April 22, 2010

Conflicts within Bolivia - even with the government of Evo Morales

The "Plurinational State" of Bolivia has convened the World People's Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth in the city of Cochabamba. The policies of this government are quite progressive in many terms, particularly when compared to many of the developing countries in our part of the world. The HISTORIC PEOPLES REBELLION AGAINST WATER PRIVATISATION, the toal and forceful rejection of the crooked Copenhagen accord, the recognition that the earth herself has rights and that has to get primacy - many such visionary advances in the state policy are coming out from this government lead by an indigenous (tribal) president who is a beacon of light to the dispossessed fighting against capitalist industrial system.
But even here in Bolivia, there are large scale conflicts continuing where the government is not always with the people most affected. One clear example is the mining industry, which gives good revenue to the state. Bolivia has large Lithium deposits, and Lithium is sometimes termed the green energy mineral of the future as it is used in making Lithium-ion batteries, which are in great demand in modern generation of electrically operated gadgets and in very large scale soon - for longer range electric vehicles that the western societies are proposing as a "solution" to the climate crisis, inspite of the fact that battery operated vehicles do not really cut down the emissions of GHGs, in fact they increase this - unless almost the entire electricity for charging those batteries come from zero-GHG sources, including the embedded energies involved.
But none of those serious questions have been given any negative voting power by the worlds profit crazy industries, nor by the revenue hungry governments. Though one would expect the present Bolivian government of Evo Morales Ayma to be an exception, that do not seem the clear case.
Large scale mining operations around Lago Poopo (Lake Popoo) and Lago Oruro have brought devastations to local communities. The government is helping the people by instructing the companies to follow all environmental regulations, but the primary questions of the development pathway or paradigm is not addressed. Neither is the question of whether a state can at will mine or extract or give encouragement for that for whatever it feels can give it revenue?
Whether that violates mother earths rights to what is hers - is also a big question for a "Plurinational State" and its president. In years to come, Bolivia and Evo Morales Ayma have to answer these questions.
Tin is another mineral that Bolivia has historically depended on for generation of foreign exchange through exports. But in the high altitude planes full of lakes, where the tin is also found in large amounts, its mining is causing enormous environmental damage as well as large health impacts on the people. The communities leaders voices do not always match the ordinary people at the ground. Many are affected very badly, like os the case back in India, but the "leaders" of these movements are not always demanding halts to these destructive projects. How these seeming disparities are to be handled - whether a government can overcome the trappings of state power and state control - are questions looming large in the horizon.
But for present, Evo Morales Ayma, the inspiring presiden of the poor Latin American State of Bolivia - have shown a way to the people of the world, who are struggling to break the shackles of the globalised industrial capitalist exploitation net, and facing the crises created by its dumped rubbish - including the greatest threat of them all, the climate crisis.

By Soumya Dutta (SADED), a delegate of Beyond Copenhagen Collective


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