Underreported Struggles #12, March 2008

Underreported Struggles #12, March 2008

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John Ahni Schertow
April 1, 2008
 

In February we saw ‘civil society’ start to demand corporations abandon oppressive and destructive practices. Well, that trend continued through March; unfortunately, it seems to have been more chest pounding than anything… It was as if everyone sat around a campfire, talking about far off things while a fire raged a foot to their backside. Integrity what? Responsibility who? “No, no no. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not the problem. We’re not the enemy.”

And so, desperately clinging to myth and hypocrisy, the so-called business community pushed on, doing everything to ensure you can keep getting toilet paper, cheese puffs, and semi-automatic machine guns.

As for the enemy? Those said to be unworthy and in the way? From Tasmania to Alaska and Peru to China, we continued to call the lie for what it is, and doing our best to live our own life.

Underreported Struggles for March

March 29
The Nukak Want to Live in Peace
The Nukak, one of the Amazon’s last nomadic Peoples, have once again been caught between the Colombian army and the left-wing FARC guerrillas. According to a March 12 statement by Survival International, they were bombed “by the Colombian army in its attempt to fight the guerrillas who have violently taken control of much of the Nukak land. Many Nukak have fled their territory to a local town in recent days, and many more are expected to follow suit.”

March 27
Chippewa Demand Accountability
A group of Chippewa from Lac du Flambeau locked themselves inside the Tribal Council office yesterday morning to demand a federal investigation into the current Tribal government. Calling themselves Ginews (Ojibwe for Golden Eagles), the group said in a statement early on that the Tribal Council has abused their position to the point where everyone at Lac du Flambeau faces poverty.

March 24
Warning the World that Zapatismo Is in Danger
The Zapatistas have flashed a red alert to Mexico and the world. The problem is not just the growing military aggression, but rather that important sectors of Mexican society are ignoring the danger. Mexico will not be the only loser if Zapatismo is destroyed. Latin America and all of humanity will lose as well.

Project of Autonomy and Self-Determination for Kumiai and Cucapa
Last month, the Cucapa and Kumiai Indigenous Communities of Baja California, Mexico, announced a multilateral project dedicated to making themselves autonomous, self-sufficient, traditionally-governed Peoples. The project consists of at least 20 different efforts which they plan to implement over a 5 year period. The efforts include: developing a quality local healthcare system, improving sustainable agricultural practices, creating communal spaces, recovering traditional authorities, reclaiming territory and sacred sites, and laying the groundwork for an autonomous education system that respects their values and culture.

March 22
Is Inequality making us sick?
An overview of a four-hour documentary called “Unnatural Casuses,” which is currently airing on PBS. Among many other issues, the “series sheds light on mounting evidence of how lack of access to power and resources can get under the skin and disrupt human biology as surely as germs and viruses. It also reveals a health gradient tied to wealth: those at the top of the class pyramid average longer, healthier lives, while those at the bottom are the most disempowered, get sicker more often and die sooner. Most of us fall somewhere in between.” (That doesn’t include Indigenous People or minorities or the poor. We’re at the bottom.) Visit http://www.pbs.org/unnaturalcauses/ for more.

March 20
Tribal Peoples’ Water Being Destroyed by Industry and Governments
Survival International today released a summary report which shows how tribal peoples are having their basic right to water denied. The document is released to coincide with World Water Day (March 22). Taking examples from nine different tribes, it explains how industry and governments are destroying tribal peoples’ water sources.

March 19
Oil prospectors corner Peru’s last indigenous people
There are small groups of the Cacataibo community living in the Cordillera Azul mountain range in Amazonia, near the Brazilian border. Most of the Cacataibos have come into contact with Western culture, but those who remain totally untouched by the outside world are now being ever more cornered by loggers and oil prospectors (namely, the Peruvian state and Canadian oil firm Petrolifera Petroleum Limited, based in Calgary, Alberta)

Benetton Trying to Evict Mapuche from their Lands
On March 4th, the Italian textile consortium Benetton filed a lawsuit in an Argentinian court that seeks to evict a Mapuche community from the land known as “Santa Rosa.” In February of last year, the Mapuche reclaimed the land after being violently evicted 5 years earlier.

March 18
Violence against indigenous women related to land rights
Yocogan-Diano, acting chairman of Innabuyog, an organization of indigenous women in the Cordilleras, discusses the struggles of Indigenous Women in the Cordillera and all over the Philippines as it relates to land rights and self-determination efforts. See here for a related article.

March 17
Ranchers threaten Enawene Nawe Indians
A group of armed men have walked into an Enawene Nawe fishing camp in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, and threatened the Indians with reprisals unless they leave. When the Indians asked who they were, two said they were policemen. The others identified themselves as landowners from the area.

Huichol say no to Mexican highway
Nine hundred men, women and children of the Huichol community of Santa Catarina in Jalisco, Mexico, staged a peaceful blockade for two weeks in February to protest a proposed highway into their remote Sierra territory. The week of March 3, the Mexican government temporarily halted the proposed highway north of Guadalajara. Now, in the face of pressure from local government and commercial interests to open up their territory, this traditional community is trying to figure out what to do next.

March 15
Bishops block mining operation in Zamboanga
In an interesting and perhaps ironic turn, mining firm Toronto Ventures Inc. (TVI) has been denied permission to operate in Canatuan village in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte. This comes as a result of Catholic bishops speaking against TVi’s project.

March 14
West Papuans charged with Rebellion
13 West Papuans involved in a peaceful demonstration yesterday have been charged with subversion and rebellion under Indonesian law. The group was arrested for carrying and waving the Kejora (Morning Star) flag which the government has banned from public display.

March 13
Kenyans ill in ‘toxic waste’ leak
Hundreds of people near the Kenyan port of Mombasa say they have become ill after a consignment of leaking chemical containers was dumped nearby. Witnesses told the BBC the containers were abandoned at Kipevu near the port about a month ago by a truck driver who had noticed (yellow liquid and noxious fumes) seeping out.

FYI: The Deployment of US Troops inside Canada
On February 14th, Canada and the US signed an agreement which allows for the deployment of US troops inside Canada. There was no official announcement nor was there a formal decision at the governmental level. In fact the agreement was barely mentioned by the Canadian media. The agreement, which raises farreaching issues of national sovereignty, was not between the two governments. It was signed by military commanding officers.

Stop the Ilisu Dam Project in Southeast Turkey
Around 100 villagers gathered in front of the German, Austrian and Swiss embassies on Tuesday to protest against the construction of the Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris. Once completed, the controversial project would submerge the ancient town of Hasankeyf (it’s 12,000 years old) along with 200 nearby villages, displacing up to 78,000 people.

March 11
Actions Taken Against Monsanto, Syngenta, Aracruz, Vale
This article is overview of Via Campesina’s “week of mobilization for Agrarian Reform and against the violence of big land-owners”, which came to an end with the women of Via Campesina and the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil taking several actions against the transnational companies Monsanto, and Syngenta.

March 10
Bear Mountain: Stripping Away Land & Rights on Vancouver Island
An update on the Bear Mountain resort and interchange development project, proponents for which are destroying rare ecosystems, Indigenous Sacred sites, and people’s democratic rights in order to profit from expensive condos and overpriced real estate. See http://treesit.blogspot.com for more information.

Indigenous Groups Opposed to El Diquis Hydro Project
Indigenous groups in Costa Rica have reaffirmed their opposition to El Diquis, a hydro-electric project the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) plans to build in the southern province of Puntarenas. The government of Costa Rica recently declared the project a “National interest”. As it’s currently proposed, El Diquis would flood the Traditional Lands of the Terraba and Chinakicha Nations. Forcing their displacement, the project would also compromise and infringe upon both Peoples’ beliefs and cultures. Over 200 historical sites; including Burial Grounds, Sacred Sites, and Ancient Ruins—would all be destroyed by the flood.

March 9
Taiwan Indigenous groups want reform
“Wearing traditional Aboriginal clothing and bands bearing the word “dignity,” hundreds of Aborigines from across the country yesterday staged a demonstration in front of National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall and marched to the Presidential Office, demanding greater protection of their rights.” They went on to hold a discussion with President Chen Shui-bian, viewing Taiwan as an equal to their Nations.

Uranium mine expansion threatens the Lakota
The Canadian-based uranium giant Cameco Resources is attempting to expand their mining operation near Crawford, Nebraska. If the expansion is approved as Cameco hopes it could seriously infringe on those who depend on water from the region; among them, the People of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and others in eight states from Nebraska to Texas.

March 7
OceanaGold wants money for being issued an injunction
A regional trial court in Nueva Vizcaya served OceanaGold with an injunction last week, halting the company’s demolition activities on Didipio lands. Now the company wants companesatation for the money they claim to be losing as a result. The Kicker? OceanaGold wants the Didipio indigneous community to pay it…

March 1
Oil Companies as Environmental Stewards
Oil companies holding tar sands leases to over 70,000 square kilometers of land are being labeled “environmental stewards” because they have asked the Alberta government to impose a “partial moratorium” on oil sands leases on three parcels of undisturbed boreal forest compromising 11,400 square kilometers… These environmentally conscious oil companies would like to prevent such “ecological disturbance” until 2011 allowing them to protect their interests from new competition for three years while they struggle with a serious labor shortage.

Videos

Oil on Ice
This is the first ten minutes of Oil on Ice, a one-hour documentary that examines the issues surrounding the exploitation of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Justicia Now!
Here you will find Justicia Now! a 30-minute documentary produced by Mofilms to help raise awareness about “ChevronTexaco’s toxic legacy in the Northern Ecuadorian region of the Amazon rainforest – and a courageous group of people called Los Afectados (The Affected Ones) who are seeking justice for the ensuing cancer, sickness and death in the largest environmental class action lawsuit in history.”

Festival of a Thousand Stars
This video looks at the Festival of a Thousand Stars, a celebration of music and culture of Southern Ethiopia. Home to more than 55 distinct Indigenous Peoples, the festival is held every December in Arba Minch, the centre of the Rift valley.

Reading

From Demand for Recognition to Building Autonomies
An article by Francisco López Bárcenas, discussing indigenous movements in Latin America. Francisco raises several important points that people in North really need to take some time to think on.

Northern Development in Canada
Here Todd Gordon talks about the recent jailing of six members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug; and the broader issue of Neoliberalism and development above the 51st parallel.

Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges to Indigenous Nationhood
An overview of and chapter from “Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges to Indigenous Nationhood” by Jeff Corntassel with Lindsay G. Robertson, Richard C. Witmer II. The book “takes a critical look at the mantra of tribal economic development and, gaming in particular, as the solution to the problems besetting American Indian communities.”

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