Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
August 4, 2011 | Gregor MacLennan
Peru's Ombudsman has reiterated the urgent need for the approval of the Consultation Law in Peru. The Ombudsman highlighted the shared responsibilities of the legislative and executive branches to promote and prioritize the approval of the Consultation Law.
Peru's consultation law was approved by Congress on May 19th, 2010 after a year of negotiations with indigenous organizations following the tragic end to nation-wide indigenous protests in 2009. However on June 23rd, 2010 Peru's former president, Alan Garcia, refused to sign the law and finished his term without ever responding to the demands of indigenous peoples and meeting Peru's obligations under international law to respect indigenous peoples' right to consultation.
August 3, 2011 | Edward Montgomery, Supporter
After volunteering to help the clean up after Hurricane Katrina in the US, Amazon Watch supporter Edward Montgomery embarked on a journey to see how the worlds of business and the environment could be combined for mutual benefit. On July 15th, Edward and four friends completed the 45 km swim across the UK Channel to raise awareness and funds for the work of Amazon Watch. In his own words, "As the Amazon basin is increasingly subjected to industrial natural resource extraction, its rainforests and indigenous peoples are in ever greater need of all of our support."
Below is a note from Edward about his UK channel swim to raise money for Amazon Watch. So far he has raised upwards of $9,500. Thank you, Edward!
August 1, 2011 | Christina Goldbaum, Guest Writer – CEADESC
Though the name "Cachuela Esperanza" may include the word "hope" translated, this proposed megaproject will most likely mean disaster for the natural environment and indigenous population living near the Madera River Basin. The proposed project was the subject of the recent international symposium Cachuela Esperanza: In the International Basin of the Madera River in Cochabamba, Bolivia this past June. The conference, organized by the Center For Applied Studies in Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CEADESC), sought to examine the issue of this proposed damming project on the Rio Madera in the northern Beni province of Bolivia. Presenters did not only touch upon the issues of the technical design and potential impact of this dam, but they also spoke to the leading role of BNDES, the national development bank of Brazil, in financing this roughly US$2.5 billion megaproject. The dam – part of the Madera River project – was designed by the Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ENDE) and construction is expected to begin within the coming year. However if this project proceeds as planned, the livelihoods of indigenous populations surrounding Cachuela will be forever changed and Brazil's growing influence in Bolivia undoubtedly secured.
The town of Cachuela, located on the rapids of the Beni River 30 kms before it joins the Mamore to form the Madera River, was a product of the rubber boom in the late 19th century. The town has begun to fall into disarray since the 1920s, and for some local residents, the building of this dam presents an opportunity to revive the town from its decline. For others, it means disaster.
According to an impact evaluation produced by Tecsult, the effects of Cachuela Esperanza could be catastrophic, including the flooding of forests and cultivatable land, disrupted migration patterns for fish populations, extinction of certain fish species, mercury contamination, spreading of epidemics, uncontrolled migration, and displacement of indigenous communities. Cachuela would also produce three times less energy that San Antonia and Jirau, but would flood an area three times that of both dams combined (690 km2). Its emission of greenhouse gases would be ten times worse than those dams for every MW produced as well.
Given its environmental and human impacts, the willingness of the Morales government to move forward with this project is certainly perplexing. In fact, it is quite difficult to justify the construction of this dam based on the needs of the Bolivian population, as in reality it responds to the growing energy needs of Brazil. The project itself would only be viable should all the energy generated be exported to Brazil, given that Bolvia's northern provinces of Beni and Pando require less than 20 MW of electricity, only 2% of the hydropower the dam is expected to produce. It could also potentially prolong the useful lives of Brazil's Jirau and San Antonia dams by containing the sediment in the Beni River prior to flowing into the Madera. The Rio Madera Complex in its entirety reflects Brazil's need to secure clean energy sources to respond to the demand of its industrial hubs, reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, and provide investment opportunities for its private companies and multilateral banks. But Cachuela Esperanza in Bolivia represents a significant increase in the willingness of Brazil to lobby for and finance destructive megaprojects beyond its borders.
July 20, 2011 | Adrian Schwartz & Leila Salazar-Lopez
My people and I are sworn to death.Chief Almir Surui
Sign the Petition!
To protest the Forest Code and the gutting of Brazil's rainforest protection laws, sign the Avaaz petition here.
Almir Narayamoga Surui, tribal chief of the Surui people from Western Rondonia in the Brazilian Amazon and internationally-recognized indigenous rights defender who participated in an indigenous delegation to Europe last March with Amazon Watch and our allies to expose the destructive lending practices of the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES), is once again at high risk as he works to defend the ancestral territory of the Surui people in Brazil's Amazon rainforest. It is the same threat looming over many indigenous leaders, rural agriculturalists and environmental activists who oppose destructive development, such as illegal logging and ranching, in the Amazon. One difference in this case, however, is that Chief Almir has traveled the world and has over 3,000 friends on Facebook where he's posted his concerns in an open letter (see below).
July 11, 2011 | Katie Mickel, Colombia Advocacy Intern
Send a letter to Congress!
Let your elected officials know that you're a part of a large citizen movement opposing this harmful trade agreement!
Although the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been in the works since the Bush Administration signed it in 2006, it has recently been moving forward through Congress, and it is likely to be voted on as soon as July. Opposition to the proposed FTA has never been so crucial. The Obama Administration and congressional leaders say there is no reason to block this trade agreement. However, to anyone who values respecting human rights, passage of this FTA would be a grave decision.
As shown by the powerful testimonies in the video that the U.S. Office on Colombia has shared with us, there is no denying the negative impacts of the FTA on indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. If passed now, the U.S.-Colombia FTA would harm the most vulnerable populations in Colombia, those that are already most brutally affected by decades of war: poor farmers and laborers in conflict zones, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and internally-displaced persons seeking to return to their lands. Colombia remains one of the most dangerous places for human rights defenders and community organizers, where death is always a risk they run for their courageous actions.