Indigenous Uprisings & Planetary Future

For a Future that Won’t Destroy Life on Earth, Look to the Global Indigenous Uprising

Idle No More is the latest incarnation of an age-old movement for life that doesn’t depend on infinite extraction and growth. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated groups from Canada to South America are exchanging resources and support like never before.
posted May 23, 2013
Melina photo by Jiri Rezac

Melina Laboucan-Massimo stands next to logs from clearcuts at a proposed tar sands site north of Fort McMurray, northern Alberta, Canada. Photo by Jiri Rezac.

There’s a remote part of northern Alberta where the Lubicon Cree have lived, it is said, since time immemorial. The Cree called the vast, pine-covered region niyanan askiy, “our land.” When white settlers first carved up this country, they made treaties with most of its original inhabitants—but for reasons unclear, the Lubicon Cree were left out. Two hundred years later, the Lubicon’s right to their traditional territory is still unrecognized. In the last four decades, industry has tapped the vast resource wealth that lies deep beneath the pines; today, 2,600 oil and gas wells stretch to the horizon. This is tar sands country.

In 2012 testimony before the U.S. Congress, Lubicon Cree organizer Melina Laboucan-Massimo, then 30, described witnessing the devastation of her family’s ancestral land caused by one of the largest oil spills in Alberta’s history. “What I saw was a landscape forever changed by oil that had consumed a vast stretch of the traditional territory where my family had hunted, trapped, and picked berries and medicines for generations.”

“When we’re at home, we feel really isolated,” says Laboucan-Massimo, who has spent her adult life defending her people’s land from an industry that has rendered it increasingly polluted and impoverished. The Lubicon are fighting a hard battle, but their story—of resource extraction, of poverty and isolation, and of enduring resistance—is one that echoes in indigenous communities around the world. Today, Laboucan-Massimo and others like her are vanguards of a network of indigenous movements that is increasingly global, relevant—and powerful.

This power manifests in movements like Idle No More, which swept Canada last December and ignited a wave of solidarity on nearly every continent. Laboucan-Massimo was amazed—and hopeful. Triggered initially by legislation that eroded treaty rights and removed protection for almost all of Canada’s rivers—clearing the way for unprecedented fossil fuel extraction—Idle No More drew thousands into the streets. In a curious blend of ancient and high-tech, images of indigenous protesters in traditional regalia popped up on news feeds all over the world.

A history of resistance

To outsiders, it might seem that Idle No More materialized spontaneously, that it sprang into being fully formed. It builds, however, on a long history of resistance to colonialism that began when Europeans first washed up on these shores. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated movements from Canada to South America are exchanging knowledge, resources, and support like never before.

“When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”

Idle No More is one of what Subcomandante Marcos, the masked prophet of the Mexican Zapatistas, called “pockets of resistance,” which are “as numerous as the forms of resistance themselves.” The Zapatistas are part of a wave of indigenous organizing that crested in South America in the 1990s, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of European conquest—most effectively in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Certain threads connect what might otherwise be isolated uprisings: They’re largely nonviolent, structurally decentralized, they seek common cause with non-natives, and they are deeply, spiritually rooted in the land.

The connections among indigenous organizers have strengthened through both a shared colonial history and a shared threat—namely, the neoliberal economic policies of deregulation, privatization, and social spending cuts exemplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization. Indigenous organizers see these agreements as nothing more than the old colonial scramble for wealth at the expense of the natives. In a 1997 piece in Le Monde Diplomatique, Marcos called neoliberalism “the totalitarian extension of the logic of the finance markets to all aspects of life,” resulting in “the exclusion of all persons who are of no use to the new economy.” Many indigenous leaders charge that the policies implemented through organizations like the World Bank and the IMF prioritize corporations over communities and further concentrate power in the hands of a few.

Uprising in Ecuador

The mid-1990s saw a massive expansion of such policies—and with it, an expansion of resistance, particularly in countries with significant indigenous populations. In 1990, CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, staged a massive, nonviolent levantamiento—an uprising—flooding the streets of Quito, blocking roads and effectively shutting down the country. Entire families walked for days to reach the capital to demand land rights, fair prices for agrarian goods, and recognition of Ecuador as a plurinational state, made up of multiple, equally legitimate nations. In the end it forced renegotiation of policy and created unprecedented indigenous representation in government; many hailed CONAIE’s success as a model for organizing everywhere.

CONAIE’s slogan, “Nothing just for Indians,” invited participation from non-indigenous allies around larger questions of inequality and political representation, creating a political space that was big and inclusive enough for everyone. Dr. Maria Elena Garcia, who studies these movements at the University of Washington, says that non-indigenous support has been “crucial” for success across the board. In the case of CONAIE, she says, there came a tipping point when “most Ecuadorians … said, ‘Enough. This organization is speaking for us.’”

Zapatistas photo by Tim Russo

Idle No More clearly exists in the Zapatista tradition, but it goes further in incorporating the language of climate justice. In December as many as 50,000 masked Mayan Zapatistas marched into cities across Chiapas. Differing from the 1994 armed indigenous uprising, this one was done in complete silence.

The Zapatista Army

Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Zapatista movement was busy building a different kind of revolution. On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army took its place on the international stage. It was day one of NAFTA, which Subcomandante Marcos called “a death sentence to the indigenous ethnicities of Mexico.” More than any other movement, they linked local issues of cultural marginalization, racism, and inequality to global economic systems and prophesied a new movement of resistance. The media-savvy revolutionaries used their most potent weapon—words—and the still-new Internet to advocate a new world built on diversity as the basis for ecological and political survival. Transnational from the beginning, the Zapatistas made common cause with “pockets of resistance” everywhere.

Then, a curious change occurred: for nearly 10 years following their initial insurgency, the Zapatistas maintained a self-imposed silence. The world heard little from Marcos, but the autonomous communities in Chiapas were very much alive. They had turned inward, building independent governments, schools, and clinics. As journalist and author Naomi Klein observed, “These free spaces, born of reclaimed land, communal agriculture, resistance to privatization, will eventually create counter-powers to the state simply by existing as alternatives.” Embodying, here and now, the society they seek to create is a powerful manifesto; for those who cared to listen, their silence spoke volumes.

Victory in Bolivia

Most of these movements have used nonviolent tactics, including blockades, occupations of public space, and mass marches—combined with traditional political work—to varying degrees of success. In Bolivia these tactics yielded an extraordinary outcome: the election of Evo Morales, in 2005, as Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state.

Five years later, Morales convened 30,000 international delegates for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. A response to the repeated failure of international climate negotiations, the gathering was rooted in an indigenous worldview that recognized Mother Earth as a living being, entitled to her own inalienable rights.

The resulting declaration placed blame unequivocally on the capitalist system that has “imposed on us a logic of competition, progress, and limitless growth.” This unrestrained growth, the declaration says, transforms “everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.” Significantly, the declaration also extended the analysis of colonialism to include climate change—calling for “decolonization of the atmosphere”—but it rejected market-based solutions like carbon trading. It’s a holistic analysis that links colonialism, climate change, and capital, a manifesto for what has come to be called “climate justice.”

Idle No More

Fast forward to December 2012, and two things happened: The Zapatistas staged simultaneous marches in five cities, marking a resurgence of their public activism. Anywhere from 10,000–50,000 masked marchers filled the streets in complete silence. The march was timed to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar—and the beginning of a new, more hopeful era—and demonstrated the Zapatistas’ commitment to the indigenous cosmology of their ancestors.

That same month, a continent away, Idle No More emerged on the scene. While it began as a reaction to two specific bills in Parliament, it has gained strength and momentum in opposition to the network of proposed pipelines that will crisscross North America, pumping tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries and ports in Canada and the U.S. These pipelines will cross national, tribal, state, and ethnic boundaries and raise a multitude of issues—including water quality, land rights, and climate change. The campaign to stop their construction is already unifying natives and non-natives in unprecedented ways.

Dr. Garcia, whose own ancestors are indigenous, believes that indigenous movements offer something vital: hope, and what she calls “the importance of the imaginary. Of imagining a different world—imagining a different way of being in the world.”

“We’re a land-based people, but it goes further than that. It’s a worldview. When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”

The climate crisis is spinning out of control, and the gap between the rich and poor continues grow unabated. It’s time to let the radical uncertainty of this moment enlarge our sense of possibility.

It is this thread that goes to the heart of our global ecological crisis. While indigenous cultures differ widely from one another, what they collectively present is an alternative relationship—to the earth, to its resources, and to each other—a relationship based not on domination but on reciprocity. Any movement that seeks to create deep, lasting social change—to address not only climate change but endemic racism and social inequality—must confront our colonial identity and, by extension, this broken relationship.

Laboucan-Massimo has spent a great deal of time abroad, studying indigenous movements from Latin America to New Zealand and Australia, feeling the full weight of their shared history under colonialism. These days, though, she’s more likely to be on the road, educating, organizing, and building solidarity among natives and non-natives. It was understanding the connections between movements, she says, that gave her “all the more fervor to come back and continue to do the work here.”

Recently, she traveled from Alberta  to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where she and her elders stood at the forefront of the largest climate change rally in history. And she’ll keep organizing, armed with a smartphone, supported by a growing network of allies from Idle No More and beyond, connected in every possible way to the rest of the world.

from:    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/love-and-the-apocalypse/mother-earth-at-the-heart-of-it

Colombia Massive Earthquake

Massive earthquake near Pasto, Colombia – Also well felt in Ecuador – tens of houses collapsed, 3 people with minor injuries

Last update: February 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm by By

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 15.43.20

Most important Earthquake Data:

Magnitude : 6.9

Local Time (conversion only below land) : 2013-02-09 09:15:57

GMT/UTC Time : 2013-02-09 14:15:57

Depth (Hypocenter)  : 124 km

Roundup of the damage reported so far (all in Colombia) :
El Charco : 3 slightly injured people
Cali : Minor damage like cracks in houses
Narino : at least 20 collapsed houses
Timbiquí : 3 collapsed houses
Buenaventura : 6 houses seriously damaged
Popoyan (The Tunnel) : 5 houses severely damaged
Bella Vista de Guapi : 2 houses damaged to some extend
Update 17:57 UTC : Civil Defense in Colombia reports that at least 120 houses have been damaged by the shaking. No serious injuries reported so far, but 7 people have been treated for minor injuries.

Update 17:28 UTC : Almost all reported serious damage and collapsed houses happened in the flat area of the Pacific Coastal plain.

for more information and updates, go to:   http://earthquake-report.com/2013/02/09/massive-earthquake-colombia-on-february-9-2013/

(Please consider a small donation to the earthquake report site.  These guys do an amazing job, and will be more and more necessary as the Earth movements continue and intensify.)

Colombia/Ecuador Earthquake

Massive deep earthquake felt all over Colombia and Ecuador – October 1 update

Last update: October 1, 2012 at 8:04 am by ByArmand Vervaeck and James Daniell

Earthquake overview : A massive subduction earthquake occurred below the Colombian Andes at 11:31 local time. Due to the very deep hypocenter, this earthquake will probably not lead to damage or inju

Update Oct. 1 – 07:30 UTC :
– The village of Timbiqui (Cauca) has been the most affected during this earthquake. 15 to 20 houses have been damaged. The damage was reported rather late as there was no communication and is it was difficult to reach it by road. Timbique is located in the coastal flat area and has apparently a soft soil. Nobody has been reported injured.
– In Cali 2 hospitals reported slight damage as the plaster and parts of the ceiling came down. Some patients were moved to other rooms as a precaution for eventual aftershocks.
– The video below shows the gentle swaying of this earthquake in Cali, Colombia.

Peak velocity image courtesy USGS

Update 21:47 UTC : Colombian reports are maintaining the GREEN status = NO damage or injuries.

Update 20:05 UTC : As expected in the beginning of this article, some minor damage was reported at some official buildings like fallen plaster from walls and ceilings, fallen objects, etc. Nothing really serious that people should leaving the building because of a danger of collapse. We continue to follow up the situation and will report when new reports are being published.

Update 20:01 UTC : The rumor that 2 people were killed in the Esmeraldas province was DENIED by the authorities. This rumor circulated on twitter. There is really nothing reported so far the official said.

Update 18:48 UTC : Good preliminary news from inside Colombia (intermediate report as a lot of villages near the epicenter have still to be visited) : NO serious damage or injuries

Update 18:48 UTC : The Colombia National System of Risk Management had indicated that the earthquake has been felt in the following departments : Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Huila , Risaralda, Quindío, Santander, Antioquia, Caldas, Tolima, Chocó y Cundinamarca.

Update 18:40 UTC : The Colombian Civil defence services (FOPAE) are currently assessing the situation in the many villages closest to the epicenter.
As could be expected people fled to streets when the shaking started (instead of staying inside and following the advise of the specialised services). Running outside to an open space can better be done when the shaking stops.

Update 18:21 UTC : USGS has changed his Pager color from Green to Yellow, a move we do not like at all. This indicates that there is certainly a chance on fatalities from secondary effects like landslides and Rockfall. We do not expect any shaking fatalities as the max. shaking reported is a V MMI (moderate shaking)

Update 17:52 UTC : The massive earthquake wave is now travelling around the world and will be noticed on every seismograph worldwide. A good example is the below graph at El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain. The wave departed at the epicenter at 16:31:34 UTC and arrived at El Hierro at 16:42. It took the earthquake wave only 11 minutes to travel this huge distance from Colombia to the Canary Islands

Seismogram at El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain – The strong amplitude is the Colombian earthquake arriving at El Hierro

Update 17:45 UTC : USGS has updates Magnitude and depth again (complicated calculations) and report now a Magnitude of M7.3 at a depth of 162 km.
Update 17:38 UTC : We would not be surprised that some Central American countries may have felt this earthquake too, especially Panama and Costa Rica. When you live in Panama or in Costa Rica, please tell us with the form below when you have felt some shaking
Update
Update 17:33 UTC : To understand todays earthquake one should imagine that a huge explosion takes place at a distance of 150 km, the impact will be considerable but normally not damaging. If in such a case the depth would have been at 15 km, this earthquake would have been normally a very devastating one as the same explosion would have arrived as a destructive wave.
Update 17:20 UTC : Popoyan, a Colombian city close to the epicenter is reporting a light MMI IV shaking, which is a good sign
Update 17:17 UTC : Distance from the epicenter to the capitals of the 2 neighbouring countries Colombia and Ecuador is about the same (Bogota and Quito).
Update 17:12 UTC : We do repeat that deep earthquakes who do originate in the solid hot mantle of the earth are mostly harmless. As every earthquake is different such an expectation is based on numbers only. Secondary effects like Rockfall and landslides may always cause damage and injuries (mainly depending on the weather conditions)
Update 17:08 UTC : Most important cities near the epicenter and their (probable) experienced shaking values
Moderate MMI V shaking : San Agustin 9000 people, Isnos 5000, Saladoblanco 1000,  Pitalito 53000, Palestina 2000 and Elias 1000
Update 17:01 UTC :
* 2 million people are expected to have felt a moderate shaking
* 14.5 million people a light shaking and 10 million people a weak shaking. These 3 shaking values are normally NOT generating any damage. Small cracks in walls and falling objects are often experienced though.

USGS shaking map based on a M7.1 magnitude and a depth of 150 km

Important Update 16:57 UTC : USGS has just decreased the Magnitude from M7.4 to M7.1 at a depth of 150 km. These are very good numbers which confirm the incoming intensity (shaking) values
Update 16:54 UTC : First incoming reports are talking about a weak to very weak shaking, which is exactly what we did expect. In some cases a moderate shaking may be experienced, but we are quiet sure that this earthquake will not generate serious damage or injuries.
Update 16:49 UTC : A tsunami is NOT possible because of the epicenter who is located below land (far inland)
Update 16:46 UTC : Please omit the depth of Geofon in the listings. 10 km in in many cases reported as a “we do not know it yet” depth. Both USGS and EMSC are reporting a very weakening 168 and 140 km depth. This depth is normal as this is clearly a subduction earthquake generated by a moving Nazca plate who did hang below the continental South American Plate.
Update 16:43 UTC : Biggest city in the greater epicenter area : Popoyan  Epicenter is located on the stateline in between Cauca and Huila.
Update 16:42 UTC : Preliminary data are reporting an epicenter at 23 km from La Vega, Colombia. Preliminary Magnitude is M7.4 !
Update 16:38 UTC : This earthquake, which is not extremely dangerous if the preliminary data are correct (depth +150 km), will be felt ina very wide radius of hundreds of km. We do not have yet official data.
Based on the number of visitors joining us from Colombia, we believe that an earthquake occurred in Colombia
When you have felt an earthquake a little while ago, please write us what you have felt as soon as possible

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : Mw 7.3
UTC Time : 2012-09-30 16:31:35 UTC
Local time at epicenter : 2012-09-30 11:31:35
Depth (Hypocenter) : 162.1 km
Geo-location(s) :
10km (6mi) WNW of Isnos, Colombia
34km (21mi) WNW of Pitalito, Colombia
60km (37mi) SSE of Popayan, Colombia

from:    http://earthquake-report.com/2012/09/30/massive-deep-earthquake-felt-all-over-colombia-and-ecuador/

Eruption -Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador

Orange Alert after renewed eruption activity of the Tungurahua Volcano, Ecuador

Last update: December 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm by By 

Both, the Tungurahua volcano and the neighboring Sangay volcano  are belonging to the most active volcanoes of Ecuador.  Although the volcano has an almost permanent state of activity, authorities had to call an Orange alert after incandescent flows and some violent explosions.

Recent and current Activity

Tungurahua during an earlier active period – image by Armand Vervaeck taken during an earlier visit – This picture was taken from Chalet Swiss above Baños

December 1
Since this morning the intensity of emissions (gas and ash) tends to decrease, said the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador in a report.  Seismic activity associated with emanations is continuing. Ashfall and 8 minor explosions were reported in the villages surrounding the volcano. No pyroclastic flows or expulsion of incandescent rocks from the crater have been seen recently. Emergency services have told villagers to stay away from river valleys if it would be raining, as the recent pyroclastic flows can create dangerous land/mud/slides of pyroclastic material.

November 30
A total of 638 families living in three parishes in the Tungurahua volcano area received  relief by the SNGR. People living near the the volcano are used to the activity as there is always some continuing seismic activity.However, the authorities decreed on Sunday an orange alert due to the sudden increase in eruptive activity.

November 29
Various relief agencies in the province provide help to the inhabitants of Cotaló, Cusúa, Bilbao, Chacauco, Pillate and other sectors affected by the volcano into reaching evacuation trucks which will transport them to shelters in in La Paz and Riobamba.
The ‘Guadalupe’ Center which is monitoring Tungurahua reported constant explosions (windows rattled at the center)  + an ash cloud which rose to more than two kilometers.

November 28

At 02:00 on 28 November an explosion ejected incandescent material that fell on all flanks, and generated a pyroclastic flow that descended the Achupashal drainage. Starting before 0500 until 0900 an almost constant roar was heard and incandescent blocks traveled 1 km down the flanks, especially towards the W and NW.
Three pyroclastic flows were noted on the S flank.
Windows vibrated at the Tungurahua Observatory (OVT) in Guadalupe (14 km N). During the day, an ash plume rose 3 km above the crater and drifted in multiple directions. White ashfall was reported in Manzano, Choglontús (SW), Pondoa (8 km N), and Runtún (6 km NNE). In the evening incandescent blocks that were ejected 300 m above the crater rolled 400-500 m down the flanks. On 29 November an explosion detected at 0611 produced a small pyroclastic flow that traveled 500 m. Another pyroclastic flow at 0955 traveled 1 km W. Gas-and-ash plumes rose 4 km above the crater and drifted SE and W. According to a news article, people in high risk areas on the flanks, in communities such as Cusúa, Juive, Palictahua, and Manzano, evacuated voluntarily.

November 27
IG reported that increased seismicity from Tungurahua was detected at 15:40 on 27 November, and at 16:50 the seismic network recorded 4 volcano-tectonic earthquakes. Two small explosions at 17:01 and 17:05 were followed by a large explosion at 17:18.
Pyroclastic flows descended the Achupashal, Chotanpamba, and Mandur drainages on the NW and W flanks. Two more large explosions were detected at 17:31 and 17:35.
Incandescent blocks traveled 1 km down the flanks, and roaring noises and sounds resembling “cannon shots” were reported. Ashfall was reported in Manzano (8 km SW), Bilbao (8 km W), and Pillate (8 km W), ash and tephra fell in Cotaló (8 km NW), and tephra fell in Cusúa (8 km NW).
At 19:05 a pyroclastic flow descended the S and SW flanks.

Tungurahua volcano action a few years ago – picture taken by Armand Vervaeck from a cemetary at Ambato, Ecuador

Global Volcanism Program information
Tungurahua, a steep-sided andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano that towers more than 3 km above its northern base, is one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes.

for more, and updats, go to:    http://earthquake-report.com/2011/12/01/orange-alert-after-renewed-euption-activity-of-the-tungurahua-volcano-ecuador/

Quito. Ecuador — Earthquake

Earthquake shakes Quito, Ecuador – Magnitude 4.0 at a shallow depth of 10 km

Last update: October 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm by By 

Update 16:39 UTC : USGS has now listed the Quito earthquake  as a M 4.0 at a depth of 3 km and 18 km of Quito. We  Earthquake-Report.com do trust on the local agencies as they have instruments closest to the epicenter.

Important Update 14:47 UTC :  One of our readers has send us the full printout of this earthquake. Thank you so much on behalf of the earthquake-report.com community :
Magnitud 4.0 MLv (IG-EPN)
Fecha – Hora 29/10/2011 08:50:49 TL
29/10/2011 13:50:49 UTC
Localización 0.11°S; 78.41°W
Profundidad 10.00 Km
Zona Prov: PICHINCHA
Distancia epicentral e (hipocentral) a ciudades referenciales 14.6 ( 17.7) km al N 48° E de la ciudad de QUITO
24.7 ( 26.6) km al N 9° E de la ciudad de SANGOLQUÍ
27.4 ( 29.2) km al S 50° O de la ciudad de TABACUNDO
34.0 ( 35.4) km al S 60° O de la ciudad de CAYAMBE
41.1 ( 42.3) km al S 23° O de la ciudad de OTAVALO
47.8 ( 48.9) km al N 21° E de la ciudad de MACHACHI
Reportes recibidos y/o datos adicionales : Se sintio en toda la ciudad de Quito de manera un poco fuerte. (It was felt all over Quito as a little strong  )
Información técnica adicional
Incertidumbre en la Localización Latitud +/- 3.0 Km; Longitud +/-2.0 Km; Profundidad +/-0 Km.
Parámetros Fases P=NaN; Fases S=NaN; RMS=1; Gap=NaN°
Fuente IG-EPN

Instituto Geofísico – Escuela Politécnica Nacional
Elaborado: 29-Oct-2011 09:02:49

Update : Based on my own knowledge of Quito, even a small earthquake like this one is enough to trigger landslides. The Quito unofficial housing areas are seen as one of the most dangerous on the planet.

Update : The earthquake seems to be too weak for the international agencies to report on it.

Update : we can call the data official now as they have been printed on the IGEPN seismological site of Ecuador. This is what is shown : Mag= 4.0; Prof (Depth)= 10.00, Lat= -0.11; Long= -78.41, 2011/10/29 13:50:49 UTC

Update : Unofficially we could gather the following information : epicenter 14 km of Quito, depth 10 km, magnitude 4 (we have to warn our readers that the information is unofficial – coming from a newspaper in Quito)

to read more, and for updates, go to:    http://earthquake-report.com/2011/10/29/earthquake-shakes-quito-ecuador/