Slider photo of Volcan Villarrica shot from Parque Nacional Huerquehue, Chile photo: Langelle
Listen to GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann talk about COP 25 and recent events in Chile:
Annie Lorie (left) led a delegation of Rural Coalition board members at the Forest & Climate Convergence. These board members are included in this KPFK interview that was recorded during the convergence. Photo: Langelle/photolangelle.org
This one-hour special aired Tuesday 12 November on the nationally syndicated Sojourner Truth show on Pacifica’s flagship KPFK live from The Resurgence: North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence at the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois.
The convergence was organized by the Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and Shawnee Forest Defense! as a call to action to plan for the future.
Panelists include members from the Rural Coalition, a partner in the effort to stop the release of genetically engineered trees into forests.
GJEP partners with the Sojourner Truth show every Wednesday on Earth Minute and every Thursday on Earth Watch.
Evo Morales speaks to a group of NGOs in Manhattan ahead of the UN Climate Summit in Cancun in 2010. Photo: Petermann
Toward Freedom November 11, 2019
What caused the fall of the government of Evo Morales in Bolivia is an uprising by the people of Bolivia and their organizations. Their movements demanded his resignation before the army and police did. The Organization of American States sustained the government until the bitter end.
The context for what is taking place in Bolivia didn’t start with electoral fraud, rather it began with systematic attacks by the government of Evo Morales and Álvaro García Linera against the same popular movements that brought them to power, to the point that when they needed the movements to defend them, the movements were deactivated and demoralized.
The social mobilization and the refusal of movements to defend what in another moment they considered to be “their” government was what precipitated Morales’ resignation. That is made clear by the declarations by the Workers’ Central of Bolivia (COB), the teachers and authorities of the Public University of El Alto (UPEA), and dozens of other organizations, including Mujeres Creando, which has been perhaps the clearest of all. The Latin American left appears unable to accept that a considerable segment of popular movements demanded the resignation of the government, because they can’t see beyond the leaders (los caudillos).
To read the full article go to Toward Freedom.
Caption: The passing of the Forest Ordinance 701 (Decreto Ley 701) in 1974, during the reign of General Augusto Pinochet, subsidized the expansion of tree plantations, giving away the National Forestry Corporation. This initiated the quick expansion of monoculture plantations of pine and eucalyptus trees for paper manufacturing and timber. Since then, many corporations have bought land and destroyed the once abundant native forests. Photo: Langelle
Note: The following piece was written by GJEP ally Biofuelwatch to explain the deep connections between the massive popular uprising in Chile against the countries crushing neoliberal policies, land grabs and repressive laws left over from the Pinochet Dictatorship–policies that still govern the nation. Chile was to be the perfect host for the UN Climate COP which has as its focus the expansion and further legitimization of market-based policies based on the neoliberal commodification of the earth, an expansion of industrial tree plantations as a “natural climate solution” and more unjust forest carbon offsets.
Today Chile announced it will not host the COP due to the peoples’ uprising.
¡El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido!
Biofuelwatch staff members have been watching recent events in Chile very closely in preparation for participation in events around COP 25, planned for Santiago in early December. Here is the first in what we hope to have as a series of brief postings on the extremely fluid and rapidly changing political landscape in Chile and how it impacts the substance and dynamics of the United Nations climate meetings.
by Gary Hughes, Biofuelwatch
Recent events in Chile have put the upcoming United Nations climate meetings in Santiago de Chile in doubt. In a fully unexpected convulsion of street action and spontaneous mass protest, the nation of Chile has passed from being a global symbol celebrating corporate globalization and economic modernity into a bonfire of disturbance at the center of a continent wide fever of social unrest. In little more than a week the actions in Chile progressed from an animated and aggressive student protest against subway fare hikes to a nationwide mobilization demanding structural changes in what is one of the most economically unequal societies on the planet.
This unrest in Chile has taken the global climate policy establishment by total surprise. No one thought that in the weeks immediately previous to international climate meetings Chile would enter an unprecedented phase of political action dedicated to exposing the erroneous assumptions underpinning the glitter and shine facade of a predatory economic model.
Plans for holding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 25th Conference of Parties in Santiago de Chile only arose because of the climate denying Bolsonaro regime in Brazil discarding their opportunity to hold the COP 25. Holding COP 25 in Santiago de Chile was received as an exciting solution by the United Nations. Current Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, always the salesman, who was looking for another opportunity to sell the world on the Chilean economic miracle, proposed the option.
And, “why not?” thought the global economic elite that controls the UNFCCC process. Chile is after all a country that has long been held up as a success story for the new global economy, the “tiger” of Latin America. Holding COP 25 in Santiago de Chile, the capitol of free market ideology, was going to be an opportunity to highlight the future of markets-based climate policy and the supposed role of the private sector in raising “ambition” for climate “action.”
Yet, the harsh reality of a free market economic system that benefits a small elite with immeasurable wealth while relegating multitudes of vulnerable and marginalized communities to a permanent state of precariousness raised it’s head and upended not only normality in Chile, but also in the UNFCCC process.
Chile is now living its most serious political crisis in decades, since the departure of the military government in 1990. A ‘state of exception’ was declared, a curfew implemented in many regions through out the length of the country, and the military was called into the streets of a nation understandably traumatized by the violence of an unrepentant military dictatorship. Police and army troops have been indiscriminate in their use of violence against the people on the streets. Thousands of people have been detained, hundreds of people shot and injured, and at least 20 people have died, including fatalities due to the repressive actions of the authorities. The United Nations has sent a mission to Chile to investigate the reports of human rights abuses.
The Chilean people responded to the violence and the suspension of their basic rights by coming out in droves on Friday Oct 25 in what was by far the largest street demonstration in the history of the country, with as many as 1.5 million people filling the main boulevard of Santiago demanding structural changes to address severe economic inequity and the injustice of a political constitution written and established during the military government.
Front and center to this historic uprising are the demands of those communities, especially the indigenous Mapuche peoples of the south of the country, who are living on a daily basis with environmental injustice. For the Mapuche nation it is the reversal of the land grabbing and usurpation of territory perpetuated by the highly monopolized monoculture tree plantation industry that is central to their demands for structural change. It is this festering sore of environmental injustice and how COP25 should respond to inequity that has now been raised to a level of importance that would have been nearly impossible without this organic uprising in Chile against a predatory economic model.
Hosting COP25 in Chile was from the moment it was announced a concern for communities, in Chile and around the world, that advocate bringing an end to the ecological damage and cultural genocide that are embedded in the exotic tree species plantation model. Communities were facing head on the dilemma of whether COP25 would be leveraged to greenwash inequality in Chile and elsewhere by not only ignoring the realities on the ground of the “green desert” of the destructive monoculture plantation model, but in advancing policy that would perpetuate and further expand this model as a climate “solution.”
The sad truth is that due to the incessant policy and rhetorical focus on “natural climate solutions,” and the prevalence of “markets-based mechanisms” embedded in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, there are still many indications from the global climate establishment that exotic trees species plantations are actually considered a climate solution – contesting these perverse assumptions about plantations was going to be an imperative for civil society engaging with COP25 and parallel activities.
The uprising in Chile has now raised the issue of equity and social justice in the UNFCCC process to a level that would have been impossible in status-quo conditions. In that sense the recent “despertar” (awakening) in Chile could very well be the best thing that could have ever happened for affected communities to hold COP25 accountable, regardless of whether the meetings actually happen in Chile or not – now the question of equity is clearly nested in the question of whether or not the social unrest makes even holding the COP25 in Santiago de Chile a viable option.
It is untenable that holding COP25 in Chile be used to “greenwash” the recent human rights abuses of the current government of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera. It is also untenable to consider holding COP25 in Santiago de Chile if the rights to free speech, movement and assembly are at risk because of so-called “security” concerns. If COP25 is to be held in Santiago in this political moment there have to be guarantees that civil society and especially the communities of Chile that are subject to environmental racism and climate injustice are allowed to gather, organize and congregate freely. Equity cannot be a word that is thrown about with carelessness and as a rhetorical tool to disguise the business as usual tendencies of climate agreements that still sell the world on exotic tree species plantations as a “natural climate solution.”
Chile has set the standard now with the society wide organic awakening against inequality. In the spirit of this moment if COP25 is to be hosted in Chile the proceedings must respond to the growing demands of Chile and the rest of the world that true climate action must be centered on equity. Anything less is window dressing. Is the global climate establishment prepared to rise to the occasion? The next days and weeks will determine to what extent equity is truly a priority in climate action and to what extent the defense of human rights is considered a top level priority – or, if indeed the UNFCCC process really is designed to protect business as usual under the guise of global climate diplomacy. Without a doubt, it is the recent unrest in Chile that has assisted in elevating these questions to the front of the discussion.
Caption: Industrial tree plantations of pine and eucalytpus, developed on land given away to timber companies under the Pinochet dictatorship, caught fire in 2017. Combined with climate change-induced drought and heatwaves, these fires were the worst in Chile’s history and burned entire towns. Photo: Langelle
NOTE: The following is a letter describing the background of the uprising of the people of Chile against the impacts of 30 years of policies formed under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet–itself an orchestration of the US by way of The Chicago Boys under the leadership of Milton Friedman. The current uprising, historic and huge for the people and the country, is not surprisingly being ignored by the US media.
I encourage you to seek out good information about the situation there and support the people struggling against the yoke of neoliberal repression.
Read the statement of solidarity by the Mapuche People with the protesters on photolangelle.org
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project
I was in Chile the past days and decided to write this letter to inform a little about the situation also for those planning to attend the [UN] climate change COP in Santiago [in December].
Information letter About the situation in Chile
Following the announcement of the Chilean government of a rise in subway rates, a series of actions are unleashed in Santiago and other cities. Students take the subway evading payment as protest against the raise and the government’s response is to militarize the streets.
The Chilean people denounce that this increase is only the drop that spills the glass, because it is not only 30 pesos in the tariff but 30 years of living under a constitution made in times of dictatorship, 30 years in which an economic bubble was generated that showed Chile as a paradise at the expense of the population’s indebtedness.
The claim of the Chilean people is against an extremely neoliberal structure in which even the most basic human rights recognized internationally, are privatized and handed over to private capitals that not only use the resources of this country but also abuse the population. Water is privatized as is health and education and social security. It is amazing to inquire into the details and understand the level of privatization of this country so close to others with struggles for the nationalization of its resources.
The dictatorship’s wound is still very present in the Chilean people. Through concrete events such as living with a constitution written at the time of the dictator Pinochet, but also by the excessive repression that is exerted on the population. The military armed with all kinds of war arsenal are on the streets ready to use their weapons against their own population. There are even allegations of torture in the best dictatorial style. Despite the fear, however, more and more people join the streets to call for a system change, the resignation of Piñera, current president, and the amendment of the Constitution.
There are already several dead in the country, but there are also more and more people on the streets. Girls and boys, adults, the elderly, students and the general population show a cumulative fatigue of years where the privileged maintain power because it is a feast for the private sector that profits even with services that should be a right.
I was present a few days ago in the protests and I could witness the struggle of a clearly tired and oppressed people. Despite the brutal repression, I could observe the strength of the people and their conviction to achieve changes they have been waiting for a long time.
The COP of climate change is planned to take place in Santiago in December of this year. Based on what I could see, the demonstrations are likely to continue, leaving the realization of this event in great uncertainty. The subway only works in some sections and, of course, the militarization of cities creates a risky environment for anyone. On the other hand, the flights are erratic and there are curfews every day at a different time.
I believe that the international community must be attentive and pronounce on this. Chile, and no other country should use the COP or these events to wash their hands and even worse when there are murders, persecutions and torture.
Carta informativa Sobre la situación en Chile
Tras el anuncio del gobierno chileno de un alza en las tarifas del metro, una serie de acciones se desatan en Santiago y otras ciudades. Estudiantes toman los metros evadiendo el pago en modo de protesta y la respuesta del gobierno es militarizar las calles.
El pueblo Chileno denuncia que este incremento es sólo la gota que derrama el vaso, pues no son sólo 30 pesos en la tarifa sino 30 años de vivir bajo una constitución hecha en tiempos de dictadura, 30 años en los que se generó una burbuja económica que mostraba a Chile como un paraíso a costa del endeudamiento de la población.
El reclamo del pueblo Chileno es en contra de una estructura extremadamente neoliberal en la cual incluso los derechos más básicos del ser humano reconocidos internacionalmente, son privatizados y entregados a capitales privados que no sólo usan los recursos de este país sino que abusan de la población. El agua está privatizada al igual que la salud y la educación y la seguridad social. Es asombroso indagar en los detalles y entender el nivel de privatización de este país tan cercano a otros con luchas por la nacionalización de sus recursos.
La herida de la dictadura aún está muy presente en el pueblo Chileno. Mediante hechos concretos como el vivir con una constitución redactada en tiempos del dictador Pinochet, pero también por la represión desmedida que se ejerce sobre la población. Los militares armados con todo tipo de arsenal bélico están en las calles listos usar las armas contra su propia población. Hay incluso denuncias de tortura al mejor estilo dictatorial. A pesar del miedo sin embargo, cada vez más gente se suma a las calles para pedir un cambio de sistema, la renuncia de Piñera, actual presidente, y la modificación de la Constitución.
Ya se cuentan varios muertos en el país, pero también se cuentan cada vez más personas en las calles. Niñas y niños, adultos, ancianos, estudiantes y la población en general manifiestan un cansancio acumulado de años donde los privilegiados mantienen el poder pues es un festín para el sector privado que lucra incluso con servicios que deberían ser un derecho.
Estuve presente hace unos días en las protestas y pude ser testigo de la lucha de un pueblo claramente cansado y oprimido. A pesar de la brutal represión, pude observar la fuerza de la gente y su convicción para alcanzar cambios que han estado esperando por mucho tiempo.
La COP de cambio climático está planificada para desarrollarse en Santiago en Diciembre de este año. Basado en lo que pude ver, es probable que las manifestaciones se prolonguen lo que deja en mucha incertidumbre la realización de este evento. El metro sólo funciona en algunos tramos y por supuesto la militarización de las ciudades genera un ambiente de riesgo para cualquier persona. Por otro lado, los vuelos son erráticos y hay toques de queda cada día a una hora diferente.
Creo que la comunidad internacional debe estar atenta y pronunciarse al respecto. Chile, y ningún otro país debe usar la COP o estos eventos para lavarse las manos y peor aún cuando hay asesinatos, persecuciones y torturas.