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					“Law of Mother Earth” set to
pass in Bolivia: Will President
Morales’ indigenous values
save the economy?
by Three Sonorans on May. 22, 2011, under Headline news

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Bolivia is a very important country in South America, historically,
politically, and for the future.
The popular and indigenous President Evo Morales has brought in a
series of reforms that some US Economists hate, but that his people
love, which has led to a better standard of living for the poor. Now
Morales is set to pass the historic ―Law of Mother Earth.‖
With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations,
Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth, which will grant nature
the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation,
called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to
encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to
enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce
environmental destruction.


President of Bolivia, Evo Morales.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same
rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to
exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human
alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance;
the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular
structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most
controversial point is the right ―to not be affected by mega-
infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of
ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities‖.
In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo
Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental
protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and
at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America‘s poorest
countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of
destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the
best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their
concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.

via Bolivia Set to Pass Historic ‗Law of Mother Earth‘ Which Will
Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans.
A decade ago Bolivia was the poorest country in South America, and
Bolivia is the country where Che Guevara was captured and killed.


Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

The ―Chicago boys‖ from the Milton Friedman school of capitalism
were unleashed up South America, using countries as a live lab for
their economics experiments that affected the poorest of the poor
drastically.
Bolivia was one such country and its response to this attack by
American economists may be a model for other countries.
To begin with, a whole volume of books can be written about the next
statement I will make, but put simply, what Americans believe about
their economic system is mostly delusional. People who love their
police and fire departments, schools, libraries, and roads and bridges
and clean water in their tap, along with government programs such as
Medicare are sometimes the first to bash ―socialism‖ without realizing
they are directly benefiting from ―socialist‖ government programs.
The top employers in Tucson, Arizona are all ―socialist‖, with the
University of Arizona, State of Arizona, Pima County, and City of
Tucson making up 4 of the 5 top employers. The top employer is
Raytheon, which gets most of its money from the US Government,
unless private citizens in Tucson are going up to the Raytheon
shopping line and buying Patriot missiles. Even private construction
firms get paid by the government to build roads and bridges and
schools, etc.
Americans also fail to factor in the very real advantage that slavery
has on the economy. With zero labor costs, its not necessary
capitalism but slavery impacting the economy, and with exploitation
of labor overseas in sweatshops and locally with immigrant labor, and
the extraction of natural resources from other countries using the US
Military as the security firm to protect these corporations (such as
from oil) as they do so, with the permission of the US puppet put into
office to run that country… let‘s just say it‘s the ―invisible hand of the
market‖ seems to be worn by Big Brother in the United States.

Back to Bolivia
Pretending that the riches the United States has comes solely from
capitalism, the US decided to try some disastrous economic
experiments in South America using the World Bank as its main tool.
The World Bank is the Payday Loans of the Third-World. At least
Arizona, even under Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce, got rid of the
predatory loan targeting the poor.
What would the World Bank do? They would lend money to the
poorest of the poor with certain requirements (usually privatization of
some natural resource) that would always allow the country to be
further exploited by multinational corporations.
In Bolivia, the resource that was privatized was water. Rather than
view water as a right of all people, a public good, water was privatized
and was now owned by Aguas de Tunari, which was owned by a
company you may have heard of, the Bechtel Corporation of San
Francisco.
As soon as the water was privatized, the cost of water doubled.
Cochabamba is a town of 800,000 situated high in the Andes
Mountains of Bolivia. Two years ago, a popular protest there turned
into a deadly riot. The army battled civilians in the streets on and off
for three months, hundreds were arrested, a seventeen year-old boy
was shot and killed, the government of Bolivia nearly collapsed. The
issue was water.
The spark was privatization. A private consortium, dominated by the
Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco, had taken over Cochabamba‘s
water system and raised water rates. Protestors blamed Bechtel for
trying to ―lease the rain.‖

New Yorker writer William Finnegan traveled to Cochabamba to
learn about the water war and to see what lessons could be drawn
about privatization, globalization and the growing anger in Latin
America over economic inequality.
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. 70% of its people live
below the poverty line. Nearly one child in ten dies before the age of
five. The Bolivian economy, never strong, was wrecked by
hyperinflation in the 1980s.
Desperate for relief, Bolivia has been faithfully following the dictates
of the international lending community for the past fifteen years —
selling its airline, railroads, mines and electric company to private —
usually foreign-controlled — companies. The economic shock therapy
tamed inflation but led to severe recession and massive
unemployment.

via Frontline – PBS.
What made this even more egregious was that peasants could not
even collect rainwater. ALL the water in Bolivia was now privately
owned, and the cost of it just doubled, now costing the average person
a quarter of their monthly income. The Frontline – PBS excerpt I
linked to above has some video news stories during this time.


President Evo Morales.
The people in Bolivia finally had enough, and in 2005 elected the
Aymara-descended indigenous President Evo Morales.
The socialist President brought in many needed reforms. Bolivia
actually has many natural resources, and need not be the poorest
country in South America. But when the country sells it all to an
American company to exploit, then the people on that land are left
behind in poverty.

President Morales is now using many of Bolivia‘s natural resources to
benefit the people first, not multinational corporations that are
already rich enough.
Now the Native American President has put Mother Earth in her
proper place, the source of all life, and our life, viewed not just as
resources to be exploited, mined, a polluted, but as (from above):
as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human
beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue
vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to
pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be
polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or
genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right
―to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects
that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant
communities
Trees have a right to live also, and deforestation should not take place
just so a few people can become billionaires. Mountains which are
homes to millions of lifeforms, trees, bugs, insects, birds, etc, should
not be blown up just so that we can get a few of the shiny rocks inside.
Protecting the wilderness is not a wild idea, but the best idea.
Yes, the economy suffers as consumerism drops, but then again,
pretty soon it is going to drop anyways once the oil runs dry and clean
water no longer available to many in desert communities (such as
Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas). Even desalination will
be nearly impossible due to the super-high energy costs.
Indigenous communities in the
United States
There are many Third World communities in the United States also,
and many are right here in Arizona.
The Navajo reservation is one of them, and it is being exploited like
Bolivia was, and every single person living in surrounding states,
from El Paso to Los Angeles, are all guilty of this exploitation that
takes place to this very day.


The Navajo Generating Station and the Three Sisters of Destruction.

The Navajo reservation is a prime example of environmental racism,
and even Democrats are guilty of this in Arizona, such as former ―blue
dog‖ Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick who represented the Navajo
Nation until 2011, who favors mining over what Native Americans
have to say, including siding with Resolution Copper over the San
Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache, Hopi, Hualapai, Yavapai
Apache, Camp Verde, and Tonto Apache Tribes.
There are many highly-coveted natural resources to be found near the
Four Corners area all the way to the beginning of the Grand Canyon
and including top tourist spots such as Monument Valley (the famous
formations Ford filmed in his westerns were once uranium mines).
Coal-powered electrical generating plants, such as the one that
powers Tucson from the Irvington/Alvernon/I-10 plant get coal from
Peabody Coal, which comes from the Navajo Nation.
Not only do we get coal from the Navajo Nation to burn here in
Tucson, we also benefit from the electricity that is generated up north
with coal that is mined from nearby. Among the coal plants you will
find on the Navajo Nation are the dirtiest and top carbon-oxide
emitters in the entire country, from the Four Corners Plant to the
Navajo Generating Station.
The pollution is so bad that sometimes a haze covers the Grand
Canyon and can burn the eyes of the tourist.
Not only is there lots and lots of coal, but there is lots of uranium to
be found there, and the home of the largest nuclear power plant in the
United States is the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant outside of Phoenix. It is
also the only nuclear power plant not near a body of water in our
country, but instead uses 20,000,000,000 gallons of water a year
from groundwater and other scarce sources of Phoenix water.

All the water that comes to Tucson via the Central Arizona Project
(CAP) which pumps water uphill over 300 miles from the Colorado
River near Parker, AZ to Avra Valley west of Tucson is powered by the
Navajo Generating Station.




Navajo home near the uranium mines. Photo: Rachel Wise

Just as egregious as in Bolivia, the water supply in Northern Arizona
has been tapped into by the mining companies and is being sucked
dry, and to add insult to injury, many homes on the Navajo
reservation have zero power running to them, even with huge power
lines running nearby.
Cassandra Begay knows what it‘s like to be without power. Her home
is just 1 1/2 miles away from Arizona Highway 264 where electric
transmissions lines hang so near, yet so far away.
Another five families live in the area – all without electricity.
―We use kerosene lamps at night, and then some of us that can afford
it, we have generators for electricity,‖ Begay said.
For heat, the family uses wood-burning stove. For cooking, the family
uses propane. For refrigeration, Begay puts the food outside when it‘s
cold.
―Other than that, I go out daily and get some meat. Just like right
now, we went out and got some meat, and we have to cook the whole
thing today,‖ she said pointing to two packages of beef on the kitchen
table.
Without electricity, the family can‘t pump water, either, assuming
they had water to pump.

Asked whether she would like to have electricity, Begay said, ―Oh, that
would be wonderful.‖
Imagine not having a refrigerator in Arizona. Imagine there being no
place to charge up your laptop, your iPhone, no internet, no lights,
and in the summer, no air-conditioning. How would you feel if
everyone was getting energy from the land you live on, siphoning
away natural resources while you live in poverty?
As bad as things were in places like Bolivia with water privatization,
things are just as bad even here in Arizona, and it is the same cycle of
oppression, of the exploitation of indigenous peoples that continues
to this day, and we are all a part of it.

And it is not just the Navajo, but even Tucson‘s Santa Rita mountains
have already been sold to a Canadian mining company which will
profit from the Rosemont Copper mine as Tucson‘s economy falls and
in a few years we will be left with an environmental disaster, less
water, and not even a scenic site to enjoy anymore south of town.
Sometimes those that exploit end up getting exploited themselves,
and the cycle continues.

				
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