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Indigenous People, Afro-Colombians and Peasants Unite Against Illegal Mining in River Ovejas, Colombia

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

Despite threats, indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia, members from five different areas within the ancestral territory of Sat Tama Kiwe de Caldono, Afro-descendents from the La Toma Community Council and resident campesinos in the surrounding areas joined together to protest against illegal mining in the area of Río Ovejas in the north of Cauca. The demonstration began on Friday, 13 February and lasted for three days.

Natalio Pinto, one of the participants, told Global Voices that participation was something of a stress test:

El recorrido se hizo al borde del río, abriendo trocha y cruzando las montañas, fueron 3 días de jornada, casi 30 horas.

The route followed the river, opening trails and crossing the mountains. It lasted three full days, nearly 30 hours.

With regards to the protest's goals, she added:

El tercer día del encuentro se dio una asamblea en la cual participaron los indígenas de La Laguna Siberia, Territorio ancestral Sa’th Tama Kiwe, el Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma, así como campesinos que viven en zonas cercanas y representantes de otros consejos comunitarios afros y cabildos indígenas. La idea es formar un frente común en defensa del territorio y en contra de la minería ilegal y multinacional que amenaza el río Ovejas. La jornada sirvió también para solidarizarse con las compañeras que participaron en “la marcha de los turbantes” en noviembre/diciembre pasado. La marcha de los turbantes llevó a mujeres del Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma caminando desde el Cauca hasta Bogotá para pedirle al Estado una respuesta efectiva contra la minería ilegal en el río Ovejas. A raíz de esto amenazaron a varias lideresas de la comunidad, la cuales tuvieron que salir desplazadas.

On the third day of the protest, there was a meeting in which indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia participated, alongside those from the ancestral territory of Sa’th Tama Kiwe, the Afro-Colombian Community Council from La Toma and campesinos that live in nearby areas as well as representatives from other Afro-Colombian community councils and other indigenous councils. The idea is to form a common front in defense of the land and against illegal and multinational mining that threatens the River Ovejas. The event also served to show solidarity with female colleagues that participated in the ‘march of the turbans’ in November/December last year. The march of the turbans involved women from the Afro-Colombian Community Council in La Toma walking from Cauca to Bogota in order to request an effective response from the State regarding illegal mining in River Ovejas. As a result of this, various female leaders were threatened and furthermore had to leave displaced.

Images have circulated on Twitter:

Indigenous community from Caldono protest against illegal mining in favor of the River Ovejas.

In other areas support of the fight against mining was also heard:

I've just left the protest in the north of Cauca; I learned a lot about the River Ovejas. Now I shout and I will shout even louder: No to mega mining!

Twitter users tweeted in solidarity:

‘UNITY indigenous/campesinos/Afro-Colombians!!’ ‘Protest in defense of the River Ovejas territory because mining is destroying what is ours’

COP20: Responsibilities of Capitalism On Climate Change

The 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP20/CMP10) was held in Lima between December 1 to 12, and was chaired by the host country, Peru. During the conference, Bolivian president Evo Morales, emphatically appealed to consider climate change as a direct consequence of capitalist system and urged industrialized countries to accept the consequences of their actions:

Evo Morales urges to listen to indigenous people and to fight against capitalism during COP20.

Damián Profeta sums up the ten main points of Morales’ speech, and he highlisghts:

- ‘Hay que crear un Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Climática’ [encargada de] ‘juzgar a países que no cumplen sus compromisos y los tratados internacionales y a los que hacen mucho daño al ambiente’ [...]
- ‘Que el sistema capitalista asuma su responsabilidad en el cambio climático’ [...]
- ‘En la lucha contra el Cambio Climático los países del Norte nos han llevado a un terreno infecundo’ [...]
- ‘El medio ambiente debe ser administrado comunitariamente porque la naturaleza misma es comunitaria’

- An International Court of Climate Justice [in charge of] judging countries that don't fulfil their obligations and international treaties and those who harm environment a lot must be implemented [...]
- The capitalist systema should take responsibility on climate change [...].
- In the fight against climate change, the Northern countries have taken us to a sterile ground [...]
- Environment must be managed communally, as nature itself is communal

Some Twitter users answered reminding him his actions about the construction of a highway along the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS):

Evo proposes community property to save the planet? OK, let's stop the highway across TIPNIS and individual property by coca growers.

VIDEO: How Palm Oil is Causing Environmental Destruction in Indonesia

The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Video: Amazon Indigenous Tribe Protests Hydroelectric Dam Construction

Indigenous people from the Munduruku ethnic group are fighting against the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam in the state of Pará, Brazil. The dam will mean the flooding of 700,000 km2 in their homeland.

The Brazilian Federal Government plans to build up to five dams in the Tapajós River, where dozens of indigenous communities live. Together with São Luiz do Tapajós, the Jatobá dam was due to begin construction in 2015, but socio-environmental difficulties may have postponed that deadline to at least 2020. The two dams will cost together US$7 billion.

The Munduruku claim they have not been consulted about the project. For years, the Munduruku people from the Sawré Maybu community, which will be directly affected by the construction of São Luiz do Tapajós dam, have pressured the federal government to demarcate their lands. The demarcation would create a legal obstacle for the continuation of the dam's project.

A documentary about the issue was produced by videomaker Nayana Fernandez.

UPDATE 09/12/2014: Together with other organizations, Nayana Fernandez has launched a crowfunding campaign to help the Munduruku pressure the government to demarcate their territory, officialize two associations, build a website and translate and dub the documentary into their native language (most Mundurku people do not speak Portuguese). Supporters can contribute with a minimum of US$10. 

Do You Know What Sustainable Fashion Is?

After watching Sweatshop TV series, where three Norwegian youngsters travel to Cambodia to discover the miserable living conditions of garment industry workers, Rut Abrain reflects on sustainable fashion.

Sustainable garments are those that take care of the environment on the electing their raw materials and their manufacturing processes. Likewise, those that respect human rights of individuals involved in the manufacturing and promote a fair international trade, without unfair competition. Rut invites us to reflect on responible use and explains thatl although there is mo regulation for sustainable fashion, there are seals that certify it:

- El más reconocido es GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), la norma líder mundial en el procesamiento de textiles hechos con fibra orgánica, que incluye criterios ecológicos y sociales, y sustentada por certificaciones independientes en toda la cadena de provisión textil.

- Otros como Textile Exchange, también conocido como Organic Exchange, que opera a nivel internacional y está comprometido con la expansión responsable de sostenibilidad textil.

- Un tercer sello es Oeko-tex, que se dedica al control de las sustancias nocivas. Se definen como un sello de garantía para todo tipo de productos textiles inocuos para la salud.

- The best known is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), world leader standard in organic fabric processing, that includes ecologic and social critera, supported by independent certifications all along the textiles supply chain.
- Others such as Textile Exchange, also known as Organic Exchange, that operates internationally and it's commited with responsible expansion of textile sustaintability.
- A third seal is Oeko-tex, in charge of damaging sustances. They are defined as a seal of guarantee for all harmless textile product.

You can follow Rut Abrain on Twitter.

This post was part of the twenty eighth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

Mining and Ecocide in Santander, Colombia

Illegal mining is a problem affecting the Colombian department of Santander, where residents have seen first-hand how extraction and other processes linked to mining cause pollution. The video below was produced by Corporación PODION, as part of the project “Caravan for the awareness and collection of complaints in defense of the land and the environment within the department of Santander”. It was carried out in October 2014 with the goal of highlighting different complaints and testimonies regarding the violation of environmental rights in the region:

The Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America explained the seriousness of the situation in Vélez and Landázuri in a statement:

La comunidad de estos dos municipios, se ha opuesto de manera enérgica ante el inminente deterioro de sus condiciones de vida y el grave daño ambiental que implicará la explotación de 60.000 toneladas de carbón al mes tomando 3 lt/seg de agua, lo que implica más de 93 millones de litros de agua anual, el vertimiento de 0.83 lt/seg , es decir, más de 25 millones de litros de agua contaminada vertida sobre sus territorios y, la remoción de más de 821.955 metros cúbicos de madera nativa, entre ceibas, roble y caracolí.

The community of these two municipalities has vigorously opposed the imminent deterioration of their living conditions and the serious environmental damage that the exploitation of 60,000 tonnes of coal monthly using 3 litres/sec of water will entail. This means more than 93 millions of litres of water yearly at a flow of 0.83 litres/sec. In other words, more than 25 million litres of contaminated water discharged over the land as well as the removal of more than 821, 955 cubic metres of native trees amongst which kapok, oak and cashew can be found.

Photos of the environmental damage caused by mining have circulated on Twitter:

 ecocide in Santander, thousands of fish dead because of Hidrosogamoso

Twitter users have also expressed their disagreement with the mining developments in the region:

How to Reduce the Production of CO2 in Daily Life?

Rut Abrain reflects on her blog Esturirafi about one of the main cause of climate change: the production of carbon dioxide (CO2). In this sense, the blogger stresses out that not only factories, vehicles and planes produce CO2, but also each one of un in our daily lives. To have an idea of the magnitude of the impact of our daily activities in the production of CO2, Rut suggests us to use this calculator.

Surprised? Yes, each one of us has some responsibility in climate change, and at the same time, each one of us is able to reverse that with small actions. Rut shares some advises to reduce pur production of CO2:

[...] – Reducir, reutilizar y reciclar. Esto tienes que aplicarlo en todas las facetas de tu vida: evita productos con un empaquetado excesivo, compra productos de segunda mano, separa los residuos de manera adecuada para su posterior reciclaje.

[...] – Reduce, reuse and recycle. You have to do this in all aspects of your life: avoid products with excessive packaging, purchase second hand articles, separate litter properly for further recycling.

Rut also says to reduce our “carbon footprint“:

- Ahorra energía, tanto electricidad, como gas natural, butano o gasoil.
- Compra productos locales.
- Camina, utiliza el transporte público, la bicicleta.
- Utiliza menos papel.

- Save energy, electricity, natural gas, domestic gas or diesel.
- Purchase local products.
- Walk, use public transportatipn.
- Use less paper.

The blogger ends up with a quote by Eduardo Galeano applicable to the impact these small actions have on reversing climate change:

Mucha gente pequeña en lugares pequeños, haciendo cosas pequeñas, pueden cambiar el mundo.

Too many small people in small places, making small things, can change the world.

You can follow Rut on Twitter.

This post was part of the thirty-first #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on December 1, 2014.

Lima Offers a Space for Reflection on Climate Change With the People's Summit

As an alternative event during the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20), with the aim of discussing solutions to reverse climate change, Lima, Peru will host another space for reflection about this issue: the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change. Unlike COP20, this summit is made up of thousands of young people and individuals belonging to social organizations, trade unions, indigenous communities and rural groups.

Fotografía de la Cumbre de los Pueblos frente al Cambio Climático, extraída del sitio Claves 21, utilizada con autorización

Image of Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change, taken from site Claves 21, used with permission.

The People's Summit on Climate Change defines this phenomenon as a direct consequence of the capitalist system, especially the role of providers of commodities the system has given Latin American countries.

Damián Profeta, an Argentinean journalist who is attending both events, sums up the approach of the People's Summit:

Para los participantes de la Cumbre de los Pueblos, el calentamiento global es intrínseco al sistema capitalista y la respuesta a ese problema debe ser cambiar los modos de producción y consumo. En variados discursos, los oradores apelaron a la “Madre Tierra”y repudiaron el extractivismo en los países latinoamericanos.

For People's Summit attendees, global warming is inherent to the capitalist system and the response to this problem should be changing the ways of producing and consuming. In several speeches, the lecturers appealed the “Mother Earth” and condemned the extractivie methods of the countries.

The schedule of the summit includes lectures, conferences and activities, and there is also a community radio and a local manufacturer fair.

Where? Parque de la Exposición, Lima.
When? December 8-14, 2014.

For all those who won't be able to attend, you can follow the event on Facebook.

Do You Read Ecolabels When Shopping?

Rut Abrain Sanchez on her blog Esturirafi defines and identifies legal and volunteer product labels. Among the latter we find ecologic labels, “so manufacturers show us they are abiding by a series of requirements and for the consumer to be able to identify products environmentally more sustainable”.

There are Type I, Semi-type I, Type II and Type III ecolables. Abrain Sanchez mentions the first two of them, the most common:

Ecoetiquetas (Tipo I). Son sistemas voluntarios de etiquetado ambiental que identifican y certifican de forma oficial que los productos que la llevan tienen un menor efecto sobre el medio ambiente.

A nivel europeo existen sistemas nacionales de ecoetiquetado como el Ángel Azul de Alemania, AENOR Medio Ambiente de España o la Etiqueta Ecológica Europea (conocida como flor europea).

Etiquetado semi-tipo I. Estas ecoetiquetas suelen pertenecer a organizaciones sociales, asociaciones sectoriales, agrupaciones de empresas fabricantes, etc. cuyo principal objetivo es conseguir que la mayor cantidad de productos posibles se certifiquen bajo su sistema, para lograr el mayor reconocimiento posible por parte de los consumidores.

Dentro de este tipo se encuentran las etiquetas de agricultura ecológica, pesca sostenible, consumo energético, uso de madera (FSC, PEFC), productos textiles… Las que solemos encontrar en muchos productos que compramos a diario. A partir de hoy te vas a fijar mucho más :-)

Ecolabels (Type I). a volunteer system of environmental labelling that officially identifies and certifiies that products bearing it have a lesser effect on the environment.

In Europe, there are ecolabelling national systems, such as Blue Angel in Germany, AENOR Environment in Spain or Ecologic Label (known as European flower).

Semi-type I label. These ecolabels usually belong to social organizations, sectorial associations, groups of manufacturing firms, etc. with the aim of having the most possible products certified under this system, to achieve that most consumers recognize the products.

This type contains labels from ecologic farming, sustainable fishing, energetic use, wood (FSC, PEFC), textile products… We find these labels in many products we purchase on a daily basis. From now on, you'll sure look more in depth at labels :-)

Rut has been previoulsy quoted here. Her social networks are Twitter, G+ and Flickr.

This post was part of the thirtieth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 24, 2014.

VIDEO: How a Laos Dam Project Could Endanger Communities in Cambodia

EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.

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