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U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$

November 23rd, 2011

by Cory Morningstar

DI NO AL REDD – Rapido Enriquecimiento con Desalojos, usurpación de tierras y Destrucción de biodiversidad. SAY NO TO REDD – Reaping Profits from Evictions, Land Grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of Biodiversity

“Bolivia is and will remain a country who desperately struggles to resist Imperialism and fight for their autonomy – against all odds.”

The Democracy Centre, Avaaz and Amazon Watch are the main three NGOs, heavily funded by U.S. interests (Rockefellers, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation and Soros to name a few), who led the recent International campaign in which they denounced and demonized Bolivian Indigenous leader Evo Morales and his government. This destabilization campaign focused on the TIPNIS protests. A violent confrontation between TIPNIS protestors (influenced/funded by U.S. NGOs/USAID/CIDOB) and the police was the vital opportunity needed in order to execute a destabilization campaign that the U.S. has been strategically planning for decades. (Declassified Documents Revealed More than $97 Million from USAID to Separatist Projects in Bolivia | Evo Morales Through the Prism of Wikileaks – Democracy in Danger).

A key demand put forward by the TIPNIS protestors were that Indigenous peoples would directly receive financial compensation for ‘offsetting’ carbon emissions. This policy, known as REDD/REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), has been denounced as the commodification and privatisation of the forests by many, including those within the climate justice movements. The ‘People’s Agreement’ created at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (April 2010) clearly condemned REDD, stating that it violates “the sovereignty of our Peoples.” REDD has been promoted as a mechanism to allow developed countries to continue to pollute while undermining the right for underdeveloped countries to develop their economies. Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environment Network stated unequivocally that “The carbon market solutions are not about mitigating climate, but are greenwashing policies that allow fossil fuel development to expand.”

Morales survived the orchestrated attempt to destabilize his government. No one’s fool, Morales did something completely unexpected that few if anyone had even considered: he granted the Indigenous peoples of the TIPNIS every single demand which the protestors, under foreign/outside influence had sought (although he made clear that on the issue of REDD, the ‘People’s Agreement’ adopted at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth would guide any future decision on this issue). Completely caught off guard by Morales response, and realizing, perhaps for the first time, whose lives would ultimately be affected by the outcomes of the demands, and how, one anxious protestor commented “we’re screwed“.

Video: Manipulation: Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu-STOP pushing us for REDD (running time: 9:26)

Morales has been a world leader in his vocal opposition to REDD stating that “nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale.” At the opposite end of the spectrum are the foundations (who serve as tax-exempt front groups for corporations and elites) who finance the NGOs who have led the campaign to discredit Morales are most all heavily promoting and investing in REDD. CIDOB is involved in pilot REDD projects funded by the NGO called FAN (Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza) which is funded by a slew of foreign interest entities/states and corporate NGOs such as USAID, Conservation International, European Union, American Electric Power, BP-Amoco and Dow Chemical‘s partner, The Nature Conservancy. Indeed, when it comes to the world’s most powerful NGOs voicing any dissent to the false solution of REDD, the silence is deafening. (http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/10/26/manufacturing-consent-on-carbon-trading/)

The money behind the REDD scheme is in the trillions.

Above: Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu – Stop Pushing Us For REDD – Photo: Rebecca Sommer

It is revealing to note that while the corporate NGOs worked feverishly to shine an International spotlight on the tear-gassing of the TIPNIS protestors by Bolivian police, a slaughter of 100,000 Libyan civilians was underway in an Imperialist, NATO-led invasion under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’. This invasion was made possible by the fabrication of events and lies put forward by 78 NGOs. To this day, there is no evidence to back these lies. The NGOs were and remain silent on this latest atrocity as the U.S./Euro Imperialist destabilization campaigns escalate in the Middle East in a race towards global domination.

The Democracy Centre makes clear it’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position on REDD in its policy statement on REDD drafted by staffer Kylie Benton-Connell [1]

In this report, the Democracy Centre both denies/ignores the involvement of USAID in the CIDOB promoted REDD Amazonia project via its funding to FAN, and argues that “The REDD Amazonia project is important, because it keeps the possibility of these kind of projects alive in Bolivian institutions, in a context where the national government is swimming against the tide of international REDD politics.”

Furthermore, Benton-Connell reiterates the Democracy Centre’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position and the Centre’s support for REDD in her article published on November 21, 2011 (link below and also published on the Democracy Centre’s website):

” The decision linking forest conservation to carbon markets may well be finalized at the UN climate negotiations in Durban at the beginning of December, unless it is blocked by dissident countries.”

Moreover, Benton-Connell tells us:

“… if today’s Bolivian government or a future one drops its opposition to carbon markets, and an international agreement is reached on trading in forest carbon, revenue streams could become much larger.”

Benton-Connell continues that the problem is not REDD itself, but how REDD is organized. She states:

“The fates of many ordinary people in Bolivia — and of similar communities across the globe — will be in play as technocrats discuss plans for forest carbon trading at the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Durban. As Marcos Nordgren Ballivián, climate change analyst with Bolivian organization CIPCA told us last year: “tensions already exist, and with a new source of profits such as REDD could prove to be, it might cause problems … But we’ll have to see how REDD is organized, because that will define, of course, if these conflicts are worsened.”

The following text appears 8 March 2010 in an article titled Getting REDDy to Cross the Finish Line, Two Decades in the Making: “It’s hard to imagine with all the progress REDD has achieved, that it all started less than 20 years ago with the Rio Summit in ’92, when the makings of a global sustainability architecture in the form of a climate treaty began to take shape. But a forestry treaty had yet to happen … With over 20 years of experience in the forestry sector, Michael Northrup, Program Director of Sustainable Development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was invited by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to give a Distinguished Lecture, ‘After Copenhagen: Implications for U.S. Climate, Energy, and Forest Policy’ at the high brow, exclusive Cosmos Club. Northrup casually described to the 30 or so people in the room where we are with REDD today and how we got here. Plus he played the “name game” as he knew most of the people in the room.”

Of course, Rockefeller is not alone in its quest to lead and dominate on the promise of “green capitalism”; other members of the elites will not be left behind to feed on the breadcrumbs. For example, The Climate and Land Use Alliance, whose member foundations include the ClimateWorks Foundation (Avaaz partner), the Ford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and multi-million dollar corporate NGOs – Greenpeace International and Rockefeller’s WWF have joined forces to push forward the false solution of REDD.

“The big business conservationists and their professionals didn’t buy off the movement; they built it.” –Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman, “The Eco-Establishment“, in: Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe, Harper and Row, 1970

Video: President Morales Speaks to Imperialism (UN Gen Ass, Sept 21, 2011)(Running time: 8:02)

Let us close while we reflect upon the words of author Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti:

“In the recent conflict over the construction of a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory, history repeated itself once again: indigenous people renounced all possibility of progress and integration in favor of the hidden political objective of the US to boycott the projects of crop-substitution and development center in the Chapare, wherein lies the core of the anti-imperialist consciousness of the Bolivian people. Once again, foreign interests have ensured that the Indians act against their own interests. This shows that a priority issue for the new agenda of president Morales should be to continue deconstructing the control mechanisms of the Western powers. “Philanthropy” has always been one of the most dangerous mechanisms.”

The article: http://www.alternet.org/water/153161/will_programs_to_off-set_carbon_emissions_fuel_further_conflict_in_bolivia%27s_forests?page=entire

For further reading on the International Campaign to Destabilize Bolivia: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/category/the-international-campaign-to-destabilize-bolivia/

[1] Benton-Connell worked with the Democracy Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia from February 2010 to June 2011, where she authored the report “Off the Market: Bolivian forests and struggles over climate change.”

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8 Comments on “U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$”

  1. Lucy Says:

    This post seems to misrepresent the article you quote from Alternet; seems to invent some kind of conspiracy theory that the purpose of the TIPNIS campaign (that’s only recently gained significant international attention) is to ‘destabilise Bolivia’; and probably overstates the power small NGOs like The Democracy Center and Amazon Watch, or ‘online portals’ like AVAAZ, have in Bolivian politics and social movements.

    With the Alternet article, you state this sentence ”The decision linking forest conservation to carbon markets may well be finalized at the UN climate negotiations in Durban at the beginning of December, unless it is blocked by dissident countries” is confirmation of ”Democracy Centre’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position and the Centre’s support for REDD”. This isn’t what this sentence says at all – ‘dissident’ here just means ‘dissenting’ – which the Morales government has been doing (bravely and probably with great difficulty) at the UN climate negotiations on REDD.

    Also, I think you’re misquoting the Reuters research and REDD-Monitor post when you say ‘The money behind the REDD scheme is in the trillions.’ It isn’t anywhere near that (yet). The commodity traders Reuters profiled have ‘between them have revenues of US$1.1 trillion a year’ – which includes oil, coal and a lot more than a few flimsy REDD credits. The Reuters profile is still useful – helps us understand who is and will profit from a REDD market (commodity traders / banks, fossil fuel companies, and to a lesser but significant extent, large international conservation NGOs).

    Reply

    • Cory Morningstar Says:

      Hi Lucy,

      I believe you may have missed my point in the first paragraph. The role of Avaaz, Amazon Watch, Democracy Center and other NGOs funded by global elites was/is not to exert their power in Bolivia (USAID is much better for directly doing that). Rather, their role is to provide a “left” face outside of Bolivia (which is where they do most of their campaigning) in such campaigns, in this case, the campaign to slander/demonize Morales in the International community, and win support for USAID promoted policies – the same policies which serve the NGO funders.

      In the second paragraph you believe the statement by the Democracy Center: “The decision linking forest conservation to carbon markets may well be finalized at the UN climate negotiations in Durban at the beginning of December, unless it is blocked by dissident countries” simply means Bolivia is dissenting. The Democracy Center chose to use the word ‘dissident’, not I. I do agree that the Morales gov’t (with ALBA) will dissent. The actually intent behind the word chosen by DC matters little as the most important aspect of this statement is this – that the REDD scheme is about to cross the finish line – and the only one standing in the way of this long sought after scheme of the global elites was/is Bolivia (& now ALBA). This further strengthens the belief by many that the recent attempt to alienate Morales supporters and destabilize his gov’t. was, at least in part, due to the bold opposition to REDD. Indeed, after two decades the elites are finally almost there in this latest neoliberal plot to commodify the Earth’s last remaining resources under the guise of protecting the environment and dealing with emissions. That being said, I am very much appreciate of your supportive words in response to Morales: “‘dissident’ here just means ‘dissenting’ – which the Morales government has been doing (bravely and probably with great difficulty) at the UN climate negotiations on REDD.” It is a grave mistake to underestimate the reaction from Imperialist GHG leading obstructionist states towards those countries who refuse to abandon their revolutionary movements which seek to break free of Imperialism and use their shared natural resources to benefit their own people rather than serve the rich. Libya is a casing point.

      The last point – on the carbon markets. I understand the markets are not there at present (like you state in brackets – “yet”). I could have worded that more carefully. I am speaking to the potential of wealth the elites are counting on from yet another ‘climate wealth’ scheme. Having inside knowledge of REDD, which I am not at liberty to discuss here, I can assure you the REDD scheme is going to involve massive amounts of money – in the trillions – which will be authorized by a blitz of phony accreditation.

      Reply

  2. Kylie Benton-Connell Says:

    Dear Cory,

    I’m glad that people are reading the article I wrote for Alternet, and discussing the issues that it raises. Unfortunately, you completely misread it – I won’t respond point by point to each of the mischaracterizations in your post, since this would be a lengthy undertaking (it’s great to see that readers are picking them up too – thanks Lucy!) but it does seem important to make a couple of general corrections.

    The report “Off the Market” (which readers can find here: http://democracyctr.org/featured/off-the-market/) was an attempt to introduce a very complex issue to a new audience from a number of angles – including the debate about forest offsets, and the ways that paying for forest carbon runs into some of the toughest issues in Bolivian politics, like indigenous rights, land distribution and industrialisation. The Bolivian government’s outspoken stance in the international climate negotiations has meant that it’s been the focus of a lot of international attention from the climate justice movement; and we saw the issue as an important one to explore, particularly in terms of the many different Bolivian voices that are relevant to this debate, and what the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening there. It is not a ‘policy statement’ about the Democracy Center’s position on REDD – and to imply that we were trying to put pressure on the Bolivian government to be more forest carbon market-friendly is just plain wrong, and, frankly, irresponsible.

    For the record, the project was something I proposed during my time at the Center – it was not an external initiative, and we received no direct funding for it, from Rockefeller or anyone else. You can find the first piece that I wrote for the Democracy Center on the issue here: http://democracyctr.org/blogfrombolivia/british-petroleum-and-the-environment-the-bolivian-connection/, where I said ‘But if preserving these forests means allowing companies like BP to continue their oily business as usual, forest offsets are going to continue to be a tough sell.’ It was hardly a defence of corporate-backed REDD. Neither was the report.

    Of course there are real debates about the role of international NGOs in countries like Bolivia, and the funding that goes to them from foundations. Like the debate about the role of international solidarity activists, it’s an important one to have. I want to participate in these discussions, but only when they’re constructive and free from misrepresentation.

    Best,
    Kylie Benton-Connell

    Reply

    • Cory Morningstar Says:

      Hi Kylie,

      I’m not certain how I’ve misread your article, however, I’m definitely open to being corrected. You state the report “Off the Market” is not a policy statement – could you please tell me where one finds the ‘Democracy’ Center’s policy statement outlining (concisely) their position on REDD?

      You state you disagree with my opinion (an opinion shared by many others both outside and inside Bolivia) that ‘Democracy’ Center played an integral role in “pressuring the government” – however, I don’t believe the ‘Democracy’ Center (with many other NGOs funded by foreign interests) simply placed pressure on the Bolivian Gov’t to be more “forest carbon market-friendly” – I believe, along with many others, that this is a case of NGOS, including the ‘Democracy’ Center, strategically and deliberately undermining the Morales Government and manipulating the very people that the “Democracy” Center claims to represent in order to serve foreign interests that fund the ‘Democracy’ Center and the other NGOs which assisted in the attack campaign against Morales. This goes far beyond the words you use to describe my assessment: “just plain wrong, and, frankly, irresponsible” – the actions of the ‘Democracy’ Center are to be blunt – sinister.

      I never suggested the ‘Democracy’ Center itself received “direct funding” for the REDD report. The fact a U.S. funded “Democracy” Center (situated in Bolivia) – funded by the very same elites that have been behind the massive push for REDD (and most all other neoliberal policies that benefit Imperialist states and global elites) speaks volumes. As far as the first piece you wrote, in which you highlight that you stated “But if preserving these forests means allowing companies like BP to continue their oily business as usual, forest offsets are going to continue to be a tough sell”, you argue that this sentence proves the report was “hardly a defense of corporate-backed REDD – neither was the report.” Fair enough, but stating the obvious – “that forest offsets are going to continue to be a tough sell” is certainly not articulating a principled position against REDD.

      While we obviously do not agree on the role ‘Democracy’ Center in regards to the destabilization effort & demonization campaign of the Morales Gov’t – I am pleased that you are willing to recognize a critical debate currently blacklisted by the environmental movement itself – that being the role of international NGOs in liberating countries like Bolivia, and the funding that they are dependent upon from foundations.

      Finally, while I appreciate you responding, I must state that your response essentially sidesteps the entire premise of the issue at hand: Does the “Democracy” Center support REDD (in all or some form) or not? Surely it is a simply yes or no answer. This is what the ‘Democracy’ Center continues to refuse to clearly state (along with many other NGOs), yet, the open advocacy of the Amazonia REDD project reveals that the answer is yes, that the ‘Democracy’ Center does in fact support REDD. Until I read a policy statement stating otherwise, I stand by the opinion that this report was used as a mechanism for placing pressure on the Morales government.

      “In our inability to avert an oncoming ecological collapse, coupled with what appears to be an insurmountable climate genocide, we must understand how the forces we seek to resist constantly absorb opposition, through compromised NGOs and other means. Never underestimate the strategies and mechanisms of the global elites for retaining their power, control, and domination of Earth and her inhabitants. Cognitive dissonance compromises environmental activism. We must open our eyes, even if the ugliness is difficult to accept. Many seemingly credible activists who are paid to “lead” environmental organizations cannot admit to themselves that they have caved into the very systems they purport to oppose; there is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. It is no longer singular individuals who create and shape our systems. Instead, the plutocrats construct and mould the systems and sustain illusory movements.”

      I hope you will be interested in a powerful declaration that just came out today from several Indigenous organizations from Ecuador, Panama, India, Nicaragua, Peru and Samoa. This is what NO TO REDD looks like – the words are unequivocal: “We, the Indigenous Peoples denounce the serious situation we are facing; the harmonious relationship between humans and Mother Earth has been broken. The life of people and Pachamama has become a business. Life, for Indigenous Peoples, is sacred, and we therefore consider REDD+ and the carbon market a hypocrisy which will not impact global warming. … For us, everything is life, and life cannot be negotiated or sold on a stock market, this is a huge risk and will not resolve the environmental crisis. We call upon all people committed to climate justice to support life, and we implore the global community to take responsibility for reducing emission of green house gases at the source and to reject REDD+ as a false solution that breads a new form of climate racism.”

      http://bit.ly/vP7qSm

      Reply

  3. Bill Occam Says:

    The writer here appears to believe that President Morales means what he says. I find it is always dangerous to trust the words that emerge from politicians.. It is far more useful to examine the actions of such people.

    From observation, Morales seems more committed to continuing the neo-liberal policies of his predecessors than he is to environmentalism.

    Reply

    • Cory Morningstar Says:

      Hi Bill,

      I too would agree that it is dangerous to trust the words that emerge from politicians and that we must carefully examine their actions. I would add that this is not only wise and applicable in regards to politicians, such scrutiny must also extend to the key instruments that are imperative to the global elites to serve and further their agendas. These include corporate NGOs, corporate media, institutions such as the United Nations, etc.

      You state from your own observation that “Morales seems more committed to continuing the neoliberal policies of his predecessors than he is to environmentalism.” Yet, here we have all kinds of NGOs gathering support for REDD – with the Morales government leading the opposition against REDD. So who is really concerned/committed to furthering neoliberal policies than protecting the environment and Indigenous rights? Clearly the corporate funded NGOs.

      Reply

  4. Jim Shultz Says:

    The Democracy Center has become accustomed to attacks on our work, from the likes of the World Bank, the Bechtel Corporation and others, and it is always important to set the record straight.

    We undertook our report on REDD in Bolivia to offer people an understandable presentation of an urgent global debate about how to save the planet’s vanishing forests in the face of global climate change. The report seeks to summarize the arguments on both sides of the REDD debate, look at how those arguments play out against the realities of Bolivia by visiting the people and communities directly impacted, and offers a set of conclusions. Among these is that carbon offsets are just plain wrong, both for the injustices they promote and because they only worsen the crisis of climate change by letting carbon polluters off the hook. The author of this Blog calls such reporting work “sinister”. We call it serious analysis and it is what our global readership on Bolivian events and other issues has come to expect from us for more than a decade.

    The Democracy Center’s record of joining with the Bolivian people to take on global powers is well known and began long before others far away adopted Bolivia as their new fad. More than a decade ago we were in the streets reporting on the Cochabamba Water Revolt, outing the Bechtel Corporation’s role behind the scenes. We later helped lead the global campaign that forced Bechtel to drop its $50 million legal case against the Bolivian people. Year after year we have worked to expose the ways in which the IMF, Enron, and a host of others have tried to trample on the rights of the people of Bolivia.

    See:

    http://democracyctr.org/bolivia/investigations/bolivia-investigations-the-water-revolt/bechtel-vs-bolivia-details-of-the-case-and-the-campaign/

    Did we criticize the current Bolivian government in the midst of its violent repression of a march of indigenous peoples to save their lands in the TIPNIS? Absolutely, as did President Morales’ own Ambassadors to the UN and to the U.S. as well as many others who have fought at his side. When we see images likes those at the link below, of police brutally beating people fighting for social justice, taping shut the mouths of courageous women, we don’t have any doubt which side to take. This Blog, written from a comfortable perch on the other side of the world simply dismissed these brave mothers, fathers, grandparents and children by citing the words of a Bolivian living in Washington, “Once again, foreign interests have ensured that the Indians act against their own interests.” We will let the blatant racism and condescension of that declaration stand for itself.

    See:
    http://democracyctr.org/blogfrombolivia/an-open-letter-to-our-friends-about-the-current-situation-in-bolivia/

    We assume that readers here are intelligent people and need not rely either on the wildly incorrect interpretations of our work presented on this Blog or even on our own summary of it. Our REDD report, like all our work, is posted on our Web site (in Spanish and English) and readers can access it for themselves and reach their own conclusions.

    The Report can be found here:

    http://democracyctr.org/climatedemocracy/climate-reports/off-the-market/

    Jim Shultz
    Executive Director
    The Democracy Center
    Cochabamba, Bolivia

    Reply

    • Cory Morningstar Says:

      Jim,

      The ‘Democracy’ Center comes under attack from the world bank? How strange considering how closely your core partner, ‘International Budget Project’ is aligned with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

      When you state “the report seeks to summarize the arguments on both sides of the REDD debate” – are you referring to the side that gets richer verses the side that gets exploited? I see little in this report that speaks to the ongoing atrocities happening all over the planet due to carbon market schemes. You state that “carbon offsets are just plain wrong, both for the injustices they promote and because they only worsen the crisis of climate change by letting carbon polluters off the hook.” Yet, in the report, in each instance where offsets are mentioned the ‘Democracy’ Center uses the term ‘forest offsets’. Do you/ does ‘Democracy’ Center conclude that FOREST offsets “are just plain wrong, both for the injustices they promote and because they only worsen the crisis of climate change by letting carbon polluters off the hook”? If so, why do you refuse to state that the ‘Democracy’ Center opposes REDD in all of its forms? Surely this should have been the main point in your ‘set of conclusions’? You state “We call it serious analysis and it is what our global readership on Bolivian events and other issues has come to expect from us for more than a decade.” The global readership you are referring to must be that of your corporate funders – they undoubtedly have great expectations for the vast amounts of money (made possible by exploitation of people and planet) they funnel through their tax-exempt foundations into ‘environmental’ and ‘human rights’ NGOs such as ‘Democracy’ Center.

      You state that “others far away adopted Bolivia as their new fad.” This is insulting even to your own report which outlines the strong, uncompromising positions of the Morales government in regards to climate change and environment including the Cochabamba People’s Conference in 2010. The following is an excerpt from Monthly Review:

      Notes from the Editors: “The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held April 20-22, 2010, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, will undoubtedly be remembered as a major historical turning point in the struggle over climate change. Over 35,000 people from 142 countries attended (including official delegations from the United Nations and forty-seven countries, and spokespersons from indigenous communities). For perhaps the first time, the issue of the planetary environmental crisis was wrested entirely from the ideological control of the rich countries of the North in a major international forum, leading to the development of a radical South-based perspective.

      President Evo Morales of Bolivia opened the conference with the words “Planet or Death, We Shall Overcome” and emphasized that there were two possible paths: “either capitalism dies or Mother Earth dies.” The final declaration of the conference on April 22, known as The Cochabamba Protocol, or The People’s Agreement on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, stated:

      The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress, and limitless growth. The regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself….
      Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life. (World People’s Conference)”

      This desperately needed leadership is what garnered support for Morales/Bolivia, from others far away. People did not see Bolivia/Morales as a ‘fad’ but as the only country which has seriously attempted to address the greatest problem to have ever faced humanity. Your hatred/jealously of Morales has apparently blinded you to something so simple to understand. If you did work to protect rights of Bolivians, more than a decade ago, I can only assume it was 1) to gain trust, legitimacy, credibility of the Bolivian people, which would ease your task at a later time, or 2) that you have seriously lost your way, or 3) you cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds you. It is revealing to note that although you claim to fight for the rights of Bolivian/Indigenous Peoples – your organization has never endorsed nor campaigned on the People’s Agreement – even though it is the only agreement – written ‘by the people’ which actually stands a chance of mitigating cataclysmic climate change and ecological collapse. Further it is the only democratically written agreement brought forward to be recognized by the United Nations (at Bolivia relentless insistence).

      Police repression: Yes, the “brave” Jim and his ‘Democracy’ Center who “dared” to join with the corporate media, the US government, the UN and others to falsely accuse Morales of the police repression (despite growing evidence that Morales never gave the order).

      No one is suggesting violent repression upon protesters is nor was acceptable. To do so would be ludicrous. (with exception to situations such as we witness in Syria – where alleged ‘protesters’ are being armed (& most likely trained) by foreign interests, killing state police and civilians in order to make way for a “humanitarian intervention” by Imperialist states). However, your campaign, carried out in unison with U.S. funded NGOs Avaaz and Amazon Watch, went far beyond criticizing. You unleashed a full destabilization campaign. And unable to help yourself, you attempt to revive your campaign in this very forum by adding the ‘link’ to your attack campaign. I would like to remind you that at this time, there are very similar episodes of violence being carried out against protesters by state police in the occupy protests in your own country – that of the United States. Interestingly, there have been no International campaigns to focus on these such acts of violent repression. The ‘sides’ which your organization and other U.S. funded entities provoke – are not the true ‘sides’. The real ‘sides’ people need to understand are the autonomy and liberation of Bolivia and her people – verses the very real threat of an Imperialist coup. It is of no secret that dividing communities creates opportunity for ‘humanitarian intervention’ and opens the door for puppet governments. We only have to look at Honduras to see how well democracy serves citizens under a puppet government.

      http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=7432

      You state “This Blog, written from a comfortable perch on the other side of the world simply dismissed these brave mothers, fathers, grandparents and children by citing the words of a Bolivian living in Washington”. Yet, your perch seems far more comfortable; flying all over the world with ease, able to pick up and leave Bolivia if any foreign intervention ensues – all made possible by your corporate funders. You cite the quote “Once again, foreign interests have ensured that the Indians act against their own interests.” – “We will let the blatant racism and condescension of that declaration stand for itself.” Although this is not my quote, let me state that the real racism and condescension comes from those who believe Indians are only those peoples who live in remote forest areas. The fact is that the majority of Bolivians view themselves as indigenous/Indians even if they choose not to live in remote forests, and the majority of Bolivian Indians supported the highway. To cover this up, people (such as yourself and the ‘Democracy’ Center) instead tell us that “indigenous people” were against the highway, (apparently) believing, and conveying that the only “real” indigenous people are the ones that fit into to racist stereotype repeated in academic studies and the media. It seems they too are also peddling this racist view.

      You state that the ‘Democracy’ Center assumes that its readers are intelligent enough that they can read your report and reach their own conclusions. On this we agree.

      I believe most all (as I do also) will support Fred Fuentes obvious conclusion (taken from the public communiqués below between yourself and Fred – from 1st to last) where after Fuentes asks you REPEATEDLY in a most concise manner whether or not the ‘Democracy’ Center supports REDD. Fuentes finally concedes, stating “It seems clear that neither Jim or the ‘Democracy’ Center are willing to categorical[ly] oppose REDD in all its form[s] (even if they hold deep reservations about it). This seems evident in their support for Amazonia REDD, a project i might add that was paraded at the Copenhaguen summit exactly at the time Morales was denouncing REDD, in a seminar hosted by USAID and with speakers from CIDOB and FAN, the main NGO involved in the project …”(entire correspondence below)

      This communication demonstrates you continue to respond – by not responding. Sure it is a simple yes or no answer: Do you support REDD (in all or some form) or not? This is what you clearly have refused to state, however, the open advocacy of the Amazonia REDD project both shows that the ‘Democracy’ Center does support REDD. You are not alone in playing your part in this International campaign to discredit the principle stance on REDD that the Morales government has taken, in order to force it to cave in to corporate demands. You are joined by hundreds of other NGOs, all corporately funded, who seek the same. It is interesting how some of the TIPNIS march supporters are now taking the position that perhaps REDD is more complicated than a yes or no answer (which is really a way of saying it is acceptable, albeit only in some forms). Thankfully many justice groups and Indigenous movements do not see REDD nor “appreciate” that REDD is a complex issue and remain firm in their position of NO REDD.

      http://www.carbontradewatch.org/downloads/publications/REDD_key_players.pdf

      From: Fred Fuentes [mailto:fred.fuentes@gmail.com]
      Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 11:27 PM
      To: Jim Shultz; everyone@democracyctr.org
      Subject: The Democracy Centre has some serious questions to answer

      Hi Jim and everyone at the Democracy Centre,

      A very disturbing thing has been brought to my attention which requires a public response from your NGO.

      During the recent TIPNIS dispute, the Democracy Centre issued a statement (available here http://democracyctr.org/blogfrombolivia/an-open-letter-to-our-friends-about-the-current-situation-in-bolivia/) that claimed: “The events of the past week represent something new rising in Bolivia. The people – who have now listened to many Morales speeches about protecting the Earth and guaranteeing indigenous people control over their lands – have risen to defend those principles, even if their President has seemingly abandoned them.”

      It also went on to add that: “the abuses dealt out by the government against the people of the TIPNIS have knocked ‘Evo the icon’ off his pedestal in a way from which he will never fully recover, in Bolivia and globally.”

      Yet in recent articles and documents published by the Democracy Centre you have made clear that in fact you oppose the very same principles advocated by Morales “about protecting the Earth and guaranteeing indigenous people control over their lands” and are in fact yourselves campaigning to “knock ‘Evo the icon’ off his pedestal” so as to advance the grossly anti-environmental and anti-indigenous policy of REDD (see article below).

      Since the TIPNIS dispute the Democracy Centre has come out openly to support REDD projects, a demand of the indigenous march and a policy opposed by the Morales government, the Bolivian and international indigenous and environmental organisations that met at the Global Peoples Summit on Climate Change, and the global climate justice movement.

      More over you are campaigning to keep these projects alive not to defence the priniciples espoused by the government, but in order to bring about a change in the Morales governments pro-environment stance. Hence we are told in the Democracy Centre policy paper on REDD (available here http://democracyctr.org/featured/off-the-market/ ) that “The REDD Amazonia project is important, because it keeps the possibility of these kind of projects alive in Bolivian institutions, in a context where the national government is swimming against the tide of international REDD politics.”

      Also surprising is that a “Democracy” Centre would make no mention of the fact that the key NGO involved in this project is funded by the notorious anti-democracy US government aid agency, USAID, which conspires around the world to promote US foreign policy interests and those of its corporate backers. In actual fact, the Democracy Centre, as a foreign NGO, has campaigning to support a project opposed by a sovereign government in the hope of changing government policy so that it become more inline with those proposed by the US government. And you have the gall to tell us that the problem is Morales!

      Furthermore in a separate article on your website (http://democracyctr.org/news/forest-carbon-markets-and-conflict-in-bolivia/) we are told that the future of these very same US-funded, anti-environmental REDD projects ”may well be finalized at the UN climate negotiations in Durban at the beginning of December, unless it is blocked by dissident countries.” Of course, a campaign that “knocked ‘Evo the icon’ off his pedestal” so that it did not bloc this move would no doubt be of great importance for ensuring that rich corporations and imperialist countries got their way at the Durban summit. Thankfully, Bolivia, ALBA and the the global climate justice movement will be opposing any such policy, given that REDD projects have only brought about more destruction for indigenous communities and forests.

      I think the Democracy Centre has a lot to answer for. Why has a foreign NGO (funded by not too savoury sources) been waging an international campaign to claim that the Morales government no longer supports environmental and pro-indigenous policies, when in fact it is simultaneously campaign to overturn the prinicpled policies the Morales government maintains in defence of indigenous people and Mother Earth? Why are we told that Morales is no longer a protector of the environment, and instead encouraged to support a project backed by the worst environmental criminal in the world, the US government? Why is has the Democracy Centre attempted to undermine the Morales government telling us it is anti-environmental, when its real objection is that the Morales government is one of the few things standing in the way of rich countries and corporations getting their way at the Durban climate summit through the adoption of anti-environment, anti-indigenous policy opposed by the climate justice movement?

      The “Democracy” Centre has a lot to answer for, perhaps most importantly why anyone should have anything to do with a foreign NGO operating in Bolivia that claims to be champion environmental and indigenous rights while working to undermine a sovereign government so that rich corporations and the US government can get there way there and international.

      Regards

      Federico

      Article: November 23, 2011: U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$
      On Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 2:49 AM, Jim Shultz wrote:

      Dear Bolivia Solidarity Friends,

      Well, you know it is going to be a lovely Thanksgiving when someone uses it to spread false information about you. Apparently such nonsense is quite in style these days, and not only among U.S. politicians. Many of you may have seen a lovely little piece of e-mail sent out earlier today seeking to charge the Democracy Center with (wait for it, this is really good…), “promoting anti-environment/indigenous policies in Bolivia.” Yes, that is my goal in life. That is what I get up every day hoping to achieve. I also have plans to shave Santa’s beard this season if given a chance. I am just that kind of guy.

      While I am not going to get all tangled up into one of those useless back and forth debates, you can’t just let these misrepresentations hang out there. So we have to waste a little piece of our day replying. My letter is below. In the meantime we appreciate the attention to the Democracy Center’s really awesome and wickedly researched 50 page report, Off the Market: Bolivian Forests and Struggles Over Climate Change. And the good news is that instead of reading misrepresentations of it you can actually read it for yourself in both Spanish and English, or if you prefer, we also have a nice executive summary. You can find all that right here.

      Meanwhile, a happy holiday season to one and all.
      Jim Shultz
      Executive Director
      The Democracy Center
      Cochabamba, Bolivia

      [Reply to Fred Fuentes]

      Dear Fred,

      I am glad to see if you remain an avid, although inaccurate, reader of our work. How anyone can read the Democracy Center’s recent report on REDD in Bolivia, “Off the Market”, and miss its blunt criticism of global carbon offsets is really beyond me. As the report itself concludes:

      “Moreover, if carbon pollution continues at dangerous levels enabled by cheap forest carbon credits, entire countries will disappear underwater, life-supporting glaciers will vanish, and huge populations of people (including, perhaps, in Bolivia) will be forced to migrate. In this sense, the stakes of the struggle over REDD could hardly be higher – nor the role of Bolivia more important.”

      I can only conclude that either you didn’t actually read the report or chose to willfully misrepresent it with some other objective in mind. Happily, people can read the report for themselves. It has been up on our Web site since its release several months ago. It is an excellent piece of work of which we are very proud. It is based not on theory launched from the other side of the world but on serious on-the-ground reporting here in Bolivia by people who actually live here. The team that produced it interviewed dozens of Bolivians across a wide variety of points of views, traveled deep in to the Amazon to speak with impacted indigenous communities, and had a draft of the report reviewed for accuracy by a host of actors, including the Bolivian government.

      So I do thank you for helping us draw more attention to the report. That is always appreciated.

      All best wishes,

      Jim

      From: Fred Fuentes [mailto:fred.fuentes@gmail.com]
      Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2011 6:45 PM
      To: Jim Shultz; everyone@democracyctr.org
      Cc: Bolivia Solidarity Elist
      Subject: Re: [bolivia_solidarity] A Reply from the Democracy Center

      I find that in these debates it is all to common to simply claim others are spreading “false information” and then refuse to actually deal with the issue at hand.

      This seems a pretty simple open shut case: either you support REDD/REDD+/REDD++ (in all or some form) or you oppose this grossly anti-environmental and anti-indigenous policy.

      Almost all indigenous and environmental groups, and certainly those at the Peoples Climate Summit in Cochabamba have made their position clear. In the statement they agreed: “We condemn market mechanisms such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and its versions + and + +, which are violating the sovereignty of peoples and their right to prior free and informed consent as well as the sovereignty of national States, the customs of Peoples, and the Rights of Nature.”

      That is, they condemn REDD in all its forms as a policy that violates the rights of indigenous people and Mother Earth.

      Jim, do you agree with this statement, and therefore oppose REDD in all its forms or not? a simply yes or no answer will no doubt clear up any confusion and i will certainly retract any statement accusing you of supporting it if you say that you and the Democracy Centre do not support REDD.

      But if you do answer no, then the logical follow up question is why is the Democracy Centre advocating support for Amazonia REDD as a “project [that] is important, because it keeps the possibility of these kind of projects alive in Bolivian institutions, in a context where the national government is swimming against the tide of international REDD politics.” Surely if you oppose REDD, then you in no way want to keep these types of projects alive, much less hope that the international tide consumes Bolivia and forces it to go along with REDD.

      Again Jim, please help clarify this debate and give us all a clear answer: Does the Democracy Centre support or oppose REDD? And if it opposes it why does it advocate keeping alive REDD projects in Bolivia?

      I look forward to a direct answer rather the further obfuscation and hiding behind accusations of spreading “false information”

      Regards
      Fred

      On Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 1:04 PM, Jim Shultz wrote:

      Dear Fred,

      I have always treated you cordially, even we have disagreed. But it seems clear now that you are just interested in attacking us on the basis of truly misleading charges. Really? The Democracy Center is “campaigning to bring about a change in the Morales governments pro-environment stance?” Do you actually believe this nonsense?

      So if you really think the most important thing you can do to support the Bolivian people is to peddle some fantasy that we have launched a U.S. backed conspiracy to attack Bolivia’s environment and make the world safe for carbon markets, go knock yourself out buddy. But I and the rest of the Democracy Center team have far better uses for our time than to engage in this kind of silliness.

      Jim

      From: Fred Fuentes [mailto:fred.fuentes@gmail.com]
      Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 9:10 PM
      To: Jim Shultz
      Cc: everyone@democracyctr.org; Bolivia Solidarity Elist
      Subject: Re: [bolivia_solidarity] A Reply from the Democracy Center

      OK Jim, fine.

      Let me make this as polite, non-judgement and as easy as possible so that perhaps we can conclude this discussion.

      Does the Democracy Centre support REDD (in all or any of its form)? Yes or no?

      If not, what does it mean to say that the Amazonia REDD “project is important, because it keeps the possibility of these kind of projects alive in Bolivian institutions, in a context where the national government is swimming against the tide of international REDD politics”? Is there a different interpretation to this statement than one that argues to support the project in order to keep these type of REDD projects alive?

      I hope that a direct answer to these simply stated questions can help resolve the confusion. As i have already stated, i will be more than happy to write a public retraction of my statements if the Democracy Centre responses by say that no they do not in fact support REDD in any form and help clarify what they mean by their support for Amazonia REDD.

      Regards
      Fred
      On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 2:38 AM, Jim Shultz wrote:

      Dear Fred,

      As others have noted, both on the listserve and in other notes to me personally, the report answers your questions in the depth the issues deserve and makes very clear our criticism of carbon markets.

      Thank your for helping get so many more people to read our work!

      From Bolivia,

      Jim

      —–Original Message—–
      From: Fred Fuentes [mailto:fred.fuentes@gmail.com]
      Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 7:44 PM
      To: Jim Shultz
      Cc: everyone@democracyctr.org; Bolivia Solidarity Elist
      Subject: Re: [bolivia_solidarity] A Reply from the Democracy Center

      It seems clear that neither Jim or the Democracy Centre are willing to catagorical oppose REDD in all its form (even if they hold deep reservations about it). This seems evident in their support for Amazonia REDD, a project i might add that was paraded at the Copenhaguen summit exactly at the time Morales was denouncing REDD, in a seminar hosted by USAID and with speakers from CIDOB and FAN, the main NGO involved in the project (see http://brazil.usaid.gov/en/node/807 ) (DISCLAIMER: this is not to be read as a statement that the Democracy Centre are agents of USAID, simply that by coincidence both DC and USAID support the same project)

      For this reason it seems pointless to continue the discussion as a conclusion has been reached. Instead i am sending three links below of statements and reports that while “multi-syllable” in nature have little difficulty in using the syllable No when it comes to REDD as alternative, well-written and prinicipled examples of the stance that should be taken towards REDD

      In solidarity
      Fred

      Indigenous statement condemns REDD “We call upon all people committed to climate justice to support life, and we implore the global community to take responsibility for reducing emission of green house gases at the source and to reject REDD+ as a false solution that breads a new form of climate racism.”

      http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=6020

      Report: Get forests out of carbon trading; Stop REDD (A new manual by six Europe-based NGOs, who in general you may have realised im no big fan of) “The report argues that there are two motivations for forest offsets:“reducing the pressure to do something about fossil fuel emissions and the short term profit motive”.

      Summary http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/10/21/new-report-calls-for-an-end-to-forest-offsets/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Redd-monitor+%28REDD-Monitor%29
      Full report http://www.redd-monitor.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/An-end-to-forest-offsets-final.pdf

      Evo Morales: A letter to the indigenous peoples of the world “All forests and rainforests protection mechanisms should guarantee indigenous rights and participation, but not because indigenous participation is achieved in REDD, we can accept that a price for forests and rainforests is set and negotiated in a global carbon market.”

      Full http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=3454

      Reply

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