Indigenous peoples of the Amazon share message with the world

Global Research, April 26, 2017

We, the traditional authorities and elected leaders of the Uitoto, Muinane, Andoque and Nonuya peoples of the Middle Rio Caquetá region of the Colombian Amazon are in Bogotá between the 25th and 28th of April to represent our peoples and our Traditional Association of Indigenous Authorities – the Regional Indigenous Council of Middle Amazonas (CRIMA) in meetings with different State institutions and international agencies. We self-identify ourselves as the “People of the Centre” and heirs of the Green Territory of Life in the Amazon rainforest.

We are here to demand guarantees for our rights and to share concerns regarding forest, climate change and biodiversity projects that affect our territory, including the National Parks Department’s Heart of the Amazon Project supported by the World Bank and Global Environment Facility, and the Vision Amazonia Programme funded by the UK, Germany and Norway. We wish to express concerns that these programmes are undermining our principles of consent and participation and are applying processes that are not appropriate for our way of thinking and decision making.

Asserting our rights: Under our Law of Origin, and in accordance with our uses and customs, we have maintained a respectful relationship with our territory and the natural world. Before colonisation, our ancestors lived well. More than a century ago the cauchería came to exploit, enslave and displace our peoples, and almost exterminated us. We are the survivors of that genocide. We have since been reconstructing our society by building our malocas (ceremonial houses) and practising our ritual dances using the Word of Life and the wisdom of our elders. Since the 1970’s, our Cabildos (Councils) and Traditional Association of Indigenous Authorities have undertaken collective actions to legally securing our territory and to claim our rights.

Messages of the People of the Centre

To the Colombian government: We are not here to ask for projects. We want the national government to fully recognise our autonomy and our rights to govern our territory. We wish to see our applications for the extension of Reserves of Monochoa, Puerto Sábalo-Los Monos and Aduche properly processed and titled in favour of our communities to consolidate the Territory of Life belonging to the People of the Centre. In addition, we seek the formation and legal registration of an Indigenous Territorial Entity under our full jurisdiction in order to manage, administer and preserve our traditional territory and forests and maintain our way of life.

To international institutions: We inform the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, donor governments and cooperation agencies of Germany, the United Kingdom and Norway, that they must reach agreements directly with us, as our ancestors did. They did not talk to outsiders by means of third parties. We don’t want to have the interference of intermediaries such as NGOs and environmental funds: we seek a direct relationship between programmes, international donors and our traditional authorities. We demand that we are recognised and respected as environmental authorities in our own territory, with our own indigenous system of territorial ordering. We demand that the agencies respect our rights to own, manage and control our territory. To this end, we seek formal steps to develop and implement a Safeguard Plan for our peoples.

To the world: These demands are not just our concerns. Many other peoples in the Amazon and the world have similar claims and proposals for protecting peoples’ rights and sustaining the forests. When we say that we manage our territory and have our own government we are not talking about nature as an object or natural resource, but rather as a space with natural beings with whom we relate guided by our Word of Life and mutual respect. We want to let the world know what “territory” means to us. This week we will share the teachings of the Muinane people about our care of territory. The Uitoto, Andoque and Nonuya peoples have been working in the same direction in documenting our ways of managing and preserving the rainforests. We want to invite all the Peoples of the Centre, America and other parts of the world to join us in this effort to defend life and territory.

Contacts:
Hernando Castro, Regional Indigenous Council of Middle Amazonas: hecasu68@yahoo.es
Tom Griffiths, FPP: tom@forestpeoples.org
Camilla Capasso, FPP: camilla@forestpeoples.org

Minsk-2 Preliminary Analysis

Posted on Fort Russ
2/12/2015

Minsk-2: Withdrawal of Forces and Autonomy for the Donbass.
By Russkiy Malchik

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Information is still scarce. We have seen the main principles which were clear. But it’s obvious that they spent 16 hours discussing not the basic principles but the details. It is the details that are the core of the peace plan.

Unfortunately neither Poroshenko nor other leaders signed the joint declaration, and the “Collection of Measures” were signed only by the members of the contact group, namely LPR/DPR, Kuchma in Kiev’s name, OSCE, and Zurabov. That list likewise contains 13 points with fairly general formulations, which will require further clarification. But there are also specifics that have been published and by which we can assess how the negotiations went and what kind of compromise was reached.

The first has to do with the withdrawal of heavy weapons under OSCE control. The conditions are rather odd: it specifies a distance of 50km (for cannon) or 140km (for rocket artillery), from the actual line of the front as of midnight, February 15, and for the militia from the September 19 line [the line of demarcation from Minsk-1].

This means that both sides should leave their positions, creating a huge belt (100-300km) without weapons, de facto up to the borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Which leads to the following question: who will control it? This is the key question. So far there are no clear answers. But considering that the issue of peacekeepers was frequently brought up, this is who they have in mind. It is not for nothing that the Donbass representatives said that they will accept only Russian and Belarusian peacekeepers. Kiev, on the other hand, does not want peacekeepers, but if it does agree it will want NATO troops. So there is a big question mark here.

The second interesting provision is this. In the paragraph 11 which concerns Ukraine’s constitutional reform, which is to be implemented by the end of 2015, there is a provision which includes the main provisions of the law on the “Special Status of Lugansk and Donetsk Region”, which read as follows:

–Immunity from punishment, prosecution, or discrimination for individuals which participated in the events that took place in various parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions (this amounts to legalizing all combatants).

–The right to language self-determination.

–The participation of local self-government in the nominating process for the office of prosecutor general and the courts in the regions (LPR and DPR de-facto control over the legal and law enforcement systems).

–The central government shall enter into agreements with the local self-government concerning economic, social, and cultural development of the regions (Kiev will enter into agreements with Donetsk and Lugansk concerning all crucial aspects of the joint economy).

–The government supports the socio-economic development of the separate regions (Kiev will partially finance the reconstruction of Lugansk and Donetsk, and guarantees the fulfillment of social obligations).

–The central government shall facilitate cross-border cooperation between the several districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions with regions of the Russian Federation (Kiev will not oppose the cooperation between Lugansk, Donetsk, and Russia).

–The establishment of people’s militia in accordance with local government decisions in order to maintain public order in the several regions (the militia becomes a law enforcement organization, all power institutions remain under the control of the current leadership).

–The authority of the local authorities and officials from special elections that were designated by the Verkhovna Rada in accordance with this law, cannot be invalidated before their terms run out (this guarantees the rights of the current DPR and LPR government until they are re-elected as part of the process of forming local self-government through new elections).

As a result, Donbass receives widespread autonomy within the framework of nominally unitary Ukraine. This is the compromise which satisfied Putin after the 16-hour Minsk marathon. Moreover, France and Germany guarantee the re-establishment of the Donbass banking system, and will reach an agreement with Russia concerning the rules concerning the free trade zone between EU, Russia, and Ukraine, while taking into consideration the special status of Donbass.

The third detail pertains to border control. Here the language is extremely clear. The border between Ukraine and Russia will be re-established only after Ukraine carries out constitutional reforms, which implies autonomy (self-government, people’s militia, cross-border cooperation with Russia). In other words, once Kiev gives Donbass control over its own territory, then the border shall be re-established…but will remain under militia control.

To sum up this quick analysis based on still-incomplete information one can say the following: in purely diplomatic sense, Russia scored a success, forcing Kiev and the West to accept a painful and temporary, but real compromise. It is based on freezing the military conflict and the autonomy of the Donbass while nominally preserving Ukraine’s borders. In practice we are talking about reformatting Ukraine from a unitary into a federal state, regardless of Poroshenko’s denials. If the Galicia banderites realize this, they’ll start screaming about “Poroshenko’s treason.”

Of course, the implementation of the agreement is another question. The fact that neither Poroshenko nor European leaders signed it does not make it easier. On the other hand, Hollande’s and Merkel’s wishes are more than real, so it will fall to them to compel Kiev to implement the “Collection of Measures.” The only other option is a complete defeat for Ukrainian forces. To which Putin merrily alluded when he mentioned Debaltsevo—either you come out with your hands up, or you’ll continue to get killed.

The Minsk peace plan from February 12 does not solve the problem (and it could not solve it), but creates the possibility to delay the war until the end of 2015. With one condition: that Kiev and Washington accept the federalization of Ukraine. If not, the war will come to Kiev.

J.Hawk’s Comment:  The biggest factor here is whether the Ukrainian military is up to the task of continuing the fighting. If it is, if Poroshenko believes its forces have been sufficiently restored, the fighting will resume. However, the Ukrainian military took a heavy beating in the last months’ fighting and it will find it difficult to replace the lost equipment. Mobilization is unpopular, and there is little chance that NATO will rearm Ukraine. Last but not least, there is also the IMF and its stringent conditions on government spending that come as part of its bailout packages. Yaresko had already announced that Ukraine’s budget will have to undergo significant changes in order to accommodate the IMF. It’s difficult to see what else in that budget could be cut aside from the defense spending. Hollande and Merkel are not stupid, they’ve seen enough of Poroshenko to know what he is capable of, so therefore they will most likely act through the IMF to reduce Ukraine’s ability to wage war.

So overall this is a better agreement than Minsk-1, though not as good one as might have been reached should the Ukrainian military first suffered a catastrophic defeat. The fact that Novorossia will continue to enjoy unimpeded contact with the Russian Federation is also a major plus–Minsk-1 agreement called for the border control to be returned to Ukraine. 

But in the meantime Novorossia continues to exist and to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, though it is not likely that its authority will spread all the way to the borders of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, even though Minsk-2 does not appear to contain any language concerning demarcation lines.   The above, of course, assumes that there will be a ceasefire at midnight of February 15, and there might not be one. Minsk-2 says nothing about Debaltsevo, which means the Ukrainian side will continue its attempts to break into or out of the encirclement. If the ceasefire goes into effect as of the 15th with the Ukrainian forces still trapped in Debaltsevo, they will have no choice but to surrender their weapons and depart. Poroshenko cannot allow that to happen, so the fighting could well continue. One can always perpetrate a “false flag” attack or two as an excuse for breaking the ceasefire…

 

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/02/minsk-2-preliminary-analysis.html

Alexander Mercouris: Diplomatic talks in Moscow — a two-part analysis

Posted on Vineyard of the Saker, February 6, 2015

Talks in Moscow – a two-part analysis
by Alexander Mercouris

Part one (On 6th February 2015)
They have apparently continued for 5 hours and are still not finished though it seems some sort of document is being prepared for tomorrow.

Three comments:

1. If negotiations go on for 5 hours that does not suggest a smooth and conflict free discussion.

2. One of the most interesting things about the Moscow talks is that they mainly happened without the presence of aides and officials i.e. Putin, Hollande and Merkel were by themselves save for interpreters and stenographers. Putin and Merkel are known to be masters of detail and given his background as an enarque I presume Hollande also is. However the German and French officials will be very unhappy about this. The Russians less so because since the meeting is taking place in the Kremlin they are listening in to the discussions via hidden microphones.

One wonders why this is happening? Even if the Russian officials are not listening in Merkel and Hollande will assume they are. The fact that Russian officials were not present is therefore less significant than that German and French officials have been barred from the meeting by their respective chiefs, suggesting that Merkel and Hollande do not entirely trust them.

There has been an extraordinary degree of secrecy about this whole episode and it rather looks as if Merkel and Hollande were anxious to stop leaks and to prevent information about the talks from getting out. Presumably this is why their officials were barred from the meeting. From whom one wonders do Merkel and Hollande want to keep details of the meeting secret? From the media? From other members of their own governments? From the Americans? What do they need to keep so secret? The frustration and worry on the part of all these groups must be intense.

3. The fact that the British are excluded from the talks is going down very badly with many people here in London. It has not escaped people’s notice that this is the first major negotiation to settle a big crisis in Europe in which Britain is not involved since the one that ended the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Of course it is largely the fault of the inept diplomacy of Cameron, who has taken such an extreme pro-Ukrainian position that Moscow simply doesn’t see him as someone worth talking to. Also one suspects Merkel and Hollande do not trust Cameron not to leak the whole discussion to whomever they want to keep it from. Having said that it is difficult to see this as anything other than further evidence of Britain’s decline into complete irrelevance. I cannot imagine Thatcher being excluded in this way. If the United Kingdom is indeed in the process of breaking up (and as I suspected the Scottish referendum settled nothing with polls indicating that the SNP may make an almost clean sweep of all the seats in Scotland in the election in May) then the slide into irrelevance still has a long way to go.

Part two (On 7th February 2015)
I am coming increasingly round to the view of Alastair Newman that Merkel and Hollande came with no plan to Moscow but with the purpose of having what diplomats call “a full and frank discussion” in private with Putin looking at all the issues in the one place in Europe – the Kremlin – where they can be confident the Americans are not spying on them. That must be why they sent their officials away.

It is also clear that Merkel’s and Hollande’s visit to Kiev before their flight to Moscow was just for show.

Poroshenko’s officials are insisting that the question of federalisation was not discussed during Poroshenko’s meeting with Hollande and Merkel. Hollande has however now come out publicly to support “autonomy” for the eastern regions i.e. federalisation, which makes it a virtual certainty that in the meeting in Moscow it was discussed. The point is that Merkel and Hollande did not want to discuss federalisation with Poroshenko because they know the junta adamantly opposes the idea and did not want him to veto it before the meeting in Moscow had even begun.

The problem is that since everyone pretends that federalisation is an internal Ukrainian issue to be agreed freely between the two Ukrainian sides, its terms will only be thrashed out once constitutional negotiations between the two Ukrainian sides begin. Since the junta will never willingly agree to federalisation, in reality its form will have to be hammered out in private by Moscow after consultations with the NAF and with Berlin and Paris and then imposed on the junta in the negotiations.

Saying this shows how fraught with difficulty this whole process is going to be.

Not only are there plenty of people in the Donbass who now oppose federalisation (and some in Moscow too I suspect) but this whole process if it is to work would somehow have to get round the roadblock of the Washington hardliners, who will undoubtedly give their full support to the junta as it tries to obstruct a process over which it has a theoretical veto. Frankly, I wonder whether it can be done.

If the process is to have any chance of success then Merkel and Hollande must screw up the courage to do what they failed to do last spring and summer, which is publicly stand up to the hardliners in Washington and Kiev and impose their will upon them. Are they really willing to do that? Given how entrenched attitudes have become over the last few months and given the false position Merkel and Hollande put themselves in by so strongly supporting Kiev, the chances of them pulling this off look much weaker than they did last spring.

I would add a few more points;

1. There is one major difference between the situation now and in the Spring, which might offer some hope of movement.

Anyone reading the Western media now cannot fail but see that there is a growing sense of defeat. Sanctions have failed to work, the Ukrainian economy is disintegrating and the junta’s military is being defeated.

That was not the case last spring, when many in the West had convinced themselves that the junta would win the military struggle with the NAF. The confrontation strategy Merkel opted for in July based on that belief has totally and visibly failed. It is not therefore surprising if she is now looking for a way-out by reviving some of the ideas that were being floated by the Russians in the spring. She now has a political imperative to look for a solution in order to avoid the appearance of defeat, which would leave her position both in Germany and Europe badly weakened. That political imperative was not there in the spring. It is now. In a sense the pressure is now on her.

2. I should stress that it is Merkel who is Putin’s key interlocutor. The reason Hollande is there and appears to be taking the lead is to provide Merkel with cover. The one thing Merkel cannot afford politically is the appearance of a Moscow-Berlin stitch-up that the hardliners in Washington, Kiev, London, Warsaw and the Baltic States will claim is a new Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to divide Europe into German and Russian spheres of influence. Whether we like it or not in Germany the shadow of Hitler still hangs heavy and exposes Berlin to endless moral blackmail whenever it tries to pursue with Moscow an independent course. That is why Merkel needs Hollande present when she meets Putin for talks of the sort she’s just had in Moscow.

3. One other possible sign of hope is that there is some evidence that a sea-change in European and especially German opinion may be underway.

Whatever the purpose of the ongoing debate in Washington about sending weapons to the junta, whether it is a serious proposal or an attempt to secure diplomatic leverage or a combination of the two, it has horrified opinion in Europe, bringing home to many people there how fundamentally nihilistic US policy has become.

All the talk in the Western media yesterday and this morning is of a split between Europe and the US. That is going much too far. However for the first time there is public disagreement in Europe with Washington on the Ukrainian question. Whether that crystallises into an actual break with Washington leading to a serious and sustained European attempt to reach a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis against Washington’s wishes is an altogether different question. I have to say that for the moment I very much doubt it.

4. I remain deeply pessimistic about this whole process. The best opportunity to settle this conflict diplomatically was last spring. I cannot help but feel that as Peter Lavelle said on the Crosstalk in which I appeared yesterday, the train has now left the station.

A peaceful solution to the Ukrainian conflict ultimately depends on European resolve to face down the hardliners in Washington and Kiev. It is going to be much harder to do this now than it was last year.

Moreover, despite the bad news on the economy and on the front line in Debaltsevo, the hardliners in Kiev are bound to have been emboldened by all the talk in Washington about sending them arms, which is going to make the effort to bring them round even harder than it already is.

The besetting problem of this whole crisis is that the Europeans have never shown either the resolve or the realism to face the hardliners down though it is certainly within their power to do so. In Merkel’s case one has to wonder whether her heart is in it anyway. My view remains that this situation will only be resolved by war, and that the negotiations in Moscow will prove just another footnote to that.

5. If I am wrong and some autonomy really is granted to the Donbass, then I make one confident prediction. This is that the Ukraine will in that case disintegrate even more rapidly than it would have done if federalisation had been agreed upon last spring or summer.

Following such a terrible war, I cannot see people in the Donbass accepting federalisation as anything other than a stepping stone to eventual secession and union with Russia. If the Donbass secures autonomy, I cannot see people in places like Odessa and Kharkov failing to press for an at least equivalent degree of autonomy to that granted to the Donbass. If the Europeans are prepared to see the Donbass achieve autonomy, by what logic can they deny it to the people of Odessa and Kharkov?

More to the point, the November elections showed the emergence of what looks like an increasingly strong potential autonomy or even independence movement in Galicia.

Given that a terrible war has been fought and lost in the east to defeat “separatism” in the Donbass, and given the widespread disillusion with the junta in Kiev, it is difficult to see how many people in Galicia will not feel betrayed if the grant of federalisation to the Donbass is now imposed on them after so many of their men died to prevent it. If in reaction Galicia presses for the same sort of autonomy as the Donbass – which it could well do – then the Ukraine is finished. I doubt it would hold together for more than a few months. If federalisation had been granted last spring or summer before the war began then it is possible – likely even – that the Ukraine could have been held together in a sort of state of suspended animation at least for a while. I don’t think there’s much chance of that now.

 

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2015/02/talks-in-moscow-two-part-analysis.html