Monday, January 30, 2012

Oglala Sioux (USA - North Dakota)

2012-01-30 "Black Hills Treaty Council wins judgment against RainDancer Resource Management" by Natalie Hand
[http://intercontinentalcry.org/black-hills-treaty-council-wins-judgment-against-raindancer-resource-management/]
Natalie Hand is an environmental & indigenous rights activist and is the co-founder of Looks for Buffalo Foundation. She is dedicated to the preservation of the Lakota culture and language.
All of the information furnished herein, with the exception of my opinions, was sourced from public records. If you wish to have a copy of any of the federal court documents, Tribal documents, or state records that I have obtained, please feel free to contact me at 867-5762 or pteole(at)gwtc.net
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The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Law and Order Code, Chapter 2, Section 122 False Pretenses states…(a)”It shall be unlawful to obtain, take, or receive any property of another by means of a trick or deception, or false or fraudulent representation, statement, or pretense with the intent to deprive the owner thereof..”
On Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, a judgment was issued in OST Court against RainDancer Resource Management/American Horse Ventures LLC, et al, essentially barring them from doing any and all business on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The suit, brought by Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council Oglala Delegate Floyd Hand and Itancan Oliver Red Cloud, alleges that RainDancer’s ultimate goal is to commandeer, not only Tribal assets, but also private Tribal members’ allotted land assets.
According to their proposed partnership with the OST, they are seeking exclusive rights to allotted lands! This is what caught the attention of the Treaty Council. The Tribal Council has NO authority over individual tribal member’s allotted lands.
RainDancer Resource Management began soliciting the Oglala Sioux Tribe months before they were even a registered business. In fact, they were meeting with Tribal officials before they had possession of a valid Due-Diligent Pass, which is required under Tribal law. They were eventually granted a 30-day Due-Diligent Pass on September 15, 2011. However, they did not become a registered business in the State of Oregon until October 3, 2011. That is false representation.
The central figures of this organization are Raycen American Horse Raines, R. Dennis Ickes, Valerie Red Horse, Michael “Rawhide” Sierra, Todd Gandy, Stephen Gomes, and Stuart Cohen. Raines calls these individuals his mentors. However, when OST Attorney David Frankel conducted the due diligence on their company, his discovery raised eyebrows and more questions.
Mr. Raines states that he is an enrolled member of the OST. He uses the name American Horse. However, the American Horse Tiospaye has never heard of him. Ms. Red Horse, a financial broker and investment advisor, currently has a pending investigation against her and two other final judgment liens against her. Mr. Gomes and Mr. Sierra have had past dealings with the Tribe, having charged substantial amounts to the Tribe and then failed to produce results.
Let’s assume the Tribal Council turns a blind eye to all this and allows RainDancer the exclusive rights to economic development. In their proposed contract with the OST, Raines asserts that he has a partnership with Robert McKee of Native American Investment Group (NAIG). Not to be confused with NAEG. According to OST Council Resolution #11-164, McKee has expressed an interest in providing $20,000,000 to fund a tribally owned “central” bank, using the Tribe’s treaty rights and sovereign immunity. The Tribal Council and Executive Committee are not sovereign. They raise their hand to uphold the U.S Flag and Constitution. The Oyate have the sovereignty.
The Tribe’s own due-diligence attorney questioned the legality of the proposed “off shore” or “central” bank, calling it questionable and needing extensive research. The most alarming assertion that RainDancer/NAIG is making is that the Tribe assumes no risk and that the Tribe will not be subject to federal taxes, or the Patriot Act. Really? Really?! Tribal members cannot even grow industrial hemp on their so-called sovereign land without the DEA storming in, but McKee and Raines are confident that they can by-pass the Feds.
In a simple internet search, we discovered that Mr. McKee is party to a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Utah (Case # 2:06CV00109 PGC). McKee is listed as President of Native American Oil Refinery Company (NARCO) which is being sued for failure to produce the promised capital of $50,000,000 to purchase a chain of convenience stores. When NARCO did not come up with the money, they strung the plaintiff along by increasing the payment to $65,000,000, plus offering standby letters of credit from a supposed Indonesian bank partner (another defendant, Bank Negara Indonesia-BNI) in the amount of $25,000,000.
McKee’s NARCO/BNI never paid any of the amounts owed to the plaintiffs, thus forcing the plaintiffs to foreclose on their properties. To that end, the plaintiffs are seeking damages of $115,000,000 from NARCO/BNI for breach of contract. This case has not been settled to date. So how can Mr. McKee offer $20,000,000 in seed money to start a bank on the Pine Ridge Reservation? Through “letters of credit” from a rogue Indonesian bank? That is deception and false representation.
According to McKee’s bio, his background is in oil and gas mining. In fact, he is a proud member of the American Petroleum Institute and the American Gas Association. So while his front may be to help the Oglala Lakota have their own bank, in my personal opinion, NAIG is teaming up with RainDancer to have exclusive rights to the Tribe’s natural resources! It is actually stated in the preamble of the proposed agreement with the Tribe. The bank, wind/solar operation, etc. is just a front, in my own personal opinion. Just as infamous NAEG did a couple of years ago, promising to come in and “clean” our water. Where is NAEG today? Are they promoting their clean water technology on another rez? No, they are mining oil/gas in North Dakota and developing coal-bed methane in the endangered Cook Inlet Basin of Alaska.
RainDancer has also attempted to enter into a contract with the Wakpamni District Executive Board to create a pay day loan operation. This type of enterprise is known as a “predatory” lending operation and is notorious for setting up in low-income communities across the U.S., preying on the disadvantaged.
Although pay day loan businesses are legal, RainDancer’s proposed contract with Wakpamni District Executive Board is illegal, according to Treaty Council legal advocate Bill Bielecki. According to the most recent copy of the Wakpamni District’s Constitution & By-Laws, provided by the OST Secretary, the role of the District’s Executive Board is to simply carry out the wishes of its communities. There is a distinction to be pointed out here. The District Executive Board is not the District Council. The District Council is comprised of members from the 6 communities and must have at least 4 communities with a quorum of 5 members per community, present at a meeting for it to be a legal District Council meeting. When the quorum standards are met, they collectively can vote on issues and business proposals for the progress and welfare of its District’s membership.
Additionally, according to Article VI, Section 2 of the Wakpamni District’s Constitution states, “…Any resolution before the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council will be presented to the Wakpamni District by our Wakpamni District Representatives for discussion before they are voted upon.” Article VI, Section 3 states, “…Any resolutions that the Wakpamni District Representatives present to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council must originate in the Wakpamni District Council.”
While RainDancer/American Horse/NAIG are courting our District elected officials, it is my understanding that there was never a legal Wakpamni District Council meeting, because they did not have a legal quorum of membership when discussing a joint venture with this group.
Importantly, why would the Wakpamni District want to partner with a group that has such a questionable performance history? Why was the OST due diligence attorney shut down when he began delving into RainDancer/American Horse group’s background? Why would the Wakpamni District Representatives offer a letter of support/endorsement for RainDancer even after the Treaty Council won a temporary restraining order against RainDancer? I would think that this action by our treaty elders would give them pause and encourage them to investigate RainDancer further.
Perhaps they were all blinded by the bright light of a few shiny coins. We all want progress, employment opportunities and economic growth on Pine Ridge. Today’s Treaty Council delegates are descendants of the original Treaty Council, the men that signed the 1851/1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties. It is their duty to uphold the rights that their ancestors fought and died for…to protect their homeland and its resources from being raped and pillaged by the fat takers. Exploiting what little land and resources that the Oglala Oyate have left is not progress or steps towards self-sufficiency. It will be the end of the Lakota way of life.
2012-01-26 "PM dragged away after being trapped by protesters" by Dylan Welch
[http://www.smh.com.au/national/pm---dragged-away-after-being-trapped-by--protesters-20120126-1qj1c.html]
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, had to be extracted from a restaurant near Parliament House as angry protesters banged on the glass.
Supporters of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra picketed the Lobby restaurant over comments by Mr Abbott this morning that the tent embassy should close.
As many as 200 gathered in front of the restaurant, banging on its glass walls and yelling "shame" and "racist".
The incident, about 2.30pm at the restaurant several hundred metres from Parliament, occurred while Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott were presenting the National Emergency Medals.
The pair were forced to stay inside for 30 minutes while the protest outside continued.
As many as 1000 people had gathered as part of a march to mark the 40th anniversary of the Tent Embassy.
Ms Gillard was escorted in dramatic fashion from the building by her federal police Close Personal Protection team.
Fairfax photographer Alex Ellinghausen, who took the pictures on this page, said that, contrary to the claims of Ms Gillard's office that she merely "stumbled", she was "dragged out" by her bodyguards.
"The police were pulling her out and they were clearly a bit faster than her and along the way she lost a shoe and tumbled," he said.
One of the protesters, the chairman of the Northern Basin Aboriginal nations, Fred Hooper, spoke to Sky News shortly after the politicians’ dramatic exit, explaining why they caused the incident.
‘‘We were peacefully celebrating the 40th anniversary of the aboriginal tent embassy. The opposition leader on national television made a comment to tear down something that have built over 40 years, which is sacred to us,’’ he said.
‘‘So what do you expect us to do when we're 200 yards away from the person that makes that comment? Do you expect us to say, ‘yeah Tony we're gonna do that now? We're gonna rip it down?’’’
Earlier today one of the tent embassy's founders, Michael Anderson, addressed a rally at the site.
"To hell with the government and the courts in this country. You haven't got a high hope to take us on," he said.
"We will force these issues. Too many of our families have suffered for some bastard to get in the road."
Mr Sean Gordon, Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council leader from North West NSW, said the protest had been peaceful until an announcement was made in which Mr Abbott's comments were read to the crowd.
"It was like waving a red rag at a bull. This is the 40th anniversary of the tent embassy and these blokes are 200 metres away. If Tony Abbott is a visionary then why did he fail to see what this would do to our people."
"In answer to the Opposition Leader's comments an NSW Aboriginal Council member,  Roy RC, told reporters "maybe Abbott is right and it is time for the tent embassy to go."
"And then it is time to erect a black Parliament with politicians we can choose, politicians who are going to have a say in our lives," he said.
Mr Gordon said further protests were planned for the rest of the week and that "we're going to keep the fight going. We are standing up here and we are not going away."
Mr Abbott's comments about the Tent Embassy were made during an event at the Sydney Opera House this morning in response to a question from the media about whether the Tent Embassy was still relevant.
"Look, I can understand why the Tent Embassy was established all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then," he said, in comments which appeared on Sky.
"We had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine achievements of Kevin Rudd as prime minister. We had the proposal which is currently for national consideration to recognise indigenous people in the constitution.
"I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian and yes, I think a lot has changed since then and I think it probably is time to move on from that."
After the incident at the restaurant Mr Anderson spoke to the media, saying Mr Abbott's comments were disrespectful and they wanted know if Mr Abbott was serious about removing the Tent Embassy.
"He said the Aboriginal embassy had to go, we heard it on a radio broadcast. We thought no way, so we circled around the building," he said.
"You've got 1000 people here peacefully protesting and to make a statement about tearing down the embassy - it's just madness on the part of Tony Abbott," Mr Anderson said.
"What he said amounts to inciting racial riots."

Julia Gillard is dragged away from the protest by her security officers. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen


2012-01-30 "Ruckus puts referendum out of reach" by PAUL SHEEHAN
[http://m.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/ruckus-puts-referendum-out-of-reach-20120129-1qnrx.html]
At least the Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra has finally achieved one constructive thing in its 40 years as a moral eyesore: it helped kill off the proposed amendment to enshrine racial preference in the Australian constitution.
That proposed amendment is now dead. Everything else will merely be its funeral. The Australian public will not enshrine special privileges for any group on the basis of race, especially after the events of the past few days.
Even readers of the Herald and the National Times overwhelmingly expressed their disapproval of the Aboriginal ''embassy'' in an online poll conducted on Thursday and Friday. Most of 25,853 votes agreed the tent embassy's time had passed or never existed. Only 15 per cent expressed support.
And what a pack of gutless wonders contributed to this debacle.
The root cause was found within the Prime Minister's staff. One of her press secretaries, Tony Hodges, used race to make political mischief even though indigenous affairs had been an area of tacit bipartisanship between Julia Gillard and the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.
On Thursday, Hodges began looking for an Aborigine to take issue with some bland remarks Abbott made during a morning interview when he was asked about the tent embassy and replied: ''Look, I can understand why the tent embassy was established all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then … I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian and … I think it probably is time to move on from that."
Hodges called Kim Sattler, the secretary of Unions ACT, and told her Abbott had said it was time for the tent embassy to move on and was attending an event just 100 metres from the demonstration.
Sattler spoke to at least two of the demonstrators at the ''embassy'', Barbara Shaw and Michael Anderson, and told them Abbott wanted the embassy gone and that he was right next door.
Within minutes, about 200 people were outside The Lobby restaurant banging on the windows and shouting abuse.
The organiser of the demonstration, Michael Anderson, ranted afterwards that Abbott ''said the Aboriginal embassy had to go, we heard it on a radio broadcast … It's just madness on the part of Tony Abbott. What he said amounts to inciting racial riots.''
Another activist, Paul Coe, a former barrister disbarred from practice for lying to a court, later brandished the shoe left behind by Gillard as she was bundled away by security. Coe said she should visit the ''embassy'' to collect the shoe as an ''act of goodwill''.
Kim Sattler crowed on her Facebook page ''a huge crowd from the embassy went to greet him [Abbott] and he had to be rushed away with a police escort!''
When all this blew up in their faces, the response was just as gutless.
Hodges was sacked - damage-control for Gillard - and delivered a mealy-mouthed apology denying he had distorted Abbott's words.
Sattler took down her crowing Facebook entry. Then she blamed Hodges, who she said told her Abbott said the tent embassy should be shut down. She also blamed the Prime Minister for saying it was Sattler, not her press secretary, who began the distortion.
Barbara Shaw, Greens candidate for the Northern Territory federal seat of Lingiari, shifted blame to Sattler, telling reporters Sattler had said she was speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister's office and that Abbott was right next door talking about closing down the tent embassy.
The most absurd response came from Anderson, who told reporters: ''Someone set us up.''
Pathetic. Which returns us to the far larger failure, the proposed changes to the constitution. An expert panel has delivered a report, commissioned by Gillard in 2010, which proposes amendments that recognise indigenous culture.
The ideal is to seek redress for some of the sweeping disruptions and pain caused to Aboriginal communities by the process of European settlement. The changes would also remove two provisions which allow the government to legislate on the basis of race.
The expert panel has delivered an inexpert political document. It has proposed four additions which should and probably would pass at a referendum. It also proposed two additions which would create an unlimited new avenue for judicial activism and human rights litigation. They read:
''Acknowledging the need to secure the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.''
''The Commonwealth, a state or a territory, shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic or national origin.''
Last Thursday, this column described the advancement sentence as a blunder that monetised race. On Saturday the Herald editorialised on this proposed amendment: ''Many will ask, why should indigenous advancement be mentioned in the constitution specifically? How is it distinct from the advancement of the population as a whole?''
Also on Saturday, The Australian editorialised: '' … the government is considering a referendum to provide constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians. That task has been made difficult by the overreach of the expert panel. The Canberra activists might have put it further out of reach.''
Referendum proposals do not survive such public misgivings. Nor has any referendum ever passed without bipartisan support, and I cannot see the opposition supporting the amendments as proposed.
Abbott anticipated such a moment in his 2009 manifesto, Battlelines, when he described the chasm between the rhetoric of progressive policies and the continued failure to make real progress: ''Under the ideology of self-determination, an exaggerated respect for Aboriginal culture has coexisted with a kind of abandonment of Aboriginal people.''
A couple of indigenous women returned the Prime Minister's shoe to security guards. But it is the flag-burning, the besieged leaders and the jeering chants of ''Cinderella'' that will stick in the public mind.


2012-01-31 "Minister angry at young flag burners"
[http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-31/minister-angry-at-young-flag-burners/3802076/?site=sydney]
A Northern Territory minister with special responsibility for young people has labelled the Aboriginal children who burned an Australian flag in Canberra last week "little pricks".
The flag was burned at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on Friday, one day after protesters from the embassy confronted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Julia Gillard as they attended an awards ceremony at a nearby restaurant.
The Minister for Young Territorians, Rob Knight, says he is disgusted with the children who were involved in the burning.
Mr Knight says that with the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin approaching, the children involved and their parents have defaced a flag that Australians fought under.
"For some little pricks to get there and stomp on our flag and set fire to it - there should be laws against it," he told radio station Mix 104.9.
"There should be laws against burning the Territory flag as well.
"I think it's absolutely disgusting, and they've lost my support, and I think they've lost the majority support of Australians."
The Territory Opposition says the Minister's intemperate language is unfairly targeting children, when he should be focusing his anger on the adults involved.
One of the founders of the tent embassy says Mr Knight should be disendorsed by the ALP because of his comments.
Michael Anderson says the comments are inappropriate and Mr Knight should be stood down.
"To use that sort of language against children, this man is not fit for office," he said.
"I think he should be immediately stood down and I think the Labor Party should disendorse this man."
Meanwhile, Territory Indigenous Affairs Minister Malarndirri McCarthy wants Prime Minister Julia Gillard to apologise for the Aboriginal tent embassy clashes in Canberra.
She says the scenes were disgraceful and involved "underhanded tactics" by the Prime Minister's office.
Ms McCarthy is a Yanuwa woman from the Gulf country of the Territory and has been the Labor MLA for Arnhem since 2005.
The former ABC journalist and newsreader says Julia Gillard should apologise to the nation, Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and the tent embassy organisers.
"Certainly, the (actions of the) office of the Prime Minister was very questionable," she said.
"I think there were many Indigenous people who went to Canberra with genuine interest to keep the plight of Indigenous people at the forefront nationally.
"I think it is incredibly unfortunate that it descended in the way it did."
Ms McCarthy says the scenes in Canberra were disgraceful.
"I am deeply disappointed by the underhanded tactics of Labor members to really bring forth quite a messy outcome," she said.
Indigenous leader Pat Dodson says the Australia Day tent embassy protest has not harmed the campaign for changes to the Australian Constitution.
Professor Dodson is part of a panel that is recommending constitutional amendments to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Speaking in Sydney last night, he said the protest may have damaged the public's view of the tent embassy but the campaign to change the Constitution is on track.
"It is a reality of our unresolved issues," he said.
"It is a reality of the frustration.
"Let's see it for the ugliness of what it was and let's move on to dealing with the constructive things that we are capable of that can help diminish the necessity for that kind of behaviour in the future."
He says that while they were ugly, to condemn the protests outright was simplistic.
"You have got to look to why people are frustrated and why people feel that aggressive behaviour like that is required," he said.
Professor Dodson says Indigenous people still feel frustrated, and they have a right to express that.

2012-01-30 "Bolivian Indigenous March Is Advancing on the Seat of Government" from "Prensa Latina" of the Republic of Cuba
[http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=472987&Itemid=1]
La Paz, Jan 30 (Prensa Latina) The indigenous marchers of the South Indian Council (CONISUR), which call for the construction of a road in Bolivia, are now advancing on the last leg of their journey of more than 40 days to the city of La Paz .
  About 4,500 native marchers, including hundreds of children, resumed their walk from Senkata, neighboring El Alto that is about 16 miles from the seat of government, which is the goal of their journey from Isinuta, Cochabamba, from where they departed on December17.
 CONISUR marchers expect to enter this afternoon the Plaza Murillo, which is the center of the country's political power to demand the annulment of the so-called Short Law of Indigenous Territory and Isiboro Secure National Park (Tipnis), which declared intangible this vast Amazon rainforest.
 This rule was passed last October, when a previous march led by the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB) convinced President Evo Morales to ban the construction of roads in this nature reserve.
 The Short Law then cut a route that would solve the communication with other regions and that would facilitate access to health services, education and commerce for CONISUR communities.
 Marchers ask the government to continue the second leg of this road and a comprehensive development plan in that place where they live.
 Social organizations such as the Regional Workers Union, the Intercultural Communities Confederation of Bolivia and the National Confederation of Indigenous Farmer Women - Bartolina Sisa also support the march.
 The government of La Paz also began a campaign of humanitarian aid.
 Meanwhile, Minister of Government, Carlos Romero, suggested that members of CONISUR and CIDOB must reach an agreement on the construction of the road through the Amazon rainforest and was hopeful that both groups reach a favorable agreement for the 64 communities living there.


2012-01-30 "Bolivians demand controversial highway be built" from "AFP" newswire
LA PAZ — More than 2,000 Amazon Indians on Monday called on Bolivian President Evo Morales to approve the building of a highway through a nature reserve, a project scrapped last year after widespread protests.
Demonstrators rallied in the capital La Paz, some of them after a protest march of 400 kilometers (240 miles) which was backed by Morales. They planned to stage a sit-in in the city center, organizers said.
"The road means development for San Ignacio de Moxos, where we live in isolation, and development for Bolivia," David Ibanez -- who walked with his wife and young son -- told AFP.
Morales said in October he was scrapping the hugely controversial plan to build the highway, which was to be part of a network linking landlocked Bolivia to both the Pacific through Chile and the Atlantic through Brazil.
The move came after 2,000 indigenous people walked for two months from their homeland in the Amazon lowlands to La Paz to press him to cancel the project through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS).
Planners had wanted the Brazil-financed road to run through the TIPNIS, leveling an ancestral homeland inhabited by 50,000 native people from three different native groups.
Amazon natives feared that landless Andean Quechua and Aymara people -- Bolivia's main indigenous groups and Morales supporters -- would flood into the road area and colonize their land.
Morales, the country's first elected indigenous president, had however said the 300-kilometer (186 mile) highway was vital for economic development.
His right-wing opposition has charged that the march in support of the project was orchestrated by supporters of Morales, particularly by unions of the Chapare coca growers, who have an economic interest in the highway's route.
Some demonstrators said they planned to rest after the long march.
"The altitude has affected us a little," said Hilario Malure. "We are tired, we came on foot."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winnemem Wintu (USA - Republic of California)

2012-01-29 "Michael Preston, Cal student and tribal activist" from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
[http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/27/IN8E1MTEU7.DTL]
Michael Preston is a student at UC Berkeley. He is also a member of the Winnemem Wintu, a native tribe born out of Mount Shasta with ancestral lands ranging across the watershed of the McCloud River. When Shasta Dam began holding water in 1944, 4,000 acres of those ancestral lands were flooded. Preston tells the story of his great aunt Flora, whose job it was to dig up the dead from a tribal cemetery in advance of the water; among those she exhumed were her recently deceased parents and a child of her own, who had died less than two years earlier.
Preston is unflinching in denouncing injustices against the Winnemem, past and present. But as he and his tribe continue struggling to maintain a formal title to their homeland, they have no conventional recourse: Because they are unrecognized by the federal government, they are given no formal protection. What's more, they are a tiny tribe - 123 members, with a nucleus of only 30 people living in the main village northwest of Redding.
 And so to fight for the integrity of the land and water that is the heart of their spiritual existence, they have embraced the unconventional tool of multimedia storytelling. The tribe is making documentary films about their endangered rites and using GPS mapping tools to digitally reclaim their homelands. They are on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook; they have an RSS feed.
At the forefront of this effort is Preston. During the week, he studies digital media and environmental justice; on the weekends he crafts ornate regalia from feathers and beads and dances in traditional ceremonies. For him, it is all part of a single pursuit: protecting the tribe's life and home. He told me, "Without the land, there is no religion." And without religion, I inferred, there is no life.

Lisa M. Hamilton / Lisa M. Hamilton
Michael Preston has made it his mission to protect his tribe's life and home.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012-01-26 "Navy Training Blasts Marine Mammals With Harmful Sonar Wildlife Protection Agency Challenged for Not Doing Its Job"
[http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2012/01/26-5]
SAN FRANCISCO - January 26 - A coalition of conservation and American Indian groups today sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to protect thousands of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions from U.S. Navy warfare training exercises along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.
Earthjustice, representing InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the San Juans, Natural Resources Defense Council and People For Puget Sound, today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California challenging the Fisheries Service’s approval of the Navy’s training activities in its Northwest Training Range Complex. The lawsuit calls on the agency to mitigate anticipated harm to marine mammals and biologically critical areas within the training range that stretches from Northern California to the Canadian border.
“These training exercises will harm dozens of protected species of marine mammals — Southern resident killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins and porpoises — through the use of high-intensity mid-frequency sonar,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney representing the groups. “The Fisheries Service fell down on the job and failed to require the Navy to take reasonable and effective actions to protect them.”
The Navy uses a vast area of the West Coast for training activities including anti-submarine warfare exercises involving tracking aircraft and sonar; surface-to-air gunnery and missile exercises; air-to-surface bombing exercises; sink exercises; and extensive testing for several new weapons systems.
“Since the beginning of time, the Sinkyone Council’s member tribes have gathered, harvested and fished for traditional cultural marine resources in this area, and they continue to carry out these subsistence ways of life, and their ceremonial activities along this Tribal ancestral coastline. Our traditional cultural lifeways, and our relatives such as the whales and many other species, will be negatively and permanently impacted by the Navy’s activities,” said Priscilla Hunter, chairwoman and cofounder of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. “Both NMFS and the Navy have failed in their obligations to conduct government-to-government consultation with the Sinkyone Council and its member Tribes regarding project impacts.”
In late 2010, the Fisheries Service gave the Navy a permit for five years of expanded naval activity that will harm, or “take,” marine mammals and other sealife. The permit allows the Navy to conduct increased training exercises that can harm marine mammals and disrupt their migration, nursing, breeding or feeding, primarily as a result of harassment through exposure to the use of sonar.
“The Navy’s Northwest Training Range is the size of the state of California, yet not one square inch is off-limits to the most harmful aspects of naval testing and training activities,” said Zak Smith, staff attorney for NRDC. “We are asking for common-sense measures to protect the critical wildlife that lives within the training range from exposure to life-threatening effects of sonar. Biologically rich areas like the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary should be protected.”
The Navy’s mid-frequency sonar has been implicated in mass strandings of marine mammals in, among other places, the Bahamas, Greece, the Canary Islands and Spain. In 2004, during war games near Hawaii, the Navy’s sonar was implicated in a mass beaching of up to 200 melon-headed whales in Hanalei Bay. In 2003, the USS Shoup,operating in Washington’s Haro Strait, exposed a group of endangered southern resident killer whales to mid-frequency sonar, causing the animals to stop feeding and attempt to flee the sound.
“In 2003, NMFS learned firsthand the harmful impacts of Navy sonar in Washington waters when active sonar blasts distressed members of J pod, one of our resident pods of endangered orcas,” said Kyle Loring, staff attorney for Friends of the San Juans. “Given this history, it is particularly distressing that NMFS approved the Navy’s use of deafening noises in areas where whales and dolphins use their acute hearing to feed, navigate, and raise their young, even in designated sanctuaries and marine reserves.”
“Whales and other marine mammals don’t stand a chance against the Navy,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Navy’s mitigation plan for sonar use relies primarily on visual detection of whales or other marine mammals by so-called “ watch-standers”  with binoculars on the decks of ships. If mammals are seen in the vicinity of an exercise, the Navy is to cease sonar use.
“Visual detection can miss anywhere from 25 percent to 95 percent of the marine mammals in an area,” said Heather Trim, director of policy for People for Puget Sound. “It’s particularly unreliable in rough seas or in bad weather. We learn more every day about where whales and other mammals are most likely to be found — we want NMFS to put that knowledge to use to ensure that the Navy’s training avoids those areas when marine mammals are most likely there.”
The litigation is not intended to halt the Navy’s exercises, but asks the Court to require the Fisheries Service to reassess the permits using the latest science and to order the Navy to stay out of biologically critical areas at least at certain times of the year.
Marcie Keever of Friends of the Earth said: “It has become increasingly clear from recent research that the endangered Southern Resident killer whale community uses coastal waters within the Navy’s training range to find salmon during the fall and winter months. NMFS has failed in its duty to assure that the Navy is not pushing the whales closer to extinction.”
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Earthjustice is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.
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The InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council is comprised of ten federally recognized Northern California Indian Tribes with ancient and enduring subsistence and cultural ties to the Sinkyone Coast, an area that will be affected by the Navy’s expanded training activities.
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NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, NRDC has worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment.
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People for Puget Sound is a regional nonprofit with a 20-year history of using science and engaging citizens to safeguard and improve the health of Puget Sound and the Northwest Straits.
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Founded in 1979, Friends of the San Juans pursues its mission to protect the land, water, sea, and livability of the San Juan Islands through science, education, stewardship, and advocacy.
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Friends of the Earth fights to defend the environment and create a more healthy and just world. Our campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.
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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

USA - State of Arizona

2012-01-25 "Jaguars Are Threatened by Copper Mining" by Judy Molland
[http://www.care2.com/causes/protect-wildlife-stop-the-rosemont-copper-project-in-arizona-video.html]
Wonderful news! Late last year, the first jaguar confirmed in the U.S. in 3 years was spotted in southern Arizona.
And now for the bad news: the proposed Rosemont Copper Project in the Coronado Forest would destroy the habitat that these magnificent animals are seeking.

Open-Pit Copper Mine – A Disastrous Idea -
This open-pit copper mine would irrevocably impact the Santa Rita mountain range and important riparian wildlife habitats downstream. The mine would take over 4,500-acres in this iconic, biologically diverse sky island mountain range, and fill entire canyons on public lands with waste rock [http://www.gvnews.com/news/article_7a0a3c02-8d78-11e0-a5c6-001cc4c03286.html].
The mining itself would mostly be conducted on private land, but Forest Service and other public land would be used for ore processing and the dumping of mine tailings, the dry residue of the mining process.
Apart from the 4,500-acre mine, roads and heavy truck traffic would further disrupt important wildlife corridors and likely increase wildlife road kills. And this is at a time when there are already several copper mines in the area that are not operating at full capacity. Making things even worse, the company behind this, Augusta Resource Corporation, is Canadian.

Representatives Giffords and Grijalva Tried To Stop Rosemont -
Back in 2009 [http://blog.summithut.com/post/2009/06/11/Stop-the-Rosemont-Copper-Project.aspx], Arizona congressional representatives Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva turned up the heat on the Forest Service in an effort to stop this disastrous project south of Tucson. Apparently, that wasn’t enough, and the Forest Service has said it cannot stop this mine.
Defenders of Wildlife explains [https://secure.defenders.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2361]:
[begin extract]
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for this proposed project does not adequately analyze the potential impacts to sensitive wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity, air quality, climate change, or recreation-based economies. A supplemental analysis must be conducted that adequately analyzes and discloses these impacts in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
[end extract]
This disastrous project would scar the countryside, take away vital habitat for all animals, including jaguars, severely impact Arizona’s tourism, and cause dangerous traffic problems as huge trucks screech their way along narrow two-lane roads.
2012-01-25 "Action: Sumatran Elephant Upgraded To Critically Endangered" by Sharon Seltzer
[http://www.care2.com/causes/action-sumatran-elephant-upgraded-to-critically-endangered.html]
The latest Red List of threatened species has upgraded the risk of Indonesia’s Sumatran elephants from “endangered” to “critically endangered.” The elephants have lost half their population in the past 25 years.
The mounting Red List from the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated this week there are only 2,400 to 2,800 elephants living in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Conservationists say the species could be extinct in less than 30 years if immediate action is not taken [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9035183/Sumatran-elephant-faces-extinction-in-30-years.html].
The IUCN also changed the elephant’s status because it lost nearly 70 percent of its habitat in one generation. The World Wildlife Fund said that statistic is the “most rapid deforestation” of any of the Asian elephant subspecies.
While Indonesian law calls for the protection of the Sumatran elephants, it does little to safeguard the land where they live [http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Sumatran-Elephants-Join-Critically-Endangered-Species-List--137952808.html]. Two-thirds of their forests, especially in the Riau province, have been turned into oil palm plantations or industrialized by the pulp and paper industry.
The elephants live mainly in the wet, lowland areas, which appear to also be the best suitable areas for oil palm crops. The elephants have competed for their habitat with the oil palm industry, for the past two decades.
The World Wildlife Fund is calling on the Indonesian government to prohibit all forest development in the elephant habitats until there is a conservation strategy to save the species.
“We recommend that large habitat patches be assessed and designated protected areas. Smaller habitat areas should be linked by conservation corridors and areas of possible habitat expansion or restoration explored. An immediate moratorium on habitat conversion is needed to secure a future for Sumatran elephants,” WWF said in a statement.
The Sumatran elephant joins a growing list of Indonesian species that are critically endangered. These include the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan, the Sumatran rhino and the Sumatran tiger.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The only reason why Prime Minister Harper is meeting with the Council of First Nations is because Harper's masters, the oligarchy and their corporations, need to keep the the First Nations under their thumb for business reasons... they want to be free to continue raping the Earth for short term profit making, and most of Canada's petroleum deposits are affected by First Nation sovereignty.

2012-01-24 "After ‘aboriginal uprising’ warning, Stephen Harper says time has come to ‘reset the relationship’" by Teresa Smith and Bradley Bouzane from Postmedia News
[http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/24/stephen-harper-pledges-to-reset-the-relationship-after-aboriginal-uprising-warning/]
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a gathering of First Nations chiefs Tuesday that while the Indian Act will not be scrapped, it may be modernized to help build a healthier relationship between the government and Canada’s aboriginal community.
Harper told those at the summit in Ottawa — such as Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, chiefs from across the country, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and other dignitaries — that co-operation on numerous levels is necessary to fully bring Canada’s First Nations into the country’s economy.
He said the approach will be to “replace elements of the Indian Act with more modern legislation and procedures, in partnership with provinces and First Nations.”
“To be sure, our government has no grand scheme to repeal or to unilaterally re-write the Indian Act,” Harper told the Crown-First Nations Gathering.
“After 136 years, that tree has deep roots. Blowing up the stump would just leave a big hole. However, there are . . . collaborative ways between our government, the provinces and First Nations leadership and communities . . . that provide options within the act, or outside of it, for practical, incremental and real change.”
For his part, while lauding the importance of the one-day summit, Atleo compared the Indian Act to a boulder in the middle of the road that “blocks the path of collaboration.”
“Largely unchanged, it remains a painful obstacle to re-establishing any form of meaningful partnership,” he said.
Harper told the gathering that it is important to learn from the past and focus on the future, noting that the time is perfect to “reset the relationship” between government and the aboriginal community in Canada, moving forward with a vision to fully include their communities in the country’s economy.
“This is a new day,” Harper said in his speech. “New generations are arising, generations that seek a common vision, that have common goals. And the greatest respect that we can show to First Nations men and women [is] to provide them with the tools, to credit them with the capacity and then allow them to move forward.
“We all need to move forward. So let us be willing partners,” he said.
The Crown-First Nations Gathering was called by Harper in the midst of the Attawapiskat housing crisis in northern Ontario last December.
“Our goal is much increased aboriginal participation in the economy and in the country’s prosperity,” Harper said.
“In terms of participation, standard of living and quality of life the time has come for First Nations to fully share with other Canadians from all walks of life . . . in an equal opportunity to find the dignity of gainful employment and more than that, the ability to raise a family in the security that comes with it.”
Speaking after Harper, Atleo cited the situation in Attawapiskat and other crises in aboriginal communities, and said more proactive measures are necessary.
“Our people cannot wait,” Atleo told the gathering. “They insist that we stop lurching from crisis to crisis. They ask us to begin anew, to re-build understanding and trust as the way forward.”
He called the summit just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
“Next must come new fiscal relationships that guarantee and deliver sustainable, equitable services based on mutually agreed standards and shared responsibility,” Atleo said.
“We need to build new structures and processes that affirm our relationship and uphold our responsibilities to one another. Structures that guarantee our ability to make the decisions that affect our lives and our lands — agreements that allow us, and the Government of Canada to assume their responsibilities.”
Traditional drumming and singing opened the daylong ceremonies in Ottawa on Tuesday as First Nations chiefs from across the country gathered to meet with the prime minister.
The ceremony began with prayers and a smudging, in which a female elder lights sweet grass and takes it to each of the key players.
They then exchanged ceremonial gifts as another elder sang a traditional prayer song.
The prime minister is only expected to stay until midday Tuesday — shortly after the official start of the meeting, because he’s preparing to leave in the evening for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
That plan raised the ire of some chiefs.
On Monday night, Harper met behind closed doors with Atleo and several elders on Parliament Hill.
Cameron Alexis, grand chief of the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations, who attended the meeting, said that Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan listened to what the chiefs had to say, but stopped short of making any commitments.
Chiefs attending the summit say they’re looking for further action and signs of respect from the federal government.
On Monday, a B.C. native leader warned that Canada could face an Arab Spring-style “uprising” if Harper doesn’t give a clear indication in his meeting with aboriginal leaders that he’s prepared to take their concerns seriously.
“We must do better. The honour of the Crown and the very integrity of Canada as a nation is at stake,” Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said in a news release issued by the Assembly of First Nations’ B.C. wing.
“Otherwise, an aboriginal uprising is inevitable.”
In his speech, Harper chronicled the relationship between Canada and its aboriginal people, including dark chapters of the nation’s history, such as the residential school system.
“For generations, the relationship between our peoples was tainted,” he said, “tainted in a manner that eroded trust and blocked ways forward as does a tree fallen across a road.”
But he said his government has made numerous strides toward improving the relationship, such as the apology for residential schools, the processing of land claims and the extending the full protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act, to aboriginal Canadians living on reserves.
“There has never been a better moment to build on what we have achieved … to move forward, to reset the relationship,” Harper said Tuesday, echoing the term used recently by Atleo.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (C) looks on as Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo (L) takes part in a traditional smudging ceremony at the Crown-First Nations Gathering in Ottawa January 24, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie



2012-01-24 "Bolivian Indigenous Leaders Form New Caucus, Threaten MAS Majority" from "The Andean Information Network"
[http://ain-bolivia.org/2012/01/bolivian-indigenous-leaders-form-new-caucus-threaten-mas-majority/]
A block of indigenous representatives to the Bolivian Legislative Assembly announced that they are forming a new first nations’ caucus. The news unsettled Bolivian politics, as it means that MAS will lose its guaranteed 2/3 majority rule in the Legislative Assembly.
Congressman Bienvenido Zacu, a member of the newly formed caucus, explained that the new political block intends to oppose the road construction through the TIPNIS Indigenous Territory and National park, [i] a proposed project that was outlawed by President Morales’ Ley Corta in October 2011 after sustained protest. When the Consejo Indigena del Sur (Conisur) started a march demanding a reversal of the law, some lawmakers reopened legislative debate on TIPNIS. Representatives of the lowland regions who had supported the Ley Corta banded together to protect it. Pedro Nuni, caucus president, says that the move was “essential to the decolonization process” and asked that MAS “respect their right to their own vision.” [ii]

Caucus attempts to block renewed efforts to build TIPNIS highway -
Julio Cortez of the opposition party Convergencia Nacional (CN) joined Zacu and Nuni, both elected as MAS representative.  Five alternates also joined the caucus: four from MAS, as well as one from the opposition party.[iii] They did not resign their party affiliations, but agreed to vote as a group to promote indigenous issues. In 2010 three congress members from the MSM party also broke away from the MAS coalition. The formation of the new caucus means that, on the issue of the road through TIPNIS at least, the MAS party will have 109 votes, rather than the 114 votes they have counted on in the past.[iv] Though MAS will maintain a 2/3 majority in the Senate, the party loses its lower house majority, effectively losing its majority power in the full Assembly. Bolivian law requires a 2/3 majority in order to approve or modify laws and to approve trials for high-ranking state officials. In the Lower House of Congress, a 2/3 majority is necessary to approve or censor government ministers’ reports.

MAS majority reacts negatively; long-term impact uncertain -
Some mainstream MAS representatives reacted negatively. Though some try to minimize the impact of the caucus, others question the legality and ethics of the representatives’ “desertion” from MAS. Senator Isaac Avalos even blamed USAID for the decision of the indigenous block to distance itself from the governing party,[v] a hypothesis that should gain little support in the current crisis.  However, based on the ongoing tensions between MAS leaders and lowland indigenous leaders over the construction of the road to TIPNIS, the formation of this indigenous caucus is neither surprising, nor unwarranted. The members of the new caucus have not left MAS entirely; they’ve formed a block within the party around the TIPNIS issue. Only time will tell whether their caucus will split with MAS on other issues.

[i] La Razon, “Indigenas crean bancada y anulan los 2/3 del Mas en la Asamblea,” 19 January, 2012. [http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Indigenas-crean-bancada-anulan-Asamblea_0_1544245609.html]
[ii] Erbol, “Nace la bancada indigena y nombran a Pedro  Nuni como su primer presidente,” 19 January 2012. [http://www.erbol.com.bo/noticia.php?identificador=2147483954390] Nuni: “Si estamos transitando por una verdadera descolonización, que se respete la soberanía de los pueblos indígenas, que se respete el derecho a tener su propia visión. No podemos nosotros seguir perteneciendo de manera obligatoria a un partido político”
[iii] La Razon, “Delgado dice que indígenas deben actuar junto al MAS,” 20 January, 2012. [http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Delgado-indigenas-deben-actuar-junto_0_1544845545.html]
[iv] “Indigenas crean bancada y anulan los 2/3 del Mas en la Asamblea,” [http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Indigenas-crean-bancada-anulan-Asamblea_0_1544245609.html]
[v] “Delgado dice que indígenas deben actuar junto al MAS,” [http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Delgado-indigenas-deben-actuar-junto_0_1544845545.html]

Jamahiriya - Liberated City of Bani Walid

2012-01-24 "BANI WALID LIBERATED, TRIPOLI AND BENGHAZI NEXT"
[http://libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com/2012/01/25/bani-walid-liberated-tripoli-and-benghazi-next/]
Libyan Resistance fighters and armed Jamahariya supporters attacked NATO Mercenaries in Tripoli and Benghazi after the liberation of Bani Walid, the original Libyan Green flag has been raised over Bani Walid, giving moral boost to other Libyan towns trying to end the NATO driven oppression.
Street battles between NATO Mercenaries and Resistance fighters continue in Tripoli neighborhoods, shops have been closed, and people are staying in doors knowing that the liberation has begun. NATO Mercenaries announced that they will show no Mercy to Resistance fighters and have installed more checkpoints in Benghazi and Tripoli.
Heavy clashes between Resistance fighters and NATO Mercenaries have also been reported in Benghazi, this comes after months of protests, and recent attack on puppet regime‘s headquarters. Abdul Jalil was forced to flee from puppet regime’s headquarters when a mob entered the compound, even destroying his transport. The puppet vice president also resigned after being attacked in Benghazi University by angry students, and carried out by his body guards like a baby (caught on video).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Yakama [USA - State of Washington]

2012-01-23 "Yakama dancers will perform in Chile" by Phil Ferolito from "Yakima Herald-Republic" newspaper
[http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2012/01/23/slice-of-yakima-yakama-dancers-will-perform-in-chile]
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakama powwow dancers will head to northern Chile this week for a cultural exchange at the area's large carnaval.
"We are the first Native American tribe to be invited and featured at this large event," said Stephanie G. Wendt, Yakama Nation tourism coordinator.
Dancers from the Colville, Paiute and Navajo tribes as well as from Canada -- 21 in all -- will travel with the Yakamas to Arica, Chile, for the carnaval, which runs Friday through Sunday.
Chilean delegates in Seattle invited Yakama dancers last July after visiting several local powwows, including one commemorating the tribe's 1855 treaty and another at Legends Casino, said Wendt.
Dance troupes, food and other aspects of South American culture will be featured at the carnaval, which focuses on an indigenous harvest festival. Photos and video of the carnaval will be posted on the Yakama Nation's website at www.yakamanation-nsn.gov when dancers return Monday, Wendt said.
More tribes will be invited to the event as part of a future project, she said.
The Andean carnaval, called "Con la fuerza del sol" ("the power of the sun"), is in its 10th year and draws around 5,000 participants, including more than 50 dance groups from Chile, Peru and Bolivia. Most of the dances come from rural communities in the plateau region of northern Chile and Bolivia.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jamahiriya - Bani Walid


2012-01-21 photograph showing Jamahiriya in Bani Walid

 2012-01-21 photograph showing Jamahiriya in Bani Walid


2012-01-23 "Four Killed as Old Regime’s Flag Is Raised in Town" by Jason Ditz
[http://news.antiwar.com/2012/01/23/gadhafi-loyalists-retake-town-of-bani-walid/]
Major fighting has broken out in the Libyan town of Bani Walid this weekend, and reports indicate at least in the near term, that it has fallen to fighters loyal to the former government of Moammar Gadhafi [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/23/gaddafi-loyalists-bani-walid].
The same reports say at least four people have been killed in the fighting, and dozens wounded. The green flag of the former regime is now flying over the town, one of the last few that fell to the NTC during the NATO-backed civil war [http://news.antiwar.com/2011/10/17/ntc-forces-capture-bani-walid/].
It is unclear from the reports whether the fighters were simply supporters of the former regime, or if they were remnants of the old Libyan military. NTC forces in the town said they had been warning about the prospect of a fight for months.
When the fighting finally broke out, NTC forces in the town petitioned for reinforcements, but none came. They finally withdrew when they ran low on ammunition. Libyan Defense Minister Osama Jweli says he will not order a new attack on the town until it is determined that the forces are indeed Gadhafi remnants and not merely some rival militia. Militia from Misrata on the northern coast, known to be a particularly aggressive faction [http://news.antiwar.com/2011/12/07/protesters-condemn-rebel-troops-in-tripoli-rally/], were sent to the area to blockade the town in the meantime.


2012-01-24 "BANI WALID LIBERATED, TRIPOLI AND BENGHAZI NEXT"
[http://libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com/2012/01/25/bani-walid-liberated-tripoli-and-benghazi-next/]
Libyan Resistance fighters and armed Jamahariya supporters attacked NATO Mercenaries in Tripoli and Benghazi after the liberation of Bani Walid, the original Libyan Green flag has been raised over Bani Walid, giving moral boost to other Libyan towns trying to end the NATO driven oppression.
Street battles between NATO Mercenaries and Resistance fighters continue in Tripoli neighborhoods, shops have been closed, and people are staying in doors knowing that the liberation has begun. NATO Mercenaries announced that they will show no Mercy to Resistance fighters and have installed more checkpoints in Benghazi and Tripoli.
Heavy clashes between Resistance fighters and NATO Mercenaries have also been reported in Benghazi, this comes after months of protests, and recent attack on puppet regime‘s headquarters. Abdul Jalil was forced to flee from puppet regime’s headquarters when a mob entered the compound, even destroying his transport. The puppet vice president also resigned after being attacked in Benghazi University by angry students, and carried out by his body guards like a baby (caught on video).


"Gaddafi Dead But Still Haunting Rebels In Bani Walid"
[http://wfol.tv/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=354:gaddafi-dead-but-still-haunting-rebels-in-bani-walid]
On Monday local officials had said the brigade of 28-May (the Warfallah joined the CNT), the largest in Bani Walid, was surrounded by followers of Gaddafi.
A local official, al-Fotmani M'Barek, "said the AFP (a local official, who escaped from the base a few hours after the start of the attack). ... As the leader of the faithful Muammar Gaddafi of Libya deceased, armed with machine guns and RPG had "taken control of the city," located 170 km southwest of Tripoli.
They attacked in broad daylight the basis of "the brigade of 28-May, the largest in Bani Walid," circling the waving green flags, he said, by reports of five dead, including the commander of brigade, and about thirty wounded.
"The attackers shouting 'Allah, Muammar, Libya and that's it'! The day before, they had distributed leaflets saying, 'We will be back soon, we will set out the rats,' "said al-Fotmani. .... "I call on Libya to save thowars urgently thowars of Bani Walid. Ammunition were soon completed, "he said.
According to him, the wounded could not be evacuated because the ambulances were not able to approach them, "snipers are positioned on the school and the mosque" in the vicinity.
Asked about the situation, a trader said: "That's it, we have rats outside", echoing the terminology used by Muammar Gaddafi to describe the rebels.
The former rebels who were surrounded in the night before a military base in Bani Walid were able to leave the city after leaders of the tribe of Werfelli them a safe passage.
A column of smoke rose above the Bani Walid it is not possible to determine its origin.
It is therefore 200 dignitaries of Bani Walid who gathered Tuesday at a mosque and decided to ban the military council appointed by the CNT and replace it with a local institution.
"If (the president of the CNT Moustapha) Abdeljalil tries to impose by force, we will not accept under any circumstances," said Ali Zargouni, one of the elders gathered in the mosque.
Tightening security at Benghazi and Tripoli .. DEAD AND EVENTS
A spokesman of the military council of Misrata, east of Tripoli, said the brigade had prepared in case the government would ask them to intervene in Bani Walid.
"We had conflicting information. Since yesterday, we have protected access south of Misrata if, "said Fathi Bach Agha.
In Tripoli and Benghazi (east), security has also been strengthened in the night from Monday to Tuesday, dams have been built in several neighborhoods in both cities.
Tuesday, former rebel fighters demonstrated in Tripoli against the CNT.
"Gaddafi is dead but the system remained the same, and the CNT is doing everything to marginalize thowars. 90% of those who work with Abdeljalil only serve their own interests ", accused Rajbani Omar, one of the demonstrators.
*** After the failure of Warfallah (in the 90) of attempting to overthrow Gaddafi, a pact of fidelity and non-aggression was signed with the plan .. and all who have joined the CNT, are therefore regarded as traitors (listen to France Info report) ...


2012-03-24 "Libyan Resistance, War News"
[http://libyanfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/libyan-resistance-war-news-24-mar-2012]
NATO bombing of the city of Bani Walid by phosphorous bombs – NATO crimes in Libya (we do not know the exact date of this video)



2012-03-19 "Water Pipeline in Bani Walid sabotaged from NATO-mercenaries"
[http://libyanfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/water-pipeline-in-bani-walid-sabotaged-from-nato-mercenaries-1932012/]

---
From [https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=354829391221750]:
19 March 2012 – Today is the anniversary of the beginning of criminal air bombing from NATO’s terrorists in Libya. To commemorate this memory the rats decided to sabotage the GMR in Bani Walid so the Green City will suffer by thirsty.
The Nato-mercenaries sabotaged the pipeline of water supply of the artificial river in Bani Walid.
A Nato-mercenary group, which is part of the rat battalion 28 of May, under the direction of “Ambarek Salah Bin Laden” and “Mohamed Bachir Toti”, conducted a sabotage operation against the pipeline of water supply from the artificial river Ouedi Dinars.
This sabotage was synchronized with the visit of the delegation of the United Nations in Bani Walid. This criminal act was planned to tarnish the image of Bani Walid to the international public opinion, while this city is considered one of the most secure, compared to other Libyan cities.
According to news, from the explosion of a massive pipe Great Man Made River in the town of Beni Walid, in terms of area and water Allmat Artfh now in the sky to about 200 meters…
Interruption of supply to the capital Tripoli from the waters of the river because of the bombing of the river Tobo.
---
From [http://libyasos.blogspot.it/p/news.html]:
19h/ BANI WALID – Statement of Warfalla tribe about the explosion of the Man-Made River pipeline:
 “It was not a technical fault, it was a sabotage, they are trying to displace the whole city, not caring about the children, or the ones which they already orphaned!”.
---


Brega (Libya), 22-07-2011: NATO bombed Great Man Made River factory



2012-03-24 "Libyan Resistance, War News"
[http://libyanfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/libyan-resistance-war-news-24-mar-2012]
Despite Nato-mercenaries criminals, Jamahiriya will resist. Despite all the circumstances we did not forget our children – Child Gala in Bani Walid, 21 Mar 2012



2012-03-24 "Libyan Resistance, War News"
[http://libyanfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/libyan-resistance-war-news-24-mar-2012]
After the sabotage of the water pipeline of Bani Walid, the Green army have sent 52 trucks from Tunisia in Bani Walid, to deliver clean drinking water in large and small bottles. Trucks  with fresh and dry products will follow later.

Kashia band of Pomo (USA - California)

 2012-01-21 "200 years of history brings Russians, Indians to Fort Ross" by MARTIN ESPINOZA from "THE PRESS DEMOCRAT"
[http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120121/ARTICLES/120129888?tc=ar]
 Russians and Kashia Indians gathered at Fort Ross State Historic Park on Saturday for an “opening blessing” of the 200-year anniversary of the historic Russian settlement.
 The ceremony, which brought together elders of the Kashia band of Pomo Indians and the Russian consul general of San Francisco, sought to evoke the first encounter between the tribe and Russian and native Alaskan settlers.
“I hope this is the...renewal of a relationship that was established 200 years ago,” said Vladamir Vinokurov, the consul general, after he was given an elaborate handmade Native American necklace.
The ceremony kicked off a series of events this year aimed at commemorating the history of Fort Ross. Events include planned San Francisco and Santa Rosa performances of a 30-year-old Russian rock opera about a love affair between a Russian nobleman and the daughter of the Spanish commandante in San Francisco in the early 1800s.
Kashia tribal members pointed out that during the time the Russians lived among them, their treatment of the Indians contrasted sharply with the way Native Americans were treated by Spanish colonists elsewhere in California.
Reno Franklin, vice chairman of the Kashia Pomo tribe, said the Russian fort was often a safe haven for Indians abused by others colonizers.
Park supporters said they hope this year's bicentennial events help spur public-private funding for the park, which now is only open on weekends.
“We're going to have to look at new creative models for funding our open space and parks,” Sonoma County Supervisor Efre Carrillo said.
The event also drew State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and California Parks Director Ruth Coleman.

 Mark Dillen, a member of the Fort Ross Interpretive Association advisory board, said “it's crucial we use this year as a launchpad for the future.”
In the absence of state money, significant funding for the Fort Ross bicentennial celebration, as well as park infrastructure, is coming from the Renova Group of Companies, a Russian multinational with interests in mining, oil, energy, telecommunications and nanotechnology.
Two hundred years ago, the Russian American Company that came to area and erected Fort Ross, and Renova is helping to preserve that history.
It already has donated $1.2 million for park programs, including a $160,000 donation to replace the roof on a historic Russian structure. The foundation also has contributed $120,000 to refurbish the visitor center, which houses Kashia artifacts and history.
“This is one of the unprecedented examples of cultures coming together, working together,” said Olga Miller, chief executive director of the Renova's U.S. representative officer and head of the Renova Fort Ross Foundation.
Almost three years ago, the Russian government wrote to then California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to consider the historic value of Fort Ross.
The park is now essentially closed half the calendar year, said Sarah Sweedler, executive director of the Fort Ross Interpretive Association.
The money that Renova and other corporate sponsors, including Chevron, donate is helping to preserve the park, said Sweedler. But she said the foundation is not looking at such funding as a permanent revenue source.
"I realize this is our 15 minutes of fame," she said. "My job is to keep this park open and thriving long into the future."


 Violet Parrish-Chappell, 80, of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians talks with Russian Consul General Vladimir Vinokurov at Fort Ross State Historic Park on Saturday after a blessing kicking off the Bicentennial of Fort Ross. In background, right, is state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.
KENT PORTER/The Press Democrat

 
 Kent Porter / PD
Russian Consul General Vladimir Vinokurov at Fort Ross State Historic Park, Saturday Jan. 21, 2012 attends the Bicentennial of Fort Ross. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

 


2012-01-29 "Russia renews historic ties to Pomos of Fort Ross" by Carl Nolte from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
[http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/29/MN811MVKJ1.DTL]
A highly unusual ceremony took place last weekend at Fort Ross, the endangered California state park on the Sonoma coast, 90 miles north of San Francisco. Indians from the Kashaya band of the Pomo tribe bestowed a formal blessing on what was once a Russian colony.
 It was a rainy day, but the sun came out just as a Kashaya elder placed a ceremonial necklace made of abalone shells and other natural material around the neck of Vladimir Vinokurov, the Russian consul general in San Francisco.
 "It was a very touching moment," Vinokurov said at a reception at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday night. "Russia is re-establishing its relationship with the Kashaya people after 200 years."
Caught in crunch
 This year is the bicentennial of Fort Ross, but like all state parks, it is caught in California's budget crunch. It is open only on weekends, and if things don't improve in Sacramento, the park may close.
But the Renova Group, one of the biggest private companies in Russia, stepped up to help. Renova spent $1 million on deferred maintenance at Fort Ross last year and is expected to spend another million this year. However, the state still pays the operating cost, and the prospects for the park are grim, said Sarah Sweedler, executive director of the nonprofit Fort Ross Conservancy.
 All this would have been hard to believe back in the Cold War days, when the Bay Area was ringed with Nike missile sites to shoot down Russian bombers.

Different times -
Things are different now. Two years ago, the missile cruiser Varyag, flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet, paid a visit to San Francisco, followed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who stopped by Twitter's headquarters, where he sent a San Francisco tweet.
 Russia has been interested in San Francisco for a long time. Vinokurov said it goes back to 1806, when Count Nicolai Rezanov had a romance with Concepcion Arguello, the daughter of the comandante of the Spanish Presidio of San Francisco.
 Rezanov sailed away, promising to return, but died in Siberia months later. Concepcion waited for him for years, spurning all others. "A beautiful love story," Vinokurov said.
 The Russians were interested in a base for their sea otter hunting operations and also needed California sunshine to grow vegetables and fruit for their colony in Alaska.
 In the spring of 1812 - 200 years ago this year - Alexandrovich Kuskov founded Fortress Ross on a bluff a few miles north of Port Rumiantsev, now called Bodega Bay.
 The Russians built a wooden wall, a fort and gardens. They planted grapes. They built California's first oceangoing ship at Fort Ross and the first windmill. They also hunted the sea otters almost to extinction, near the Farallones and even inside San Francisco Bay.

1816 visit -
A Russian scientific expedition visited the bay in 1816, and naturalists discovered and identified the California poppy. Artists drew pictures of Bay Area wildlife, including grizzly bears and sea lions. They sketched the native people dancing in front of Mission Dolores. But they also noted how the mission Indians died "in an alarming and increasing proportion."
 The Russians had no such trouble at Fort Ross. They employed the Kashaya people, taught some of them Russian and married others.
"But they did not force us to convert," said Emilio Valencia, who has just been elected chairman of the Kashaya and attended Thursday's reception at the consulate in San Francisco. "The children did not have to live in a boarding school, and we were not forced to stop speaking our language."
 The Russians left Ross in 1841, but the Kashaya are still there. And in their tradition, they have good memories of the Russian interlude on the Sonoma coast.
 "It's part of our history," said Vinokurov, "a good part of our history."


2012-01-21 "Indigenous Woman Attorney is Bolivia’s First President of its New Magistrates Council" by Rick Kearns
[http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/01/21/indigenous-woman-attorney-is-bolivia’s-first-president-of-its-new-magistrates-council-73588]
Bolivia’s new president of the Magistrates’ Council, the judicial body that provides administrative and disciplinary supervision of the judges and magistrates in the country, is indigenous attorney Cristina Mamani, the first person to hold this high office.
Mamani, 46, won the elected position on January 4 after receiving more than 461,000 votes in the October polls. She was one of five candidates and received more than 26 percent of all votes cast.
The members of the Magistrates’ Council are elected to the positions by the general population from a slate of candidates that are selected and proposed by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.
“I will serve the most humble people,” Mamani stated in a press conference in October. “I studied law because many people, especially the country people, suffer abuses and need to be defended.”
“We ask the population at large to let us know the facts of which judges are bad in the administration of justice, which ones are corrupt or cause justice to be delayed,” Mamani stated in a press conference the day before the final tallies were announced.
“You are the people that know this,” asserted the new president who is bilingual in Spanish and Aymara, and is also the first indigenous person in Bolivia’s history to hold such a high judicial post.
Mamani studied law at the University of San Andres and while she did work as a general practice attorney she was an official in charge of judicial procedures for the judiciary in La Paz as well.
The Magistrate’s Council replaces the Judiciary Council as part of the new Plurinational Judicial Organization, one of the changes created by the country’s Constituent Assembly that included focus on bringing more indigenous and rural people into government. This new council began operating in the second week of January in Sucre, the new capital of the country.
The Council is the governmental entity in charge of discipline, fiscal oversight and general administration of Bolivia’s judicial system. It will control the use of economic resources, as well as select candidates for various departmental posts and designate certain judges. The Magistrates Council is part of the Judicial Branch of the government along with entities such as the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the Agro-environmental Tribunal.
“The changes will be gradual,” Mamani stated in regards to the new council. “They won’t happen overnight, we don’t have a magic wand.”

La Razón newspaper
Cristina Mamani, President, Bolivia's Magistrates' Council


Friday, January 20, 2012

Huaorani [Republic of Ecuador]



Map showing the jurisdiction of the Huaorani Ethnic Reserve within the Republic of Ecuador:


Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012-01-12 "Urban population boom threatens Lake Titicaca; Locals, environmentalists and politicians say the waters are becoming increasingly contaminated by waste from cities" by Sara Shahriari
[http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/12/urban-population-boom-lake-titicaca]
 
South America's most famous lake is being polluted by increasing levels of waste from fast-growing cities, according to locals, environmentalists and politicians.
Lake Titicaca, which sits on the border of Bolivia and Peru, has sustained agricultural societies on the dry, high-altitude Andean plains for thousands of years, but is now threatened by a population boom from nearby cities and towns.
El Alto has grown at 4% a year for two decades as rural peasants seek a better life, and is now the country's second largest city and the largest urban centre in the Titicaca watershed.
But this migration has had devastating effects on the rivers of El Alto, communities downstream and Lake Titicaca. Raw sewage, garbage and industrial waste are all dumped into the Seco River, which flows through the heart of El Alto. At the edge of the city, where the Seco begins a 40-mile journey toward Lake Titicaca, it also receives treated wastewater from the city's severely overtaxed treatment plant. Those waters mix and travel out over the flat plains.
Because of its size and history, El Alto is a political powerhouse, yet the chronic poverty and lack of access to services widely faced by Bolivia's indigenous peoples persist there, and tackling pollution is a struggle. Changing the waste disposal habits of the sparsely populated countryside is one obstacle. But at the heart of the matter is weak enforcement of environmental laws and inadequate infrastructure.
"There is no complete and structured treatment of wastewater," said Marco Ribera Arismendi of the Environmental Defense League in La Paz. "The things governments have done so far are like giving an aspirin to someone who has been shot."
Edgar Patana Ticona, El Alto's mayor, says trying to enforce environmental standards in the city is a tough task. "If we monitor a specific business then the people who work there, the owner and all the neighbours begin to protest," he said. "And not so that we enforce the rules - but so the business can continue operating."
El Alto's budget depends on Bolivia's central government, and collects little from local taxes. A constantly expanding network brings drinking water to about 80% of the city's homes, and international funds are helping install more sewers – but the construction of a new plant to treat more wastewater is, at best, years away.
The Pallina River is one of several in the string that connects El Alto to Lake Titicaca. Aymara Indian Rigoberto Rios Miranda has lived on its banks for more than 60 years. "When I was a child the Pallina River was clean, the water was crystalline. About 15 or 20 years back they contaminated it. There were fish here – then one day waters came – I don't know from where, but all the fish were dead," he said.
Rios Miranda, like many farmers, is digging wells on his property after deciding livestock should no longer drink from the river. "Calves are born with birth defects, the cows don't gain weight. Pollution affects everything," he said. The cause of birth defects is hard to verify because there are so few studies on them, but according to a United Nations report released earlier this year, heavy metal contamination originating in the industries of El Alto has "alarming concentrations" of cadmium, arsenic and lead.
Rivers making their way toward the lake pass towns with similar but smaller-scale problems, while cows grazing in pastures along the shore dump large amounts of manure into the lake. Urban growth and mining on the Peruvian side of the lake are also a threat.
The majority of the sapphire blue 3,200 square-mile lake is still clean, but the signs of pollution are clear in the shallow area where waters that flowed through El Alto enter the lake. Tonnes of duckweed, a plant that grows in a thick mat in water that is high in faeces and other nutrients, have been removed from the lake's surface, where it has sucked up oxygen and choked off plant and animal life.
The shore water is a breeding ground for several species of fish, like karachi, on which locals depend for their livelihood. Donato Corani is from Suriqui, an island situated a few miles from where the Katari River enters the lake. "Pollution has changed the fish in many ways," he says. According to Corani, young fish that formerly grew to maturity in warm shore waters have migrated deeper into the lake, resulting in diminished population and size. Corani says pollution, combined with serious over-fishing, has pushed many former fishermen to migrate to cities.

Aymara women cross a bridge of rocks on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The lake's water is increasingly contaminated by rivers that pass through the industrial city of El Alto. Photograph: Noah Friedman-Rudovsky

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012-01-11 "Human Zoos Still in Existence, Jarawa Women Filmed Dancing For Food" from "Indian Country Today"
[http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/01/11/human-zoos-still-in-existence-jarawa-women-filmed-dancing-for-food-71754]
A video that was recently released has raised issues from around the world as it shows an indigenous woman from India’s Andaman Islands dancing for tourists in exchange for food.
Human zoos as they are known have been around since the late 1800s where a group of indigenous Aymara Bolivian men were put on display at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Columbian Exposition.
In August of last year Survival International released information about the Jarawa, an indigenous community living on the islands that have been exploited by tourists awestruck by the thought of seeing indigenous people. As Indian Country Today Media Network reported in August [http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/08/31/today’s-human-safari-71748], the Indian government has banned tours to observe the Jarawa, but a road through their land is still used by tour operators.
Now with the release of this video, politicians and human rights campaigners have been enraged at the scene.
India’s Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo promised to take action over the incident terming it “disgusting” on Wednesday, according to an article at yahoo news [http://news.yahoo.com/outrage-over-human-zoo-indian-islands-114059047.html].
The video, posted by The Guardian can be seen here [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/jan/07/andaman-islanders-human-safari-video].

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012-01-09 "Revolution against “progress”: the TIPNIS struggle and class contradictions in Bolivia" by Jeffery R Webber from "International Socialism" magazine Issue: 133
[http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=780&issue=133]
Marx says that revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps it is quite otherwise. Perhaps revolutions are an attempt by the passengers on this train—namely, the human race—to activate the emergency brake.1

In the two and a half months that passed between mid-August and late October of this year, the Bolivian government of Evo Morales entered into its worst crisis to date.2 From a high of 70 percent popularity in January 2010, Morales had plunged by mid-October 2011 to an average 35 percent approval rating across the major cities of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.3 The president’s green light to a decades-old project to build a highway connecting Villa Tunari (in the department of Cochabamba) north to San Ignacio de Moxos (in the department of Beni), through the indigenous territory and national park known as TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena del Parque Nacional Isiboro-Sécure), was the catalyst of crisis in this instance.

Beginning on 15 August, lowland indigenous movements—in alliance with fractions of the highland indigenous movement, and later with the support of the urban labour movement—launched a 600-kilometre, 65-day march of protest from Beni to La Paz to prevent the construction of the highway. The march, after having been denounced by state managers as an imperialist conspiracy, and violently repressed en route by police forces on 25 September, eventually forced the Morales government to capitulate to its demands, at least temporarily. There would be no road through TIPNIS.

The bureaucratic leader of the principal highland indigenous peasant confederation (CSUTCB), Roberto Coraite, a prototypical steward of the ruling party’s interests embedded in a popular organisation, embarrassed the government by calling the lowland indigenous protesters “savages”.4 But the political fallout would run deeper still. The minister of defence, Cecilia Chacón, resigned in disgust at the police repression of unarmed protesters on 25 September. The highest echelons of the regime, Evo Morales and vice-president Álvaro García Linera, sought to distance themselves from the police raid once it proved unpopular, allowing chief of staff and minister of the interior Sacha Llorenti to take the hit for the team.

Encapsulating the tenor of the times, the so-called Pact of Unity, an eclectic coalition of various urban and rural social movements and trade unions that had lent support to the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement Towards Socialism, MAS) at different junctures since 2006, has imploded.5 It was reduced from 11 pillar organisations to merely three at its last national assembly this November, as a consequence of key lowland indigenous groups and urban labour confederations leaving en masse after having been denounced as traitors by government officials.6 The TIPNIS conflict is the most recent, and in some ways most intense, expression of the class contradictions—or “creative tensions”, as government functionaries prefer7—underlying the development model introduced by the Morales government after its assumption of power in January 2006. How did we get here?
Revolutionary moments and bureaucratic stagnation

Evo Morales was elected as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in December 2005 on the heels of a revolutionary epoch. Left-indigenous insurrection shook the city streets and countryside over the first five years of this century. Two neoliberal presidents were overthrown through mass extra-parliamentary
 mobilisation in under two years—Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003, and Carlos Mesa in 2005. A counter-power from below emerged in opposition to the capitalist state, in which the popular classes “practised that democracy that we have always wanted: direct, participatory, without intermediaries, in assemblies and councils, in the plazas, the streets, the unions, the communities, the families and the territories, deliberating, deciding and executing what we had decided”.8 The cycle of left-indigenous revolt was a combined liberation struggle for emancipation from the endemic and systematised racial oppression of the indigenous majority as well as their intricately intertwined class exploitation and subordination to imperialism through the racialised form that capitalism assumed in the Bolivian context.9

US imperialism had been militarily overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time. It had also been financially weakened through the debilitation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on the entirety of the world stage, but particularly in Latin America, where there emerged alternative lines of credit through oil-rich Venezuela, under the presidency of Hugo Chávez. Neoliberalism had been devastated ideologically in South America in the wake of the steep recession of 1998-2002. Heads of state had been overthrown through revolts in Ecuador and Argentina. Centre-left governments in neighbouring states were asserting relative autonomy from the US, even as they encountered frequent challenges domestically through class struggle from below and to their left. The monotonous routine of neoliberal impositions over the preceding two decades was now in question. Discussion of anti-capitalism on the road blockades, in communal assemblies, in poor neighbourhoods and in union halls was now imbued with an intensity that accompanies the sense of real possibility.

The Bolivian right had retreated to its parochial geographical heartland, namely the eastern departments of Santa Cruz and Tarija, and could offer no alternative political platform to the entirely discredited neoliberal orthodoxy first introduced in 1985. Moreover, they had lost their links in the military. The social bases for the reproduction of their doctrine of free markets had eroded beneath their feet, tested as that ethos had been against the fire of Bolivian reality. The figurative rising tide that would lift all boats failed to materialise. Instead, orthodox economics meant poverty, inequality, unemployment and dispossession.

What is more, had there been a genuine possibility of a military coup in the face of left-indigenous encroachments on the reigning power structures,
 this would have occurred during the crisis of June 2005, when Mesa was clearly on his way out and key figures of the far-right in Congress wanted to assume power directly and avoid elections at any cost. The right were unable to garner sufficient support within the military to carry out their plans.

As Álvaro García Linera—current vice-president of Bolivia and erstwhile revolutionary Marxist—has explained, the 2000-5 period represented a genuine revolutionary epoch in Bolivia.10 Daniel Bensaïd summed up in a singular phrase the theorisation of such a historical moment in the works of Lenin and Trotsky: “It is defined by an interaction between several variable elements in a situation: when those above can no longer govern as they did before; when those below will not tolerate being oppressed as they were before; and when this double impossibility is expressed by a sudden effervescence of the masses”.11

Despite its impressive capacity to mobilise and its far-reaching anti-capitalist and indigenous-liberationist objectives, however, the left-indigenous bloc lacked a revolutionary party that might have provided the leadership, strategy and ideological coherence necessary to overthrow the existing capitalist state and rebuild a new sovereign power rooted in the self-governance of the overwhelmingly indigenous proletarian and peasant majority. As a consequence, the fallout of the extraordinary mobilisations and profound crisis of the state witnessed in 2000-5 was not a revolutionary transformation but a shift in popular politics from the streets and countryside to the electoral arena as elections were moved up to 18 December 2005.
Electoral sclerosis and missed opportunities

“When Morales entered office,” Forrest Hylton, one of the pre-eminent historians of modern Bolivia, has suggested, “the lowland right in Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija was weak, divided and disorganised. Had Morales pressed his political weight to full advantage by mobilising the movements that brought him to power, he might have had the field to himself, much as Chávez has [in Venezuela].”

The approach actually adopted by the Morales government, however, was to limit any substantive confrontation with the economic power of the eastern lowland bourgeoisie, thus providing the oxygen for the right’s slow political rearticulation, and eventually its capacity to destabilise the Morales regime through extra-parliamentary street violence and racist thuggery. Over time the right obstructed the functioning of the Constituent Assembly
 (2006-8), orchestrated a massacre of indigenous peasants (September 2008), and launched an unsuccessful coup attempt (October 2008). It is notable, however, that none of this destabilisation occurred on any significant scale until two years into the Morales administration. As Hylton points out:
[begin excerpt]
between the time the Assembly was designed and concluded, the government showed its reluctance to rely on direct action from below and its willingness to make backroom concessions, to the right. As the massacre in Pando—the circumstances of which remain murky—demonstrated, in September 2008, such caution did not restrain the racist violence of the right, or prevent bloodshed, although the rightwing rampage may well have hastened the failed coup plot of October 2008, and the popular ratification of the new Constitution in January 2009.
[end excerpt]
Indeed, for Hylton, the Morales regime ultimately “gave the right an opening through which it reconstituted itself as the arbiter of the limits of social change”.12 Even as the Morales administration gifted the extreme right with an enviable opportunity for ascent, the latter managed to self-destruct soon after its rebirth. The massacre of peasants loyal to the government—carried out by right wing paramilitaries in the department of Pando in September 2008—morally repulsed most of Bolivian society, and the extreme articulations of the autonomist right wing of the lowland departments—Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz and Tarija—suffered massively as a result.

But the weakened right nonetheless managed to sap the energies of the social left in 2008 and 2009. Despite numerous sectoral disputes with the government across many different economic sectors, the popular classes in 2008 and 2009 had been consumed by the battle against the proto-fascist forces of the right, and thus no independent political organisation to the left of Morales had even begun to take shape. It was precisely in this vacuum that Morales faced re-election.

On 6 December 2009 Evo Morales won a decisive mandate for a second term in office with an astonishing 64 percent of the popular vote. The turnout was close to 90 percent.13 This latest electoral victory marked the peak of a wave of successes in the polls, including 67 percent support for his administration in the recall referendum of 2008 and 61 percent approval of the new constitution in a popular referendum held on 25 January 2009.14

The December 2009 elections represented the most profound level of institutional consolidation in the apparatuses of the state for any political force in recent Bolivian memory. Morales is the first president in Bolivia to be re-elected in successive terms, and the first to win with a larger percentage of votes when elected for a second term.15 For the first time since the 1952 National Revolution a party won a massive majority and control of both houses of the legislature, providing the MAS with the power, among other things, to reconfigure the reactionary judiciary. The MAS controls 25 of 36 Senate seats, and 82 of 130 seats in the House of Deputies.16

Morales also made important gains in the departments of the media luna, the heartland of the country’s autonomist right wing in eastern Bolivia. In Tarija, Morales actually won a majority of votes, and in Beni, Pando and Santa Cruz he increased his support substantially. Most importantly in this regard, he won 41 percent of the popular vote in the department of Santa Cruz, the principal axis of the eastern bourgeois bloc.17 In the departmental elections for governors, mayors and departmental assemblies held on 4 April 2010, moreover, the tide continued to turn in favour of the MAS. Of the nine governorships, the MAS won six (Chuquisaca, La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosí and Pando) and lost three to right wing oppositions (Tarija, Santa Cruz and Beni). This represented a significant shift from merely three MAS governorships (Chuquisaca, Potosí and Oruro) in the 2005 departmental elections. What is more, the race was tight in Tarija and Beni, and reasonably close in Santa Cruz.18

In the wake of this decisive victory, Morales embraced a fevered rhetoric of “communitarian socialism” at home, coupled with denunciations of capitalism as the principal enemy of nature abroad. It is unsurprising on one level, then, that confusion as to what Morales represents continues to run the gamut of the political spectrum.
Murky waters

“Bolivia’s indigenous-cum-socialist revolution in the high Andes has made the country a close ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, and a natural friend of poncho-wearing well-wishers in the West,” writes John Paul Rathbone in the Financial Times. “At the same time, its almost Thatcherite approach to public finances, combined with soaring prices for its gas and mineral exports, has won it praise from the International Monetary Fund”.19 Leaning heavily on the first sentiment, while tirelessly ignoring the second reality, the most militant supporters of Morales on the international left have cleaved themselves to even the most romantic self-images of the government in La Paz.

“Bolivia’s economy [sic] policy has been ‘nationalised’ and is no longer dictated by the IMF or Washington,” Australian socialist Federico Fuentes argues. Furthermore, the Morales government has taken important “steps towards decolonising the state”, and there is “little doubt that the Bolivian masses are in a far superior position to where they were five or ten years ago”.20 For Fuentes, the Morales government represents “the broad aspirations of Bolivia’s indigenous majority”, and the official refrain issued from the Presidential Palace in La Paz—that this is a “government of social movements”—is to be taken literally: “Important advances have been made by the social movements precisely because they decided to move from resistance to power”.21 The popular classes are in the driver’s seat. But a steely, realistic tone is then assumed. Fuentes acknowledges that there is “still a long struggle ahead”. In one memorable passage he both falsely attributes to me the notion that socialism can be achieved in one miraculous moment, and then plants the equally fantastical idea, if only in implicit form here, that even if Bolivia is not yet socialist, it is on the long road in that direction: “Yet one feels that none of this will be enough for Webber who would prefer they abandon their route [to socialism?] in favour of an imaginary one in which socialism is installed overnight”.22

More surprising is that these views find an echo in recent interventions made by Canadian socialist intellectual and activist John Riddell.23 Riddell recognises that “Bolivia remains capitalist, and that a socialist transformation is not underway”, but insists that the country never entered into a revolutionary situation and that there were no prospects for a transition to socialism in 2000-5, nor are there any today or presumably in the foreseeable future. Imperialism and the domestic right amount to virtually insurmountable obstacles.

Thus, against a very low bar of expectations, we can celebrate “the real achievements, the gains [the government] has made against formidable odds”, and prioritise “support of Bolivia’s positive moves towards national sovereignty, social progress and effective action on global warming”. Symptomatically, for Riddell, as for Fuentes, social movements are embodied in, and expressed through, the government of the MAS: “Despite all strains, the tie between social movements in Bolivia and the Morales government has not been broken.” Pointing to what he understands to be my misreading of the political-economic terrain in this regard, Riddell writes, “Webber’s counterposition of the masses and the MAS leadership fails to acknowledge their close relationship”.24 Elsewhere, in a less-considered formulation, Riddell goes so far as to claim—albeit with a host of important caveats—that “the government of Bolivia headed by President Evo Morales can indeed be viewed as a ‘workers’ government’ of the type discussed by the German revolutionary Clara Zetkin and the Communist International (Comintern) in the early 1920s”.25

An appraisal of the TIPNIS conflict within the wider dynamics of racialised class struggle under a political economy that shares more continuity than change with the inherited neoliberal model should, I want to argue, undermine the basis of such views. If I am correct, it does not make sense to speak of the consistent clashes between popular classes and the state as “errors” committed by the Morales administrations, but rather as systematic expressions of the necessary class commitments daily reproduced by this administration as it administers the capitalist state. “The tradition of the oppressed”, Walter Benjamin notes, “teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule”.26
TIPNIS in context

Much of the debate around TIPNIS has been curiously ahistorical. One example of this problem is straightforwardly evident in the frequent claims that the lowland indigenous resistance march of 2011—however legitimate some of its concerns—was largely conducted in the interests of the “green imperialism” of Western environmental NGOs and a destabilisation campaign against Morales, run by elements of the domestic right and funded and directed by the US government.27 Unless we attribute divine foresight to US imperialists, the logic of such accounts is difficult to marry with the historical facts of mobilisations of lowland indigenous peoples that long predated the emergence of the MAS and Morales, and thus we are asked to forget they ever existed.

Most importantly, we are to disregard the recent precedent of 700 men and women, from largely the same indigenous groups involved in the 2011 conflict, marching 400 miles from Trinidad to La Paz in 1990. The “march for territory and dignity”, as it was called, gained massive popular support and, against the wishes of the neoliberal government of Jaime Paz Zamora, won legal recognition for TIPNIS as an indigenous territory.28 Another victory of the 1990 march was the establishment of a “red line”, after which point further settlement by commercial farmers, loggers and rich peasants seeking to accumulate more land for production would be prohibited, so as to maintain the capacity of predominantly non-capitalist indigenous communities inhabiting the area to reproduce their cultural, economic, environmental and spiritual ways of life.

Just as importantly, evocations of categories such as “indigenous”, “the masses”, “the people” and “the peasantry” are employed with abundance on all sides of the debate, with precious little empirical attention paid to the class interests associated directly or indirectly with “development” in TIPNIS. It makes sense to begin our discussion, therefore, by positioning the argument within the context of transformations in Bolivia’s rural class structure in recent decades.29
Rural class structure

At the outset of the 21st century the rural class structure in Bolivia is characterised
 by a dramatic concentration of land in the hands of a few, on the one hand, and a sea of poor—often landless—peasants on the other. Haciendas (large landholdings) dominate 90 percent of Bolivia’s productive land, leaving only 10 percent divided between mostly-indigenous peasant communities and smallholding peasants.30 Roughly 400 individuals own 70 percent of productive land while there are 2.5 million landless peasants in a country with a total population of 9 million.31 Most of the peasants are indigenous, with 77 percent of rural inhabitants self-identifying as such in the 2001 census.32

Bolivia’s rural structure prior to the 1952 National Revolution was dominated by large landholdings in which “neo-feudal” social relations predominated, “based on established modes of colonial extraction and exploitation in the countryside”.33 As the nationalist-populist revolutionary process of 1952 unfolded, mass direct-action tactics and independent land occupations orchestrated by radicalised peasants in Cochabamba, La Paz and Oruro, and to a lesser extent in northern Potosí and Chuquisaca, challenged this rural class structure profoundly.34 The new revolutionary government of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, MNR) was forced to enact the Agrarian Reform Law of 1953 in response to the pressure from below. Forced labour was made illegal and haciendas in the altiplano, or highlands, (La Paz, Oruro, Potosí) and the valleys (Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Tarija) were divided and the land redistributed, creating a new smallholding peasantry in large sections of these departments.

The MNR, though, was never a socialist party. Its interests coincided with the radical peasants only insofar as the MNR saw the breakup of semi-feudal agrarian modes of production as a prerequisite for establishing and developing a dynamic capitalist agricultural sector with ample state support. The geographic fulcrum for capitalist agriculture in Bolivia became the eastern department of Santa Cruz, beginning shortly after the revolution. Santa Cruz was relatively uninhabited at the time of the revolution and was largely unaffected by the agrarian reform. Over the next several decades it became the most dynamic centre of capitalist agriculture in the country, producing cotton, coffee, sugar and timber for export; the department also spearheaded the reconcentration of land in the hands of a few that eventually spread again throughout much of the rest of the country, reversing, through complex legal and market mechanisms, many of the reforms achieved in the National Revolution.

With the onset of neoliberalism in the mid-1980s, the agro-industrial dominance of Santa Cruz was solidified. Bolivian neoliberalism emphasised the orientation of agriculture towards exports for external markets. Transnational corporations and large domestic agricultural enterprises based in Santa Cruz led this intensified insertion into the global economy. The traditional peasant economy was increasingly displaced in various parts of the country as large agro-industrial enterprises solidified control and focused increasingly on a few select commodities, soy in particular. In 1986,
 77 percent of the total land area under cultivation was devoted to the production of cereals, fruit, vegetables and tubers in which small-scale peasant production predominated. By 2004, this area had been reduced to 48.2 percent. By one estimate, in 1963 peasant production represented 82.2 percent of the total value of agricultural production in the country, whereas by 2002 peasant production accounted for only 39.7 percent of total production, and agro-industrial capitalist production accounted for 60.3 percent of the total.35

Of the approximately 446,000 peasant production units remaining in the country today, 225,000 are located in the altiplano departments of La Paz, Oruro and Potosí, 164,000 in the valley departments of Cochabamba, Chuquisaca and Tarija, and only 57,000 in the eastern lowland departments of Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando. Capitalist relations of production now predominate in the eastern lowlands and are increasingly displacing small-scale peasant production in the valleys and altiplano although the latter continues to be the most important form of production in the altiplano.36 In the valley departments small and medium capitalist enterprises account for most of the agricultural sector. These departments play a significant role in ranching. They account for 60.3 percent of poultry production, 48 percent of pig farming and 18.5 percent of Bolivian cattle ranching. The rural altiplano, on the other hand, is still dominated by small-scale peasant producers and indigenous communities. This region accounts for only 19 percent of total cultivated land in Bolivia, and its contribution to national ranching is limited to the sheep and llama sectors.37

The rural population is diminishing throughout the country as processes of semi-proletarianisation and proletarianisation accelerate with the gradual extension of capitalist relations of production into all corners of the country. Beginning in the early 1970s, migrant labourers provided the workforce for sugarcane and cotton harvests while for the rest of the year they maintained small plots of their own land in the departments from which they primarily travelled—Cochabamba, Potosí and Chuquisaca. Between 1976 and 1996 the rural population as a proportion of the total population fell from 59 percent to 39 percent.38

This exodus has to do with two interrelated developments in the agricultural sector. On the one side, peasant production has been living through a prolonged crisis. Peasant families are increasingly unable to reproduce themselves and must supplement their farming income by selling their labour power, whether in the countryside or in the cities. In the altiplano small-scale peasant producers and indigenous communities are experiencing diminishing productive capacities of their soil, the division of land into smaller and smaller plots (minifundios) as families grow in size from generation to generation, the migration of young people to cities, and an acute absence of new technologies, making competition with foreign suppliers to the domestic Bolivian markets impossible.39 Meanwhile, in the dynamic centre of agro-capitalism in the eastern lowlands technical innovation and modernisation has led to more capital-intensive forms of agricultural production and consequently a paucity of employment opportunities even as industries expand.40

As capitalist social relations increase their reach the differentiation of the peasantry into rich, medium and poor peasants also intensifies. Survey data from 1988 suggested that 76 percent of peasantry were poor peasants, meaning they did not have the means to reproduce their family labour power based on the income generated from their land and were obliged to sell their labour power elsewhere on a temporary basis. Medium peasants constituted 11 percent of the peasantry when defined as peasant family units fundamentally based on family labour with the ability to reproduce that labour without selling their labour power elsewhere. Rich peasants—those who regularly made a profit after reproducing their family and their means of production, purchased the labour of poorer peasants, and utilised modern technology—constituted 13 percent of the peasantry.41 This process of differentiation within the peasantry has only accelerated since that time, with the transformation of some rich peasants into commercial farmers in specific regions of the altiplano and valley departments.42
Stratification of the peasantry and class dynamics

Under the government of Evo Morales, despite an uplifting discourse which valorises the poorest of peasants, actual agro-industrial production with fully capitalist social relations has expanded from 79 percent of total agricultural production in the country to 82 percent. Whereas in 2005-6 small-scale peasant production accounted for 25 percent of total production in the altiplano and valley regions, by 2008-9 this figure had dropped to 21.6 percent. While state support has been offered to agro-industrial soy producers and ranchers in the eastern lowlands, small-scale peasant production in the western highlands has been abandoned by the state.43

How are these wider rural class dynamics relevant to TIPNIS? The park encompasses 1,200,000 hectares of territory, the bulk of which is in the northern section, in the department of Beni. Northern TIPNIS is inhabited principally by three indigenous groups—the Mojeños-Trinitarios, the Chimanes and the Yuracarés. Southern TIPNIS, which borders the Chapare, a coca-producing region in the department of Cochabamba, is inhabited principally by Quechua and Aymara peasants—also known as colonizadores (colonisers)—who migrated to the area from the western altiplano in different waves since the 1970s.44

The MAS government maintains the position that the construction of the highway to run through TIPNIS was intended to benefit all inhabitants of the region, above and beyond any material interests specific to particular groups. “All sides in the dispute want greater development and improved access to basic services,” Fuentes writes, in an echo of the government’s line. “The issue at stake is how the second poorest country in the Americas, facing intense pressure from more powerful governments and corporate forces, can meet the needs of its people while protecting the environment”.45

A closer analysis, however, reveals the fact that certain groups would benefit from highway development at the expense of others. A zero-sum game developed, reflecting the usual growing class stratification within the peasantry under capitalist social relations, a process of differentiation mystified by pro-government, populist discourse that treats the peasantry as a homogeneous social class.

In particular, a significant and growing layer of the Aymara and Quechua peasants in the region can be classified as rich in the schema developed above—that is, they accrue profits as a direct result of surplus appropriation through the work of salaried labourers. As rich peasants they also have growing motivations for expanding accumulation through the expropriation of further land. Geographically, to one side, we find possibilities of expansion into the department of Santa Cruz. But this would imply incursions into the inhabited lands of other Aymara-Quechua migrant peasants, or the small, medium and large-scale capitalist agricultural and ranching expanses that make up the agro-industrial sector of that department. This is not something the MAS government has been willing to contemplate.

On the other side, that is, in TIPNIS to the north, we encounter the largely non-capitalist social relations of the Mojeños-Trinitarios, Chimanes and Yuracarés—that is, communities based on collective self-reproduction through small-scale agricultural activities, the extraction of forest resources, and artisanal production. Increasingly, layers of these indigenous communities are forced into semi-proletarian status through a process Marx called “primitive accumulation”,46 as they are compelled to sell their labour power for part of the year to ranchers, timber barons and the rich layer of the cocalero, or coca-growing, peasantry.47

As Guillermo Almeyra has perhaps understood better than anyone, the maintenance of an extractivist economy of natural resource extraction and capitalist agriculture geared towards export under the MAS government has necessarily meant repeated clashes with the hunger for land expressed by poor and landless peasants, as well as those indigenous communities rising up in defence of forests, natural resources, water and biodiversity.

Almeyra asks us to consider the legal and economic logic underpinning the current system that allows a few managers of a transnational mining or natural gas company operating in Bolivia today to gravely affect the environment of everyone without a care in the world, on the one hand, while 10,000 indigenous inhabitants of TIPNIS, with a non-capitalist mode of production, confront the full force of the law, and defamation by the government, when they seek to defend their values and ways of life against highway construction. This highway construction, far from being a neutral force for the “development” of all, would destroy the integrity of their territory, and would allow for the destruction of their norms and modes of living.48
Linking local class dynamics to Brazilian sub-imperialism

Such are the class dynamics at play on a local scale, but it would be a mistake to see this micro-rhythm as the only propeller behind the highway. The plan for road development is, in fact, one small part of a much more ambitious regional integration project driven by Brazilian capital and the Brazilian state, known as the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA). While opening up Bolivia’s northern savannah region to further capitalist expansion, the TIPNIS highway would also crucially provide an integral link in an international north east to south west trade corridor, allowing Brazilian commodities from the western expanses of that country to reach Pacific ports in northern Chile, via Bolivia.49

The details of the project were established on 4 August 2008, in an agreement signed by representatives of the Administradora Boliviana de Carreteras (Bolivian Administrator of Highways), the Brazilian construction company OAS, and the massive Brazilian development bank, the Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social (BNDES). The price of construction was established at $415 million, 80 percent of which BNDES would provide to the Bolivian government as a loan, provided that a Brazilian company—ultimately OAS—be awarded the contract.50

Large swathes of Bolivian popular society have found more persuasive protesters’ accounts of the highway project, it seems, than the government’s crude equivocations concerning the “development” the highway would bring, as well as the by now all too familiar, and all too easy defamation of the marchers as manipulated tools, or useful idiots, of western NGOs, US imperialism and the domestic far-right.

More compelling to many have been the protesters’ understandings, rooted in a history of indigenous struggle for self-determination, as well as class analysis tied to the diametrically opposed interests of different social groups imbricated in the region’s dynamics. The interests of Brazilian sub-imperialism are almost self-evident. Domestically there are open alliances between government and agro-industrial soy producers in the eastern lowlands, particularly those in Santa Cruz, and financial capital, as expressed in the booming banking sector. These bourgeois groups have traditionally played an intermediary role in South American rhythms of capital accumulation, articulating with the wider interests of Brazilian sub-imperialism. Soy producers vehemently oppose authentic agrarian reform for obvious material reasons.

Meanwhile, as noted, within the increasingly class-stratified peasantry a rich layer of cocaleros, a central social component of the government’s rural base, has emerged with expansionary interests for coca production that could be satisfied in TIPNIS without encroaching on large landholdings through authentic agrarian reform elsewhere in the country. Poorer layers of the peasantry in TIPNIS, an amalgam of increasingly dispossessed indigenous communities, could serve as wage labour in coca production for richer peasants as they already have in larger numbers each year.

Moreover, the illegal activities of narco-trafficking and logging are not easily separable from the legal endeavours of finance, coca growing and agro-industry, not to mention construction and real estate, particularly in the cities of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, where dirty money is made clean. The narcos and timber barons, with ties to the state through various channels of corruption, are also in line to benefit from easier access in and through TIPNIS.

Finally, directly from the mouth of the minister of hydrocarbons and energy for the government of Evo Morales, we learned of the possibility of expansive hydrocarbon reserves within the TIPNIS region. Exploration for, and confirmation of, such riches would be vastly simplified with highway development and dispossession of uppity, partially non-capitalist indigenous social formations still presiding in the area.51 Thus any comprehensive understanding has to link the issue of TIPNIS development with the interests of petroleum multinationals, and consider the ties between these multinationals and the Bolivian state.
Assessing the politics of the TIPNIS march

It was out of this dynamic that a march of 65 days duration emerged, backed by 12 lowland and highland indigenous organisations, the most important of which were the lowland Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia and a highland organisation, CONAMAQ. This context helps to explain how the march was able to grow from 500 people at its outset to 2,500 people en route, with additional mass expressions of support in the form of thousands upon thousands taking to the streets in solidarity in the cities—including a general strike called for by the Bolivian Workers Central—in the wake of fierce repression of unarmed protesters on 25 September 2011.52 The campaign of defamation and violence orchestrated by the government ultimately proved unsuccessful. The popularity of the president plummeted. Ministers resigned. And the decision on the highway—ostensibly “non-negotiable” in August—was reversed by October.

It is true that there were opportunistic interventions by reactionary forces in the course of events, as is natural in any such scenario. We do not yet know the extent of US involvement or that of the far-right from the eastern lowlands. It is safe to assume, however, that they attempted infiltration. What is interesting, though, is that it appears from initial evidence that it was less the extreme right of the eastern lowlands that attempted to milk the conflict for all it was worth, than the centre-right, under the guise of the Movimiento Sin Miedo (Movement without Fear, MSM), erstwhile allies of the government. The MSM is the political vehicle of former La Paz mayor Juan del Granado. Granado is the first oppositional figure to emerge with even a remote hope of presenting a realistic electoral challenge to Morales.

It is also true that two of the 16 demands put forth by the TIPNIS march against the highway were deeply problematic in different ways—one endorsed the UN-Redd initiative (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which would essentially place the preservation of forests in the hands of foreign capital, and the other called for the total closure of natural gas extraction from Aguaragüe, from which 90 percent of the gas currently sold and consumed in Bolivia is extracted. But these demands can be criticised without refuting the central problematic of the struggle, its essentially just nature, and its overwhelming character as an expression of the self-organisation and self-activity of an oppressed and exploited people defending their life values against the imposition of the exchange value of capital.

This is a revolt in the revolutionary, rather than conservative, tradition of anti-capitalist romanticism. Michael Löwy has explained:
[begin excerpt]
The central feature of industrial (bourgeois) civilisation that Romanticism criticises is the quantification of life, ie the total domination of (quantitative) exchange-value, of the cold calculation of price and profit, and the laws of the market, over the whole social fabric…the decline of all qualitative values—social, religious, ethical, cultural or aesthetic ones—the dissolution of all qualitative human bonds, the death of imagination and romance, the dull uniformisation of life, the purely “utilitarian”—ie quantitatively calculable—relation of human beings to one another, and to nature.53
[end excerpt]

For many of the TIPNIS marchers, their struggle for meaningful self-determination has been precisely one of defending their collective social, religious, ethical, cultural and aesthetic values against the dull advance of bourgeois industrialisation, taking the concrete form in this case of an expressway for Brazilian capital.

Leftists siding with the Bolivian state in this affair are comprehensible only insofar as they have embraced the linear developmentalist worldview of García Linera, captured most honestly in his 2006 theoretical formulation of “Andean-Amazonian Capitalism”. This text asserts the impossibility of establishing socialism in Bolivia for at least 50 to 100 years. Instead García Linera posits that Bolivia must first build an industrial capitalist base.

The capitalist model he envisions projects a greater role for state intervention in the market. The formula essentially means capitalist development with a stronger state to support a petty bourgeoisie which will eventually become a powerful national bourgeoisie to drive Bolivia into successful capitalist development. That national bourgeoisie will be indigenous, or “Andean-Amazonian”. Only after this long intermediary phase of industrial capitalism has matured will the fulfilment of socialism be materially plausible.54 Seen from the vantage point of Walter Benjamin in his “Theses on the Philosophy of History”, García Linera’s conceptualisation of history seems “fit to assign to the working class the role of redeemer of future generations, in this way cutting the sinews of its greatest strength”. In so doing, it allows the working class to “forget both its hatred and its spirit of sacrifice, for both are nourished by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated grandchildren”. 55

As historian Brooke Larson writes, “Stories of [the Aymara indigenous hero] Tupac Katari’s six-month 1781 siege of La Paz still haunt the nightmares of its upper class inhabitants”.56 She might have added that, on the other side of the racialised class divide, these same stories have inspired contemporary indigenous radicals in their urban repertoires of insurrection and rural road blockading for much of the 21st century in Bolivia. Before Katari was drawn and quartered for his role in the 1781 revolt he warned the colonialists that he would “return as millions”, and the protagonists of recent rebellions see themselves as the embodiment of this return. They are, in a sense, more nourished by his image as enslaved ancestor than they are persuaded by a utopian industrial liberation, a century into the future.

As the Argentinian political economist Claudio Katz reminds us, “It is evident that the impediments to developing a competitive capitalist system in countries such as Bolivia are at least as great as the obstacles to initiating socialist transformations”.57 Fernando Molina, a neoliberal critic of the MAS, has correctly pointed out that in many respects Andean-Amazonian capitalism closely resembles the old line of the Stalinist Partido Comunista Boliviana (Bolivian Communist Party, PCB), which stressed the necessity of a “revolution by stages”: feudalism to capitalism (bourgeois), and eventually capitalism to communism (communist).58
Continuities in political economy

Recent scholarly literature has begun to demonstrate the very limited nature of the changes that have taken place under Morales. For example, Kenneth M Roberts and Steven Levitsky, two dominant figures in American political science, from Cornell and Harvard respectively, recently situated Bolivia’s economic policies, alongside those of Argentina and Ecuador, in a “heterodox” camp between the “orthodox” free market policies of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Peru, and the “statist” policies of Venezuela.59

In the same edited volume Raúl Madrid points out that while the Bolivian government frequently engages in “radical, even incendiary, rhetoric” its “economic and social policies…have not represented a dramatic break with the past”.60 “Despite its period criticisms of capitalism,” Madrid argues, “the government has not sought to carry out a transition to socialism or change the existing pattern of development,” an argument substantiated by the fact that the economy remains “focused largely on the export of natural resources”, under the control of foreign capital, and that “the government has largely respected private property and has sought to encourage private investment”.61 The government has “eschewed radicalism in social policy as well, focusing instead on deepening or broadening policies that were enacted by previous governments”, while in the area of agrarian reform, the government’s “initiative, which it enacted in 2006 after protracted struggle in the Senate, is largely in keeping with the land reform principles laid down in the Sánchez de Lozada administration’s 1996 land reform measure”.62

Roberto Laserna, a prominent academic advocate of neoliberalism in Bolivia, poses a question: “What has changed in the last few years?” His answer: “A lot, if one observes the process in terms of its discourses and symbols and maintains a short-term perspective. But very little if one is attentive to structural conditions and observes the economic and social tendencies with a longer-term view”.63

“New economic policies have not signalled a dramatic shift towards a new economic model,” write Amy Kennemore and Gregory Weeks of Bolivia and Ecuador in recent years, “but rather a pragmatic way for centre-left governments to better capture capitalist surplus in the exploitation of natural resources”.64 “The Morales government has gone to enormous effort to demonstrate that it guarantees private property,” writes the critical Bolivian anthropologist Pablo Regalsky, “while at the same time seeking to maintain its social base”.65

Even in the domain of hydrocarbon (natural gas and oil) policy, where there is little dispute that the most far-reaching reforms have occurred under Morales, the early Marxist critiques of the “nationalisation” of 2006 have now been more widely acknowledged as essentially correct. For example, geographer Brent Z Kaup recently called it a “neoliberal nationalisation”. In a certain superficial sense “it technically returned physical control of Bolivia’s natural gas to the state”, but “the space opened up for private investment in the hydrocarbon sector in the 1980s and 1990s still exists. Transnational firms still extract the majority of Bolivia’s natural gas, and most of it is still sent to more profitable export markets”.66

It should not be surprising that the latest reports on Bolivia by the International Monetary Fund, released earlier this year, are full of praise for Bolivia’s “solid macroeconomic performance in recent years”, rooted in “prudent macroeconomic policies”, garnering “record-high net international reserves” for the Bolivian state.67 After IMF officials met with Bolivian state managers, the former group happily reported that the latter were “keen to keep macroeconomic equilibrium”.68

Another IMF report this year raises further doubt as regards Fuentes’s claims that economic policy has been “nationalised” under Morales. In 2009, the document notes, IMF authorities met with Bolivian managers and “praised the Bolivian authorities for their sound macroeconomic management”, but also advised the government to engage in the “gradual withdrawal of fuel subsidies”.69 The report goes on to explain that “the authorities attempted to eliminate fuel subsidies upfront [in December 2010], but this measure was reversed in the face of social unrest”.70 What the IMF is referring to here is the government’s attempt to eliminate fuel subsidies late last year in line with IMF requests, and the concomitant explosion of popular protest—the gasolinazo—that rippled through the major cities of the country, forcing the government ultimately to back down. The Morales administration remains to this day determined to reintroduce some version of the legislation that would abolish the subsidies.71

The World Bank also praises Bolivia’s macroeconomic management. Representatives of the bank have been meeting with state managers throughout 2011 in preparation for the drafting of a Country Partnership Strategy that will guide the bank’s activities in the country for the 2012-15 period. Thus far the bank has 13 active investment projects in Bolivia, totalling a commitment of just under $445 million.72
New currents of radical social theory

“In recent months”, the Economist Intelligence Unit reported in September of this year, “MAS supporters have become more aware of the breach between the revolutionary populist-socialist discourse of the president, Evo Morales, and his government’s more pragmatic policy course”.73

An important reflection of this appeared in the form of a Collective Manifesto released in June, which was signed by former MAS officials, leading social movement activists and radical intellectuals.74 “Today the large majority of our people basically find themselves in the same situation of poverty, precariousness and anguish in which they have always been”, the Manifesto reads. “It would seem that those who have improved are those that had always been well: the bankers, transnational oil and mining companies, the smugglers and the narco-traffickers”.75

“The continuity of political party clientelism and extractive, export-oriented development”, Forrest Hylton points out, “is the most remarkable feature of the new order—the liberal capitalist model, albeit one slightly modified in favour of national development, has survived. By Bolivian standards, it could even said to be thriving.” Indeed, for Hylton, “it is difficult to conceive of any government channelling revolutionary dynamism into reformist sclerosis more effectively than the Bolivian government’s enthusiasm for mining and resource extraction”.76

Likewise, for Mexican radical Raquel Gutiérrez—who lived in Bolivia between 1984 and 2001 and spent five of those years in jail as a political prisoner: “Evo has…led the reconstruction of the state along liberal-capitalist lines as dictated by the World Bank… It is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the policies imposed by this so-called progressive government and those followed by previous neoliberal governments; the rhetoric is different, but the results are largely the same. With resources extraction so central to the financial stability of the government, people and environments are simply expendable. Only disaster can emerge from this”.77
Conclusion

According to John Riddell, “Webber and others who agree with him are measuring the Bolivian government against an impossible standard, against the ideal programme of a hypothetical mass socialist movement”.78 However, Riddell, like Fuentes, can offer no reasonable response to the Morales regime’s ongoing commitment to fiscal austerity, low inflationary growth, central bank independence, labour market “flexibility”, inconsequential agrarian reform—even the expansion of capitalist social relations in the countryside, vast accumulation of international reserves, low social spending, alliances with transnational capital across all sectors of the economy—but particularly their dominance in natural resource extraction, export-oriented capitalism premised on low-wage flexible labour, documented increases in rates of exploitation of the working class, and state investment amounting to only 32 percent of total investment, with a maximum official goal of 36 percent.79 Riddell’s argument, although more sophisticated in a theoretical sense than that of Fuentes, ultimately ends up sounding dangerously close to a revised version of TINA: there is no alternative.

If one points to the real trends and contradictions in Bolivia’s political economy, even after explicitly calling for opposition to any and all imperialist intervention—direct or indirect, overt or covert—as I have repeatedly and at length in various writings, one is likely to receive a sharp reminder from the likes of Fuentes: “Our role is not to tell the Bolivian masses from afar that they are doing it all wrong or that their process is not revolutionary enough; our priority must be to defend the gains of the Bolivian process and help to create the necessary space for its continued advance”.80

The implied lesson here—it is not sufficient for activists and intellectuals in the Global North to condemn and fight the imperialism of our governments; we must also close our eyes to contradiction, shut our mouths, and play the role of Evo’s loyal soldiers abroad. International working class solidarity, on this view, means parroting the communiqués of the presidential palace in La Paz and aligning ourselves with Bolivian embassies in our countries. The palace and the embassy almost become the Bolivian masses. We must observe a stern silence as regards explosions of independent working class, peasant and indigenous resistance against the impositions of a reconstituted neoliberalism in Bolivia. Better still, when faced with a struggle like that in TIPNIS, we ought to tip our hats to their legitimate demands, while portraying the movement as largely a
 by-product of “green imperialism”. The endogenous linear developmentalism of García Linera’s Andean-Amazonian strategy—a veritable green light for the steamrolling of TIPNIS—is magically eclipsed in this view.

“Our consideration”, Benjamin suggests in a useful contradistinction to Fuentes, “proceeds from the insight that the politicians’ stubborn faith in progress, their confidence in their ‘mass basis’, and, finally, their servile integration in an uncontrollable apparatus have been three aspects of the same thing.” For Benjamin, our consideration, as historical materialists, “seeks to convey an idea of the high price our accustomed thinking will have to pay for a conception of history that avoids any complicity with the thinking to which these politicians continue to adhere”.81

The first priority of activists in the Global North, who are not persuaded in the least by the antiquated directives issued forth by the likes of Fuentes, should continue to be to oppose imperialist intervention of any sort in the determination of the Bolivian process. This means, concretely, opposition under any circumstances to imperialist-backed destabilisation campaigns against Morales. But the political situation is too complicated to end our discussion at that stage. Our first allegiance ought to be with the exploited and oppressed themselves, rather than any leaders or governments who purport to speak in their name in an uncomplicated way. This is as true of the TIPNIS struggle of 2011 as it was of the miners’ struggles of 2006 in Colquiri, the popular urban revolts against a right wing governor in Cochabamba in late 2006 and early 2007, the strikes of miners, teachers and healthcare workers in May 2010, the general strike in the department of Potosí in August 2010, the peasant, worker and community challenge to Japanese mining capital in 2010 at the San Cristóbal mine, and the popular rebellions against the elimination of fuel subsidies in December last year. The hope for Bolivia’s future remains with the overwhelmingly indigenous rural and urban popular classes, organising and struggling independently for themselves, against combined capitalist exploitation and racial oppression, with visions of simultaneous indigenous liberation and socialist emancipation, as we witnessed on a grand scale between 2000 and 2005.


Notes

1: Walter Benjamin, quoted in Löwy, 2006, pp66-67.

2: Thanks to Alex Callinicos and Sarah Hines for suggestions on an earlier draft of this article.

3: Página Siete, 3 November 2011.

4: Página Siete, 20 October 2011.

5: The Pact of Unity, established in 2004, pre-dated the formation of the MAS government.

6: Página Siete, 7 November 2011.

7: See García Linera, 2011.

8: Colectivo Manifiesto 22 de Junio, 2011, p286.

9: Webber, 2011a.

10: García Linera, 2006a, pp73-85.

11: Bensaïd, 2002.

12: Hylton, 2011, p245.

13: Economist, 10 December 2009.

14: See Stefanoni, 2010, pp4-17; Rossell, 2011, pp23-32.

15: Borón, 2009.

16: Rojas, 2009.

17: Stefanoni, 2010, pp4-5. For a discussion of the origins and trajectory of the eastern bourgeois bloc, see Webber, 2010.

18: Corte Nacional Electoral, 2010. For the April 2010 departmental elections, the position historically known as “prefect” was changed to “governor”.

19: Rathbone, 2010.

20: Fuentes, 2011a.

21: Fuentes, 2011b; Webber, 2011b.

22: Fuentes, 2011a.

23: In addition to the earlier translation and editing of seven volumes of documents of the Communist movement in the era of the Russian Revolution, Riddell has just completed the mammoth translation and editorial introduction of Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 (Brill, 2011). His writings on Bolivia, however, do not reveal a similar commitment to careful scholarship or precision, relying narrowly as they do on selective readings from the oeuvre of Federico Fuentes, Álvaro García Linera and the authorised biographer of Evo Morales, Martín Sivak. Riddell nonetheless also engages in a comradely and thoughtful critique of some of my recent articles and writings. My book From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia appears in the references, but the content of Riddell’s critique does not suggest a close reading of that text. See Riddell, 2011a.

24: Riddell, 2011a.

25: Riddell, 2011b.

26: Benjamin, 1999 [1940], p248.

27: These are roughly the unsubstantiated assertions made-with different emphases in different moments-by the Morales government and sympathetic journalists and analysts over the course of the conflict. In English, one example of this genre is Fuentes, 2011c. It is at least curious to note-given the government’s claims of an active conspiracy behind the march-that very shortly after the seeming resolution of the TIPNIS conflict, the Morales administration normalised relations with the US after three years of dispute. See Página Siete, 13 November 2011.

28: See Albó, 1996. Ironically, one of the best-sympathetic, even celebratory-accounts of the march can be found in a book co-authored by the vice-president. See García Linera, Chávez León and Costas Monje, 2006.

29: My discussion here draws upon Webber, 2011c, pp26-30.

30: Chávez and García Linera, 2005.

31: Enzinna, 2007, p 217.

32: Romero Bonifaz, 2005, p40.

33: Hylton and Thomson, 2007, p59.

34: Dunkerley, 1984, p67.

35: Ormachea Saavedra, 2007, pp29-32.

36: Ormachea Saavedra, 2007, p33.

37: Ormachea Saavedra, 2007, p34.

38: Pacheco Balanza and Ormachea Saavedra, 2000, p9.

39: Pacheco Balanza and Ormachea Saavedra, 2000, p19.

40: Pacheco Balanza and Ormachea Saavedra, 2000, pp31-32.

41: Ormachea Saavedra, 2007, pp27-28.

42: Ormachea Saavedra, 2007, p28.

43: Ormachea Saavedra, 2011a.

44: For the most lucid account of the region of which I am aware, see Orozco Ramírez, García Linera, and Stefanoni, 2006, pp29-117. Ironically, the title of the book translates as, “We are the playthings of nobody”, a notion that does not square well with García Linera’s position today, that they are indeed the playthings of imperialism, NGOs and the domestic right.

45: Fuentes, 2011c.

46: See part eight of Marx, 1977.

47: Ormachea Saavedra, 2011b.

48: Almeyra, 2011.

49: EIU, 2011, p 11.

50: Página Siete, 20 October 2011. For an interesting theorisation and empirical discussion of Brazilian sub-imperialism in South America, see Flynn, 2007, pp9-27.

51: For a brief sketch of some of these material interests in TIPNIS development, see Prada Alcoreza, 2011.

52: Página Siete, 20 October, 2011.

53: Löwy, 1987, p892.

54: García Linera, 2006b.

55: Benjamin, 1999 [1940], p252.

56: Larson 2004, p204.

57: Larson, 2004, p28.

58: Molina, 2006, p127.

59: Levitsky and Roberts, 2011.

60: Madrid, 2011, p240.

61: Madrid, 2011, p248.

62: Madrid, 2011, pp249-250.

63: Quoted in Robinson, 2011.

64: Kennemore and Weeks, 2011, p278.

65: Regalsky, 2010, p48.

66: Kaup, 2010, p135.

67: IMF, 2011a.

68: IMF, 2011a.

69: IMF, 2011b.

70: IMF, 2011b.

71: Página Siete, 12 November, 2011.

72: World Bank, 2011.

73: EIU, 2011, p10.

74: Colectivo Manifiesto 22 de Junio, 2011, pp285-293.

75: Colectivo Manifiesto 22 de Junio, 2011, p286.

76: Hylton, 2011, p244.

77: Gutiérrez, 2011, p277.

78: Riddell, 2011a.

79: See Webber, 2011c.

80: Fuentes, 2011b.

81: Benjamin, 1999 [1940], p250.


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