Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Indigenous Initiative Answers the Capitalist Model

Each year, during the second week in October, one of Spain’s most widely recognized conquistadors is honored in the United States and other parts of the world. These celebrations ignore the far-reaching role of European imperialism that destroyed native cultures and pillaged the globe in the endless pursuit of capital.

While the western world honors the centuries-long genocide of natives, Bolivia will receive indigenous representatives from around the world for the first International Gathering of Indigenous Peoples.

From October 10 to 12, the international summit will meet in Bolivia, where more than 100,000 participants from 120 countries are anticipated. The gathering’s purpose is to begin an agenda that helps realize the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – ratified by the General Assembly this past September.

Delegates from the United States, Central American, Caribbean countries, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have confirmed their attendance, including Nobel Prize Laurete Rigoberta Menchu.

Representing the Wiphala

As the leader of the largest indigenous nation in the world, President Evo Morales came to power on a platform that promised recognition for the indigenous values that have been marginalized by more than 500 years of oppression. These values include respect for all people and our Mother Earth.

When Morales stood before the UN last month, he clearly articulated his democratic and socialist beliefs - firmly grounded in the traditions of indigenous people.

While in New York, Morales constantly articulated that luxury and over-consumption in the West are at the root of mankind’s problems. He uttered the same urgent message: if we are to save humanity, the capitalist model must come to an end.

President Morales recognized the recent passage of the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and thanked the 143 nations who approved the document, except for four – Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States – who voted against the measure.

His words were in stark contrast to that of President Bush who believes global problems - from climate change to poverty - demand solutions that can only be found in the expansion of free market capitalism. Bush also suggested that the expansion of global markets is a means of combating terrorist ideology.

Indigenous Values vs. Capitalist Ideology

In addressing the international community, both Bush and Morales discussed human rights and democracy, but from distinctly different perspectives.

Bush turned to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to justify liberating people from tyranny and violence, while Morales cited the culture of war as a major obstacle to reaching true equality and justice in the world. In front of a high-level meeting on climate change, Morales asked why countries never look at the economic and social cost of weapons.

He called for change in a capitalist system that allows nations to systematically amass weapons for war. As a result, President Morales announced that Bolivia will formally renounce war when drafting the country’s new constitution.

While the U.S. turns towards the free market to address climate change, Morales disagrees with using the current global economic model, especially the increased use of biofuels. He made a point to express the indigenous beliefs that Pachamama (Mother Earth) and her resources, such as water and food, are gifts to humankind and not just commodities for sale.

Throughout his presidency, Morales has spoken of the right of all nations to operate with sovereignty and dignity. He explained how Bolivia’s economy suffered under international financial institutions that promoted free market capitalism and shared his country’s experience of earning billions in tax revenue since moving away from these policies.

For decades, the U.S. has represented the world’s greatest “consumer culture” and the strongest proponent of a capitalist model, with the tactic support of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Currently the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, but 40 percent of the world’s resource consumption.

By failing to ratify the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the U.S. has failed to recognize the inherent human rights of more than 300 million people, who account for 80 percent of the world’s cultural and biological diversity, and occupy 20 percent of the world’s land surface.

Meanwhile the activities of Christopher Columbus are recognized by a national holiday complete with street parades and one-day sales at retail stores.

President Morales and the Bolivian people have expressed the desire for a culture of life, peace, dialogue and equality. So while Americans enjoy a shorter work week, indigenous people will be doing something that has been done for centuries – working against the capitalist model that covets their land and resources by continuing to carve out spaces for their collective native identity.



Blogger Kika Duvet said...

Message for Karah Woodward,
Very interested in your posts which I would like to quote in an article I am writing for the Guardian Newspaper or better still a direct interview?
If you read this before the close of Wednesday 10 Ocgtober please mail me:
For reference I am a stringer in Bolivia, mainly working for the BBC and certain newspapers like the Guardian.
Best wishes

October 10, 2007 5:23 PM  

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