Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday already? Irrefutable? must be Peru.

Up, Down.

Update: The Canadian connection is more intimate than I knew at the time, check out Bill C-24 Free Trade Agreement with Peru at The Council of Canadians, also turns out that Canadian companies comprise half or more than half of the activity (doh!)

President García backed actions undertaken by the National Police during the deadly clashes with indigenous groups. “They did their duty, and also have their martyrs. Next time they will have to be more alert and maybe act with not so much benevolence”. (from MercoPress)

Alan Gabriel Ludwig García PérezMaría Zavala ValladaresAlan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez"It has been irrefutably proven that the police were tortured and killed."
María Zavala Valladares, Peru's ambassador to the OAS, aka 'the Official Liar'.

Mercedes Cabanillas BustamanteMercedes Cabanillas BustamanteMercedes Cabanillas BustamanteMercedes Cabanillas Bustamantethen we have Mercedes Cabanillas Bustamante, La ministra del Interior - Minister of the Interior, aka 'the Official Muzzle' see below,

a-and finally, on the government side there is Carmen Vildoso Chirinos, La ministra de la Mujer - Minister of Women, maybe we should call her Little Bo Peep?

Carmen Vildoso ChirinosCarmen Vildoso ChirinosCarmen Vildoso ChirinosCarmen Vildoso ChirinosLittle Bo-peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them.

Little Bo-peep fell fast asleep,
And dreamt she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For they were still a-fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,
Determined for to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left all their tails behind them.

the BBC says below that she "resigned in protest at the government's handling of the crisis," but I think there might be some quite complicated shame mixed in there as well eh?

( Now the rainman gave me two cures, then he said, "Jump right in." The one was Texas medicine, the other was just railroad gin. An' like a fool I mixed them and it strangled up my mind, now people just get uglier and I have no sense of time.

        Bob Dylan, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, 1966. )

well, there is something going on in Peru alright, and it's not new, it's the same everywhere they go, only problem is - they are everywhere!

some news clips from YouTube, in spanish, but really you do not need to understand every word to see what is what, and these people are speaking slowly: Nerida Calvo, Alberto Pizango 1, Alberto Pizango 2.

the map on the left (Source: PerúPetro) is at quite a large scale so you can read the company names associated with each Block ... informative ... like ticks on a dog

PerúPetro Overall GameplanPhillipsConoco Game Plan

the 'proven track record' is consistent, just a few examples -
Nigeria: Shell Global and Shell in Nigeria and Ken Saro-Wiwa and the recent Shell settlement with the Ogoni people.
Ecuador: Texaco in Ecuador (from the perspective of Chevron - no longer on-line), and Amazon Crude on 60 Minutes on YouTube, 15 minutes, worth a watch.

now we have ConocoPhillips and their buddies CEPSA - Compañía Española de Petróleos & Burlington Resources now a Subsidiary, & BPZ Energy & Perúpetro S.A. & Repsol YPF, and there are Talisman Energy & Petrolifera Petroleum Limited the k-k-Canadian connections, and a HOST of others ...

and then there is AIDESEP - Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana, with Daysi Zapata Fasabi and Alberto Pizango, and Nélida Calvo Nantip of ORPIAN - Organización Nacional de Indigenas de la Amazonía Norte, whose brother was killed in the clashes and many others:
Daysi Zapata Fasabi, AIDESEPDaysi Zapata Fasabi, AIDESEPDaysi Zapata Fasabi, AIDESEPDaysi Zapata Fasabi, AIDESEPNélida Calvo Nantip, ORPIANNélida Calvo Nantip, ORPIANNélida Calvo Nantip, ORPIANNélida Calvo Nantip, ORPIAN
Alberto Pizango, AIDESEPAlberto Pizango, AIDESEPAlberto Pizango, AIDESEPAlberto Pizango, AIDESEPAlberto Pizango, AIDESEPAlberto Pizango, AIDESEPAlberto Pizango, AIDESEP

from Native Languages of the Americas:
Q: Does "Wasicun," the Sioux word for the white man, really mean "greedy person who steals the fat"?

A: No. Wasicun is a real word in both Lakota and Dakota Sioux (variously spelled Wasicu, Wašicun, Wasichu, Washicun, or Washichu), and it does mean "non-Indian." But its literal meaning is someone with special powers. Of course as American-Sioux relations went downhill, the word began to be viewed more negatively. But the claim that wasicu had a negative meaning like "steals the bacon" or "greedy" or "tells lies" is not actually true--if anything, the original meaning was a positive one. Today, wasicu does sometimes have the connotation of a greedy or dishonorable person, because many Sioux perceive white people as being rather greedy and dishonorable; however the word does not actually have this or any other negative meaning, and it is used in ordinary contexts in spoken Lakota, not just derogatory ones.

So where did the story that "wašicun" means "steals the fat" come from? Well, "wašin icu" means "takes the fat," and that does sound a lot like "wašicun" (especially in Lakota, since those n's are not fully pronounced). So it's possible some white person who didn't speak the language very well simply made a mistake... but in my opinion, it was probably a pun. "Wašicun--wašin icu" (the white man, takes all the fat.) It's a joke that practically writes itself. Wordplay is common in the Sioux languages, and deliberately mispronouncing an innocuous or complimentary name so that it sounds like something less flattering was not invented in the 1980's.

And here you thought we didn't have a sense of humor. :-)
1. In praise of ... Alberto Pizango, Guardian Editorial, Wednesday 10 June 2009.
2. Shell settlement with Ogoni people stops short of full justice, John Vidal, Wednesday 10 June 2009.
3. Amazon radio taken off air for bogus reasons after reporting on riots, Reporters Without Borders, Monday 15 June 2009.
4. Peru polarised after deadly clashes, Dan Collyns, Wednesday, 10 June 2009.
In praise of ... Alberto Pizango, Guardian Editorial, Wednesday 10 June 2009.

For the last two months, the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon have been protesting peacefully against the destruction of their lands. An Indian uprising has seen rivers blockaded to prevent oil companies sending barges into the forest in the hope of overturning a new law that lets rip the exploitation of the Amazon forests by loggers, miners, biofuel farmers and oil men. Peru's president, Alan Garcia, is determined to parcel up the forest into blocks for commercial use, encouraged by a free trade deal with America signed three years ago. More than 70% of the forest has been allocated for oil exploration and the consequences for the Amazonian ecosystem, and the people who co-exist with it, have been dire. The protests turned bloody last Friday when clashes with the army and police, as they tried to clear a roadblock, left at least 30 people dead and perhaps many more. The Indian spokesman, Alberto Pizango, who heads a human rights organisation that brings together Amazonian Indian interests from across the country and which has long fought peacefully to protect the forests, has been charged with sedition. Yesterday he sought asylum at the Nicaraguan embassy in Lima. Meanwhile the protests go on. Several of the oil companies involved in Peru have links with Britain, including Perenco - an Anglo-French company with an oil project in the northern Amazon, on land that the campaigning group Survival International says is home to at least two remote forest tribes.

Shell settlement with Ogoni people stops short of full justice, John Vidal, Wednesday 10 June 2009.

Payout of $15.5m could backfire now that precedent of a Nigerian community suing a oil company has been set

Shell's decision to settle out of court with a group of Ogoni people rather than take them on in New York means a measure of justice has come to the Niger Delta. The sum of $15.5m (£9.6m) may be peanuts for the company and nothing can compensate the 500,000 Ogoni people for generations of devastating pollution, human rights abuses and persecution. But while Shell insists that the result is no admission of guilt, it nevertheless represents a triumph for an impoverished community over one of the richest companies in the world.

What it suggests is that Shell wants to bury the facts about what was happening on the Niger delta in the 1970s and 1980s when it was extracting tens of millions of barrels of oil a year from Ogoniland while allowing the people to slide into destitution as it was destroying their environment. The settlement stops the world knowing exactly what was the company's relationship with the national government and the military, and the extent of Shell's involvement in the human rights abuses that led to Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution. The Ogoni had assembled a formidable case and were being represented by some of the most best human rights lawyers in the world. It could have been intensely embarrassing for the company if it all had come out.

Shell said it had agreed to settle out of humanitarian interests, but everyone on the delta knows that real justice has not been done, and that the environmental abuses continue. The company continues to needlessly burn off vast amounts of gas. The air is still poisoned, children are still sick, there are few jobs, the creeks are polluted and the poverty is intense.

Moreover, the security situation on the delta is far worse than it was 12 years ago when the Ogoni case began. Then, the delta was politically volatile but the oil companies could work there more or less unimpeded and people felt reasonably safe. Today the whole region is awash with guns and the delta is one of the most dangerous places on earth.

In the last few months the Nigerian military have raided dozens of communities they believe are threatening the state and thousands of people have fled their villages. The kind of peaceful protest that the Ogoni led in the 1990s now seems quaint. Anyone who stands up for environmental justice or who challenges the oil companies, which provide the Nigerian state with 90% of their foreign earnings, is now in mortal danger.

But Shell's decision could backfire. The precedent of a Nigerian community suing a multinational oil company in a western court has been set. There are thousands more Ogoni who will now want to bring their case to the west to see justice done, as well as other Niger Delta tribes like the Ijaw, the Igbo, the Ibibio and the Itsekiri who also want justice. There have been more than 500 pollution cases against Shell in Nigeria, but few reach court and the company has been able to use the appeal system to delay those that do for many years.

Now the lesson is that justice and reparation can be obtained abroad. A Dutch court will soon hear a case brought against Shell by other Niger Delta villagers following a major oil spill years ago. Meanwhile, in Ecuador, Chevron is about to hear its fate in a massive pollution case that has been going on for nearly 10 years. It's quite possible the company will be fined more than $4bn.

Amazon radio taken off air for bogus reasons after reporting on riots, Reporters Without Borders, Monday 15 June 2009.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned as “bogus” and “dishonest” technical and official explanations given by the Ministry of Transport and Communications for banning broadcasting by the radio station La Voz de Bagua Grande in the town of the same name in Peru’s north-west.

The worldwide press freedom organisation called on the government, unhappy at the media’s support for recent indigenous peoples’ demonstrations, to respect rules for the station’s approval including time limits fixed by itself.

“No-body is fooled by the reasons advanced by the government for silencing La Voz de Bagua Grande. This comes after recent clashes in the Amazonian region between government forces and the indigenous population,” the organisation said.

“Several voices, both within the police and the government, have accused the station of encouraging the riots. If this accusation was well-founded, why resort to administrative and technical arguments to justify revoking the broadcast licence of La Voz de Bagua Grande? It is an act of censorship and intimidation. We call on the government to keep its own word and to allow the station the right to resume broadcasting”, it said.

The radio station’s licence was cancelled by ministerial decree on 8 June, but since 13 March 2007 it has had a ten-year frequency concession. This agreement allowed La Voz de Bagua Grande a 12-month period for authorisation and installation. The station director, Carlos Flores Borja, said he sent the ministry the documents required for certification on 29 January. This letter, supported by the municipality of Utcubamba, also said that the radio’s initial site had had to be changed for safety reasons. The ministry used this reason on 31 December 2008 to cancel the frequency authorisation before the end of the probationary period.

In fact, La Voz de Bagua Grande has been in the government’s sights since the clashes that shook the Amazon region at the start of June. At the height of the rioting, on 5 June, in which around 30 people died, the interior minister, Mercedes Cabanillas, publicly threatened to close the radio along with Radio Oriente, another station based in Yurimaguas, for their alleged “support” for violence against the security forces.

“The closure of Radio Oriente following that of La Voz de Bagua Grande appears to provide extra evidence of a serious press freedom violation on the part of the government”, Reporters Without Borders concluded.

Peru polarised after deadly clashes, Dan Collyns, Wednesday, 10 June 2009.

The removal by Peruvian riot police of thousands of native Amazonian protesters from a road they were blocking was the worst violence the country had seen in a decade.

At least 54 people are known to have been killed - among them 14 police officers.

In what appeared to be a revenge attack 10 more police officers were killed by their indigenous captors.

More than 100 indigenous protesters still cannot be accounted for.

It was the culmination of two months of massive rallies and blockades across Peru's Amazon - an area that is vital to the country's economy.

The protests threatened to disrupt both national energy supplies and exports.

But it was also the tragic consequence of Peru's failure to decide the true place of its indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest and their role in this multicultural nation.

The government decided to act after weeks of deadlocked talks.

The brutal violence has left both sides embittered, but it has been made worse by accusations that the government is covering up the true number of dead protesters.

Many eyewitnesses are too afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

"I will never forget what happened that Friday - it was a massacre", says Leoncio Calla, a leader from a native Awajun community.

"According to a preliminary count we have more than 150 disappeared," he says, explaining how each village reported who they had missing.

"The dead were only recovered from the road but many more were in the hills, those bodies have disappeared."

"It's a matter of time, once we return to our communities, and we see who is missing, then we will find out how many dead there really are."

The government, which says all Peruvians should be able to benefit from the country's oil and gas, said the Amazonians had killed defenceless police officers after taking them hostage.

The president has blamed foreign forces - widely understood to mean Bolivia and Venezuela - for inciting unrest.


A church building in Bagua Grande and other places of refuge are now filling up with protesters who hid in the hills after the conflict.

One of them, Clementina Paayatui, told the BBC the protesters had been peacefully blocking the road at a place called the Devil's Curve when the police arrived and began "shooting, killing people as if they were dogs".

While exact figures for the disappeared are still unclear the rumours are insistent.

Eyewitnesses say helicopters carried bodies away to be dumped in the nearby River Maranon.

Areas of land near the road where pitched battles were fought have been scorched, fuelling suspicions that the bodies had been burnt.

Whatever President Alan Garcia's vision of progress and modernity is, this cannot be it.

The Minister for Women and Social Development, Carmen Vildoso, resigned in protest at the government's handling of the crisis.

The situation is more polarised than ever, with the government calling indigenous protesters extremists and their leader, Alberto Pizango, being charged with sedition and rebellion.

He has been granted asylum by the Nicaraguan government, after seeking refuge in their embassy in Lima.

Meanwhile the indigenous movement accuses the government of committing crimes against humanity.

"I see an indigenous population who say: 'Peru doesn't consider us to be Peruvians, it thinks that the jungle is for other people, that we don't exist, that it's empty'", says human-rights lawyer Ernesto de la Jara.

"They've shown that this attitude cannot work."

Many accuse the government of failing to consult the native communities about a series of laws which they say threaten their ancestral lands.

But officials say 12 million hectares (46,300 square miles) have been set aside for native people, and another 15 million hectares for national reserves.

However, the government may be forced to soften its stance and allow the debate of some of the controversial laws in the Peruvian congress.

While the families of police officers and indigenous people alike mourn their deaths, many Peruvians are calling for an independent investigation into what happened and for the dialogue to begin again.


In October 2007, President Alan Garcia published a series of articles trying to explain what he saw as the main cause of poverty.

He called it the Dog in the Manger syndrome.

Mr Garcia argued that communally owed land in many Peruvian communities led to an inefficient use of natural resources because it was a free resource open to everybody.

Soon afterwards, Congress allowed President Garcia to issue decrees encouraging oil and gas extraction, commercial forestry, and large-scale agriculture in the Amazon.

Indigenous groups see those decrees as threatening their ancestral lands and way of life.


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