[WSF-Discuss] Planeta o Muerte — Evo Morales and the Revolutionary Politics of Mother Earth

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed Apr 21 09:43:22 CDT 2010

Planeta o Muerte — Evo Morales and the Revolutionary Politics of  
Mother Earth
Wednesday 21 April 2010
By Roberto Lovato, New America Media, April 21, 2010

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivian President Evo Morales seems testier today  
than when he told me during a 2007 interview, "For 500 years, we have  
had patience."

The urgency felt by Morales and the more than 15,000 from 150 nations  
attending the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the  
Rights of Mother Earth (CMPCC) was evident from the first sentences  
uttered by the host and convener of this unprecedented gathering in  
Tiquipaya, a small town just north of Cochabamba, home of the historic  
“water war” that helped sweep Morales into power.

In a 21st century twist on “Revolucion o Muerte” (Revolution or  
Death), the slogan that powered Latin American revolutionary movements  
of the 60’s and 70’s, the generally soft-spoken Morales opened the  
conference by shouting “Planeta o Muerte!” (Planet or Death). Morales  
slogan drew raucous responses from the diverse and mostly dark-skinned  
crowd filling a stadium that bore more flags of indigenous nations  
than it did of nation states like Bolivia. Having sung just prior to  
Morales invocation the song “Oye-amigo-tu-tierra-esta-en- 
peligro” (Listen friend, your earth is in danger), a variation on the  
Spanish language version of “The people united will never be  
defeated”, the crowd was ready to accept Morales’ challenge.

Morales choice of opening words as well as his convening of this  
unprecedented global mobilization reflects less a greening of  
revolutionary movements or a revolutionizing of green movements, and  
more of something else, something even more ambitious: inspiring a new  
era in hemispheric and global politics, one that fuses the best of  
indigenous, leftist, labor, environmentalist and other movements in  
the effort to save Panchamama (Mother Earth). The welcome from the  
President of the Plurinational State of Bulibiya (Bolivia in Quechua)  
also marks another stage in the remarkable rise of an indigenous  
former coca-grower and immigrant (Morales migrated to Argentina in his  
youth) who has become the de-facto leader of this hybrid global  
movement that links the rights of humans to what organizers have  
coined the “Universal Rights of Mother Earth.”

“Without equilibrium between people, there will be no equilibrium  
between humans and nature” said Morales, who proposed the CMPCC  
following what he and all attendees here consider the failure of the  
top-down driven Copenhagen round of climate talks to secure  
commitments to emissions reductions that will keep temperature rises  
to less than 2 degrees centigrade. The unapologetically anti- 
capitalist philosophy, program and approach of the CMPCC and Morales  
(ie; “Either capitalism dies or Mother Earth dies”) stand in direct  
conflict with the approach taken by the leaders of industrial nations  
behind the Copenhagen agreement. Critics came to Tiquipaya, a suburb  
of Cochabamaba, out of dismay with the “Copenhagen consensus,” which  
was brokered behind closed doors and rapidly ratified with little time  
for discussion and no connection to issues being discussed here:  
climate migration, agriculture and food sovereignty, climate debt,  
indigenous peoples and 14 other issues organizers say they will push  
during the next round of UN-sponsored climate talks taking place in  
Mexico this November.

Also reflecting the alternative cosmovision (world view) of the  
burgeoning movement are proposals for the creation of, among other  
things, a climate justice tribunal that would establish an  
international legal framework to criminalize and punish those  
perpetrating climate crimes against the rights of Mother Earth and  
humanity. Filling the air of the Tiquipaya and rooting all of the  
proposals of the CMPCC is what writer Eduardo Galeano called in a  
statement read by the Uruguayan ambassador to Bolivia, “the voices of  
the past that speak to the future.”

Sponsoring a conference with the radical approach of the CMPCC puts  
Morales, the first indigenous head of state in Bolivia, a majority  
indigenous country, in direct conflict with another head of state  
whose election marked a historic political and racial shift, Barack  
Obama, who also played an active role in the Copenhagen “consensus.  
“The failure of Copenhagen caused Evo Morales and other leaders on  
climate change to call for the (CMPCC) conference” said, Lim Li Lin,  
senior legal and environment researcher at the Third World Network, a  
global rights group based in Malaysia. “By leading Copenhagen, Obama  
helped provide a platform for the alternative leadership of the  
movement led by President Morales.”

The growing conflict between the political interests and agendas  
embodied by Obama and Morales was on full display recently as the  
United States decided to cut aid for climate change to Bolivia,  
Ecuador and other countries opposed to the Copenhagen accord.  
Representatives of some of the governments attending the conference  
also told me that the Obama Administration and other industrialized  
nations were applying pressure on countries not to attend the CMPCC.  
And, though he may not intend it, Morales leadership of the  
revolutionary movement for the rights of Mother Earth also appears to  
be overshadowing (at least momentarily) the hemispheric and global  
left leadership of his ally and fellow conference attendee, Hugo  
Chavez, who has received similar treatment from the Obama  
Administration around drug enforcement and other aid.

Bursting with enthusiasm under the blaring hot sun filling the stadium  
that shook with chants of “Ole, Ole,Ole, Ole, Evo, Evo,” Marcelina  
Vargas, a Quechua-speaking member of the Peasant Confederation of  
Peru, accepted Morales’ Planeta o Muerte (Kay Pa Chachu o wanyuychu in  
Quechua). “For our people, for everybody, water is life. In Peru,  
we’re defending Panchamama (Mother Earth) from companies with US and  
Canadian investments, companies that are contaminating our water” said  
Vargas, who wore one of the ubiquitous hats and ponchos seen  
throughout the region. “Evo is an expression of our movement and I  
feel happy he’s helping the world see our ways.”

Jai Sen
jai.sen at cacim.net
CACIM, A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph : +91-11-4155 1521, +91-98189 11325

DELETION OF OLD EMAIL IDs : Please note that I am no longer using my  
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‘Be the Seed : An Introduction to and Commentary on the government of  
Bolivia’s Call for a ‘Peoples’ World Conference On Climate Change And  
The Rights Of Mother Earth’’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=64 
, http://www.choike.org/2009/eng/informes/7620.html, and http://www.zcommunications.org/be-the-seed-by-jai-sen 
.  Also available in Spanish @ http://www.choike.org/2009/esp/informes/153.html

‘On open space : Explorations towards a vocabulary of a more open  
politics’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-index.php?page=Publications


Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming (2010a) - Interrogating Empires, Book 2 in  
the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series.  New Delhi : OpenWord and  
Daanish Books

Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming (2010b) - Imagining Alternatives, Book 3 in  
the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series.  New Delhi : OpenWord and  
Daanish Books

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