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Call for an Alliance for Sovereignty and Sustainability in Latin America

March 10, 2011

The time has come for us to conceive new governance systems devoid of corruption and vulnerability to outside influences and dedicated to peace, sustainability and justice throughout the region.

For centuries the United States and other imperialist powers have been destroying the livelihoods of millions of people and natural habitats in Latin America through economic exploitation, military invasions, engineered coup d’etats, ruthless extractivism and pervasive ecocide.  Although many nations are now becoming more democratic and independent of the pressures and exploitations from the North, and are providing their citizens with more opportunities and improved infrastructures, the economic imperialism is still present in a more subtle form.

As much as the new “progressive” governments and alliances in Latin America claim to be turning over a new leaf, the exploitation continues at a brisk pace with multinational corporations, aided by imperialist powers, still dominating the economy. Although more revenues than in the past are now coming into these nations from the export of oil, gas and agro-mineral resources, these payments are inadequate to fully support progressive measures, and furthermore they can support these measures only temporarily until the resources are depleted. Ironically, these payments from multinationals have bought the silence of the governments and prevented them from taking a stand with indigenous peoples and environmentalists to preserve, restore and sustain their ecosystems. This silence regarding the rights of nature and indigenous people has grave implications for global climate and biodiversity.  Without government support and protection for indigenous people and their natural ecosystems, the rape of the environment ultimately destroys all in its wake.  It’s time to declare “enough” and pursue a much more conscious path toward sovereignty and sustainability.  The entire future of Latin America is endangered if we don’t take this path.

Moreover, under pressure to service a multibillion dollar debt agreed to by previous corrupt governments, current governments often find themselves still making payments that by now are often collectively well in excess of the loan principals.  Partly due to this pressure, Latin American nations continue to grant lucrative leases to the large oil, mining and agricultural companies to exploit the most biodiverse and fertile habitats on Earth, creating ecological and cultural havoc in their wake, in return for some short-term income for the government.  These “bribes” might make a particular government look good temporarily and provide some debt servicing, development and employment opportunities, but they are disastrous in the long run in their effect on true sovereignty and sustainability in the region.

One-third of Ecuador’s revenues, for example, come from oil exports.  As the films Crude and Yasuni clearly show, the devastation of the land, the water and the indigenous communities in the rainforest due to the exploitation of oil is widespread and can be permanent.  Because a full 80 percent of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon is earmarked for oil drilling, the consequent road-building is causing Ecuador’s deforestation rate to be the highest in South America, at 3 percent per year.  At that rate, half the jungle will be gone in just 25 years and most of the voluntarily isolated indigenous peoples will be destroyed or violently displaced.

All of this waste and devastation is unnecessary.  It is possible to leave the oil and minerals in the ground and instead create long-term programs to provide the people of Latin America with abundance and true sustainability through innovation that works with nature rather than against nature. Such innovations include clean breakthrough energy, sustainable organic agriculture, clean water and waste management, natural medicines, industrial hemp, permaculture, eco-tourism, health tourism, regionalized economies and a reformed monetary system that serves the needs of the people.

In light of the frightening escalation of environmental destruction in Latin America, combined with the fact that the world economic and political strongholds of the North are beginning to fall like dominoes, now is the time for us to join together to implement new policies to ensure sovereignty and sustainability for the Latin American peoples for generations to come.  Only then can we fulfill the prophecy of the coming together of the eagle and the condor in lasting peace.

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