Wednesday, October 18, 2006
"It used to be referred to as Oblivia, a small landlocked country ruled by a typically corrupt elite. About three years ago, however, news from Bolivia started creeping toward the front pages of our press as large groups of Natives began to protest the longstanding discrimination against them. Since almost two-thirds of Bolivia’s population is composed of indigenous peoples, the largest of any country in the hemisphere, this movement is no small matter. Its main tactic was the nonviolent blockade of roads to and from the most important cities. It culminated in December of 2005 with the election of Evo Morales, the first indigenous head of state in Latin America.
The author, an American who is a professional environmentalist, lived and worked in Bolivia at this time. But rather than recount the movement of political protest, he focuses on his personal involvement with small indigenous groups intent on preserving the 3 million acres of pristine rain forest in eastern Bolivia. Rain forests absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, thereby slowing down the rate of global warming. Powers was helping to implement a Kyoto Protocol agreement by which three large multinationals (including the gigantic British Petroleum) agreed to spend millions to help preserve the rain forest, in return for credits that enable them to lower by 25 percent their goals for reduction of pollutants from their own energy plants. They would also work to establish ways for local people to earn a decent living without decimating the forest by mass logging.
This "cooperating with enemy" earned Powers and his Native coalition scorn from other eco-groups, but he is convinced that it is a feasible and workable approach."