alliance.

Thus, the ground-breaking declarations (The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth of April 2010) were lifted out of the hands of the people – back into the hands of U.S. foundation management/ control.

The website for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (created on September 6, 2010) is registered to Thomas Linzey, founder of CELDF and advisor to the New Earth Foundation. On the CELDF website, one finds the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights – CELDF Draft Rights of Nature Ordinance, dated April 15, 2010.

A few months later, on October 13, 2010, CELDF publishes the article Global Alliance for Rights of Nature Formed from Historic International Gathering in Ecuador: “A groundbreaking International Gathering for Rights of Nature was organized by The Pachamama Alliance and Fundación Pachamama in September, where conscious individuals and organizations who have worked to promote the recognition of Rights of Nature, met to expand this concept around the world. Out of this four-day meeting in Patate, Ecuador, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature was formed…. Fundación Pachamama and The Pachamama Alliance were active participants at the Conference and behind the scenes.”

In the December 2010 publication of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, it is reported, “In August of this year, the Legal Defense Fund co-convened an event hosted by Fundación Pachamama in rural Ecuador. Its purpose was to formalize an international organization which will advocate for legal frameworks that recognize legally enforceable rights for natural communities. The Legal Defense Fund was then selected as the organization which would provide drafting and campaign assistance to communities and nations following the lead of the over two dozen communities in the United States which have recognized rights for Nature, and the country of Ecuador, which has become the first country in the world to recognize natural rights within its constitution.

It is of interest to note that the Pachamama Alliance and its “sister organization,” Fundación Pachamama, supported the inclusion of Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution, and also endorsed the call for a World Conference of the Peoples regarding Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights. Further, despite the REDD partnerships on behalf of Pachamama Alliance and Foundation, as referenced in documents, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (with Pachamama Alliance as founder) appears, on the surface, to be against any commodification of the commons. As an example: Tweet: “July 25, 2012: Rights of Nature – The Road to Rio+20 – http://t.co/vjyiVn7n.

It is of further interest that prior to both the formation of the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (August 2010) and the World People’s Conference (April 2010), the website Rights of Mother Earth was created on February 16, 2010. It is registered to Robin Milam, Administrative Director for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and a Pachamama Alliance Journey Leader.

Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain for what other reason Pachamama Alliance would co-found Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, other than to do what foundations do best: control, manage, shape and contain movements with revolutionary potential. Perhaps CELDF, in this case, is successfully contained for the most part, in a carefully supervised box – wondering why there is so little focus/awareness on this “movement.” One thing is certain – there is very little interest in promoting this campaign.

In the real world, “likes” and “shares” offer no reprieve whatsoever to our ongoing and accelerating ecological devastation/collapse. However, what is significant in Twitter/social media is who/what organizations are chosen by NGOs and paid “activists” to “follow.” This is especially significant in respect to the first Twitter accounts chosen (to follow) as these principal choices demonstrate clearly who and what ideologies they NGO/individual align themselves with. And although it is true that social media, despite the endless attention it receives, offers no stay of execution whatsoever to our ecological/climate crisis, in the world of the non-profit industrial complex, social media is of paramount importance – precisely because it has no true impact beyond 1) collecting intelligence (in all forms) for the world’s most powerful advertising moguls, corporations and the establishment, providing an unprecedented wealth of information that previously was difficult and costly to obtain, and 2) building brand recognition (thereby increasing foundation funding). Thus, to demonstrate how there is no serious effort to promote Rights of Nature, the following information speaks a thousand words.

The Rights of Nature Twitter account is essentially dead with a total of 46 tweets and 44 followers since its inception on Earth Day, April 22, 2011. The Facebook group fares slightly better with 664 members. Compare this with the Pachamama Alliance FB page with almost 40,000 “likes” and a very active Twitter account. (Accounts accessed December 13, 2013 under the twitter name RightsOfNature. The Twitter name/link has since been changed to Rights4Nature.) [1]

The Rights of Nature Twitter account follows 16 individuals/orgs including Nature Conservancy (#1), RSPB (UK’s largest “nature conservation” charity), founding members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, the founders of Pachamama Alliance, Al Gore’s Climate Reality, Hawken’s Wiser.org, 350.org and Bill McKibben. As of December 13, 2013, no Indigenous groups whatsoever were followed by this account. (Accounts accessed December 13, 2013 under the twitter name RightsOfNature. [2]

During 2013, this account was used for little more than one purpose: to promote “ecological tourism” via Pachamama “Journeys. [Rights of Nature – Amazon Rainforest Wisdom Immersion Journey Leader: Robin Milam… Cost: $3,475] As of December 19, 2013, one more tweet has been issued – a request for organizations to join Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in requesting the re-opening of Fundación Pachamama.

The address provided for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is 2036 Nevada City Hwy #193 Grass Valley, California 95945. [3] Researching this address also leads one to The Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce (128 East Main Street, Grass Valley CA 95945). Robin Milam is listed as the webmaster. Her business is listed as One World Awake, which shares the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature address.

Ecological Tourism – More Hypocrisy

“Eco-tourism, as defined by the World Tourism Organisation, represents only 2 to 4 per cent of international travel spending. Suppose it grew to the point where it dominated the tourist industry. Could such a large-scale industry be managed in a small-scale way? Can anyone who has flown half way around the world in a jet powered by subsidized fossil fuel and puffing out greenhouse gases qualify as an eco-tourist?” — David Nicholson-Lord, 2002

The hypocrisy is rich (literally). Pachamama Alliance chides the Ecuadorian Government for drilling oil in the Yasuni, all while their ecotourism boutique/niche – catering to the lifestyles of the rich – is absolutely dependent upon the expansion of fossil fuels. Travel expenses as reported on Pachamama’s Alliance’s 990 form accounted for over a cool half million in 2011 ($592,557). Here, the irreconcilability of preserving capitalism with preserving the planet cannot be overstated.

“Success” Stories

Success Story One: Runa

Robin Fink is the Program Director at Fundación Pachamama (since November 2009) and Board Member at the Runa Foundation (Fundación Runa) (May 2012 to present). In her role at Pachamama Alliance, Fink works closely with the Indigenous Achuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon. [4]

Runa Corporation is a privately held company in the food and beverages industry. It’s also an excellent case study of what the new “green economy” looks and feels (as in marketing/branding) like. [“Runa LLC is a privately held organic Amazonian beverage company that processes and sells guayusa. The company is based in Brooklyn, New York with offices in Quito and Archidona, Ecuador.”][SOURCE]

In the 21st century, most every corporation has a foundation. The benefits (for oligarchs and corporate entities alike) of establishing a foundation are formidable. Securing/protecting interests under the guise of philanthropy and tax evasion represent a mere two of many benefits. [“Fundación Runa” provides tools and resources to indigenous communities and farmers’ associations working towards their vision of sustainable development in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We focus on two core areas; community development and environmental management. We provide technical assistance and financing to farmers associations and cooperatives to build capacity and inspire entrepreneurship. We work with local stakeholders to conduct participatory research and strategic planning for conservation and sustainable land management in the Ecuadorian Amazon.”]

When one observes the heavy hitters on the Runa Foundation Board of Advisors, it is certain that many are betting on this company being acquired by Pepsi or Coca-Cola in the not-so-distant future for the tune of hundreds of millions. Most recently Coca-Cola swallowed up the majority of “Innocent” Drinks for an estimated £100m. [“The three Cambridge graduates who launched Innocent Smoothies have sold the bulk of their remaining shares to Coca-Cola for an estimated £100m – 15 years after dreaming up the idea for the healthy drinks company on a snowboarding holiday.” Financial Times, February 22, 2013] The Runa Foundation Advisors include Yolanda Kakabadse, president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) since 2010, Trustee of the Ford Foundation, President of International Union for Conservation of Nature (1996-2004); Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF (2005-2010, US Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2005), named 46th most powerful woman by Forbes in 2009; Doug Hattaway, president of Hattaway Communication since 2001, Senior Communications Adviser for Hilary Clinton (2008); Michael Conroy, Board Chair of Forest Stewardship Council since 2010, Board Chair of Fair Trade USA (2003-2010; Jacob Olander, Director of Forest Trends’ Incubator since 2008, Co-founder of EcoDecisión since 1995, Expert in conservation finance and payments for ecosystem services; Florencia Montagnini, professor of Tropical Forestry at Yale University since 2001, research advisor to the Smithsonian Institute’s PRORENA program since 2001, expert in tropical forestry and agroforesty systems.

On the Runa blog, under the post At Runa, We Don’t Actually Farm Guayusa, the company states:

“In this way, we foster the local entrepreneurial spirit, build sustainable and transparent partnerships with the farmers, and proactively work together to break a long history of paternalism and exploitation that has negatively impacted these communities.”

Yet this is not true. In reality, drawing more people into a suicidal system based on perpetual infinite growth is anything but sustainable. [“Never has failure been so ardently defended as success.” — Voltaire’s Bastards] Further, as this corporation grows (the sole purpose of the venture), the introduction of Western identities ensures the introduction of Western values into the Ecuadorian Amazon – ensuring the erosion of culture and identity. The erosion may be slow and subtle, yet it is inevitable, as Western culture has always ensured.

To seek out Earth’s last remaining peoples who are the pure epitome of true sustainability, and then introduce them to capitalism and build a dependence upon the capitalist economic system under the guise of “local entrepreneurial spirit” is paternalism and exploitation at its best. Any venture that cannot sustain itself in a local economy, sustained by local resources, contributes to further annihilation of the planet, regardless of the sophisticated language/marketing that delivers nothing more than what we wish were true.

Runa founders Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie met in an entrepreneurship class at Brown University. Together, they put together a business plan that would “turn Ecuador’s cultural heritage into an income generating opportunity for farming families.” They launched the business in December of 2009.

RUNA BRANDING

Runa Corporation is a business built on an Amazonian tree leaf called guayusa, native in the Upper Amazon regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. Traditionally, indigenous families (Achuar) wake up together at dawn to drink guayusa. They sit around the communal fire drinking gourds full of guayusa until sunrise. During this time, the village elders teach the youth about ancestral myths, hunting techniques, social values, and about what it means to be “Runa” in the Indigenous cosmovision. The guayusa ritual continues to be a cornerstone of Kichwa culture, a practice that brings the family and community together around the simple experience of drinking tea. Community shamans, known as yachaks or rukus in Kichwa, will also play a traditional bamboo flute (known as kena) and a two-sided weasel-skin drum, and sing soft rhythmic songs during these early morning hours. The shamans also interpret dreams from the previous night, and make recommendations to guide the community and help them live in harmony with the rainforest. After drinking the first gourds of guayusa, children are often sent to go bathe in the river and receive its strength and cleansing for the day to come. [Source]

Every day, Runa pays three different indigenous farmers $35 each for fresh guayusa leaves to make guayusa tea products sold through their online store to the US and Whole Foods stores in the Mid-Atlantic region. Runa states that they have raised the income of 300 farmers by 25% each, whose family income averages $30-70 per month. Runa sales are expected to surpass $1 million for 2012. [August 27, 2012 | Source]

According to Runa, every day the corporation pays three different indigenous farmers $35 each. As they have compensated 300 farmers, let us assume the three different indigenous farmers are representatives of 3 co-operatives: 3 x $35 = $105 | $105 x 365 (days) = $38,325 | $38,325/$1,000,000 *100 = 3.83% of the revenue. $38,325 of a $1 million revenue stream (2012) represents a 3.83% of revenue “shared” with the famers without whose land and labour, harvest and generosity there would be no product at all. (Note that the 3.83% of revenue received from Runa has been divided up amongst the 300 farmers. This equals $127.75 for each farmer per year. This equals $10.65 per month per farmer – which verifies Runa’s statistic of increasing the average farmer’s annual income of $30-$70 per month by approximately 25% if one uses $30 as the benchmark.) [5]

Bear the farmers’ earnings (above) in mind when, in a nod to history continuing to repeat itself, Coca-Cola buys up the majority of Runa for a cool £100m or so in the not too distant future. Runa foundation advisor Yolanda Kakabadse, of WWF, just happens to also be a member of the Environmental Advisory Board of CocaCola.

“… we also receive about $500,000 from USAID, from the US government, the Andean Development bank, the German government, a couple other NGOs who were very impressed by our model.” [Source]

Runa has received grants totalling $500,000, from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (approximately $250,000) and Corporación Andina de Fomento (a Latin American development bank). Funds have also been given by the German government/GTZ. In November of 2011 the company closed a $1.6 million round of angel investments. In January of 2012 the founder sought $2 million in a Series A equity round. [Source]

One NGO that was “very impressed” by the Runa model was Fundación Natura. As a result, an alliance was formed between them to develop an “agroforestry” project to “domesticate” the guayusa plant – a crop which has never been technically managed.

 “Furthermore, we are moving along on a number of other fronts, including fleshing out our alliance with Fundación Natura (the largest conservation NGO in Ecuador) to develop our project to plant guayusa and other agroforestry trees in Ecuador….” — Founder Tyler Gage, May 6, 2009 [Emphasis added]

 

“Additionally, we are pioneering the sustainable cultivation of a crop that has never been technically managed, so it has taken lots of trial and error to refine our agroforestry model and planting techniques.” — Founder Tyler Gage, July 15, 2010 [Emphasis added]

Developing the Rainforests

Fundación Natura (Nature Foundation) is Ecuador’s first environmental NGO. Founded in 1978, Fundación Natura grew rapidly due to large USAID grants and money derived from debt-for-nature swaps engineered by WWF (Meyer 1993; Echavarria 2010). [Source] These swaps had an important effect: they contributed to shifting responsibility away from the government to private organizations by channelling funding via domestic (though foreign funded/controlled) NGOs rather than through the government agency in charge of managing protected areas. [Source: Globalization and Resistance: Transnational Dimensions of Social Movements, 2002] This strategy of foreign interests bypassing government is compelling considering the fact that USAID would like to see NGOs given legal recognition (further discussed in the final three paragraphs).

Fundación Natura is associated with the World Wide Fund for Nature – WWF, is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), a member of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and a member of international environmental networks such as the Latin American Network of Forests (RLB), Conservation International (CI) and Climate Change Network. [Source]

When USAID, WWF et al are expanding/promoting a new “agroforestry” agenda, it means one thing – that this method serves to benefit the elites. Carbon offsets, biomass and biodiesel are just a few of the false solutions that hold promise for the agroforestry projects in developing countries. [6] In developed countries, such as Canada, the single enticement is the carbon market. [7]

 “The potential of using carbon offset credits from agroforestry projects for farmers in developing areas has become more prevalent in both Clean Development Mechanism and voluntary carbon markets.” — Carbon Credit Payment Options for Agroforestry Projects in Africa, 2011

The traditional Kichwa [8] farm in Ecuador is called a chakra. The chakra farming technique involves integrating food crops (or animals) into the trees of the forest. As an example, cacao trees are grown among other fruit trees and crops under the shade of a forest – simultaneously tending to the land for more than one purpose. Chakras have been farmed sustainably for centuries.

The term “agroforestry” was coined in the mid-1970s as part of a research study led by John Bene of Canada’s International Development Research Centre.

Agroforestry could be described as the West “modifying” / emulating the traditional chakra to accommodate their own worldview via a Euro-American lens. Agroforestry systems often involve clearing vital underbrush to plant new crops as well as the cutting of trees. Selected trees are then replanted to provide firewood, food, medicine, and other non-timber forest products (that will benefit the West) – such as Runa’s guayusa. We can also safely assume genetically engineered trees are part of many agroforestry projects. Indeed, the paper “Genetic Improvement of Agroforestry Trees” was presented at the 2014 IUFRO Forest Tree Breeding Conference in Prague, Czech Republic in August 2014. In 1991 it was noted that “the initial euphoria about agroforestry has died down…” but just two decades later with “climate wealth opportunities” abounding, the push for agroforestry is making a comeback.

“…the potential applications of biotechnology in agroforestry research are unlimited.” — The Literature of Forestry and Agroforesty, 1996

Agricultural schemes (with development programs/training provided by those in the West) are intended to “consolidate and replicate the production system of ancestral chakras, fish farming, sustainable tourism, safety and food sovereignty-oriented marketing.” [Source] But behind closed doors, it is without doubt the promise of the lucrative carbon market that has industry and the non-profit industrial complex salivating.

Not surprising, the agroforestry model is anything but a perfect reproduction of the forest in its natural state. A study by Matthias De Beenhouwer, Raf Aerts and Olivier Honnay discloses that when a natural forest is converted into an agroforest, the total species richness declines by eleven percent. For forest species, the differences were larger, with a decline of 35% (natural forest to agroforest). Faring worse are the ecosystem services* (water filtration, nutrient rich soil, and other services that the forest ecosystems naturally provide). Management intensification decreased provision of ecosystem services by a strong decline of 37%. (*Note that the research of quantitative carbon sequestration was not included in this study under ecosystem services).

“Forest species richness and total species richness were significantly lower in the more intensively managed than in the more natural land use categories. Response ratios showed that the decline in total species richness was higher when comparing agroforest with plantation (?46%), than when comparing forest with agroforest (?11%)…. Response ratios showed that management intensification decreased provision of ecosystem services with 37% when comparing forest with agroforest and with 27% when comparing agroforest with plantation. Our data suggest that species richness decline follows a concave yield function whereas ecosystem service decline follows a more convex yield function.”

The study is clear: anthropogenic disturbance jeopardizes the ability of tropical forests to sustain ecosystem services.

The loss of species, in tandem with the decline of species richness and ecosystem services in a world of accelerating ecological collapse must be considered critical losses. It is reckless to market agroforests as intelligent/progressive substitutes for rainforests in their natural state.

“Whereas the non-forest species show no significant decline, species confined to forests were the first species to be affected by management intensification, demonstrating that even in an agroforest matrix, natural forest is irreplaceable for their conservation.” (Gardner et al., 2009; Gibson et al., 2011; Muñoz et al., 2013)

However, the NPIC, working hand-in-hand with foreign corporations such as Runa, use the above study to argue that even though agroforests incur critical and significant losses, and there is no replacement for a rainforest in its natural state, agroforestry is less damaging than plantation/monoculture agriculture.

How kind of the empire, its banks and its tentacles (the non-profit industrial complex) to develop systems that are moderately less damaging than a full conversion to monoculture. Let us be clear: just as “less cancer” is still cancer, “less species loss” is still species loss, “less ecosystem damage” is still ecosystem damage. In less than one year during their first year of operations, Runa planted over 75,000 trees in more than 120 hectares of agroforesty plots.

“Runa provides direct market access, agroforestry training, and holistic development services to Amazonian farming families.” One must seriously question what the white Euro-American could possibly offer to the Amazonians in regard to holistic development and growing food in their forests.

To be clear, this leaf (the guayusa), rich in ethnic mystique, “packaged” with deep culture by the Indigenous people (to be branded/marketed to those in a commodity culture – devoid of meaning) IS the product. Yet, as sales increase (exponentially, which is the goal), the actual percentage of revenue to the farmers will decline.

USAID has “given” Runa a grant to reforest 1200 acres of degraded lands with guayusa. When one looks at this simple “gift” along with the dossiers of the advisors to Runa, there is little doubt that carbon markets and REDD – to be sought and implemented – are a goal behind the scenes in the boardrooms. There is also little doubt that Indigenous communities in many instances will not be made aware of the revenue stream that will take place under the guise of the “new economy.”

Of interest is Eliot Logan-Hines, listed as Co-Founder and Executive Director of Runa Foundation. Logan-Hines attended Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He went on to co-author Chapter 18 (REDD policy options: Including forests in an international climate change agreement) of the 2009 publication Forests and Carbon: A Synthesis of Science, Management, and Policy for Carbon Sequestration in Forests.

Of course the future Guayusa plantations will be made to sound brimming with biodiversity with a focus on environmental stewardship. In some instances, perhaps they will be. Both credibility and legitimacy are always essential elements for all such altruistic business ventures. And in many instances, where the growth is not dependent upon the actual and visible destruction of the forest (such as logging), the preservation of biodiversity costs the investors nothing while increasing their legitimacy.

One can argue that there must be increased farmer income, and with such “green” politically correct ventures as Runa’s, this can happen alongside the restoration of the Amazon. Yet, drunk on the idea of a “green economy,” there appears to be a collective amnesia in acknowledging that the sole reason the Amazon is being obliterated in the first place is due to the industrialized capitalist economy. We ignore Einstein’s common sense observation on what constitutes insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Capitalism dictates that whatever must be done to ensure green – as in dollars, not planet – must be done. It is essential that poverty (created by the industrialized capitalist system) be alleviated and eradicated throughout Latin America. Unfortunately, Western industrial capitalists believe this massive undertaking can only be realized within the confines of an industrialized capitalist system, which depends on exploitation of the World’s most vulnerable, essentially making this daunting task impossible.

True “philanthropy” would be an anonymous gift to communities to develop/create their own localized gift economies and co-operatives – entirely free of outside influence and “partnerships” – with absolutely nothing in return to the “philanthropist” nor his/her associated interests. This would be a true demonstration of sincerity in the long-awaited task “to break a long history of paternalism and exploitation that has negatively impacted these communities.” Of course, true autonomy for non-whites is of no interest to today’s “green” and “social” capitalists.

Adopting/stealing progressive language of social movements is nothing new for the elites. Note the word “participatory” (as in participatory democracy in socialist countries) below:

“It’s more fulfilling, more sustainable, more exciting, and more participatory,” said the founders in regards to the company operating a triple bottom line.

Note the rarely spoken fact that business trumps all social needs:

“Wain Collen, Education Director of Fundación Pachamama, emphasizes that ‘NGOs who aim to help indigenous communities most often end up causing more problems than they solve, ‘Our advisors and industry experts continue to remind us that above all, we need to run a successful business, regardless of how social it is. Without a strong, successful business we can’t generate any benefits for anyone.”

When asked about some challenges of running the “social enterprise” (formerly known as a corporation), the founders mentioned the process of acquiring “knowledge” as a big obstacle: “As university students we were accustomed to the ready availability of any and all knowledge any time all the time. However, in Ecuador concepts like ’email’ and ‘the Internet’ are still very, very new….”

Yet, if there is any silver lining to be found in this latest version of “white saviours empowering Ecuadorean farmers,” it is this: Runa received a $500,000 (USD) equity investment from the CreEcuador Fund – an initiative of the current Ecuador government. “The Build Ecuador Fund (CreEcuador) plans to cash out its investments in Runa in roughly 6 years, in order to use its earnings to make additional investments in sustainable businesses. However, rather than selling shares to a private investor, the fund’s vision is to sell shares to Runa employees and the farmers. [Source: Social Enterprise in Emerging Market Countries: No Free Ride, 2013] Yet whether farmers will be able to afford these shares remains to be seen.

[The source of information for Runa founders commentary is from the article The Path to Social Entrepreneurship With The Founders of Runa, August 27, 2012. It is critical to note that even the source of this “news” (“Social Enterprise Buzz”) is of North American origin.]

eColonialism

WesternCharity

Surely whites “teaching” Indigenous populations how to engage in internet “knowledge” as identified and deemed necessary by Western interests (in this image above, note the obvious emphasis on Facebook “education” by an unidentified NGO) is just another example of forcing our suicidal economy, hyper-individualized/commodity culture, and “democratic” “values” on others (who up to that point were fortunate enough to be relatively free of them). As parents, we cannot deny an intense anxiety that questions the psychological impact, effects, conditioning and behavioural change resulting from the consumption/addiction of FaceBook and other social media upon our children. The anxiety weighs heavy, like a rock, as we simultaneously deny and justify our own participation. And yet we raise no objection to those most exploited, most vulnerable, being subjugated as corporate fodder and prey. We close our eyes to the sacrifice – the voracious system must be fed.

This is not to say that the protection of Indigenous rights in the Information Age and the right of Indigenous Peoples to access information and communication technology services and connectivity are not to be respected, Rather it is to challenge the fact that the dominant world view is deliberately constructed by Western ideology, which then is propagated via corporate mass-media echo chambers (internet, print, radio, television, film) – thereby framing, shaping and normalizing predetermined social and cultural concepts that constitute the status quo. Not only is the ingestion of controlled doctrine unhealthy, these ideologies/formal doctrines, conceptualized by the elites, serve to protect the interests of hegemony. [9] And although we like to convince ourselves that internet technology has been a massive success, as we stand on the precipice of planetary collapse, one could quite easily argue that this “success” is illusory, and perhaps the truth is in stark contrast to what we would like to believe in more ways than one. In the lecture “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism,” Jodi Dean makes the sound argument that the web has formed part of a profoundly depoliticizing shift in capitalism, which has enabled the marriage of neoliberalism to the democratic values of participation and the reduction of politics to the registration of opinions and the transmission of feelings.

Moreover, upon any formerly isolated person’s introduction to the web, having no prior scope or alternate influence outside of the non-profit trainee/volunteer from the West, how can one not be overwhelmed and ultimately absorbed by the elites’ dominant cultural hegemony? Aside from paternalism and colonialism, this also constitutes a rabid academic imperialism.

“It is an electronic mass media driven phenomena [sic] which over time will not only expand the frontiers of the multi-national communication firms but will far exceed even the vast reach of the once powerful and hegemonic British Empire. eColonialism outlines the hegemony of the USA as global American media and communication conglomerates seek out and view the global economy as their market to dominate.” — Tom McPhail, eColonialism Theory: Hegemony and the Role of American Media

Video: Academic Imperialism – Claude Alvares (Running time: 12:40)

 

On March 22, 2012 Pachamama highlighted the Alliance’s latest “success” in introducing/providing Apple iPads to build communications in the Achuar communities citing an “unprecedented opportunity for coordinated communications throughout the logistically isolated, far-flung communities with films that are about Achuar, by Achuar and in the Achuar language.” iPad-type devices and hand-held mobile phones play a vital role in furthering eColonialism. [Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South, A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation | Source]

Achuar_iPad_editing_550

Image: Pachamama website: “iPads Offer a Link for Far-flung Communities” – Westernized education, religion, business values and technology, built upon Western ideologies, globalization and capitalism, continue to penetrate and expand throughout the Achuar communities.

Success Story Two: Fundación Pachamama Projects

“Excluding the role missionaries have had on Achuar culture may serve to satisfy the ecotourists’ imperialist nostalgia by convincing them that the Achuar have what the West has lost: an isolated, pristine ‘indigenous’ culture that has not been tainted by the negative influences of industrialization.” Source: “Take a Picture with a Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, 2011

Pachamama Alliance highlights CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi S.A.) and Aerotsentsak as two examples of sustainable development, stating “With the partnership of Fundación Pachamama, the Achuar nationality formed and continues to own and manage two very successful companies… [B]oth companies demonstrate the potential for generating income and leadership capacities to support the autonomous development of the Achuar and other nationalities.”

CEKSA is the corporation that manages the award-winning Kapawi Ecolodge.

Aerotsentsak is the only Achuar-owned airline flying to Achuar territory.

It is critical to question the wisdom (and perhaps also the sincerity) of creating an industry that is completely dependent on fossil fuels – and the capitalist system itself (a system dependent upon infinite growth where violence upon Earth’s most vulnerable peoples and life forms is inherently built into the system) – and then calling it sustainable. Not to mention, it’s an industry that rather than catering to the needs of a localized economy and her people, is dependent upon the 1% percent of the world who created/create 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, the partnership between Makusar, Fundación Pachamama, TrekEcuador, and Mentefactura presented a successful project profile to the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB).) In May 2010 the Tiinkias Ecotourism Center (TEC) received its first visitors group: a 16-member tour from The Pachamama Alliance, in what could be considered a scouting trip to an eco camp that was still missing several components and finishing touches. In January 2011 the TEC started welcoming periodic groups, and received about 100 visitors, which more than doubled in 2012 and is slowly and steadily growing. The TEC also started combining its adventures with visits to Kapawi Ecolodge.

“But the benefits of tourism have a corollary, and Mr. Tsamarin [Luis Vargas) lamented them: the loss of communal values and a new market mentality, alcohol abuse, litter, men cutting off their traditional ponytails. The Achuar now want to expand a controlled form of tourism farther into their territory, and have built a camp in the forest near the remote community of Tiinkias to offer visitors a more rustic experience than Kapawi. I would be the first tourist there.” [Source]

There is no doubt that such “success stories” are modern day fairy tales for the progressive left. Real life utopias where the 1%, including the liberal left, can immerse themselves in the lair of absolute opulence: “a haven of ease, good taste, and understated luxury” – both literally and metaphorically. [Source] [1998: “Kapawi is targeting the high-end market, with an all-inclusive price of nearly $300 per person, per day, cost that includes transportation from Quito.”]

What exactly underlies the Pachamama statement that “both companies demonstrate the potential for generating income and leadership capacities to support the autonomous development of the Achuar and other nationalities.”

Here it is critical to recognize that the geographic areas deemed necessary for development by Pachamama and corporate interests are populated by Indigenous people who literally live off (and on) the land. These are Earth’s final remaining lands that have been untouched by industrialized civilization, and are still, in many instances, absolutely abundant where climate change has not yet induced drought and devastation. Lynne Twist, co-founder of Pachamama, confirms this in her book The Soul of Money: “Twist lived for a time with the Achuar people, who for thousands of years have lived a rich life in the rainforest with no need for actual money.” [Soul of Money Book Review]

Yet, vital critique regarding the underlying ethnocentric and capitalist standards for initiating, managing and evaluating such “sustainable” developments appears to be of little to no interest – to anyone. Like the warm golden sun, beautiful and intoxicating as it shines upon our skin, collectively we bask in the lies that allow us to continue insanity without reflection – uninterrupted. The embraced ignorance, like the warmth of the sun, is luxurious.

Nature Tourism Gold Rush

 “The most important factor to remember as a conservation organization is that when you start approaching the tourist market, business is business or you are out.” — Bezaury-Cree, 1991

Responsible travel, sustainable tourism, ecotourism, nature-based tourism, adventure travel, experiential tourism, voluntourism, educational travel, etc. etc. etc. The rhetoric may change (and does), but the facts do not. Consider that in 1950, international tourists numbered approximately 25 million. Further consider that on December 13, 2012 the UN celebrated international tourism surpassing the one billion mark. This asinine celebration followed the failure of yet another United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP18), making the “celebration” of burning carbon for leisure all the more delusional as the Earth continues to pass planetary tipping points. While celebrating tourism increasing from 25 million to over 1 billion in a mere six decades (a clear example of exponential growth), just one glance at the narcissistic Facebook page created to further promote travel demonstrates the predominantly white Euro-American majority – the very ones creating 50% of all GHG emissions. [Another example of ecotourism’s exponential growth is the recognized statistic that tourism to reserves and national parks in Costa Rica grew from 63,500 to 273,400 foreign tourists, exceeding a quadrupling in a mere six years, between 1985 and 1991.]

In the 1980s, with the growing interest in ecotourism worldwide, Galapagos tourism professionals and tourism companies began to look to the mainland for new tourism destinations. Ecuador had been an established nature tourism destination for over two decades as a result of the early popularity of the Galapagos Islands. (2005) [Source]

According to a 1991 USAID study, at that time, the number of foreign tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands was 50,000-60,000. Approximately 24,000 tourists traveled to the Oriente region (Ecuador’s El Oriente occupies the lowlands of the Amazon basin) for an average of 5 days (in 1990), while foreign tourists traveling to the Amazon region were found to be under 3,000. The Oriente stats represented an increase exceeding 50% in a mere 3 years (between 1987 and 1990), with over half of all Oriente tour operators having started their operations within those last five years (1985-1990). In addition, in 1991, a 40% increase in hotel and lodge capacity in the Oriente took place and continued to expand. The rapid development became known as the “Nature Tourism Gold Rush.” With fewer than 3,000 foreign tourists visiting the Amazon region, this would have been considered an incredible untapped market, ripe to be exploited. [Source]

By the early 1990s, ecotourism had exploded, with hundreds of ecotourism ventures being developed within the planet’s most pristine and isolated areas. Dozens of these “ambitious experiments”* were financed by USAID, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Investors from Europe lined up to partake. An explosion in investment in CBE (community-based ecotourism) projects was well underway with 161 “donor projects” taking place in Latin America, Africa and Asia. By 1996, Conservation Corporation (South Africa) had designated $60 million to the development of 60-100 luxury lodges in East and Southern Africa. This trend coincided with the emergence of neoliberalism, the corporate greens, and the free-market “environmentalists,” with obfuscation, co-optation and steadfast denial ruling ever since. [*”You wonder whether the fate of the Achuar – the indigenous group that owns the lodge and the land that surrounds it – will be different, whether an ambitious experiment in alternative development could allow the tribe to make its peace with the modern world while preserving a way of life so different from – and alien to – Western sensibilities.” Source]

Of the 40 CBE projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon, more than half of them were owned and managed by foundations “representing” local communities. [Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty, 1990]

Dialogue about the inevitable consequences of neoliberal and capitalist ideologies that are being woven strategically into the fabric of Indigenous communities is, almost without exception, deliberately evaded. Rather, the Indigenous communities are presented to the world as the latest beneficiaries of Western development. The West is viewed as the generous white saviour, which by default, assigns the Indigenous peoples (again) to the role of passive “objects” to be saved. To avoid the label of modern-day, full-blown colonists, foundations (via NGOs) and private institutions created the ultimate altruistic image by offering engagement and even full partnerships to selected communities. This would lend much legitimacy to those who deserved none.

Not of interest is the fact that evaluations of management and “success” would/will be observed through, almost exclusively, the eyes of the Euro-American. Zoning, consulting, advertising, and other constructs of the Western world will be deemed as the “correct” path to success, with “success” defined by Western standards (i.e., profit and Western constructs/ideologies). What is lost in this unabashed bravado, buried just beneath the beloved rhetoric of autonomy, diversity and democracy, is that no foreign outsider possesses the intimate knowledge of both land and culture that is imperative to any so-called success in the competitive field of ecotourism.

It is a rare instance when the capitalist encounters something he must possess, but which cannot be purchased. Although the white saviours could now (and still do) bask in the newly appointed cloth of generosity, the reality was (and remains) that the knowledge required to exploit these pristine lands for tourism (i.e., for profit) could not be obtained without the generosity of the Indigenous Peoples of those lands. By framing the foreigners as the saviours, private enterprise would capture rewards of access to land and forests, resources, knowledge and (essentially) free labour – a free-market capitalist’s paradise. NGOs, par excellence, fulfilled their highly financed role of expanding neoliberalism and Western ideologies.

Neoliberalism, Colonialism and Imperialism and in the Caribbean

The multi-million dollar ecotourism projects (“social experiments”) normalized the hierarchies established under colonialism by obscuring the capitalist agenda behind the rhetoric of “community-based tourism” projects. Concealed was the role of economic processes that shape and mold the boundaries between Nature, the market, corporate power and state. Facilitated by the non-profit industrial complex was the task of privatization and marketing of state-society relations behind the concept of the (neoliberal) conservation mode of production. All roads lead to the commodification of Nature, culture, spirituality, and even fantasy. Even symbolism must be considered symbolic capital.

As an example of the imperial and colonial mindset in regards to states of the Caribbean, in a 2006 USAID document (USAID Sustainable Tourism Training), it is noted that “modernization of the public sector is therefore necessary and has been influenced by the growth of the middle class, the diversification of the private sector, and pressure from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).” This document explains that “the continued impetus for public sector modernization requires public education and bi-partisan support for reforms. One major aspect of public sector modernization in the Caribbean concerns the need for transfer of several activities, in part or in full, from the public sector to the private sector. The move towards heavier reliance on the private sector as the engine for change and development …. The transfer of appropriate activities from the public sector to the private sector and NGO’s will release governmental financial and managerial resources…. Caribbean governments are a long way from satisfactorily fulfilling all of these functions.” [Emphasis added.]

The same USAID document goes one step further, suggesting that NGOs should be given legal recognition “as an important element in the development of sustainable community development as associated with ecotourism.” The fact that elite interests would like to see NGOs granted legal recognition (this means protection) reveals how critical, and understood, NGO involvement actually is for the further expansion of neoliberalism and US foreign policy.

 

Next: Part V

 

[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]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

Endnotes:

[1] Update January 9, 2015: The Rights of Nature FB group now has 1,205 members. The Pachamama Alliance FB page now has 112,460 “likes.” The Rights of Nature Twitter account now has a total of 126 tweets and 118 followers.

[2] Update January 9, 2015: The Rights of Nature Twitter account now follows 41 individuals/orgs.

[3] More recently an alternate address has been added: Rights of Mother Earth, PO Box 88, 6317 Oberwil b. Zug,
Switzerland ” [Source]

[4] Prior to this position Fink was a Project Coordinator and Grants Writer for Ayuda Directa USA (July 2006 – Sept 2009) where she “worked directly with indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Highlands in identifying local needs and then advocating for them in project descriptions, grant proposals, and community service projects.”

[5] Update, May 13, 2014: “Runa currently works with over 2,000 indigenous farmers in the region and has generated over $125,000 in income for them.” [Source]

[6] “The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the UNFCCC creates new oppor­tunities for developing-country farmers to benefit from their contributions to carbon sequestration and renewable energy. Inter­est in agroforestry has increased since a report by the Inter-Centre Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2001) indicated that changes in land use from annual crops to agro­forestry is one of the most promising ap­proaches for sequestering carbon through CDM-approved afforestation. Although the carbon sequestration value of agroforestry has received greater attention to date, there is also evidence that agroforestry has good potential to generate renewable energy in the form of biomass and biodiesel that could qualify for the CDM if it can be shown to replace non-renewable sources (Venema and Cisse 2004). ” – World Agroforestry Into the Future, 2006

[7] “Once an offset system is in place, agricultural producers could implement carbon sequestration projects and sell their reduction credits to large industrial emitters. Emitters would be willing to buy credits from the agriculture sector when the price of those credits is lower than the cost of implementing measures to reduce their own emissions.” – Carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry practices in the L’Ormière River watershed in Quebec, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, November 2008

[8] The largest of the many indigenous populations who have resided in the Amazon for centuries.

[9] “Moreover, because the working class own no mass communications media, they are overwhelmed by the bourgeoisie’s cultural hegemony, and, because they have no intellectuals of their own, they adopt the imposed bourgeois worldview (Weltanschauung), which thus constitutes a false consciousness about their own economic exploitation by the strata of the upper classes; with that false awareness the working class lose their social and political, economic and cultural independence as a social class.” [Source]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Art of Annihilation

December 17, 2014

Part three of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

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

Pachamama Art

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

Weapons of Mass Destruction

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

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

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

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

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

Avaaz | An Extension of the Imperial State

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

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

There is reason as to why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Chains: World Bank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unconscious Hypocrisies

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

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

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

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

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

Aversive Racism: A Universal Language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R2P Media Pysops

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

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

A Glimpse into the Left Approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destabilizing Arsenals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next: Part IV

 

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

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

EndNotes:

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

 

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

Ex-CIA Agent Reveals how Venezuelan “Students” Get Putschist Training

Aporrea | News of  the Restless

March 25, 2014

By 

Entrevista a Raúl Capote

Who is this man, and why does the CIA fear him? Because they thought he was one of theirs, and it turns out he’s quite the opposite. And now he’s spilling the beans on them. Read on:

In a recent interview in Havana, a former CIA collaborator, Cuban Raúl Capote, revealed the strategy of the CIA in Venezuelan universities to create the kind of destabilizing opposition student movement the country is currently facing. He also discusses media manipulation, and alleges that one of the U.S. diplomats that President Maduro expelled from Venezuela last September was in fact a CIA agent. The following translation and notes were made by Sabina C. Becker. Original interview in Spanish here.

Raúl Capote is a Cuban. But not just any Cuban. In his youth, he was caught up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They offered him an infinite amount of money to conspire in Cuba. But then something unexpected for the US happened. Capote, in reality, was working for Cuban national security. From then on, he served as a double agent. Learn his story, by way of an exclusive interview with the Chávez Vive magazine, which he gave in Havana:

Q. What was the process by which you were caught up?

It started with a process of many years, several years of preparation and capture. I was leader of a Cuban student movement which, at that time, gave rise to an organization, the Saiz Brothers Cultural Association, a group of young creators, painters, writers, artists. I worked in a city in southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos, which had characteristics of great interest to the enemy, because it was a city in which an important industrial pole was being built at the time. They were building an electrical centre, the only one in Cuba, and there were a lot of young people working on it. For that reason, it was also a city that had a lot of young engineers graduated in the Soviet Union. We’re talking of the last years of the 1980s, when there was that process called Perestroika. And many Cuban engineers, who arrived in Cuba at that time, graduated from there, were considered people who had arrived with that idea of Perestroika. For that reason, it was an interesting territory, where there were a lot of young people. And the fact that I was a youth leader of a cultural organization, which dealt with an important sector of the engineers who were interested in the arts, became of interest to the North Americans, and they began to frequent the meetings we attended. They never identified themselves as enemies, or as officials of the CIA.

Q. Were there many of them, or just always the same person?

Several. They never presented themselves as officials of the CIA, nor as people who had come to cause trouble, or anything.

Q. And who do you suppose they were?

They presented themselves as people coming to help us and our project, and who had the ability to finance it. That they had the chance to make it a reality. The proposal, as such, sounded interesting because, okay, a project in the literary world requires that you know a publisher, that you have editorial relations. It’s a very complex market. And they came in the name of publishers. What happened is that, during the process of contact with us, what they really wanted became quite evident. Because once they had made the contact, once they had begun frequenting our meetings, once they began to promise financing, then came the conditions for being financed.

Q. What conditions did they demand?

They told us: We have the ability to put the markets at your disposal, to put you on the markets of books or sculpture or movies or whatever, but we need the truth, because what we’re selling in the market, is the image of Cuba. The image of Cuba has to be a realistic one, of difficulties, of what’s going on in the country. They wanted to smear the reality of Cuba. What they were asking is that you criticize the revolution, based on anti-Cuba propaganda lines, which they provided.

Q. How big was these people’s budget?

They came with an infinite amount of money, because the source of the money, obviously, we found out over time from whence it came. For example, there was USAID, which was the big provider, the overall contractor of this budget, which channeled the money via NGOs, many of them invented just for Cuba. They were NGOs that didn’t exist, created solely for this type of job in Cuba, and we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. They weren’t working on small budgets. To give you an example, at one time, they offered me ten thousand dollars, just to include elements of anti-Cuba propaganda, in the novel I was writing.

Q. What year are we talking about?

Around 1988-89.

Q. How many people could have been contacted by these people, or captured?

In reality, their success didn’t last long, because in Cuba there was a culture of total confrontation with this type of thing, and the people knew very well that there was something behind that story of them wanting to “help” us. It was nothing new in the history of the land, and for that reason, it was very hard for them to get to where we were. In a determined moment, around 1992, we held a meeting, all the members of the organization, and we decided to expel them. They weren’t allowed to attend any more of our meetings. Those people, who were already coming in with concrete proposals, and also preconditioned economic aid they were giving us. What happened is that at the moment we did that, and rejected them, we expelled them from the association headquarters, then they started to particularize. They began to visit with me, in particular, and other comrades as well, young people. With some they succeeded, or should I say, they succeeded in getting some of them out of the country as well.

Q. What kind of profile were they looking for, more or less, if any kind of profile could be specified?

They wanted, above all at that time, to present Cuba as a land in chaos. That socialism in Cuba had not managed to satisfy the needs of the population, and that Cuba was a country that socialism had landed in absolute poverty, and which, as a model, no one liked. That was the key to what they were pursuing, above all, at that time.

Q. How long were you an agent of the CIA?

We were in this initial story until 1994. Because in 1994, I went to Havana, I came back to the capital and here, in the capital, I began to work for the Union of Cultural Workers, a union which represented the cultural workers of the capital, and I became more interesting yet to them, because I went on to direct — from being a leader of a youth organization with 4,000 members, to directing a union with 40,000 members, just in the city of Havana. And then, it gets much more interesting. Contacts followed. In that period there appeared a woman professor from a new university who came with the mission of kick-starting the production of my literary work, to become my representative, to organize events.

Q. Can you give her name?

No, because they used pseudonyms. They never used real names. And that type of work, promoting me as a writer, was what they were very interested in, because they wanted to convert me into a personality in that world. Promoting me now, and compromising me with them in an indirect manner. And then, in 2004, there arrived in Havana a person well known in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling. Kelly came to Havana to work as Chief of the Office of Press and Culture. They set up a meeting. they arranged a cocktail party, and at that party I met with 12 North American functionaries, North Americans and Europeans. They weren’t only North Americans. All of them people with experience, some also inside the Soviet Union, others who had participated in training and preparation of the people in Yugoslavia, in the Color Revolutions, and they were very interested in meeting me. Kelly became very close to me. She began to prepare me. She began to instruct me. I began to receive, from her, a very solid training: The creation of alternative groups, independent groups, the organization and training of youth leaders, who did not participate in the works of our cultural institutions. And that was in 2004-5. Kelly practically vanished from the scene in 2005-6. And when I started to work, she put me in direct contact with officials of the CIA. Supposedly, I was already committed to them, I was ready for the next mission, and they put me in touch with Renee Greenwald, an official of the CIA, who worked with me directly, and with a man named Mark Waterhein, who was, at the time, the head of Project Cuba, of the Pan-American Foundation for Development.

This man, Mark, as well as directing Project Cuba, had a direct link to Cuba, in terms of financing the anti-revolutionary project, as well as being involved in working against Venezuela. That is, he was a man who, along with much of his team of functionaries of that famous project, also worked against Venezuela at that time. They were closely connected. At times it took a lot of work to tell who was working with Cuba, and who was not, because many times they interlocked. For example, there were Venezuelans who came to work with me, who worked in Washington, who were subordinates of the Pan-American Foundation and the CIA, and they came to Cuba to train me as well, and to bring provisions. From there arose the idea of creating a foundation, a project called Genesis.

Genesis is maybe the template, as an idea, of many of the things going on in the world today, because Genesis is a project aimed at the university youth of Cuba. They were doing something similar in Venezuela. Why? The idea was to convert universities — which have always been revolutionary, which have produced revolutionaries, out of those from which many of the revolutionaries of both countries came — and convert them into factories for reactionaries. So, how do you do that? By making leaders. What have they begun to do in Venezuela? They sent students to Yugoslavia, financed by the International Republican Institute (IRI), which was financed by USAID and by the Albert Einstein Institute, and sent them, in groups of ten, with their professors.

Q. Do you have the names of the Venezuelans?

No, we’re talking of hundreds being sent. I spoke with the professor, and watched one group and followed the other. Because they were working long-term. The same plan was also in place against Cuba. Genesis promoted, with in the university, a plan of training scholarships for Cuban student leaders and professors. The plan was very similar. Also, in 2003, they prepared here, in Havana, a course in the US Interests Section, which was called “Deposing a leader, deposing a dictator”, which was based on the experience of OTPOR in removing Slobodan Milosevic from power. And that was the idea, inside the Cuban university, to work long-term, because these projects always take a long time in order to reap a result. For that reason, they also started early in Venezuela. I believe as well — I don’t have proof, but I believe that in Venezuela it began before the Chávez government, because the plan of converting Latin American universities, which were always sources of revolutionary processes, into reactionary universities, is older than the Venezuelan [Bolivarian] process, to reverse the situation and create a new right-wing.

Q. Did the CIA only work in Caracas?

No, throughout Venezuela. Right now, Genesis has a scholarship plan to create leaders in Cuba. They provide scholarships to students to big North American universities, to train them as leaders, with all expenses paid. They pay their costs, they provide complete scholarships. We’re talking 2004-5 here. It was very obvious. Then, those leaders return to university at some time. They’re students. They go to end their careers. Those leaders, when they end their student careers, go on to various jobs, different possibilities, as engineers, as degree-holders in different sectors of Cuban society, but there are others who go on constantly preparing leaders within the university. One of the most important missions of the university leaders was to occupy the leadership of the principal youth organizations of the university. In the case of Cuba, we’re talking about the Union of Communist Youth, and the University Student Federation. That is, it was not to create parallel groups at that time, but to become the leaders of the organizations already existing in Cuba. Also, to form a group of leaders in the strategies of the “soft” coup. That is, training people for the opportune moment to start the famous “color revolutions” or “non-violent wars”, which, as you well know, have nothing to do with non-violence.

Q. What were they looking for in a professor, in order to capture them?

Professors are very easy. Identify university professors discontented with the institution, frustrated people, because they considered that the institution did not guarantee them anything, or didn’t recognize their merits. If they were older, even better. They didn’t specify. Look for older persons, so you can pick them. If you send a scholarship plan, or you send it and, first crack, they receive an invitation to participate in a great international congress of a certain science, they will be eternally grateful to you, because you were the one who discovered their talent, which has never been recognized by the university. Then that man you sent to study abroad, if you’re from his university, and participating in a big event, and publish his works, and constructing him a curriculum. When that person returns to Cuba, he goes back with a tremendous curriculum, because he has participated in a scientific event of the first order, has passed courses from big universities, and his curriculum reaches to the roof, then the influence he could have in the university will be greater, because he could be recognized as a leading figure in his specialty, even though in practice the man could be an ignoramus.

Q. And how effective were these types of captures, that type of missions they came to accomplish here?

In the case of Cuba, they didn’t have much of a result. First, because there was a most important reason, because I was the one directing the project, and I, in reality, was not an agent of the CIA, I was an agent of Cuban security, and so, the whole project passed through my hands, and they thought I was the one who would execute it. And the plan always passed through the work I was able to do, and what we did was slow it down as much as possible, knowing right away what was being planned. But just think, the goal of their plan, they were calculating for the moment in which the historic figures of the Revolution would disappear. They were figuring on a five- or ten-year term, in which Fidel would disappear from the political scene, and Raúl, and the historic leaders of the land. That was the moment they were waiting for, and when that happened, I was to leave university, with all the support of the international press and that of the NGOs, USAID, and all the people working around the CIA’s money, and that there would arise an organization which would present itself before the light of the public, as an alternative to what the Revolution was doing. That is what was to have happened with the Genesis Foundation for Freedom.

Q. What is that Foundation?

The Genesis Foundation for Freedom was to have a discourse, apparently revolutionary, but the idea was to confuse the people. The idea is that they would say they were revolutionaries, that what they wanted was to make changes in the government, but, when it comes to practice, when you get to the essence of the project, when you ask yourself “What is the project?” the discourse was, and the project was, exactly the same as those of the traditional right-wing. Because the changes they promoted, were the same that the right-wing, for a long time, has been promoting in the country. In practice, they almost had their big opportunity, according to their criteria, in 2006, when the news came out on TV that Fidel, for health reasons, was stepping down from his governmental responsibilities, and they have always said that the Cuban Revolution would die when Fidel died. Because the Revolution was Fidel, and on the day Fidel was no longer there, either by dying or leaving government, the next day the Revolution would fall. And they calculated that there would be internal confrontations, that there would be discontent with this or that. Calculations that I don’t know where they got them from, but they believed it. And in that moment, they believed that the time had come to act.

Q. We’re talking about 2006. What was the plan?

They called me automatically. We met, the CIA station chief and I, here in Havana. Diplomatic functionaries also showed up, and one of them said to me, we’re going to organize a provocation. We’re going to organize a popular uprising in a central neighborhood in Havana. There will be a person going there to rise up for democracy, and we’re going to execute a group of provocations, in different locations, in such a way that Cuban security forces will be forced to act against these people, and later we’ll start a big press campaign and start explaining how all of this will function. The interesting part of that, what really caught my attention, was this: How was it possible that a functionary of the US Interests Section could have the power to call upon the principal media, and that those people would obey with such servility? It was really attention-getting. The idea was — and I even told them this — what you’re telling me is just crazy. This man you mentioned to me, called Alci Ferrer — the guy they picked, a young agent, a doctor — they picked him to be the ringleader of the uprising. I told them, that guy won’t budge anyone. No one is going to rise up in the centre of Havana. The date they picked was none other than Fidel’s birthday, and they told me that day! And I said, Look, buddy, if that man, on that day, decides to go make proclamations, or to start some kind of uprising in the middle of Havana, the people are going to respond harshly. It’s even possible that they might kill him. Why, how could you put him in a humble working-class neighborhood to start those things, the locals…And he told me, flat out, the best thing that could happen for us is if they kill that man, it would be perfect, and they explained to me what would happen. All he had to do was provoke. They would go into the street, and there would be a clash there. If that happened, the press would do the rest, and they told me, we’re going to start a huge media campaign to demonstrate that there is chaos in Cuba, that Cuba is ungovernable; that in Cuba, Raúl is unable to hold the reins of government; that the civilian population is being killed; that students are being repressed in the street, and the people in the street, that the police are committing crimes. What a resemblance to Venezuela! It’s not a coincidence. It’s like that.

Q. So, what was supposed to happen in those circumstances?

Once all the opinion matrices were created, and all the media matrices had constructed that image, the whole world was supposed to have the image of Cuba as a great disaster, and that they’re killing the people, that they are killing them all. Then, my organization was to complete the final task.

Q. What was the final task?

Well, to gather the international press, in my capacity as a university professor, and as a writer, and as a leader of that organization, that I go out publicly to ask the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba, to guarantee the lives of the civilians and to bring peace and tranquility to the Cuban people. To speak to the country in the name of the Cuban people. Just imagine that!

That plan fell apart on them. It gave them no result, but as you could see, later, the way the war in Libya went, and the way it was set up. More than 80% of the information we saw, was fabricated. They’re doing the same in Syria, and they’ve done the same in Ukraine. I have had the opportunity to converse with a lot of Ukrainians, since they were in the bases. People in favor of uniting with Europe. I tried to talk with them these days. Trying to find out, what are those processes like? And they were surprised at the images which were transmitted around the world. What happened in Miami, and they themselves said so, but we’ve been protesting there, but those things that appear on TV, that was a group, or rather, there were sectors, there were places where there were right-wing groups, of the very far right, where there were incidents of that type, and where they burned things, but the greater part of the demonstrations didn’t have those characteristics. Or that this is, once more, the repetition of the scheme, using all the communication media.

Q. The relationship between the CIA and the embassies, in the respective lands, are they direct, then?

Yes, completely direct. In every embassy in Latin America, all the US embassies have CIA officials, working within them, using the façade of diplomatic functionaries.

Q. From what you know, is there a greater CIA presence in the region?

Well, at a certain moment, Ecuador was a major power in that, it had a strong concentration of them, and of course, Venezuela, because in 2012, when I attended the Book Fair in Caracas, all those people who had worked with me against Cuba, all the CIA officials, including Kelly Keiderling, were in Caracas at that time. And I was on a TV show, on VTV, where we talked about this subject, being very careful, because we were talking about two countries who have relations. That’s not the case with Cuba, or rather, Cuba has no relations with the United States. That’s a declared enemy. But we were talking about functionaries who had diplomatic relations, and it was very awkward to do it, without having concrete proofs you could present. However, the interview happened, and the denunciation was made of what was going on. Kelly Keiderling is an expert in this type of war. I have not the slightest doubt. When one follows the itinerary she has, in the countries where she’s been, and when I was in that type of conflict.

She has toured a series of countries in the world where very similar situations have occurred, like what she tried to do in Venezuela. And when you analyze Venezuela, and what has happened nowadays and the way in which she has acted, I think that in Venezuela, the characteristic that has been that they are tremendously aggressive in the manipulation of the information. Tremendously aggressive. To the point where you say it’s a blunder, because there are images which are so obviously not from Venezuela. I saw a very famous one, in which a soldier appears with a journalist, with a camera.They are Koreans. It’s an image from Korea. They’re Asian. They don’t look like Venezuelans at all. Also, the uniforms they wear. They’ve been very aggressive with that image which has projected what’s going on in Venezuela to the world. The greater part of the world’s people, this image is the one they’re seeing, of what they’re trying to say.

Q. They control the media. Do you know any case of any journalist which has been, as you have seen, known or unknown, which you have seen in the process of training?

No.

Q. CNN, for example?

No, there was a guy who had a lot of ties to me at the time here, who served as a link for meeting an official from the CIA., Antony Golden, of Reuters. But, all right, he was an element independent of Reuters. CNN has always been very closely linked to all these things. CNN, from its first moments of operation, above all this latest step, and above all, CNN en Español, has been an indispensable tool for these people, but the problem is that you have to understand one thing: to understand what’s going on, and to be able to mount a campaign, you have to understand that nowadays, there is no TV station that acts on its own. There are the conglomerates, and the communications conglomerates — who directs them? Because, for example, Time Warner and AOL, and all those big communications companies — cable TV, movie TV, TV in general — who is the boss, in the end? Here it’s Westinghouse, there it’s General Electric. The same who build warplanes, the same US arms industry, the same people who are the owners of TV networks, movie studios, publications, book publishers. So, the same guys who produce warplanes, the cookie you’ll eat at night, that presents an artist to you, are the same who rule the newspapers of the entire world. Who do these people answer to?

Q. When you see what’s happening in Venezuela, and you compare it with what you did here [in Cuba], what conclusion can you draw?

It’s a new strategy, which they’ve been developing based on the experience they’ve had all over the world, but I see, I’m convinced, that they’ve only gotten results when people in those places don’t support the revolution. They managed it with Milosevic, because Milosevic was a Yugoslavian leader whose image had fallen far, thanks to things that happened in Yugoslavia. The same happened in Ukraine, because Yanukovych was a man with very little popular support, and it has given results in other places where the governments had little support from the people. Wherever they have a legitimate government, a solid government, and people disposed to defend the revolution, the plan has failed on them.

Q. And what phase do they enter when the plan fails?

They’re going to keep on doing it, they’ll go on perfecting it. We are the enemy. That is, Venezuela, Cuba, everything going on in Latin America as an alternative. We are the dissidents of the world. We live in a world dominated by capitalism. Where that new capitalist way of being dominates, so that now one can’t even call it imperialist, it’s something new, something that goes way beyond what students of Marxism wrote in history years ago. It’s something new, novel. It’s a power, practically global, of the big transnationals, of those megalopolies they’ve created. Therefore, we are the enemy. We are presenting an alternative project. The solution that the world proposes to us, is not that. We know how to do it, and Cuba, Venezuela, the ALBA countries, have demonstrated that it can be done, that one or two days more are nothing. The Cuban revolution has been in existence for 55 years, and with political will, it has achieved things that the US government, with all the money in the world, has been unable to do. So that’s a bad example.

And I’ve told my students: Can you imagine that the Indignants in Spain, the thousands and millions of workers out of work in Spain, that the Greeks, that all those people in all the world, know what we’re doing? Can you imagine that these people get to know who Chávez is? Or who Fidel is? Or of the things we’re doing here? Or the things we’re doing with so few resources, only the will to make revolution and share the wealth? What will happen to capitalism? How much longer will capitalism last, which has to spend billions of dollars, every day, to build its image and fool the people? What would happen if the people knew who we really are? What is the Cuban Revolution, really, and what is the Venezuelan Revolution? Because, if you talked to a Spaniard and asked him about Chávez, and he gives you a terrible opinion of Chávez, because it’s what they’ve constructed in his mind/ And you meet an unemployed person who tells you that Chávez is a bad guy, because the media have convinced him of that, but if these people knew how things really were! So they can’t allow that such formidable enemies as ourselves should be there, at the door.

Q. From the viewpoint of the national sovereignty of our people, how can we stop the CIA? We’ve already talked about the consciousness of the people, which is fundamental in these types of actions, but, in the concrete, how does one foresee the CIA’s work? What can be done? What recommendations do you have?

I think of a thing that Chávez said, and that Fidel has always said, that is the key to defeating the empire, and that is unity. It’s not a slogan, it’s a reality. It’s the only way you have of defeating a project like that. A project that comes from the Special Services and from capitalism. One can only do it with the unity of the people.

Q. Are we talking about the civilian-military?

Yes, unity in all senses. Unity based in diversity, in the peoples, but unity as a nation, unity as a project. Wherever the people are divided, there is another reality.

Q. Where do they have to concentrate? In what area must they concentrate forces to defend us from this type of actions, this type of attacks?

The army to defeat that is the people. I believe that the Cuban experience has taught that very well. There are experiences in the world which mark you very clearly. What has happened in the world, when the people have not been protagonists in defence of the Revolution? And when the people have been protagonists, what happened? And there’s the case of Cuba. We have managed to defeat the CIA and the empire millions of times, because the people have been the protagonist.

Q. Does the CIA use the databases of the social networks, and that sort of thing, to define their plans?

They’re the masters. They’re the masters of that. Fine, there are the denunciations of Snowden and all that has come out of Wikileaks, and all those things that are no secret to anyone, because we suspected, but it’s been demonstrated. It’s been demonstrated that the servers, the Internet, are theirs. All the servers in the world, in the end, die in the North Americans’ servers. They are the mother of the Internet, and all the networks and services are controlled by them. They have access to all the information. And they don’t hesitate to record it. Facebook is an extraordinary database. People put everything on Facebook. Who are your friends? What are their tastes, what movies have they seen? What do they consume? And it’s a source of firsthand information.

Q. Have you been in contact with Kelly Keiderling, after what happened in Venezuela?

No, I haven’t had contact with her. I don’t know what was her final destination, after what happened (she was expelled from Venezuela for meeting with and financing terrorists).

Q. With the experience she has, how far was she able to penetrate into Venezuela, and Venezuelan universities?

I am certain that she got quite far. She’s a very intelligent agent, very well prepared, very capable, and very convinced of what she’s doing. Kelly is a person convinced of the job she is doing. She is convinced of the justness, from her point of view, of what she is doing. Because she is an unconditional representative of capitalism. Because she comes from capitalism’s elite. She is organic of the actions she is doing. There is no contradiction of any kind. And, based on the experience of her work, of her capability, I am sure that she managed to get very far, and gave continuity to a job which is not just for now, it’s a job she will go on doing for a long time, to reverse the process in Venezuelan universities. What’s going on is that up to whatever point they can reach, in the long term, that is what will show the Bolivarian process, in the measure of which the people are aware of what could happen. If that fascist right wing becomes uncontrollable, it could get into power again.

Q. What kind of person who has contacts, who could reach the people, such as by being an activist in a movement, could be captured by the CIA?

They will find them, they will try to do it. If it’s a young person and a leader, they will try to capture them for their interests. We have to train our leaders. We can’t leave that to spontaneity, we can’t leave that to the enemy. So, if we leave them to the enemy, those are spaces which the enemy will occupy. Any alternative project that we leave unattended, any alternative project that we don’t realize the necessity of getting close to, that is a project that the enemy will try, by all means, to take advantage of. Using the enormous amount of money they have for that, which has no limits, in terms of resources to be used, because they are playing with the future and, above all, the young are the key.

The good thing is that the young are the present of Latin America. The Latin American revolution which is there, which is everywhere, is of the young. If not, fine, it will never have results, and if you manage to make young people think differently, if you succeed in getting these youngsters to believe that savage capitalism is the solution to all their problems, then there will be no revolution for Latin America. It’s that simple.

How ‘anti-extractivism’ misses the forest for the trees

Environmentalists who oppose ‘extractivism’ on principle are oversimplifying the complex issues faced by the peoples and governments of Latin America today

Bolivia Rising

May 21, 2014

by Federico Fuentes

“Any genuine campaign against South American “extractivism”, particularly by solidarity activists in imperialist countries, must start by pointing the fingers at those truly responsible for extractivism in South America: imperialist governments and their transnational corporations.”

BolivianIndigenousLeader

A recent spate of high-profile campaigns against projects based on extracting raw materials has opened up an important new dynamic within the broad processes of change sweeping South America. Understanding their nature and significance is crucial to grasping the complexities involved in bringing about social change and how best to build solidarity with peoples’ struggles.

Many of the campaigns that target specific mining, oil, agribusiness or logging ventures share common elements. They have raised public awareness around a variety of important environmental issues such as water scarcity, forest preservation and sustainable land usage.

In some cases, particularly in Ecuador and Bolivia, these campaigns have influenced existing discussions on issues such as climate change, the rights of Mother Earth and the kinds of alternative development models needed to achieve radical change.

Another common aspect has been the central role played by rural indigenous communities. This is due not only to the fact many of these extractive ventures occur in indigenous territories, but also the leading role indigenous movements have played in recent years in the global environment movement.

As a result, issues such as indigenous autonomy and the right to prior consultation on ancestral lands before embarking on extractive projects have become increasingly intertwined with debates over resource extraction and the environment.

This is particularly true in Ecuador and Bolivia, where indigenous peoples constitute a sizeable minority, if not majority, of the population. In these countries, indigenous conceptions such as “Buen Vivir” (Good Living) and “Pachamama” (Mother Earth) have become part of common public discourse and been successfully enshrined in new constitutions that provide a framework for the new society that social movements are striving to build.

Another common element is that such campaigns can be found in almost any South American country, whether run by right-wing neoliberal governments, such as Colombia, or left-wing indigenous-led ones, such as Bolivia.

A new politics?

Given this, some on the left have concluded that South America is witnessing a new cycle of popular protests characterised by a clash between pro-extractivist governments and anti-extractivist rural communities.

For example, Upside Down World editor Benjamin Dangl says these campaigns are a result of “the wider conflicts between the politics of extractivism among countries led by leftist governments … and the politics of Pachamama, and how indigenous movements have resisted extractivism in defense of their rights, land and the environment.”

Argentine sociologist Maristella Svampa takes this idea further and says the emergence of a new model of capitalist domination in South America is responsible for this new cycle of protest.

Whereas social movements previously faced off against neoliberal governments beholden to the Washington Consensus, Svampa says the problem today is “neo-extractivist” governments under the grip of the “commodity consensus”.

She says this “consensus” represents a new “economic and political-ideological” order. It is underpinned by booming commodity prices that have driven an expansion in extractive industries and brought about impressive gains in terms of economic growth and national reserves.

However, Svampa says this “change in the mode of [capitalist] accumulation” has led to new forms of inequality and conflicts. The result has been “an eco-territorial shift” in popular struggles, which now focus on issues such as land, the environment and development models.

Uruguayan journalist Raul Zibechi claims these campaigns “signal the birth of a new cycle of struggle that will also breath life into new anti-systemic movements, perhaps more radically anti-capitalist in the sense that they question developmentalism and hold onto Buen Vivir as this principle ethical and political reference point.”

While the terminology is different, the commonality among these positions is evident.

Within this context, Dangl concludes that solidarity activists must not turn a blind eye to this conflict and instead focus on promoting these “spaces of dissent and debate in indigenous, environmental and farmer movements”.

No one in the solidarity movement would disagree with the need to show solidarity with those struggling against the negative impact of extractive industries. But a solidarity movement that confines its view of South American politics to a narrow “extractivism vs. anti-extractivism” prism could end up hurting those it claims to support.

‘Extractivism’

Extractive industries exist in every South American country. However, those fixated on extractivism often neglect to point out that the reason for this can be found in the region’s history of imperialist domination. Progressive governments inherited economies that are deeply dependent on raw material exports because this is the role that colonial and imperialist countries have for centuries assigned to the region. Overcoming extractivism is therefore intertwined with overcoming imperialist control over the region’s economies.