Protest is precious under a bell jar: Peruvian government achieves to silence the suffering of its peoples

Memories of 14 days of Climate Change Top by Alianza Arkana’s Social and Enviromental Justice Team

No commitments, no change

We all know by now that no breakthrough was reached during the 20st Climate Change Top. The big powers achieved to go set through the false solutions and no country had to really commit.

The hidden face of suffering

In the shade of the official theater, social movements from all over the world and especially from Latin America and Peru, gathered and shared their stories of suffering. The numerous stories on land occupation, contamination of livelihoods, repression and murder, all sounded painfully familiar, whether they had to do with mining, oil extraction, palm oil or illegal tracking, all pillars of the actual development model and important drivers to climate change.

Together with Magdalena and Marina, Quechua women from the Pastaza river basin, and Gladis and Leidy, Kukama women from the Maranon river basin, we listened breathless to the eternal number of cases presented to the important international Tribunal for Rights of Nature. We felt very moved when the case of the contaminated river basins of Loreto was presented by Magdalena, Marina, Gladis and Leidy and the indigenous leaders Jose Fachin and Adan Sanchez from FEDIQUEP. The case was assigned a special session of the Tribunal in Peru, together with the Bagua case.

Press conference of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

We cried together with indigenous women from Ecuador, Brasil, Mozambique, during a press conference of Maxima Chaupe from Cajamarca , one of the symbols of the opposition to the newest Yanacocha mining project in Peru.

Maxima-Congresista 2

We found ourselves moved and strengthened by many women on the frontlines against climate change.

We marched together with the people from Cajamarca who keep on stressing that “Conga no va.” We got to know the faces of the widows and children of Edwin Chota and his friends, who were murdered by illegal loggers only recently. We were part of Aidesep’s human banner, messaging that peoples+rights = living forests. We received interesting reports on Peru’s deforestation, criminalization of Environmental defenders (Peru is on a shameful third place) and on how companies rule our world.

And of course we accompanied Magdalena, Marina, Gladis and Leidy and other indigenous voices on the many occasions they shared the story of more than 43 years of oil contamination in the Peruvian Northern  $ River Basins case Amazon. Through the sharing of Pastaza the movie and the sad images tapirs drinking out of oil pits, the shamelessness of the oil companies and the Peruvian state itself came alive. The demands of the indigenous peoples are legitimated and clear. However it took a new oil spill in the Maranon river basin, to get national and international press attention.

The movements did their very best to be heard and change the discourse of the decision makers and big lobbies. But in the end, we did a lot of crying on each other shoulders.

Social protest can be precious under a bell jar

I cannott get rid of the feeling that the authorities achieved to keep social protest under a bell jar. On the Voices for Climate (Voces por el Clima) indigenous protest was beautifully captured in a professionally designed exposition at the Indigenous Paviljon, where even Pastaza the movie was constantly projected. Under the blinding Peruvian sunshine the People’s Summit reminded me of some colourful happy summer festival, where people with the same taste and convictions gather. And during the People’s March we got lost in Lima’s horrific traffic before joining the colourful, almost happy gathering on the Bolivar’s square. No glasses were broken however.

Challenges for Peru and Loreto

In Peru the situation is serious: a series of new legislation is weakening environmental standards even more and is opening possibilities for more indigenous land occupation, and at the same time, the bidding of 26 new oil blocks in the Peruvian Amazon is announced for the beginning of 2015.

For the Loreto region this means more of the same: contamination, land occupation, food insecurity, deforestation, human suffering. For the indigenous peoples of the already contaminated river basins in Loreto, who were dialoging with the state in the so called Commission for Development, the year 2015 starts with too many hanging questions. Peruvian Prime Minister promised to meet up end of November, but in the heating up towards the Climate Change Top, this promise was silently forgotten and the meeting never happened. In the meanwhile new oil spills are to happen every 3 months due to the shameful state of the old Nor Peruvian pipeline.

Road to Paris

Although it was no great surprise, a new, binding, just and equitative climate change agreement was not reached in Lima. The road to Paris has never looked so long and unromantic.

The main messages for us civil society is to strengthen, organize, unite and prepare more. To ban envy, internal conflicts and corruption, and extreme ideologies that kills all our intercultural energy and solidarity. We can’t accept false solutions, as REDD or bonuses to companies out of the UN Green Fund. And although it is through that the companies rule the world, I keep on thinking: these companies are ruled by people, that is: us. If it is all about the money, then it should be clear by now we can’t eat money.

That is why it is us, fighting back.

No somos uno, no somos dos, somos el mundo con una sola voz.

Sarah Kerremans, Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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