Posted with permission from Green Left Weekly
by Carlos A. Quiroz
24 January 2010
Avatar is real: the fictional planet of Pandora exists in South and Central America, and the Na’vi peoples are being displaced and killed right now. The names are different, but the facts are almost the same.
In the next generation, Central and South America will be the battlefields for rich countries to fight over natural resources, which they need to continue growing and keeping up to their consumerist, excessive ways of life.
The last pristine, virgin forests on Earth will be taken over by rich and powerful military armies, working on behalf of the interests of multinational corporations.
It’s happening already in the tropical forests and mountains of the continent. Mining, oil, tourism, real estate and other corporations are trying to take over the indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands, in complicity with the local puppet governments.
Sebastian Machineri is a leader of the Yaminawa people that live in the border area of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, deep in the Amazon forest. He told me that indigenous peoples in Brazil are being killed, attacked, displaced, and exterminated by the government and the private ranch owners.
“I have no hope that anything will change in the future”, he said. He added that international declarations of indigenous peoples’ rights aren’t helping much when powerful interests are pushing governments to destroy our planet.
In 2009, indigenous peoples all over the Americas faced increasing violence, deadly military attacks, displacement, persecution, and incarceration from governments, paramilitaries, guerrillas and military forces linked to corporate interests.
In order to displace indigenous peoples, governments and interest groups in Latin America passed special legislation based on the “free-trade” policy models, designed by Wall Street. This has opened the doors of protected areas to any corporation with enough money and the right connections.
Last year in Bagua, Peru, hundreds of Awajun and Wampis indigenous farmers were massacred by US-trained, militarised police forces. The natives were protesting government laws that would allow corporations to take over their lands without consultation.
Many community leaders have been locked up when protesting against the government plans to lease 73% of the Peruvian Amazon forest to corporations, and extensive areas of the Andean mountains.
Last year, the Awajun and Wampis peoples detained five employees from the Canadian mining company IAMGOLD, which did not have any authorisation to enter their territory.
In Avatar, the Na’vi are dismissed as “blue monkeys” and “savages” by the corporate administrator. Both the corporation and their hired soldiers view the Na’vi as less than human.
Peruvian President Alan Garcia has called indigenous people “confused savages”, “barbaric”, “second-class citizens”, “criminals”, and “ignorant”.
There is no end in sight in the struggle between the indigenous people of Peru and government-sanctioned corporate power.
In Colombia, the Amazonian indigenous peoples are caught in the middle of the internal war between the government, the guerrillas and the government-supported paramilitary. Twenty members of the Awa indigenous community were killed in 2009 by the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). By the end of the year, 74 more Awas were killed by apparent paramilitary groups linked to illegal drugs traffic.
The Colombian House of Representatives approved a controversial program to convince local women to submit to sterilisation.
The Afro Colombian population continues to endure violence, killings and displacement. More than 4 million Colombians have been displaced by violence — not just from guerrillas but mostly from the military and the right-wing paramilitaries, who have strong ties with the Alvaro Uribe government, farming and mining corporations.
The same tragedy is occurring all over the continent.
In Chile, several Mapuche communities began to reclaim lands in Araucania, a region in central Chile, which they say were stolen from them in the 16th century during the Spanish invasion.
At least five people have been killed by the Chilean government, which has passed anti-terrorism legislation to imprison Mapuche leaders.
In Ecuador, indigenous peoples are suing US oil corporations for damages from land and water pollution. The leftist government in power tried to betray its electoral promises by selling extensive lands to oil and mining corporations: the response was a strong national strike and social protests.
Meanwhile, in Bolivia, indigenous people are moving towards self-government. At the December 6 presidential and legislative elections, 12 of the 327 nation’s municipalities voted in favour of indigenous self-government, giving them control over the natural resources on their land.
The same model, but on a smaller scale, is being applied in Venezuela by the Hugo Chavez government.
The Obama administration and the biased US media have decided to attack the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela, while remaining silent in the massacres of indigenous peoples in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, the violent repression in Chile and Ecuador, and the violent coup regime of Honduras — where death squads trained in the US have attacked indigenous groups.
The future of South and Central America depends on how much power is given to multinational corporations today.
We need to stand against rich countries oppressing poorer nations with military force like in Congo, Iraq, Palestine, or with forced private “investments” in Latin America and parts of Africa and Asia.
During the Bush administration, the strategy to take over the natural resources of Latin America was dominated by free-trade agreements (FTA) and the funding of violent conflicts in Colombia, Haiti, and Mexico. With President Barack Obama in power, the US government has stopped these policies but announced it will be opening seven military bases in Colombia, while increasing its presence in Peru with possibly three military stations.
Colombia is the second biggest recipient of US military aid in the world, after Israel. Meanwhile the Pentagon’s South Command has increased military exercises conducted with Peru, Panama, and Colombia.
In Avatar, the US military became a sophisticated army of private mercenaries, working for huge profits resulting from extractive industries. No matter what they needed to destroy or who they killed, they would get the job done.
Indigenous peoples are portrayed in silly, offensive ways — half animals. However, in reality, that is how some people see our indigenous peoples in South Americas.
There is a white-supremacist tone of the end of the film, with a white male saving the indigenous population, but the script had an interesting approach to race. While a mostly-white leadership were leading destructive enterprises, the saviours were a young and multi-racial group of thinkers and dreamers.
Avatar represents a new step in the filming, not just because it mixes high technology animation with reality fiction, but also Avatar is showing us the most likely future of this planet, presented as fiction but not really.
The possible military conflicts to take place in Central and especially in South America in the next years are related to corporate greediness and special capitalist interests. This is the scary future that awaits the future generations.
Unless of course, the United States, Europe and other rich countries end their colonialist, imperialistic policies, which are designed and dominated by corporate and military machines — true mafias.
Like in Avatar, the future of our Pandora is in the hands of the people, so we can regain the control of our lives and future, to guarantee a true democracy with equality for all, regardless of race or origin, and respecting our indigenous peoples.
Then we will be able to preserve our planet and life will be sacred again.
[Abridged from Carlosqc.blogspot.com.]
October 29, 2009