Take physic, pomp

the 4th Summit of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

This week, Puno in Peru has been hosting the 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples of the Abya Yala. Indigenous peoples and community representatives from all over the Americas, from the First Nations of Canada all the way down to the southern tip of Chile/Argentina, have gathered to express their opinions on the development of their lands and peoples.

Evo Morales was invited to speak but had to apologize due to previous commitments (for one thing he’s travelling to the inauguration of Mauricio Funes in El Salvador). But he did write a letter to the conference that was read out by his representative there. The whole thing (Spanish language) can be read here, but I want to translate a part because it really captures what is happening in many parts of South America in relation to business and investments. There’s a lesson for all those who are considering making money in the Americas, but as mining is often the leading edge in capital investments the lesson is particulary acute for that sector.

The lesson is; either make a fair deal for all or don’t bother coming. Don’t think you can shake hands with the national government and ignore the locals. What’s happening with oil exploration in the Amazon Basin of Peru is a topical example of a trend that is not going to suddenly disappear; on the contrary, it’s going to grow stronger and stronger. (Side note; the speech is already being interpreted as some sort of call to arms for a fight for independence (Spanish language link). Such ridiculous analysis cannot be for lack of understanding by qualified journalists so it can only be deliberate spin from those who fear).

Back to Evo; Here we go with the translated section and truly I say unto you, if you can fully understand the first sentence of the translation below you’ll understand more about the continent than 99.9% of gringos. You guys get fed a line about Evo and never get to hear about how intelligent the guy really is. Maybe not that educated, but oh my the guy is smart. Here we see him railing against capitalism once again. Personally I support capitalism in its best aspect but you have to be aware of the downsides, too. The wise will listen and react to the complaints from the have-nots about the effects of the rampant and uncaring side of capitalism that we all know exists (but perhaps prefer not to visit too much). The blind will ignore them and finish as the ones complaining. Here’s Evo:

“For thousands of years we lived with nature, in constant balance with her and inside her. Today we feel the devastating effects of the neoliberal, transnational capitalist system that is quickly destroying our planet.

“From outside and above, they still try to impose upon us economic policies that attack our rights as people, the rights of other living creatures and the rights of planet earth. They still try to sell us trinkets for gold. They told us there was a discovery when there was in fact an invasion. They told us there was a conquest when there was a genocide. And now they say that they want integration and to include us in the world economy when all they really want is to steal our riches, keep the profits and ignore solidarity.”

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