Monday, 22 June 2009
The Amazon, Chevron /Texaco and the rest... is this the true cost?
The Amazon basin covers over seven million square kilometres in nine countries, contains the world's largest tropical rainforest, houses nearly fifty percent of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity and is being devastated by deforestation in order to strip it unsustainably of its natural resources.
The in progress and proposed large-scale development projects, such as as new roads, power lines, oil & gas pipelines, dams, and massive timbering operations are financed by economic globalisation. These projects blight millions of hectares of pristine frontier rainforests and the lives of the indigenous people who depend on these forests for their physical and cultural survival.
To take one event of many that happen in the Amazon, just outside the Northern Peruvian town of Bagua, indigenous people were protesting against the free trade decrees issued by President Garcia under special powers granted by Congress in the context of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. This had been going on for 56 days without incident when, in the early hours of June 5th, police began to approach the demonstrators as they were sleeping along the Fernando Belaúnde Terry road and fired teargas grenades and live ammunition. Eyewitnesses report that police also attacked from both sides firing live rounds into the crowd as people fled into surrounding steep hillsides, many becoming trapped.
This resulted in 25 protesters confirmed dead and over one hundred wounded, although the actual figures may be far higher as many eyewitnesses in Bagua reported that they saw police throw the bodies of the dead into the Marañon River from a helicopter in an apparent attempt by the Government to underreport the number of indigenous people killed by police. Hospital workers in Bagua Chica and Bagua Grande corroborated that the police took bodies of the dead from their premises to an undisclosed location. Several people reported that there were bodies lying at the bottom of a deep crevasse up in the hills, about a mile from the incident site, but when the Church and local leaders went to investigate, the police stopped them from approaching the area.
So how was this reported in the West? The main report was in the LA Times under the headline ‘Insurgents threaten Peru's Stability’ and that ‘Protests by indigenous communities over oil drilling and mining in the Peruvian Amazon region turned violent Friday, leaving at least 13 people dead in clashes with police and subsequent rioting’.
It is difficult to report on events thousands of miles away and I have been checking this out as thoroughly as possible, hence the gap between posts, but the inescapable facts are that when both witnesses describe and readily available photographs show armed police in full riot gear on the ground and in helicopters firing teargas grenades and live rounds on unarmed protesters wearing shorts and t-shirts it is quite easy to work out what occurred.
There are more images of the above event HERE and details of the Chevron/Texaco involvement in the Amazon disaster HERE
I wrote this and remembered St. Paul’s words in Corinthians that “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres".
The events that I have described above, the killing young men, woman and children who are concerned enough to protest about their future and the destruction of their environment is simply 100% evil.
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 03:33