jueves, junio 13, 2013

ASOQUIMBO´s land liberations start to spread roots

It’s been two months since members of the Association of Affected Peoples of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project (ASOQUIMBO), started liberating lands on the farms along the road that connects La Jagua with Villa Fernanda that belong to multinational company Emgesa-Endesa-Enel. These new actions, in defense of the territory and rights of the affected population, have received various police notifications of imminent removal of those on the lands, attempted infiltrations by Emgesa-Endesa-Enel, almost daily flyovers of helicopters, and the militarization of the territory with the permanent presence of anti-disturbance police, ESMAD, as a tactic of intimidation.
Nonetheless, the communities continue to insist and demand that what they need as development is not more dams, but a Campesino Reserve that produces food. Daily activities that folks are engaged in include repairing the abandoned houses, cleaning vegetation with machetes, creating composts and natural fertilizers, and planting crops for consumption and for sale. Before the first month on the land had past there were already seeds of beans, yucca, corn, pumpkin and cilantro in the ground and germinating from the rich earth. "We want to live from these lands as we always have, but we also want this territory to be better. That folks stop throwing trash and that the wildlife returns like before," expressed youth Duvan Muñoz. 
The youth collective, Jaguos por el Territorio, has been key in experimenting with and pushing for the use of agro-ecology in the growing of food. At times it has been an uphill battle, since most adults have spent a lifetime using agro-toxins to grow food and are not always keen on learning new methods for something they have done for so long. The youth have also been vital in the coordination of the security, which has been active round-the-clock with guards on detail throughout the different farms since the first day on April 14th.  
During this time of land liberations other incidents related to the Quimbo have continued to occur in Huila. On April 25th a police notice was issued evicting all the fisher people from the shores surrounding the Reservoir of Betania. The subsistence of the fisher people of Campoalegra, Yaguará and el Hobo has depended on the fisheries of Betania since the dam was created in 1987. The fisher people are demanding answers as to why the company refuses to include this sector as part of the affected population. In the municipal head of Gigante there was another incident where people from the community of Rioloro chained themselves to the entrance of the local offices of Emgesa in order to pressure the company to comply with their obligations to the community. 
On May 14th there was another violent eviction of a farmer in the area of La Honda, Gigante. Don Gustavo, known as "el Guajiro" peacefully resisted when the ESMAD launched five tear gas bombs at his house and then proceeded to drag him from his home, which they destroyed and burned down afterwards. Don Gustavo does not know what happened to his cattle after these acts of State violence. Emgesa has more upcoming evictions planned as construction of the dam continues, and, even though the company has not complied with the environmental license, local governments continue to comply with the wishes of the company and not the needs and rights of the local population.  
On May 27th, a researcher and great proponent of the Campesino Reserves, Dario Fajardo, visited the farm La Guipa to meet and share with the people liberating those lands. In addition to touching upon the importance of the creation of Campesino Reserves as a fundamental tool in establishing peace in Colombia, he highlighted the importance of the rural environment, the countryside that the people so adamantly fight to defend. Fajardo explained, “It’s been a long time now that society has tried to make people feel like the countryside, the rural environment, was not important anymore because we were on our way to becoming a first world country. Academics spent their efforts trying to erase the idea of rural farmlands." The actions of the people liberating these lands make more than evident that, at least in the area of El Quimbo, the importance of rural areas has never been erased. 
On the banks of the Magdalena River it is evident that the last owners of these lands left them deforested, with serious problems of erosion and soil degradation that is worsened every time the river grows. The people participating in the land liberations are holding mingas, collective work parties, to plant native trees to reforest these lands in an attempt to re-establish the ecosystem balance between the dry tropical forests and the river. "We are holding these work mingas, where everyone works together, equally, and planting trees on the banks of the river that are currently naked, grassy lots. If left that way, when the river rises it will take everything with it. When the banks are sufficiently protected and reforested, we hope to integrate citrus, avocado, and cacao trees further inshore," explained Sandra Alvarado, a peasant from the region. Emgesa had destined these lands to go to the Autonomous Environmental Corporation of the Upper Magdalena, CAM, to be reforested and close off access to local communities who have always lived and worked these lands. The peasants liberating these lands are showing that they are capable of implementing sustainable development to meet their own needs, without destroying their territory.   

miércoles, junio 12, 2013

Garage Sale in benefit of Polinizaciones in Lake Worth, Florida

Saturday, June 15th, 2013
7:00AM - 11:30Am

1318 North J Terrace 
Lake Worth FL 33460

Special thanks to Mama Tortuguita and family who are hosting this garage sale to support the work of Polinizaciones.

A reminder that all the proceeds go to support the work of Polinizaciones in Huila & Putumayo, Colombia and the communities of the Socuy River, Zulia, Venezuela.  

If you can donate items they are receiving them and the day of the sale the little tortuguita kids will have a lemonade stand. 

Come by and say hi!

viernes, junio 07, 2013

Polinizaciones in Piamonte (lower Bota Caucana)

It has been over ten years since the Beehive Design Collective first went to Putumayo during its research trip to create the graphic about Plan Colombia. Not much has changed since then, and unfortunately the presence of aerial fumigations over indigenous communities in the Colombian Amazon as well as oil extraction within their territories has only increased since the making of this graphic.

Polinizaciones accompanied the Escuela of Comunicación Propia del Putumayo in the Lower Bota Caucana to document different issues in the region. First were the activities of Canadian oil companies like Gran Tierra´s operation of different wells in the Costayaco, Guayuyaco and Moqueta petroleum blocs and Pacific Rubiales in the Teracay and Tacacho blocs. All of these installations are connected to pollution and have a negative impact on the forests and rivers of Caqueta, the Bota Caucana and Putumayo.   In addition to the problems caused by oil companies, Polinizaciones documented aerial fumigations, part of Plan Colombia, which only result in displacement and making people sick. Construction of the marginal forest highway (part of the South America Regional Infrastructure Integration (IIRSA) project) and its role in facilitating the extraction of oil, gold, and other resources, was also documented.

The territory within the limits of the Churumbelos Mountains holds the headwaters of numerous Amazonian rivers such as el Congor, el Tambor, El Fragua, El fraguita, and many others that will all be privatized by the creation of the Auca Wasi National Park. This is done under the pretense of “sustainable development” as part of the selling of “environmental services” (oxygen and biopiracy) in alignment with pro-business politics and the unworthy track record of major multinational organizations such as the WWF, USAID, and the World Bank. Meanwhile, the territory will continue to be destroyed through oil and mineral extraction as part of the geopolitics of the privatization of the Amazon that the State puts into effect by militarizing the territory with the army, resulting in violence and displacement.

This territory is inhabited by the Inga people and more recently the Nasa and Awá peoples, as well a growing colono population that is the major culprit in deforestation for mining and cultivation of mono-crops such as rice and coca, as well as cattle ranching. As expressed by local inhabitants, these communities are threatened by displacement and their future depends on future generation´s ability to maintain their communities organized and able to stand against mega-development projects and national parks.

Ancestrally this is the territory of the so called Andakí Peoples of which some people in the region have grandparents and relatives that were kidnapped from these communities. For the most part, the kidnapped have not been seen in over 80 years. Being in the region, we had the privilege of seeing petroglyphs in the upper part of the Congor River that were very similar to those in La Jagua, Huila. We made the connection that it is quite possible that the headwaters of the Fragua River are the same headwaters of the Suaza River that joins the Magdalena River in the area of La Jagua.

On this tour we were able to witness how State policies of militarization and extraction go hand and hand with the destruction of the environment due to the contamination caused by extractive industries and the breaking of the social fabric of the communities that live on contaminated lands and are no longer able to live as they have before. All of the extraction projects use the Colombian military as part of their security and any opposition from local communities is done under the constant threat of violence. The result is that these communities are forced to be impoverished and polluted, and any misstep can result in displacement from the territory or death.

This is just the territory that is in need of being able to share and appropriate graphics such as the Plan Colombia and True Cost of Coal banners into the local communities. We were able to take the story of Plan Colombia and extractivism to the communities and territories that helped forge and weave the Plan Colombia graphic over ten years ago, and that today continue to value and need it as an important tool for raising consciousness. It’s worth mentioning the surreal nature of presenting the Plan Colombia graphic to a large group of people while various Blackhawk helicopters flew overhead at the exact moment that we talked about militarization as a way of reinforcing the everyday reality that is the Colombian Amazon.