[WSF-Discuss] Fwd: Bolivia has a long way to go to bridge public statements and practice

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Fri Apr 23 03:40:41 CDT 2010


Friday, 23 April 2010



Bolivia has a long way to go to bridge public statements and practice



To be frank, there have hardly been any reflective postings on  
Cochabamba that I, anyway, have seen as yet… Maybe it’s too soon to be  
asking for that, but given what the Cochabamba Conference was aiming  
at, and given the world of profound contradictions that we (all) live  
in, it has been a little surprising to get no reflection of this, at  
all, over these past 3-4 amazing days…



Here’s one such posting, by Soumya Dutta, who I think is Convenor of  
BGVS – the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti here in India (loosely  
translating as ‘Indian Organisation for Learning and Science’, and  
which is a very significant people’s science organisation with a long  
and rich history; see http://www.bgvs.org/).  He raises some obvious  
but nevertheless very basic issues.  Thanks, Soumya.  (I personally  
hope you’ll post more such reflections though, on other aspects as  
well – and including, frankly, your self-assessment of the cost and  
benefit of the carbon print you yourself have generated, in going all  
the way to Cochabamba.  We all need to do this accounting – as a  
regular practice, but certainly, I would think, all those who went to  
this meeting in particular.)



I’d like to take this opportunity to invite others who have been to  
the Cochabamba Conference to also similarly post your reflections on  
this list… We need the Resolutions, and we need the formulations; but  
we also need to look critically at the path we are taking, and the  
partnerships and therefore worlds that we are building.



             JS


Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Soumya Dutta" <soumyadutta_delhi at rediffmail.com>
> Date: April 23 2010 9:33:30 am GMT+05:30
> To: <cjn at lists.riseup.net>
> Subject: [climate justice now!] Bolivia has a long way to go to  
> bridge public statements and practice
>
> On this Earth day at the historic peoples conference on climate  
> change and rights of mother earth,  Standing at the Estadio Felix  
> Capriles de Cochabamba (Felix Capriles Stadium of Cochabamba)  full  
> of enthusiastic crowd of climate justice activists, peasants  
> movements, anti-mining groups, and all sorts of left-leaning social  
> formations -- numbering about 25,000 and full of vibrant energy,
> it would probably not be right to have any negative thoughts about  
> anything that is happenning here in Bolivia.  The spirit is all  
> pervading - yes, we can reclaim the world from an exploitative  
> system and get it back to the hands of its caring citizens.
>
> Yet, the last five days at Cochabamba and Bolivia at large, gives  
> rise to some questions, if not discomfort.  The President of the   
> "pluri-national state" of Bolivia - Evo Morales Ayma, has declared  
> that people of this world will henceforth determine the agenda of  
> climate change discourse, and this unique world peoples conference  
> is a bold step in that direction.  But is Bolivia taking the right  
> steps, turning in to the right path ?
>
> The city of Cochabamba has less than one million residents, and yet  
> the no. of cars-- big & huge cars -- on its roads is astounding.
> You can find single occupants in every second or third big car, and  
> these are far in excess than the poportions seen even in the richest  
> Indian city -- and Bolivia is not a rich country -- even by Latin  
> american standards !!  Most cars run on gas - no doubt the cleanest  
> of all the fossil carbon fuels, but the gas is very cheap - leading  
> to large consumption, big driving around -- even by the middle  
> class.  This also helps keep the taxi fares cheap, but just money  
> was never the concern in the crisis of climate change.  The sheer  
> number of trips just the 900,000 odd Cochabambans do every year  
> would be putting in a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the  
> atmosphere - and so unnecessarily.   Most of the buses are old and  
> ramshackle, and there are taxis in fixed routes, which people prefer  
> -- again , a policy which cannot claim to be climate friendly.
>
>   The mushrooming of so-typical glass-concrete-aluminium buildings  
> seen in any other capitalist metropolis is seen here in abundance  
> also.   The spread of glittering shopping malls is still not visible  
> in a scale being seen in big Indian metros, but innumerable shops  
> selling imported and unnecessary consumer goods in a great variety  
> -- again an Amerian consumerist trait - is an eysore.  Evo is an  
> icon in the struggle against the capitalist system, but coca cola  
> does unhindered business, even copied by local botlers with "Coca  
> Colla" selling from hand carts and kiosks all around the market  
> places.
>
> While the many market places, including the mind-bogglingly large  
> "La cancha" near the centre of Cochabamba are full of small shops --  
> hopefully run by small shop-keepers,  the rule of the US dollar is  
> seen every where. The goods bear an uncanny resemblance to things  
> american, in names and looks -- whether original or copies, and the  
> people feel so comfortable in "dealing in dollars"
>
> The food consumption is glaringly dominated by very large amounts of  
> meat, that too mostly beef (and pork).  Both are known to be the  
> worst food items in terms of their climate change impacts (not to  
> talk about the adverse health impacts) -- whether for energy  
> consumption for producing the meat, for destruction of rich forest  
> lands for industrial scale cattle farming, and for the  huge water  
> consumption and pollution from the cattle farming.  yet, there was  
> no sign that these are even on the radar of the Bolivian climate  
> movement leaders.
>
> Being a favourirte tourist destination of Europeans and Americans,  
> who come attracted by the Andean mountains, the unique Altiplano and  
> the rich indigenous cultures, Bolivia has adopted all the evils of  
> the consumerist, wasteful global north.  Bottled water is staple  
> drink -- along with bottled fruit juices. Even the poor seem to  
> follow this strange economic logic, though the juice presses are  
> still seen in some numbers in peripheral areas.  The markets are  
> flooded with american-company names, whether these came from those  
> US companies or are local copies is the less important question -  
> the cultural preference is very clear.
>   All these unnecessary consumption, copying the wasteful Werst,  
> ultimately Hurt The Mother Earth we are so fondly trying to defend.
>
> There are other questions about the mining policy, about the old tin  
> minings that damaged the lake-planes, and the newly targeted Lithium  
> mines. There are doubts about the Bolivian stand about market  
> mechanisms as part of climate solutions -- and one sincerely hopes  
> that these doubts prove unfounded.
>
> A beginning on a concept level has been made by the visionary  
> leadership of Evo. But a nation runs on its peoples cultural lives,  
> and unless the new revolution being visualised comes down to the  
> peopole on the ground in letter and spirit,  it is hard to see any  
> real breakthrough.  Great visions are those that transcends the  
> rhetorical and can inspire spontaneous actions.  That is yet to be  
> seen in the fertile Bolivian grounds -- which, inspiringly, was the  
> last battle ground of Che .
>
> Lets hope that the dream and the vision quickly overcomes the harsh  
> realities, and this test will prove Evo to be a history maker -- or  
> another one to try and wither away.
>
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++= Soumya Dutta +++++Cochabamba ++++  
> 22nd April, 2010 +++++++++++++++
>

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Jai Sen
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