Monday, April 21, 2008

Morales Addresses Indigenous Leaders at United Nations

N.Y. (digitalwarriormedia) - The Seventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues opened Monday morning, with President Evo Morales making a special address to the collective of global indigenous leaders.

This is the first session of the Permanent Forum to be held since the passing of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Under Morales' leadership Bolivia has become the most progressive country with respects to recognizing indigenous rights and sovereignty. Bolivia was the first nation to adopt the UN Declaration into its national legal framework.

In a 45-minute speech, Morales outlayed a 10-point plan for saving life on the planet. He often drew from his own personal experiences as an indigenous leader, living and organizing in Bolivia.

He spoke of the democratic transformations taking place in Bolivian society and the role indigenous people should play in addressing climate change. Morales cited capitalism and greed as mechanisms that are responsible for great injustices against indigenous people and the world.

He reiterated an ideology that was voiced at the United Nations during the General Assembly in September 2007. At the core of his words was a recognition that the capitalist model is the root cause of inequality, poverty and the catalyst for climate change.

President Morales identified the privatization of land, water and other natural resources as part of the "inhuman" capitalist system that "exploits human beings and pillages".

"Who can hire out or privatize their Mother?" asked Morales about a system that treats the planet a good that can be bought and sold.

Although Mother Earth is in peril, he prefers to remain an optimist. However the challenge can only be met with the incorporation of indigenous knowledge and values.

He noted that for centuries indigenous people have been leaders of resistance and organized around defending their rights to land and basic services. According to Morales, as those who live in harmony with Mother Earth, indigenous people have "an ethical and moral right to talk about the environment".

In order to pay reparations to the Earth, Morales said mankind should denounce war and use the trillions of dollars spent on armaments to fund strategies that will combat environmental degradation. This would be one of the means that developed nations can address the systemic assymetry that exists among nations.

Despite speaking at the United Nations, Morales did not hold back from criticizing a body that helps perpetuate inequality among nations. He noted the undemocratic structure of the United Nations in which only certain countries have life-time membership, voting rights and veto power.

But he did recognize the need for international organizations in which indigenous people can seek and obtain a platform that will enable them to advocate for an agenda that respects Mother Earth and the rights of all living things.

Amongst his damning words of the capitalist system, Morales predicted that the food crisis would put an end to the free market. He blasted the use of land and food for luxury vehicles, stating that biofuels is a misuse of resources that leaves millions hungry while others are obese.

Several times during his speech, delegates clapped their hands in agreement and Morales received a standing ovation upon finishing his remarks.

While in the New York, Morales will take Tuesday morning to meet with the local indigenous community before heading off to Providence, Rhode Island where he will deliver a lecture at Brown University.




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