Tag Archives: Bolivia

Bolivia and the Law of Mother Earth

1 Dec


Alas, the wild and wet dream of an ecotopia in Bolivia is but lies on paper and another example of the emptiness of beautiful intentions applied to government rhetoric. The article below was written in the salad days of Evo’s hope and change campaign and we all wanted to believe. Please read the article, for the points are factual regarding the Law of Mother Earth as written into the Bolivian constitution, but they have since been stomped on by the very same Bolivian government. Like those in power before him, Evo Morales has pushed forward with mega projects that violate indigenous rights, scar the earth, and disrupt working class struggles. For more details consider reading Decepcion in Bolivia: Evo on the Rocks by Chellis Glendinning, a beautiful and startling piece, found online here.

By Sasha

A groundbreaking law is emerging from Bolivia called the Law of Mother Earth. Moving towards granting Nature equal rights with humans, the objectives of this law are made clear from the outset: Harmony with nature, working towards the Collective Good, Guaranteeing Regeneration of Mother Earth, working in Respect and Defense of the Rights of Mother Earth, choosing life over Commercialization, and maintaining a respect for diversity.

In characterizing Mother Earth, the document explains, “Mother Earth is the living dynamic system comprised of the inter-related, interdependent and complementary indivisible community of all life systems and living beings that share a common destiny.” While considering Mother Earth a sacred place apropos the cosmological understanding of Indigenous peoples, the law enfranchises a commons, or “collective rights of public interest.” This commons is an enshrining of biodiversity and human diversity.

This is perhaps the most important legal facet of the new law. “Mother Earth and all its components, including human communities, are owners of the rights inherently understood in this Law,” explains the document,  “The application of Mother Earth’s rights shall take into account the specificities and particularities of its diverse components.” Legally, this conception of ownership could extend to “informally owned” properties. Although the US foreign policy is to get the Global South to “open” these properties—squatter communities, indigenous land holdings, temporary living spaces—to capitalist ownership, the new Bolivian Law of Mother Earth goes in the other direction, providing perhaps a legal protection to all peoples dispossessed by capitalism.

By granting rights to Mother Earth of life, clean water, biodiversity, clean air, balance, restoration and freedom from contamination, the law goes on to manifest a knowledge that Earth and humanity are intertwined. If Earth is denied these rights, obviously humans are as well. Finally, the government of Bolivia agrees in the creation of this law to adopt public policies in accordance with the rights of Mother Earth, including “sustainability of power generation” and destruction of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The law also acknowledges a public debt to the environment, which should be considered in all trade treaties.

This law will create new structures for consultation and conservation on a grassroots level, taking advantage of the microgovernmental form of democracy that helped topple the conservative government in 2005 and launch the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) into power. By organizing a governing body around ecology, Bolivia is essentially composting the most toxic aspects of the State. Although more discussion needs to be had with regards to the meaning of the word “exploitation” as it comes about in the document, the Law of Mother Earth is a huge step toward radical ecology in action. Solidarity with what Bolivia is trying to do and solidarity with the rights of Mother Earth!

Check out the consensus translation of the document in English here.

Read the entire document (in Spanish) here.

Bolivians march against development plan

17 Aug

Reposted from Al Jazeera

Bolivian indigenous activists have started a long protest march from the Amazon plains to the country’s capital in against a government plan to build a 306km highway through a national park in indigenous territory.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has gained notoriety as an environmentally friendly leader and Bolivia’s first indigenous-identified president, which is significant for many locals because the country has a higher per capita indigenous population than any other Latin American country.

Less than a year ago, Morales told Al Jazeera that he is opposed to environmentally destructive development practices that are common in ‘indistrialised’ countries.

“[Those practices are] leaving the world without ecology. I called it ecolocide, which will lead to genocide,” he said.

Organisers of the march have said that they are reacting Morales’ hypocritical stance on climate change and environmentalism, pointing to his promoting of natural gas development and oil exploration.

“Morales isn’t a defender of Mother Earth. His rhetoric is empty,” said Rafael Quispe, leader of the main indigenous organization in Bolivia’s highlands, Conamaq.

Forked Tongues in Bolivia?

16 Jun

Excerpt from Evo on the rocks: Decepción in Bolivia By Chellis Glendinning, The Rag Blog, June 16, 2011

Forked Tongue I: Madre Tierra

A Dec. 30, 2010 protest against gas price hikes. image from FM Center es Noticia

Out of one tine of what has become the Morales administration’s two-sided tongue come blood-stirring proclamations like the president’s empassioned grito “¡Planeta o Muerte!” at the 2010 Cancun climate change talks. Brilliant. Then there is the stark refusal, that not even Cuba or Venezuela would match, to sign on to the watered-down agreement at said talks.

And now comes the nation’s new law proclaiming the rights of Madre Tierra—to some minds, a legal-philosophic leap forward that, a few decades ago, only bioregionalists, primitive-anarchists, and traditional Native peoples could imagine.

But, sorry to say, the other spine of the eco-fork must be noted:

  • the launch of genetically-modified agriculture into a countryside presently free of GMOs;
  • two under-construction hydro-electric dams 300% bigger than the U.S.’s Hoover Dam at a cost of $13 billion, slated to channel water to Brazil in exchange for monies to boost Bolivia’s petro and plastic industries—this, in a country where many communities have no potable water and water-borne illnesses are rampant;
  • in a nation uncontaminated by nuclear radiation: uranium mining, with future plans for nuclear power plants—aided by Iran;
  • blankets of electromagnetic radiation in the form of WiMAX over urban landscapes – with the state telecommunications corporation bragging of 1350 radiobases in an area the size of Texas and California combined, with many more to come;
  • commodity-transporting highways bulldozing through protected nature reserves whose treasures, in the case of the Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos road, include 11 endangered species and three Native groups in 60 communities living their traditional hunter-gatherer-fishing lifeways;
  • new oil excavations;
  • new gas excavations;
  • in partnership with Mitubishi, Sumitomo, South Korea, and Iran: massive lithium development—threatening leeching, leaks, emissions, and spills in the world-treasure salt flats;
  • Bolivia’s own Made-in-China satellite;
  • with the help of India, the construction of humankind’s largest iron mine;
  • 900 miles of pipeline slated to transport natural gas to Argentina; and
  • an explosion of airport and high-rise construction.

In other words: full-tilt, high-tech, colossal-scale, high-capital modernization—on a Madre Tierra in which such expansion has already been shown to be The Problem…