By Pablo Cingolani
The complaint signed by Manuel Lima and addressed to the president of the Prurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma about the abuses that the Mosetenes are suffering as a result of the abusive and unscrupulous actions of the officials of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and the Petroandina company is not enough to finish expressing the terrible picture of subjugation, humiliation and violation of the most elementary human rights suffered by the indigenous brothers living in the region known as Alto Beni, in the southern Bolivian Amazon.
"If genocide liquidates the bodies, ethnocide kills the spirit." - Pierre Clastres
The complaint signed by Manuel Lima and addressed to the President of the Prurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, (1) about the abuses that the Mosetenes are suffering as a result of the abusive and unscrupulous actions of the officials of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and the Petroandina company does not reach to finish by expressing the terrible picture of subjugation, humiliation and violation of the most elementary human rights that the indigenous brothers living in the region known as Alto Beni, in the southern Bolivian Amazon are suffering.
A comrade, a worthy representative of the Mosetén people, confessed to us without being able to hide her grief over what is happening: “The pain we have is greater than death. Why are they doing this to us if we just want to live in peace?
"This" that they are doing to the Mosetén people are, as the letter signed by the president of the Bolivian Forum on Environment and Development denounces, "bribery actions against leaders of some indigenous organizations and communities, which aggravates the situation of subjugation of the same, despite the fact that Evo himself declared that leaders would not be bought as before the transnationals (La Razón, La Paz, 10/29/2008) ”, in reference to the actions of the Petroandina company, responsible for the work exploratory activities in that South Amazonian sector.
Several indigenous leaders have indicated, in a press conference held on June 26 in the city of La Paz, that they are sure that President Evo is unaware of these events and urged him to punish those bad state officials.
Bribery = Ethnocide?
A debate that we suggest deepening, and that we are only outlining here, is what is the meaning of these acts of bribery of indigenous leaders.
The evident asymmetry between a representative of historically excluded and forgotten peoples, historically condemned to genocide or ethnocide, and a State official (or of a State company), representative of the dominant, hegemonic or enveloping society, as scientists now like to call it social, and to top it all makes use of the corrupting power of bribery: is it not itself another flagrant display of ethnocidal behavior? (2)
We asked if this kind of bribery: Shouldn't it be condemned and sanctioned as a systematic and aggravated violation of the rights of indigenous peoples, regardless of whether a leader has accepted money? Isn't it an obvious proof of the persistence of the colonial mechanisms of imposition, submission and domination? Are they not the same "colored mirrors" that Columbus used to deceive the good faith of the Caribbean peoples and that if they were not received, they were accompanied by the most forceful and genocidal edge of swords?
Finally, is it not an insoluble contradiction to the unquestionable work of defense of indigenous rights that President Evo Morales is carrying out in the international arena, where he is valued and respected as a champion in the defense of those rights, as has already been demonstrated, And is it just one example, when Bolivia became the first country in the world to elevate the UN Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to law?
Are these bribes not, precisely, an open violation of that Declaration? The same applies to our new constitution, a pioneer in the world in terms of the defense of the aforementioned rights. I believe that lawyers in solidarity with indigenous peoples should act.
Something is rotten among the jungle mountains of Alto Beni and we hope, as stated by the comrades of the Organization of the Mosetén Indigenous People (OPIM, the parent organization of the Mosetén people that is being divided and overwhelmed) that Evo hears that fair claim and amends this scandalous situation.
Can you buy dignity?
Hearing from those affected how the company not only buys some leaders with money, but - violating and bypassing the democratic structures and mechanisms of the organization itself - organizes lunches to sign resolutions in support of the oil activity the indigenous people of the communities, even appealing to the vileness of having the students of the schools sign, outrageous.
This shameful procedure is not only not the right to consultation and prior consent to which the peoples should have access and is extremely painful, due to its moral implications: it casts in our faces the sad reality that even in the process of change There are still such powerful economic interests, capable of doing whatever they want - above not only the laws, but the most elementary norms of coexistence and respect - in order to achieve their objectives. We already said it: not even for all the oil in the world is it worth it.
We once again insist that all this that has been denounced, and that we do nothing but amplify, should be known, debated and considered very seriously as an infamous violation of the human rights of indigenous peoples, as a crime of ethnocide and being sanctioned exemplarily as such, and not as simple tricks of the officials or part of the degrading folklore of the people to which the politicians and, as Evo said, the transnationals were used to.
People's dignity cannot be bought, it cannot be bought, simply because of something that officials and oil workers do not understand: because dignity is priceless.
Today, we live in a historical moment where that dignity, especially the dignity of indigenous peoples, has been put before everything, it is the paradigmatic mortar of the process that Evo himself leads. This aggravates the pain felt by the men and women of the Mosetén people:
If Evo knew about this, would he surely throw them all away? The companera who lives in a humble house in the town of Palos Blancos tells us hopefully. We would like to hope that this happens. We already said it: oil stains everything. Even conscience.
Pablo Cingolani - Río Abajo, La Paz, July 1, 2009
(1) The complaint can also be read in full at https://www.ecoportal.net/content/view/full/87061/
(2) "We declare that ethnocide, that is, cultural genocide, is a crime under international law, just like genocide condemned by the United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948", states the Declaration of San José de Costa Rica of UNESCO of 1981, one of the key documents to make visible the seriousness of this problem. To read the entire statement, go to unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0004/000499/049951so.pdf
The ethnocide problem cannot be isolated from the concept of “vulnerability” which, as one specialist says, “in general, all ethnic groups [in the Bolivian Amazon] suffer from economic, political, social and ethnocultural vulnerability… one of the The objectives of intercultural policies to support the rights of indigenous peoples is to serve ethnic groups and their peoples who are experiencing situations of extreme vulnerability, as a result of asymmetric and unjust relationships in their contact with Bolivian or foreign society. The risk of ethnocide and biological extinction is its main characteristic. ”. See Álvaro Díez Astete: Interculturality and Amazonian Indigenous Peoples. In: Memory of the First Amazon Forum. Identity and microregional development. Guayaramerín, June 18 and 19, 2007. Ministry of the Presidency of the Republic of Bolivia, La Paz, 2007. Page 80