It appears to be a sort of virus – a crisis of conscience – spreading across South America, as more and more governments, driven by the will of their people, begin to realize that La Madre, Mother Earth, is not simply a thing to be exploited for Her riches, but an entity that has needs and even rights of Her own.
In North America, this attitude (of recognizing inherent autonomy in aggregate bodies) translates to corporatism, with corporations being given the same rights as people – often to the detriment of the very people they purport to serve.
In South America, the target is the Earth herself – a viewpoint that James Lovelock, of Gaia Theory, can totally appreciate. The interesting thing is that while Norteamericanos (and Europeans, and other people from the “developed world”) focus on business and money, South Americans are focused on the soil and the trees and the air and the wind – the things that make up mankind’s real home. His only home.
Where does this focus come from? I think it is the result of the maquiladora culture that has despoiled so many parts of South America. A culture born of corporate greed that thinks it is okay to poison the water and starve the people to make blue jeans, as long as the people who buy the jeans don’t have to see the destruction.
But that tide is now turning;the new paradigm is a warrior mentality – backed by the blood of Aztecs, Olmecs, Incas and Mayans – and today’s South American ecowarriors are taking a stand.
These are the people whose skills in mathematics, astronomy and geography rivaled anything the ancient world had to offer. In fact, Mayan civilization was at its peak about the same time as Babylon, and had already begun to fade about the time Charlemagne died. Our European ancestors were living in mud and stick homes (wattle and daub) which they shared with their chickens and pigs when the Mayans finished their last pyramid.
It is from these people that new leaders are arising. Only a few – like Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, and Hugo Chavez – are truly indigenous; Morales is an Aymara, Chavez a “pardo” (mixed Indian and black). The rest are sympathizers; that is, they come from the lower classes, or have been involved in leftist politics, or are passionate and dedicated human rights advocates.
Ecuador passed its historic “Pachamama” (mother Earth Goddess rights) initiative in 2008. In April of this year, Morales announced the Law of Mother Earth, a law based on indigenous belief that all the inhabitants of nature are equal.
Ecuador’s law, la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, says that Earth has: the right to exist; the right to perpetuate vital cycles free from human intervention; the right to clean water and air; the right to achieve and maintain equilibrium; the right not to be desecrated; and the right to flourish without cellular or genetic modification. Oh, and one more right: to not be affected by huge corporate, governmental or NGO development projects that adversely impact ecosystems and local communities.
On the whole, this law reads like a detailed explication of “Go Home Yanqui”, a phrase on the lips of every oppressed people for the last three centuries. Expect the sentiment to spread like a case of smallpox gotten off a British fur trader’s blanket.
Okay, so that’s just a really old urban legend, but the move to protect the earth is not. If you think it’s a fluke or a fast-fading fad, consider these leaders and their political orientation:
President Country Indigenous
Cristina Fernandez Argentina No, a female and a human rights activist
Dilma Roussef Brazil No, joined the resistance as a teen
Sebastian Pinera Chile No (and the day he took office a 6.9 earthquake occurred)
Juan Manuel Santos Colombia No,
Uribe Castro Cuba No, but he is part of “Guajiro (peasant)” culture
Rafael Correa Ecuador No, but voided national debt incurred under former dictatorship
Mauricio Funes El Salvador former (Marxist) leftist rebel
Alvaro Colom Guatemala No, but he is a social democrat
Olanta Humala Peru Yes, a Quechua Indian with close ties to Chavez
Jose Mujica Uruguay No, but as a youth he espoused the philosophy of the Cuban revolution
Hugo Chavez Venezuela Yes, he is a “pardo” (Hispanic, indigenous and black)
Evo Morales Bolivia Yes, an Aymara, and the first indigenous president of Bolivia
Which explains why, when U.S. diplomats like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visit a South American country and say “play ball!” they are not talking baseball. The name of the game is natural resources, and the expectation is that everyone will hand over the goodies, as they always have.
I think someone forgot to tell the U.S. State Department that it’s the bottom of the ninth, our pitcher sucks and the bases are loaded.
Article by Jeanne Roberts, appearing courtesy Celsias.