11 Nov 2007
Faced with this situation, we – the indigenous peoples and humble and honest inhabitants of this planet – believe that the time has come to put a stop to this, in order to rediscover our roots, with respect for Mother Earth; with the Pachamama as we call it in the Andes. Today, the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world have been called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life.
“I believe the phrase of Karl Marx is more relevant today than ever before, so the question is: socialism or death, but death of the human race, the death of the planet, because capitalism has abandoned the planet, it is destroying the ecology of the planet”, stated Chavez. “We must raise up a new banner of socialism, a new way for the 21st century, the building of a firm movement of real socialism on the planet.”
“We want a new socialism”, but not one that copies the serious errors of the 20th century models”
Lets face it the serious work is going on in Latin America. A huge grassroots ecosocialist movement is active, growing and has influence on some of the most important political figures in the region.
Hugo Blanco, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have all made prominent speech which cover the over ridding importance of ecological politics, the need to combat climate change, the need for ecology to embrace grassroots democratic management, the contradictions between ever increasing economic growth and biological reality on planet earth, the demand that environmental reform should go hand in hand with social justice and the need to redefine need beyond a bankrupt consumer society.
You can read some of their words here:
Our Culture Hugo Blanco
Socialism or Barbarism Hugo Chavez
Fidel Castro on biofuels, climate change and the great car economy
Cuba and Venezuela have been working hard on climate change.
Indigenous people across Latin America have been in the forefront of calls for ecosocialist politics...birds and trees are about bread and butter (or what ever the Peruvian equivalent) environmental destruction equals economic catastrophe. Ecology is about identity for indigenous people not just cash but economic considerations way in favour of looking after Mama Earth.
Yesterday at the Venezuela Information Centre Conference in London, the Venezuela Ambassador to France, Cesar Aponte from the Ministry of the Environment and a long standing ecosocialist plus Professor Francisco Javier Velasco spoke on an enviroment panal. All called for the creation of an ecosocialist politics and backed calls to turn the United Socialist Party into a ecosocialist political organisation.
Professor Francisco Javier Velasco criticised the view that looked as nature just as a resource, attacking what he termed 'productivism' and 'developmentalism'. There have been big battles between conservationists who want to exclude people from nature and instead nature and society are linked. The Professor argued that ecological politics is about grassroots involvement...he said there was a battle in Venezuela over the status of green politics and he was aiming to argue for a grassroots ecological politics in the new United Socialist Party. He is in touch with the Ecosocialist International (I think?)
This is a summary of one of his papers:
Recent disputes have announced the end of development as a way of thinking. Alternative discourses end up making a theoretical core with certain principles of the very scheme they have criticized. This raises the issue of the need for a thorough conceptual transformation of development on the basis of other rationalities. Within the framework of globalization, a continuous sterilization of culture and nature is beeing promoted. In order to face this situation, an alternative vision of development must go beyond the ideological, conceptual and practical limitations of developmentalism. In this sense, proposals have a base in the articulation between culture and environment that allows people to become the protagonists of their own development. Although distant from the economic bias, this alternative vision requires a political economy able to recognize the centrality and complexity of ecology and culture. From
Dr Jesus Arnaldo Perez the Venezuelan Ambassador, was the first Chavista environment minister back in 1999. A very tough job and he discussed some of the problems he had and the need again to listen to the indigenous people. He called for 'ecosocialism' and 'eco citizenship'. Talking to me afterwards he said he had heard about some guy who had been elected as an ecosocialist in London, I thought he meant Darren Johnson but it was reference to my re-election as Principal Speaker!
There is an interesting interview with himhere.
All the speakers were frank about the 'challenges' Venezuela is a petro economy, people love their cars which run on very cheap fuel, corruption is a big problem and there is an ideological battle or battles...some reject ecology and some believe ecology should be top down and not involve ordinary people.
There are some practical changes from tree planting, to stopping gold mining in parks, to closing down some of the open cast coal and respecting indigenous people...new railways are going, energy saving light bulbs are universal and gas rather than gasoline will eventually power cars, organic agriculture is widely taught and scientific ecologists have some influence on the policy process.
Venezuela is making attempts to diversify from oil, however the often heavy dirty oil is still motoring the economy. Not much agonising in contrast in Britain over North Sea oil, get out of the ground as soon as possible and dam the consequences!
Will be talking about this at the Hands off Venezuela Conference
on November 24th
Posted by Derek Wall at 12:50 pm