•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

Evo Morales presents Mother Earth proposal at U.N.

Published May 6, 2009 3:14 PM

Within a week after security forces foiled an assassination plot against President Evo Morales inside Bolivia, the United Nations General Assembly approved on April 22 the president’s initiative to create International Mother Earth Day to protect the rights of Mother Earth and of all living beings.

Bolivian President Evo Morales

Bolivian security forces on April 16 busted the assassination plot in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, a stronghold of the Bolivian oligarchy, Morales’s opposition. Forces loyal to the president killed three apparent foreign mercenaries in a hotel shootout, arresting two more. In La Paz, Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera told reporters that the men were carrying guns and grenades and attacked police as they approached them. (boliviarising.blogspot.com)

Many Bolivians suspect the plotters to be linked to the eastern oligarchy, agribusiness and/or their imperialist backers in the United States. Last August a mass mobilization of the Bolivian poor set back eastern agribusiness’s attempts to starve the cities.

The Pachamama

At the U.N., Morales based the Mother Earth proposal on four principles included in the declaration he presented:

The first is “The right to life, which signifies the right to exist. The right of which not one ecosystem, neither one species of animal nor vegetable, not one snow-capped mountain, neither river nor lake would be exterminated or eliminated by an irresponsible attitude of human beings.”

Should Bolivia’s (and Peru’s) high Andean glaciers melt due to global warming, establishing the right of snow-capped mountains to exist will enable Bolivia to continue preserving its national water supplies and protect its living society.

The second principle is that “Mother Earth has to be able to regenerate her bio-capacity.”

The third principle declares “the right to a clean life, which means the right of Mother Earth to live without pollution.”

The fourth principle is “the right to harmony and balance with all and among all. This is the right to be recognized as a part of a system in which all are interdependent.” (For the complete speech, see www.boliviaun.org.)

Morales’ presentation of Bolivia’s initiative has significance for any country where capitalist and U.S. imperialist interests have stolen resources, stripped the land bare and left toxic waste behind.

In Bolivia the concept of Mother Earth resonates as the traditional Indigenous life-giving force, the Pachamama, a dual entity who combines space and time to provide harmony for the community. Everyone in an Indigenous, Afro-Bolivian or mestizo (mixed) community acknowledges her in all celebrations and gives a little libation to her for what the earth has given to humanity.

The words “growth” and “development” do not appear in the new Bolivian Constitution because individual and corporate gain are seen as anathema for a society which seeks to meet its needs based on cooperation, collective distribution and reciprocity.

Victorious hunger strike

On April 9 Morales began a hunger strike to demand that Congress pass legislation allowing general elections in December. Some 1,500 to 3,000 Movement for Socialism (MAS) supporters, activists, workers and union leaders joined Morales, and thousands more demonstrated outside the presidential palace. Bolivians in Spain and Argentina also participated. Before becoming president, Morales had participated in 17 hunger strikes as a leader of the “cocaleros,” Bolivia’s coca growers.

The hunger strike was victorious on April 14. The resulting legislation will give Indigenous communities broader representation in parliament and allow Bolivian citizens living abroad to vote in the December elections. The new legislation also enables the president to run for office again in December.

Celebrating the victory, Morales said, “The people should not forget that you need to fight to change. We alone can’t guarantee this revolutionary process, but with people power it’s possible.” (boliviarising.blogspot.com)

On April 17, at the Summit of the Americas conference, organized by the Organization of American States and held in Trinidad, Morales said he could not understand how debates over humanity and the environment could take place without Cuba’s presence. He denounced capitalism, blamed it for the global financial crisis, and declared himself a Marxist-Leninist and communist. He then asked, “Are they going to expel me now? I want them to expel me from the OAS. It’s unbelievable that you can be expelled from the OAS for being Marxist-Leninist.” (www.houston.indymedia.org)

Morales defends the coca leaf

Some 2,000 supporters of Morales and his MAS government were disappointed when poor health forced him to cancel his April 22 speaking engagement at Salem United Methodist Church in Harlem. Morales’s hunger strike and heavy schedule had left him exhausted, a diplomatic note explained.

Morales’op-ed in the March 14 New York Times defended coca as a traditional Bolivian plant used to combat hunger and high altitude sickness. Bolivia would like the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to reverse its 1961 stance putting the coca leaf in the same category as cocaine. Bolivia manufactures many products for export that use coca, such as tea and toothpaste.

Morales, a former coca farmer, and the coca growers’ association are waging a campaign to invalidate the International Narcotics Control Board’s 2006 annual report. Their slogan is “Coca sí, cocaine no.”

According to Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of La Paz, who spoke in New York on April 24, Bolivian society is focusing now on its sovereignty, emphasizing “our resources,” “our land,” “our memory.” Bolivian society is reviving the traditional precept of “the common good.” (www.stopthedrugwar.org)

Cusicanqui, who is also the founder of the Bolivian group Coca and Sovereignty and an adviser to Morales, said, “With its opposition to the coca leaf, the INCB merely foments drug traffic.”

Cusicanqui described the massive participation of virtually all sectors of society in constructing a community that benefits everyone. She reported that traditional institutions such as Carnival, fairs and other public celebrations have become transformed so that various groups such as women and LGBT people intervene to express political platforms and manifestos. Students have organized recycling projects, and city dwellers have begun planting urban orchards to protect the environment and feed people.