MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining protests overshadow climate summit

Published by MAC on 2010-05-07
Source: The Guardian

At the recent Cochabamba Climate Change meeting in Bolivia, the issue was raised of mining's impact, not only on the climate but also inevitably its social impact.

Of key concern was the protest around Sumitomo's San Cristobal mine. (See However, the article below seems to suggest that the organisation FRUCTAS is leading the struggle against Sumitomo in Potosi, while our understanding is it is more a case of FRUCTAS following and supporting an ad hoc, indigenous outpouring of frustration.

Cochabamba: Mining protests overshadow climate summit

Participants, many from environmental and social groups, hope the summit's conclusions will be taken into account at the next UN talks in Mexico in December.

Claudia Lopez Pardo

SolveClimate, part of the Guardian Environment Network, The Guardian

21 April 2010

Cochabamba, Bolivia - Bolivian President Evo Morales launched the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on Tuesday, welcoming over 10,000 people from 135 countries and dozens of social organizations to what he declared to be an alternative to the United Nations climate talks.

In a moving multicultural ceremony in a stadium outside Cochabamba, amautas - indigenous cultural leaders - performed an official ceremony opening offering a gift to mother earth "Pachamama".

A written goal of the conference is "to save the planet," and Morales, who opposed the U.S.-backed Copenhagen Accord during the last international climate conference, was clear about where he'd like to start.

"We can not have equilibrium in this world with the current inequality and destruction of Mother Earth," Morales told the crowd. "Capitalism is what is causing this problem and it needs to end."

For three days, Cochabamba, a city of fewer than a million people, will hold 17 conference workshops where topics such as structural causes of climate change, harmony with nature, adapting to climate change, indigenous peoples, the dangers of the carbon market, climate justice and others will be discussed.

The participants, many from environmental and social groups, hope the summit's conclusions will be taken into account at the next UN talks in Mexico in December, though its unclear whether world leaders will even acknowledge the proposals.

The Rebel Workshop

Off the official summit campus, visitors can find Workshop No. 18 and another set of concerns.

Workshop No. 18 is a self-declared rebel workshop.

Morales' government doesn't want to hear the demands of the social organizations there because they are exposing environmental problems caused by extractive activities like mining, new projects hydroelectric dams and water legislation within Bolivia, participants said. Mining is likely to expand and cross paths with the global push for sustainability because Bolivia holds huge deposits of lithium, used in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. At the same time, Bolivia faces a danger of water shortages as its glaciers melt.

"The social and environmental issues that we are raising must be addressed by government," Secretary of Extractive Industries of the Confederation of indigenous Aymara Rafael Quispe said.

The Regional Federation of Peasant Workers of the Altiplano Sud (FRUTCAS) is one of the participating organizations at workshop No. 18. It is a grassroots organization of community members from Nor Lipez province of the department of Potosi who are in the midst of a conflict that has upended the operations of a huge Japanese trading company.

The protest is against the San Cristobal mine, which is owned by Sumitomo Corporation. It has been in operation for more than three years in the Andean region near the Salar de Uyuni in the town of Avaroa, but for the past week and a half, it has been largely shut down by the protesters.

With blockades, marches and office take-overs of the San Cristobal mine, the communities are demanding that the silver and lead mine replenish the water expended by the extraction processes of an open pit mine and that it be taxed. Six hundred liters of water every second are extracted by the mine.

They are also demanding the completion of projects that were promised by the mining companies when they began operations, such as electrification and improved road infrastructure, with emphasis on water issues.

So far, the Morales government has not taken action against the protest. The situation remains tense, and organizations at Workshop No. 18 are in solidarity with those who are mobilized.

So with an emphasis on indigenous culture, a sharing of information, and participants that range from indigenous to students, academics, government representatives from around the world, the conference and its satellites are under way. There is expectation and an excited willingness to move forward in the heated debates that are sure to come.

World Peoples' Conference On Climate Change : Indigenous Peoples Declaration

Indigenous Peoples Declaration

25 April 2010

Mother Earth can live without us, but we can't live without her.

We, the Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations from all over the world, gathered at the World Peoples' Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Earth, from April 19th to 22nd, 2010 in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, after extensive discussions, express the following:

We Indigenous Peoples are sons and daughters of Mother Earth, or "Pachamama" in Quechua. Mother Earth is a living being in the universe that concentrates energy and life, while giving shelter and life to all without asking anything in return, she is the past, present and future; this is our relationship with Mother Earth. We have lived in coexistence with her for thousands of years, with our wisdom and cosmic spirituality linked to nature. However, the economic models promoted and forced by industrialized countries that promote exploitation and wealth accumulation have radically transformed our relationship with Mother Earth. We must assert that climate change is one of the consequences of this irrational logic of life that we must change.

The aggression towards Mother Earth and the repeated assaults and violations against our soils, air, forests, rivers, lakes, biodiversity, and the cosmos are assaults against us.

Before, we used to ask for permission for everything. Now, coming from developed countries, it is presumed that Mother Earth must ask us for permission. Our territories are not respected, particularly those of peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact, and we suffer the most terrible aggression since colonization only to facilitate the entry of markets and extractive industries.

We recognize that Indigenous Peoples and the rest of the world live in a general age of crises: environmental, energy, food, financial, ethical, among others, as a consequence of policies and attitudes from racist and exclusionary states.

We want to convey that at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the peoples of the world demanded fair treatment, but were repressed. Meanwhile the states responsible for the climate crisis were able to weaken even more any possible outcome of negotiations and evade signing onto any binding agreement. They limited themselves to simply supporting the Copenhagen Accord, an accord that proposes unacceptable and insufficient goals as far as climate change action and financing to the most affected countries and peoples.

We affirm that international negotiation spaces have systematically excluded the participation of Indigenous Peoples. As a result, we as Indigenous Peoples are making ourselves visible in these spaces, because as Mother Earth has been hurt and plundered, with negative activities taking place on our lands, territories and natural resources, we have also been hurt. This is why as Indigenous Peoples we will not keep silent, but instead we propose to mobilize all our peoples to arrive at COP16 in Mexico and other spaces well prepared and united to defend our proposals, particularly the "living well" and plurinational state proposals. We, Indigenous Peoples, do not want to live "better", but instead we believe that everyone must live well. This is a proposal to achieve balance and start to construct a new society.

The search for common objectives, as history shows us, will only be completed with theunion of Indigenous Peoples of the World. The ancestral and indigenous roots shared by the whole world must be one of the bonds that unite us to achieve one unique objective.

Therefore we propose, require and demand:
1. The recovery, revalidation and strengthening of our civilizations, identities, cultures and cosmovisions based on ancient and ancestral Indigenous knowledge and wisdom for the construction of alternative ways of life to the current "development model", as a way to confront climate change.

2. To rescue and strengthen the Indigenous proposal of "living well", while also recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with whom we have an indivisible and interdependent relationship, based on principles and mechanisms that assure the respect, harmony, and balance between people and nature, and supporting a society based on social and environmental justice, which sees life as its purpose. All this must be done to confront the plundering capitalist model and guarantee the protection of life as a whole, through the search for inclusive global agreements.

3. We demand States to recognize, respect and guarantee the application of international standards of human rights and Indigenous Peoples' rights (i.e., The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169) in the framework of negotiations, policies, and measures to confront climate change.

4. We demand States to legally recognize the preexistence of our right to the lands, territories, and natural resources that we have traditionally held as Indigenous Peoples and Nations, as well as restitution and restoration of natural goods, water, forests and jungles, lakes, oceans, sacred places, lands, and territories that have been dispossessed and seized. This is needed to strengthen and make possible our traditional way of living while contributing effectively to climate change solutions. Inasmuch, we call for the consolidation of indigenous territories in exercise of our self-determination and autonomy, in conformity with systems of rules and regulations. At the same time we demand that states respect the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation or in initial contact, as an effective way to preserve their integrity and combat the adverse effects of climate change towards those peoples.

5. We call on States not to promote commercial monoculture practices, nor to introduce or promote genetically-modified and exotic crops, because according to our people's wisdom, these species aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests and soils, contributing to the increase in global warming. Likewise, megaprojects under the search for alternative energy sources that affect Indigenous Peoples' lands, territories, and natural habitats should not be implemented, including nuclear, bio-engineering, hydroelectric, wind-power and others.

6. We demand changes to forestry and environmental laws, as well as the application of pertinent international instruments to effectively protect forests and jungles, as well as their biological and cultural diversity, guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples'
rights, including their participation and their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

7. We propose that, in the framework of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, states establish a policy that Protected Natural Areas must be managed, administered and controlled directly by Indigenous Peoples, taking into account the demonstrated traditional experience and knowledge towards the sustainable management of the biodiversity in our forests and jungles.

8. We demand a review, or if the case warrants, a moratorium, to every polluting activity that affects Mother Earth, and the withdrawal of multinational corporations and megaprojects from Indigenous territories.

9. We urge that states recognize water as a fundamental human right, avoiding its privatization and commodification.

10. We demand the application of consultations, participation, and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and affected populations in the design and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and any other intervening actions on Indigenous territories.

11. States must promote mechanisms to guarantee that funding for climate change action arrives directly and effectively to Indigenous Peoples, as part of the compensation for the historical and ecological debt owed. This funding must support and strengthen our own visions and cosmovisions towards "living well".

12. We call for the recovery, revalidation and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples' technologies and knowledge, and for their incorporation into the research, design and implementation of climate change policies. This should compliment Western
knowledge and technology, ensuring that technology transfer processes do not weaken indigenous knowledge and technologies.

13. We propose the recovery, development and diffusion of indigenous knowledge and technology through the implementation of educational policies and programs, including the modification and incorporation of such knowledge and ancestral wisdom in curricula and teaching methods.

14. We urge States and international bodies that are making decisions about climate change, especially the UNFCCC, to establish formal structures and mechanisms that include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples. They must also include local communities and vulnerable groups, including women, without discrimination, as a key element to obtain a fair and equitable result from climate change negotiations.

15. We join in the demand to create a Climate Justice Tribunal that would be able to pass judgement and establish penalties for non-compliance of agreements, and other environmental crimes by developed countries, which are primarily responsible for climate change. This institution must consider the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, and their principles of justice.

16. We propose the organization and coordination of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, through our local, national, regional, and international governments, organizations, and other mechanisms of legitimate representation, in order to participate in all climate change related processes. With that in mind, we call for an organizational space to be created that will contribute to the global search for effective solutions to climate change, with the special participation of Elders.

17. We propose to fight in all spaces available to defend life and Mother Earth, particularly in COP16, and so we propose a 2nd Peoples' Conference to strengthen the process of reflection and action.

18. The ratification of the global campaign to organize the World March in defense of Mother Earth and her peoples, against the commodification of life, pollution, and the criminalization of Indigenous and social movements.

Created in unity in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, the 21st day of April, 2010

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