Monthly Archives: October 2017

Indigenous resistance: my fight for land and life in Colombia




Wayúu healer and her granddaughter displaced by Cerrejon mine (c) Maria Faciolince

Angelica Ortiz

12th October, 2017

On World Day of Indigenous Resistance, Wayúu woman ANGELICA ORITZ shares her experience as a human rights defender, living and fighting for the future of her community in the shadow of the largest opencast mine in Colombia


My name is Angelica Ortiz. I am a Wayuu woman from the Ipuana clan of the Lomomato indigenous reserve in La Guajira, Colombia. I am a human rights defender and part of the Wayuu Women’s Force Movement. I am also a mother.

October 12th is a significant date for me and for the Wayuu people. It is the day they say they discovered America, but we were already here when the Spanish arrived. If they did discover our lands and our cultures, then they also found out the ways to force us into submission. Today is about remembering those cultures and peoples whose resistance wasn’t enough, those who’ve been erased.

In Colombia, the Spanish inquisition set up a system whereby indigenous communities had to pay the crown a royalty for being allowed to work the land. Through that system, they placed barriers on the original people of the land, rounded them up and told them “you can’t cross these borders”, and in the process, created the reserves that we live on today.

Irreversible impacts

Today, we see a new form of conquest, the land is being stripped of its minerals. For us, the coal, the oil and the minerals are the organs of our land, which is slowly being killed. If you take the organs out of a person, you kill them.

Cerrejon Coal, the biggest opencast mine in Colombia, has been present for four decades in La Guajira. More than 32 million tonnes are exported annually. Of this, 46% goes to Europe.

The exploitation and export of this coal, and the company’s intention to double these quantities, have led to the violation of fundamental rights of the African-descent, Wayuu and peasant communities of La Guajira, the second poorest province in the country, which has long suffered the consequences of the social and armed conflict.

Around 35 communities have been displaced by mining activity. Just five have been partially resettled. The health and livelihoods of the people have been affected, along with their access to water.

Those resources and people haven’t been protected by the Colombian state, instead president Santos’ mining and energy locomotive, which is what they call their development model, has caused great and irreversible impacts on us. If we look at all the impacts that we have had in the Guajira, it all comes down to their so-called development.

Things are not like that

For us, territory is everything. It is life, water and food. It is where we pass on our culture and knowledge. It is where we practice our spirituality. For the Wayuu, it is the right to self-determination and our ancestral rights, based on our history.

It is also where our economic activity takes place according to our needs, where we produce food free from GMOs and chemicals. It is about weaving the ideals of communities and respect for mother earth. Without territory, we cease being Wayuu.

Protecting our territory has been a commitment from the Wayuu Women’s Force Movement – of those who integrate it. Since this fight we started many years ago where we marked our spaces, water and health in defiance of the many interests there exist over our land.

Being a Wayuu woman means guarding our territory, taking care of it, protecting the water and the Woumankain – Mother Earth, the greatest woman of all, who gave birth to everything. Our womanhood is linked to the spirituality of each Wayuu community, the Wayuu woman plays a fundamental role in culture, as the transmitter of culture and a vital part of Wayuu society.We do this because we want justice for those who will come after us, we are not paid to defend the territory, it is done through conviction, and it comes with threats and violence.

I have two girls and a boy who have been displaced since the end of 2011 due to threats made against me. Last year, I tried to bring them home to live with me, but had to move again instead because it was too dangerous. I don’t get to see them often anymore. We have denounced the threats and intimidations to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. That was frightening too and I still don’t feel safe. Being a protector requires that sacrifice.

Nothing is celebrated

But not everyone is on the same boat. Unfortunately, leaders who previously defended all that is ours now stand on the side of the company. We regret that many people from our communities lend themselves to say that everything is okay, that everything is fine in la Guajira, but things are not like that.

Year after year, LMN and War on Want invite us to London but they also accompany us in our activities in our lands – showing the stark realities facing our communities in contrast to what Cerrejón, and its shareholders, say about what’s happening to a UK audience about La Guajira.

Therefore, communities and local organizations, in alliance with different sectors of society, have joined forces to denounce the environmental and territorial implications of mineral extraction and to speak about the alternatives for the defence of life, land and water. That is why I am travelling to London.

For us, indigenous development is shaped by another way of understanding social and economic relations, while government and states have declared their path of development, one which threatens our ways of life and our territories.

That is why on 12 October nothing is celebrated, on this date we commemorate all the indigenous peoples that have died defending the land, and we affirm our fight for the liberation of the mother earth. When we say liberation, we refer to the land returning to its true owners, not to those who have stripped those lands.

This Author

Angelica Ortiz is a Wayúu woman from the Lomguato Reserve and General Secretary of Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu (Wayúu Women’s Force), an organization that raises awareness about the violations of human and ethnic rights in Guajira. They work to denounce the territorial impacts of mega mining projects, including forced displacement and the situation of violation of rights of indigenous women.

 

Green Party well placed to capitalise on youth demand for climate policies

One group of people who have seen their electoral fortunes surge in 2017 have been the young.  For years, political sages have warned that any campaign strategy built on pursuing their vote will end in tatters. They don’t vote, and when they do their votes are too concreted in urban areas to really make a difference. 

For years this was true. Until this year, it wasn’t.  A surge of young voters swept away the Government’s majority, turning places like Canterbury, that had been blue for 100 years, red.

Sale of ivory products

Now political parties, especially the Conservatives judging by their Party Conference last week, are desperately seeking ways to reconnect with this new, awoken, electorate.  To that end, surprising polling by Bright Blue should be essential reading.

Among 18-28 year olds the top issue they wanted to hear about more from politicians was climate change. When the age group was expanded to the under 40s climate change was still high, coming second behind health.

And the top three policies that young voters said would make them most proud to vote for a party were all linked to the environment: Generating more renewable power, banning the sale of ivory products and increasing the roll-out of household insulation.

This obviously bodes well for the Greens who have long dominated this political turf.  This week during their party conference co-leader Jonathan Bartley launched their Breathing Cities campaign designed to tackle air pollution by making the city centres of London, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol and Oxford, zero emission zones within five years.

Blame young voters

Meanwhile the other half of the party’s leadership duo, Caroline Lucas, looked ahead to next month’s UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany, pointing out the impracticality and injustice of requiring poor countries to meet emission reduction targets without the financial help to leapfrog the dirty development pathways used by richer nations.

Bright Blue’s research will come as a wake-up call to the other mainstream parties (and maybe the media too considering the relative paucity of coverage on the environment we see from our national broadcasters and newspapers). 

But it will be of particular concern to Theresa May’s Conservatives. The same poll showed that the three words young people most associated with Tory climate change policy was ‘weak’, ‘inadequate’ and ‘damaging’. For a party facing a demographic time bomb – according to one estimate the average age of a Conservative Party member is now 72 – this combination of results will make grim reading.

What is so odd is that the Government has seemingly done its best to create this sorry state of affairs. It chose November 9th2016 as the date to make the historic announcement that it would phase out the burning of coal in the UK by 2025. 

Yes, that was the day the world woke up to discover that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States. Usually such moments are chosen to bury bad news, not good news.  Can the Conservatives really blame young voters for having such a lowly view of their climate policies when they do their best to keep them quiet?

A hung parliament

It needn’t have been this way. David Cameron started his modernisation of the Conservative Party on a platform of ‘vote blue, go green’.  However during his premiership the environment featured less and less in his public pronouncements.

In his speech as he left Downing Street the two issues he said he was most proud of were the two issues where he stood firm in the face of pressure from his own backbenchers and the editorials of the Daily Mail: gay marriage and the aid budget.  Had he stuck to his guns on the environment then maybe the party’s perception problem among the young might not be so severe.

At a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, Richard Harrington, Minister for Industry and Energy, admitted party strategists may have given green issues a lower priority during the election campaign in its bid to win over Brexit voters.

However green issues are far from a concern of only the metropolitan elite. Other polling from Bright Blue this year revealed that a stunning 81% of Tory Leave voters wants the UK to retain its EU renewables targets after Brexit.

For the Conservatives this policy area is a risk-free option. The voters want it and their political opponents are not going to attack them for being more environmentally friendly.  And in a hung parliament the few issues with cross party support should be treasured by Governments, not ignored.

Britain’s green minded

The recent record setting falls in the price of offshore wind show the game changing potential of renewable energy.  Only a few years ago offshore wind was the expensive option to its much cheaper onshore cousin and yet with Government encouragement the price has tumbled. 

The time has come to scrap the ‘nimby’ fuelled ban on new offshore wind and allow the technological advance of renewables to lower electricity bills even further. A Government that has just announced it is going to cap energy bills for consumers can no longer block the cheapest forms of energy.

If they don’t act, Britain’s green minded young voters will continue to take their business elsewhere.

This Author

Joe Ware is a journalist and writer at Christian Aid and a New Voices contributor at the Ecologist. He is on twitter @wareisjoe.

 

Newly elected RSPB chairman warns of decline in wildlife

Kevin Cox, a former magazine publisher, was elected as the successor to Professor Steve Ormerod at the charity’s Annual General Meeting this weekend (Saturday 7 October) and will take up his post with immediate effect. 


A former RSPB Council member, Kevin has also served on council and as a trustee of World Land Trust for the past 12 years. He was joint Managing Director of Future Publishing before going on to launch 

Origin Publishing, a successful specialist magazine publishing company. 


Following the sale of the company to BBC Worldwide, Kevin became Origin’s non-executive Chairman and subsequently attended the Bristol Board of Immediate Media (formerly BBC Magazines), publisher of all the BBC-branded titles, including BBC Wildlife.


Upland and woodland


Kevin’s lifelong interest in wildlife has led to his involvement in nature conservation and land management. 


In 2008, he helped Birdlife Bolivia set up a protected area for the critically-endangered Blue-throated Macaw and he remains a Friend of the Barba Azul Reserve. Since 2011, he has served on the council of Devon Birds, most recently as chair.  


Kevin lives on Dartmoor where he takes a keen interest in the conservation of the moor, especially for upland and woodland birds.


Science and nature


Kevin Cox said: “It’s an enormous privilege to take up the role of chair of RSPB Council. I am a passionate advocate for all aspects of nature conservation and I will do my utmost to support RSPB and spread the word about our vital work.


“During my lifetime we have seen significant declines in the diversity and abundance of much of our wildlife. RSPB is key to reversing that trend and delivering a healthy, thriving environment for people and nature.”


Mike Clarke, the RSPB’s chief executive, said: “I would like to express enormous and sincere gratitude to Professor Steve Ormerod, who has led us through the last five years with passion and enthusiasm, as well as sharing with us his huge knowledge and understanding of science and nature conservation.


“As Steve departs we welcome Kevin Cox to the Chair and I’m delighted to have him on board.  With his background in magazines, Kevin understands how to engage and communicate with a range of audiences, and we know he will help the RSPB to inspire more people to care about nature.


RSPB Medal 2017


Earlier this year the RSPB took the unusual decision to award the RSPB Medal well ahead of its AGM. Eminent wildlife scientist, Dick Potts, was awarded the Medal by RSPB Council shortly before he died in March.

 

Dick made a sustained contribution to conservation and conservation science from the1970s onwards, particularly through ground breaking studies into the effects of chemicals on farmland birds, especially the grey partridge.


The RSPB Medal is the most prestigious award the wildlife charity gives out, and recognises outstanding contribution to nature conservation.


Conservation action


The RSPB Medal winner is usually decided in June, and presented at the RSPB AGM in October, but Dick had been seriously unwell for some time and so an early decision was made. Dick sadly died on 


Thursday 30th March, but fortunately his wife, Olga, was able to tell him of the accolade shortly before he passed away.


Professor Steve Ormerod said: “We have lost a remarkable and visionary figure in Dick Potts – whose foresight inspired crucial scientific work and conservation action. 


Legacy lives on


“His contribution to farmland wildlife science has created a legacy for birds like the grey partridge whose very presence in the UK might have been threatened if he hadn’t stepped in early, recognised they were in trouble, and identified why.


“The RSPB would like to offer our deepest sympathy to Dick’s wife, Olga, and thank her for allowing us to give this award to mark his outstanding work and passion for farmland wildlife.”


Olga Potts said: “Dick would have felt truly honoured to have received this award. In true Dick Potts fashion, he would have seen this as not just an award for himself but for all those who, over the years, have worked for the issues he cared so deeply about. We will ensure his legacy lives on.”


The RSPB Members’ Day and AGM took place at the QE11 in London on Saturday 7 October 2017.


This Author


Jack Alexander is a regular contributor to The Ecologist.

 

Tree conference invites citizen-led initiatives for Global Reforestation

Citizen-led proposals for tree planting and global reforestation will be debated and explored at The Tree Conference at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury on Saturday 4 November.

Leading-edge tree scientists, tree and reforestation project leaders, climate change experts and artists will come together to share their research, practical projects and visions for re-greening our future. 

Suzi Martineau, Organiser of The Tree Conference, says: 

Mounting evidence shows that trees have a crucial role to play in sustaining our ecosystem’s future. In November 2015, the UN leader’s statement on Forests and Climate Change stated that ‘Reducing emissions from and enhancing removals through forests can reduce billions of tons of emissions per year and are essential to prevent catastrophic climate change.

So we’re delighted to be showcasing so many inspirational tree projects, organisations and artists, providing a unique networking platform and space to explore how the UK can give back to the world by tree planting. This will be the first conference to give regular UK citizens and tree lovers the chance to feed into this debate and directly contribute to this movement to safeguard our forest cover, water and soil security for generations to come.

Keynote speakers at the conference will include Bruce Parry, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Alan Rayner, and Clare Dubois and Wendy Stephenson of TreeSisters, while the day’s lively panel discussion will feature Professor Sir David Read, lead author of the Forestry Commission’s report Combating Climate Change: A Role for UK Trees. The day’s key talks and debates will be broadcast to a global audience via Livestream.

The Woodland Trust are among the many partners supporting the conference, who will be sharing information about their Charter for Trees, Woods and People, to be launched on Monday 6 November, inaugurating the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.  Other conference partners include the Royal Forestry Society (the foremost forestry accreditation body), the International Tree Foundation, The Gaia Foundation and Treeconomics.

The conference will also be sharing recent unexpected breakthroughs made by Wendy Stephenson, Treasurer of global reforestation charity TreeSisters. Wendy is also CEO of Converging World, a charity investing in renewable energy which uses the surplus funds for reforestation.

Wendy Stephenson says: “Reforestation is a no brainer in terms of the cost to reduce 1 tonne of C02 with any technology like solar or wind compared to a tree and the many benefits it brings, not least because they keep us alive. And most technology only avoids CO2 it does not sequester it. We have to do it all, and we need to accelerate sequestration through reforestation which is one of the most cost effective ways of cooling the planet. It also serves so many other aspects of restoring our world, including  biodiversity, water retention and microclimate.” 

Other questions to be explored at The Tree Conference include:

•    Which trees can accommodate predicted temperature changes in the UK?
•    What can be done to prevent the forest fires that have plagued the US, Europe and Russia this year?
•    How can we support the health of Ash, Chestnut, Oak and Conifers?
•    How can the government meet it’s pledge to plant 11 million trees in two years?
•    When is reforestation not the answer for some landscapes?
•    Why wait until 2050 to become Carbon Neutral?

Clare Dubois, Founder of TreeSisters, says:
We’re thrilled to be part of The Tree Conference. Tree planting and reforestation are initiatives whose time has come. This conference provides an exemplary template for other conferences to use worldwide. It also underlines that it’s time for us all to step into a much deeper relationship with trees. Trees offer us profound templates for how to live, and how to communicate and build resilience together, as well as for how to survive as a species. Let’s collectively seed trees in our hearts and minds and make reforestation core to everything we do.

 


For information and to buy tickets visit Red Brick Building website.
Early Bird tickets for The Tree Conference are available until Sunday 15 October

Will Gethin is the founder and Director of Conscious Frontiers

 

 

Gove: climate policy must not come ‘at the expense of economic growth’

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, told the Conservative Party conference yesterday that “climate change is one of the biggest challenges and threats to biodiversity in the UK” – but pursuing climate policy must not come “at the expense of the economic growth that we also need in order to make sure that our country and other countries are resilient and can deal with the consequences of climate change”.

Gove made the comments at a fringe event hosted by his former staffer Henry Newman from Open Europe, the self-professed “premier thinktank of the Eurosceptic world”.

Gove said that he wanted to use his position to ensure the environment was protected, while not blocking activities that could be good UK business.

Patchy record

He said: “I take a view towards the natural world and environment which is driven by a desire not just to conserve but to enhance the beauty and the resilience and the wonder of the natural world.

But it’s also the case that I do think we need economic growth as well. Because unless we have economic growth then we can’t provide the resilience against extreme climate events and the more equitable distribution of goods that are necessary for us all to enjoy the natural world.”

Now, the balance is the critical thing. How do we ensure a recognition that we need economic growth doesn’t turn into capture by big business and lobby groups? And how do we ensure that proper reverence for the environment doesn’t turn into the deployment of the precautionary principle so extreme that you never allow anyone to do anything new for the first time? You have to strike that balance.”

That means ensuring the UK’s animal welfare standards were never lowered, as well as using Brexit to reform EU policies including the Habitats Directive and fisheries restrictions, Gove explained.

When Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Gove Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), some green groups cleaimed her decision was like putting the “fox in charge of the hen house” due to his patchy record on climate change while education secretary.

Evidence and science

Referring to his controversial efforts to cut climate change from the national curriculum during that time, Gove said:

When we were thinking about how to deal with climate change in the curriculum, I wanted to make sure it was done on a properly rigorous and scientific basis, and that people understood the physics of climate change.

And I won’t blame anyone, but one or two people thought this was an opportunity to exploit this to suggest that they had somehow saved climate change in the national curriculum. And my view during the coalition was that our junior coalition partners had enough bad happening in their lives for me to be prepared to be forebearing if they wanted to make a political point at the time.”

Gove also indicated that as Defra secretary he is trying to listen to a wide variety of experts.

I’ve taken the view that in an area that relies so much on following the evidence and the science, that it’s important for me to get to grips with that evidence and that science as quickly as I can, and get to understand the range of views that exist from lobby groups to enterprises to individuals who have a long track record in campaigning, to the huge number of people who are members of environmental or conservation organisations.

Transitional period

I’ve gone deliberately out of my way to try and get a sense of where the need for change is greatest.”

He was quick to deflect credit for leading efforts to campaign for the UK to leave the EU, however, despite being one of the most prominent faces of the campaign.

The title of leader belonged to foreign secretary and political rival Boris Johnson and the campaign staff, he said, with Vote Leave’s headquarters at times “feeling like a start-up” such was the level of enthusiasm for the cause and commitment of young, underpaid staff.

Nonetheless, “Defra is getting ready for Brexit” he said, as he re-affirmed his commitment to a transitional period of around two years, in line with the prime minister’s pledge.

This Author

Mat Hope is deputy editor of DeSmog UK, and previously an Associate Editor for Nature Climate Change. He tweets at @Matjhope

 

‘Green Brexit’? Not with this dirty Brexit brigade, Mr Gove

Environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday told Conservative Party conference that an ‘exit from Brexit’ is not an option.

The ‘there is no alternative’ line is no great surprise. The appointment ofMichael Gove as Environment Secretary, with his long history of involvement with American and UK neoliberal think tanks, has heightened concerns that Brexit is a ‘shock doctrine’ event.

Gove’s renewed claims yesterday that we can have a ‘green Brexit’ also stretch credulity.

According to our analysis, removing, attacking and undermining environmental and labour rights regulations was a likely motive for many of those at the heart of the Leave campaign. A motive hidden in plain sight but rarely reported.

More than half of the 72 leading members of the Vote Leave (VL) and Business for Britain (BfB) campaigns – those who appear on the group websites and in the press – have links to investments in companies that would directly benefit from a ‘bonfire’ of EU red tape.

Millionaires bypassing electoral rules 

A total of 17 senior members of Vote Leave and BfB have been involved in carbon intensive industries – including energy, transport, construction and tourism. Nine had investments or work for investment companies with interests in oil and gas. At least two others – PR professionals – represented the interests of the energy industry.

Among the most influential is David Wall. Wall was at the time of the referendum on the academic advisory board of BfB. He was also the Director of Business Development for IM Group, which imports cars from Japan. According to its website its activities included the “launch of 5th generation Subaru Legacy and Outback across all eight markets where IM Group sells Subaru.”

The press release boasts: “IM Group’s longstanding relationship with Subaru has now spanned over 30 years, and its success continues to the benefit of both manufacturer and importer.”

Markets and regulations experts

From the get-go, BfB attacked those European Union regulations designed to reduce carbon emissions – including from the auto industry.

The second briefing produced by the BfB campaign group attacked the light duty vehicle emission standards, the EU Climate and Energy Package, and the Motor Fuel (Road Vehicle and Mobile Machinery) Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Regulations.

Wall is also a secretary of the Midlands Industrial Council (MIC), a major funder of the Conservative party, whose members also promised up to £5million to the Leave campaign. The MIC met with considerable controversy when it originally refused to name its financial supporters, allowing millionaires to bypass electoral commission rules on declaring political donations. 

Other leading Brexiteers from BfB and VL who had vested interests in deregulation include Stuart Wheeler, who was a Vote Leave board member during the referendum campaign. A former donor to both the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Conservative party, he was also UKIP’s treasurer from 2011 to 2014.

A declaration of intent

Wheeler made his fortune founding the spread betting company IG Index (now IG Group), selling his remaining shares in 2003 for £34m. IG Group today facilitates trading in crude oil.

Jon Moynihan was on the boards of both BfB and VL. He retired as executive chairman of PA Consulting Group in 2013 and is now “joint principal” of Ipex Capital.

PA Consulting Group states on its website: “Our global team of markets and regulation experts work with energy investors and utilities to develop investment thesis, craft growth strategies, and improve operations while navigating a world of policy, technology, economic, and environmental uncertainty.”

Mr Moynihan said: “I have not visited a PA office nor had a business discussion with PA in…four years.” He went on to say of Ipex Capital: “Our current investments focus primarily on a green (i.e. lowers pollution) nanotechnology, and a research company creating a device for investigating heart disease. I know of no proposed or contemplated deregulation post Brexit or otherwise that would be of any assistance to these companies.”

Simon Stilwell was among the members of the advisory council of BfB who signed a letter – a declaration of war on the EU – published in The Telegraph in May 2014. He was at the time chief executive officer of Liberum Capital, but retired in February 2015 and is now director of Vintage Tack Room Ltd.

Liberum appears to have a relationship with Air France-KLM; APR Energy; BHP Billiton; BP; Deutsche Lufthansa; easyJet; Flybe Group and Genel Energy Plc to name but a few.

Dame Helena Morrissey CBE was a member of BfB during the leave campaign. She was at the same time CEO of Newton Investment Management. She stepped down last year, when the FT quoted her as saying “Obviously my departure is not related to [BNY Mellon’s ban on Brexit campaigning]”.

One online investment update suggests Newton manages investments in oil and gas – namely Eversource Energy, Centrica and Royal Dutch Shell. It also appears to manage investments in tobacco companies, including Reynolds American, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco.

Then there is Rhoddy Swire, another signatory to the statement of intent from the BFB advisory board in The Telegraph. He signed off the letter with his title ‘founder of Pantheon Ventures’ and remains a senior partner. The company, among other things, boasts of “advising clients to invest in manufacturing relating to shale gas revolution in the United States”.

He told openDemocracy: “I have no financial interest in Pantheon since 2004. The views I express are personal to me and are based on the primacy of democracy sovereignty both of which are significantly lacking in the EU, not to mention the waste, inefficiency and lack of accountability.”

“Irrevocably committed to the City of London”

David Buik was and remains at Panmure Gordon & Co as a market commentator. He is “deeply and irrevocably committed to the City of London”. This seems to include investment in fossil fuels.

The firm stated on its website that it was “delighted to announce that international oil and gas exploration company, Borders & Southern Petroleum plc has today appointed Panmure Gordon as its sole nominated adviser and joint broker with immediate effect.”

There are many other members of the two Brexit campaign groups who are investors or work in investment, where the ultimate source of profits is not as easy to discover.

“They need to change public opinion”

Richard Patient was the London chairman of BfB. The website did not state his occupation. He is the founder of Thorncliffe, a public affairs consultancy – and something of a fan of the fracking industry.

Patient has been quoted as saying: “If the fracking industry learns anything from the refused application in Lancashire, it is that they need to change public opinion to what it was in 2013. They need to communicate that fracking is safe and desirable not just for the country, but the immediate community it will be taking place in.

“Otherwise Frack Free groups will be formed across the UK and councillors will be deafened by the scale of the opposition and no amount of Government ‘encouragement’ will help persuade councillors to approve applications.”

Patient has also been at the centre of a public affairs disaster, it seems. His company was originally called Indigo. The Telegraph newspaper performed an undercover sting which uncovered poor practice, and conflicts of interest.

‘I wouldn’t say dark arts’

“In March 2013 Greg Stone confirmed to undercover Telegraph reporters that many fellow employees at Indigo also worked as councillors or were involved in politics in some way,” the right-wing broadsheet reported.

“The paper recorded him on camera as saying ‘that even if certain councillors would not talk to them about a planning application, there were certain “tricks of the trade” which offered “a good way of, of getting round this”.’

“‘A bit of cunning is needed when you’re dealing with some of these ones’, [Stone] admitted. ‘I wouldn’t say dark arts but, but, there is, there is sort of tricks of the trade’.”

Indigo Public Affairs changed its name to Thorncliffe Communications Limitedon 18 Nov 2014, perhaps as an attempt to put the Telegraph controversy in the past before its director became a public supporter of BfB.

Mr Patient, when contacted by openDemocracy regarding this piece, said only: “I am delighted to have been involved in possibly the most successful political campaign ever, and one that received more votes than voted for any political party or proposition at any election or referendum in British political history.”

The investors, brokers and businessmen behind Dirty Brexit could have had any number of motives for supporting the campaign, other than their own financial interests. But is it not strange that when so many could potentially indirectly benefit from the removal of EU environmental regulations, that this was not a talking point during the campaign?

All those named in the piece were approached for a response, some declined to comment.

This Author

Brendan Montague is Acting Editor of The Ecologist. He is also a regular contributor to the Brexit Inc: the environment and corporate power in the new Britain series at openDemocracy, where this article first appeared. He tweets at @EcoMontague

 

Biofuels and biofools

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy happily skips along the yellow brick road believing that she is on a path of discovery and progress. She eventually discovers of course that the wizard is a small, powerless man on a high stool and the whole thing has been a dream.

While Dorothy came to her senses, many MEPs deciding on biofuel policy are still seeking out the mythical Emerald City when it comes to renewables, stubbornly clinging to the idea that biofuels are a viable and ethical alternative to fossil fuels.

The reality is that as long as the EU encourages the growth of the biofuel industry, a resulting shortage of land for food will drive more deforestation and leave many of the world’s poorest in Asia, Africa and Latin America hungry.

Lobbyists and politicians driving a destructive EU Directive

A huge body of evidence has directly linked the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) with land use change, human rights abuses and climate devastation.

According to research carried out in 2010, an area of 445,000km2 (the size of Sweden) of cropland and forest is needed to meet the EU’s biofuel demands. Renewables policy in the EU has massive global reach, driving land grabbing and deforestation; leaving people hungry and destroying our last chance to save our climate.

In 2017 with the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), there is a real opportunity to reduce the negative impacts of biofuel demand and reduce CO2 emissions by preserving forests and wetlands that soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

But the review is being hijacked by an extremely powerful biofuel industry lobby, who spent over €14m and hired nearly 400 lobbyists at EU level between 2015 and 2016 alone.

This lobby are currently pushing to maintain the destructive 7% target for biofuels in the transport sector until 2030. With current biofuel usage at around 4%, this target would dramatically boost biofuel production. And if that wasn’t enough, they are even pushing to add new targets that would dramatically increase destructive crop-based biofuels.

In the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee of which I’m a member, the conservative, neoliberal and far-right alliance are more than happy to push the industry line, and to support this murderous policy.

But the socialists too are complicit in this and have even advocated a doubling of crop-based biofuels in transport. They have all fallen prey to a series of myths being peddled by the biofuels lobby.

The lobbyists biofuels myths

Myth 1: “Protecting investors”

The industry maintains that production must be maintained to protect ‘investors’ who were previously encouraged to put money into biofuels, before the unintended consequences of the EU policy became known. But this argument falls flat when we see that investments made in conventional biofuels before 2010 have already been paid back, or will be before this decade is out.

The Commission’s original proposal was precisely to phase out these damaging investments. Secondly, with the strong political commitments to carbon emissions reductions in the Paris Agreement, a further signal to investors to place their capital in the biofuels sector by increasing thresholds, will simply create a ‘carbon bubble’ – setting them up to lose their money and acquire ‘stranded assets’. It is clear that such destructive investment must be phased out.

Myth 2: Supporting farmers

Ending support for crop based biofuels would put the future of EU farmers at risk, argue advocates. This is because the production of crops like rapeseed which is used in bioethanol provide a significant income for many EU farmers. However, in its 2016-2020 horizon report, the EU predicted that if crop-based biofuels were phased out to zero, whereas demand for some crops would decrease, demand for other crops would remain unchanged or even marginally increase for food and feed, with negligible negative effect.

Myth 3: Crop-based biofuels can be highly sustainable

The biofuel industry claims that biofuels need not drive land use change, and that instead the transport sector can rely on what they are calling ‘highly sustainable crop-based biofuels’. However, this delusional category of biofuels will displace agricultural land and drive deforestation in the developing world.

Further, according to a European Parliament Research Service study in 2015, 99% of biofuels used for road transport came directly from food and feed crops. Anyone who argues that the EU should meet a 7% biofuel in transport target whilst using such a delusional definition of sustainability is clearly stuck in Oz. We need policymakers to rouse themselves from the dream world that the biofuel lobby is luring them into, and start taking responsibility.

Paradigm shift needed

A well-intentioned idea, which sought to guarantee farmers’ incomes and replace fossil fuels, has had disastrous effects. Giving any further support to crop-based fuels would fly in the face of economic logic – and ethics – as the price of renewables such as wind and solar falls and battery technology races ahead. We need a total paradigm shift towards greater energy efficiency, smart grids matching supply and demand, and a new mobility paradigm based around active and public transport.

MEPs continue to be lured down the yellow brick road by the biofuel lobby, many perhaps hoping that for them the yellow may turn out to be gold. But the reality is that the idea of biofuels as a panacea for the green energy transition is as mythical as the Emerald City and, when it comes to a policy that protects Europe and the world’s forests and productive farmland, most politicians are still dreaming.

This Author

Molly Scott Cato is Green MEP for the South West of England and is a member of the Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament.

 

The disappearance of Santiago Maldonado in ‘Benetton’s stolen lands’

Two months after the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado it is becoming increasingly clear that the 28-year-old, who was participating in a protest with indigenous Mapuche people in the province of Chubut, was taken by the Gendarmerie. Eyewitnesses have stated that they saw members of the security force beating and carrying a person away in one of their vehicles.

The Macri government has consistently defamed and refused to meet his family. They have even gone so far as to claim that he has likely gone into hiding to make the police look bad, and launched raids on Mapuche communities on the pretext that he may be hiding there, which he was not

Worryingly, in a country where the military dictatorship killed around 30,000 people from 1976-1983, the Argentinian government has refused to call this case what it is: a forced disappearance by the military police. Instead, they have done their upmost to resist conducting a proper independent investigation, and have chosen to invest in criminalising and further defaming both the Mapuche community and Santiago’s family.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and a United Nations committee, have all called for urgent action from Argentine President, Mauricio Macri. And on 1st September tens of thousands of people marched on the Argentinian capital to demanding to know the whereabouts of Santiago Maldonado. This marked the first disappearance of Macri’s premiership.

A minister with an agenda

Disturbingly, Security Minster Bullrich has persistently refused to hold the police to account. Indeed, it has been a feature of her tenure to place the police as beyond reproach, and ignore all evidence of misconduct against them.

Patricia Bullrich has said that the unrest in the South of Argentina is due primarily to an organisation called the Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche (RAM). She has claimed that the security forces have “completely confirmed” that RAM is being financed by an English organisation.

We have found ourselves in a storm of controversy over this, as Argentinian media outlets have astutely identified our organisation, Mapuche International Link (MIL), as the only plausible candidate that Bullrich could have been referring to. The accusation that we are funding a group that Argentina labels a terrorist organisation is as serious as they come.

And yet it is also completely laughable, as our organisation is run entirely by volunteers who have been affected by, or are sympathetic to, the repression that Mapuche people continue to face in Chile and Argentina. And yet despite our repeated requests, Patricia Bullrich, has failed to either produce evidence against us or retract her accusation.

From our perspective, Bullrich’s accusations are not particularly harmful to us. They have given us an opportunity to explain to sympathetic sections of the Argentinian media outlets the work that we do, and draw further attention to the historical injustices that shape indigenous people’s experiences in Argentina to this day. However, while we are ostensibly the targets of Bullrich’s claims, the real victims are the indigenous Mapuche who live in Argentina.

Bullrich has used these allegations to fuel anti-British sentiment among Argentines, who still recall the Falkland Islands conflict. These accusations have served as a way of inciting racism towards indigenous Mapuche people, who have now been painted by sections of the far right as collaborating with foreign powers in order to undermine Argentine sovereignty.

Instead of addressing the structural, historical and political causes of unrest in Argentina, the far-right, with Bullrich as their new icon, have been able to conveniently explain away unrest as simply the result of foreign interference. The political tactic of blaming outsiders for internal strife is as old as they come, and Bullrich likely has one eye on Argentina’s upcoming elections later this month.

The missing color of Benetton

Santiago Maldonado was taking part in a protest with the indigenous Mapuche Pu Lof community of Cushamen on the day that he was disappeared. The Pu Lof community has been in dispute with the Benetton company, which owns large swathes of indigenous ancestral land. Benetton is the largest land owner in Argentina, owning around 2 million acres. 

Much of the land was acquired in 1991 when the government sold off large amounts of state-owned and indigenous land to multi-national companies. The sell-off was done without consultation of indigenous people, in direct contravention of article 17, section 2 of ILO Convention 169, which Argentina delayed ratifying until 2000.

Benetton claim that they have been reluctantly dragged into this conflict, however they have been quick to employ the services of the local Gendarmerie to violently remove families from land under dispute. Land that the Mapuche have lived on for centuries.

The Mapuche conflict with Benetton has been long and is ongoing. However, the violence towards the Mapuche has been escalating in recent months. On January 10th, 2017 Argentinian armed forces opened fire on Mapuche in the Chubut region, who were reclaiming ancestral lands currently in the hands of Benetton. Around 200 Gendarmes attacked the community of Lof en Resistencia, Cushamen, which comprises fewer than two dozen adults and five children.

The attack left many community residents injured, two seriously. The armed forces then ransacked the main house, and arrested at least ten members of the community. There have been reports of harassment and physical abuse of women and children. Amnesty International have condemned the police actions.

The hypocrisy in Benetton’s business practices is hugely dispiriting. On the one hand, they cynically exploit the notion of a world of multicultural and ethnic harmony for profit, as reflected in their ‘United Colors of Benetton’ tagline.

Yet while profiteering on this image, they are simultaneously investing in land that was illegally and immorally seized from indigenous communities – depriving them of the basic means of subsistence and their ancestral homes. Their political and economic power has given tacit support to the violent evictions of Mapuche families from disputed lands, the latest incident resulting in the sinister disappearance of Santiago Maldonado.

From these actions, it is clear that the Mapuche are the missing colour of Benetton.

Looking forward

Patricia Bullrich’s contempt in neglecting indigenous people’s legitimate land claims by dismissing their resistance as instigated by foreign agitators and terrorists may well prove fatal to her party’s chances at the upcoming elections. Her slow and lacklustre response to the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado has generated outrage and may well bolster opposition parties, some of whom have reacted with the sense of urgency that his disappearance quite rightly requires.

On the two-month anniversary of his disappearance, it is important to continue the fight for Santiago’s return. And international pressure is building on this issue.

While we keep up this struggle, it is of upmost importance to remember the cause he was campaigning for when he was taken away: the disenfranchised Mapuche in Argentina. If we are to move forward in addressing the unrest in Argentina, then we must to look backwards with honesty to the causes of that unrest.

Mapuche people have long been the victims of the Argentinian state violence. In 1879 thousands of Mapuche were massacred in the ‘Conquest of the Desert’. The land that they had resided on and defended for centuries was violently seized. This is but one of a series of atrocities that have characterised the Argentinian and Chilean states relationship with Mapuche people.

The colonial history of the region has yet to be put to rest. It is only through engaging in consultation with Mapuche self-organised structures, and recognising the legitimacy of their claims to ancestral lands, that Argentina can move forward. Politicians behaving in the way that Patricia Bullrich has done do nothing to further that reconciliation.

This Author

Atus Mariqueo-Russell is the public relations officer of Mapuche International Link. He is a postgraduate philosophy student at Birkbeck University, and a former Green Party of England and Wales council candidate. He tweets at: @AtusMariqueo

Carole Concha Bell is the press officer of Mapuche International Link. She is a postgraduate creative writing student at Anglia Ruskin University. You can find her blog here. She tweets at: @nextgenchileans

 

The disappearance of Santiago Maldonado in ‘Benetton’s stolen lands’

Two months after the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado it is becoming increasingly clear that the 28-year-old, who was participating in a protest with indigenous Mapuche people in the province of Chubut, was taken by the Gendarmerie. Eyewitnesses have stated that they saw members of the security force beating and carrying a person away in one of their vehicles.

The Macri government has consistently defamed and refused to meet his family. They have even gone so far as to claim that he has likely gone into hiding to make the police look bad, and launched raids on Mapuche communities on the pretext that he may be hiding there, which he was not

Worryingly, in a country where the military dictatorship killed around 30,000 people from 1976-1983, the Argentinian government has refused to call this case what it is: a forced disappearance by the military police. Instead, they have done their upmost to resist conducting a proper independent investigation, and have chosen to invest in criminalising and further defaming both the Mapuche community and Santiago’s family.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and a United Nations committee, have all called for urgent action from Argentine President, Mauricio Macri. And on 1st September tens of thousands of people marched on the Argentinian capital to demanding to know the whereabouts of Santiago Maldonado. This marked the first disappearance of Macri’s premiership.

A minister with an agenda

Disturbingly, Security Minster Bullrich has persistently refused to hold the police to account. Indeed, it has been a feature of her tenure to place the police as beyond reproach, and ignore all evidence of misconduct against them.

Patricia Bullrich has said that the unrest in the South of Argentina is due primarily to an organisation called the Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche (RAM). She has claimed that the security forces have “completely confirmed” that RAM is being financed by an English organisation.

We have found ourselves in a storm of controversy over this, as Argentinian media outlets have astutely identified our organisation, Mapuche International Link (MIL), as the only plausible candidate that Bullrich could have been referring to. The accusation that we are funding a group that Argentina labels a terrorist organisation is as serious as they come.

And yet it is also completely laughable, as our organisation is run entirely by volunteers who have been affected by, or are sympathetic to, the repression that Mapuche people continue to face in Chile and Argentina. And yet despite our repeated requests, Patricia Bullrich, has failed to either produce evidence against us or retract her accusation.

From our perspective, Bullrich’s accusations are not particularly harmful to us. They have given us an opportunity to explain to sympathetic sections of the Argentinian media outlets the work that we do, and draw further attention to the historical injustices that shape indigenous people’s experiences in Argentina to this day. However, while we are ostensibly the targets of Bullrich’s claims, the real victims are the indigenous Mapuche who live in Argentina.

Bullrich has used these allegations to fuel anti-British sentiment among Argentines, who still recall the Falkland Islands conflict. These accusations have served as a way of inciting racism towards indigenous Mapuche people, who have now been painted by sections of the far right as collaborating with foreign powers in order to undermine Argentine sovereignty.

Instead of addressing the structural, historical and political causes of unrest in Argentina, the far-right, with Bullrich as their new icon, have been able to conveniently explain away unrest as simply the result of foreign interference. The political tactic of blaming outsiders for internal strife is as old as they come, and Bullrich likely has one eye on Argentina’s upcoming elections later this month.

The missing color of Benetton

Santiago Maldonado was taking part in a protest with the indigenous Mapuche Pu Lof community of Cushamen on the day that he was disappeared. The Pu Lof community has been in dispute with the Benetton company, which owns large swathes of indigenous ancestral land. Benetton is the largest land owner in Argentina, owning around 2 million acres. 

Much of the land was acquired in 1991 when the government sold off large amounts of state-owned and indigenous land to multi-national companies. The sell-off was done without consultation of indigenous people, in direct contravention of article 17, section 2 of ILO Convention 169, which Argentina delayed ratifying until 2000.

Benetton claim that they have been reluctantly dragged into this conflict, however they have been quick to employ the services of the local Gendarmerie to violently remove families from land under dispute. Land that the Mapuche have lived on for centuries.

The Mapuche conflict with Benetton has been long and is ongoing. However, the violence towards the Mapuche has been escalating in recent months. On January 10th, 2017 Argentinian armed forces opened fire on Mapuche in the Chubut region, who were reclaiming ancestral lands currently in the hands of Benetton. Around 200 Gendarmes attacked the community of Lof en Resistencia, Cushamen, which comprises fewer than two dozen adults and five children.

The attack left many community residents injured, two seriously. The armed forces then ransacked the main house, and arrested at least ten members of the community. There have been reports of harassment and physical abuse of women and children. Amnesty International have condemned the police actions.

The hypocrisy in Benetton’s business practices is hugely dispiriting. On the one hand, they cynically exploit the notion of a world of multicultural and ethnic harmony for profit, as reflected in their ‘United Colors of Benetton’ tagline.

Yet while profiteering on this image, they are simultaneously investing in land that was illegally and immorally seized from indigenous communities – depriving them of the basic means of subsistence and their ancestral homes. Their political and economic power has given tacit support to the violent evictions of Mapuche families from disputed lands, the latest incident resulting in the sinister disappearance of Santiago Maldonado.

From these actions, it is clear that the Mapuche are the missing colour of Benetton.

Looking forward

Patricia Bullrich’s contempt in neglecting indigenous people’s legitimate land claims by dismissing their resistance as instigated by foreign agitators and terrorists may well prove fatal to her party’s chances at the upcoming elections. Her slow and lacklustre response to the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado has generated outrage and may well bolster opposition parties, some of whom have reacted with the sense of urgency that his disappearance quite rightly requires.

On the two-month anniversary of his disappearance, it is important to continue the fight for Santiago’s return. And international pressure is building on this issue.

While we keep up this struggle, it is of upmost importance to remember the cause he was campaigning for when he was taken away: the disenfranchised Mapuche in Argentina. If we are to move forward in addressing the unrest in Argentina, then we must to look backwards with honesty to the causes of that unrest.

Mapuche people have long been the victims of the Argentinian state violence. In 1879 thousands of Mapuche were massacred in the ‘Conquest of the Desert’. The land that they had resided on and defended for centuries was violently seized. This is but one of a series of atrocities that have characterised the Argentinian and Chilean states relationship with Mapuche people.

The colonial history of the region has yet to be put to rest. It is only through engaging in consultation with Mapuche self-organised structures, and recognising the legitimacy of their claims to ancestral lands, that Argentina can move forward. Politicians behaving in the way that Patricia Bullrich has done do nothing to further that reconciliation.

This Author

Atus Mariqueo-Russell is the public relations officer of Mapuche International Link. He is a postgraduate philosophy student at Birkbeck University, and a former Green Party of England and Wales council candidate. He tweets at: @AtusMariqueo

Carole Concha Bell is the press officer of Mapuche International Link. She is a postgraduate creative writing student at Anglia Ruskin University. You can find her blog here. She tweets at: @nextgenchileans

 

The disappearance of Santiago Maldonado in ‘Benetton’s stolen lands’

Two months after the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado it is becoming increasingly clear that the 28-year-old, who was participating in a protest with indigenous Mapuche people in the province of Chubut, was taken by the Gendarmerie. Eyewitnesses have stated that they saw members of the security force beating and carrying a person away in one of their vehicles.

The Macri government has consistently defamed and refused to meet his family. They have even gone so far as to claim that he has likely gone into hiding to make the police look bad, and launched raids on Mapuche communities on the pretext that he may be hiding there, which he was not

Worryingly, in a country where the military dictatorship killed around 30,000 people from 1976-1983, the Argentinian government has refused to call this case what it is: a forced disappearance by the military police. Instead, they have done their upmost to resist conducting a proper independent investigation, and have chosen to invest in criminalising and further defaming both the Mapuche community and Santiago’s family.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and a United Nations committee, have all called for urgent action from Argentine President, Mauricio Macri. And on 1st September tens of thousands of people marched on the Argentinian capital to demanding to know the whereabouts of Santiago Maldonado. This marked the first disappearance of Macri’s premiership.

A minister with an agenda

Disturbingly, Security Minster Bullrich has persistently refused to hold the police to account. Indeed, it has been a feature of her tenure to place the police as beyond reproach, and ignore all evidence of misconduct against them.

Patricia Bullrich has said that the unrest in the South of Argentina is due primarily to an organisation called the Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche (RAM). She has claimed that the security forces have “completely confirmed” that RAM is being financed by an English organisation.

We have found ourselves in a storm of controversy over this, as Argentinian media outlets have astutely identified our organisation, Mapuche International Link (MIL), as the only plausible candidate that Bullrich could have been referring to. The accusation that we are funding a group that Argentina labels a terrorist organisation is as serious as they come.

And yet it is also completely laughable, as our organisation is run entirely by volunteers who have been affected by, or are sympathetic to, the repression that Mapuche people continue to face in Chile and Argentina. And yet despite our repeated requests, Patricia Bullrich, has failed to either produce evidence against us or retract her accusation.

From our perspective, Bullrich’s accusations are not particularly harmful to us. They have given us an opportunity to explain to sympathetic sections of the Argentinian media outlets the work that we do, and draw further attention to the historical injustices that shape indigenous people’s experiences in Argentina to this day. However, while we are ostensibly the targets of Bullrich’s claims, the real victims are the indigenous Mapuche who live in Argentina.

Bullrich has used these allegations to fuel anti-British sentiment among Argentines, who still recall the Falkland Islands conflict. These accusations have served as a way of inciting racism towards indigenous Mapuche people, who have now been painted by sections of the far right as collaborating with foreign powers in order to undermine Argentine sovereignty.

Instead of addressing the structural, historical and political causes of unrest in Argentina, the far-right, with Bullrich as their new icon, have been able to conveniently explain away unrest as simply the result of foreign interference. The political tactic of blaming outsiders for internal strife is as old as they come, and Bullrich likely has one eye on Argentina’s upcoming elections later this month.

The missing color of Benetton

Santiago Maldonado was taking part in a protest with the indigenous Mapuche Pu Lof community of Cushamen on the day that he was disappeared. The Pu Lof community has been in dispute with the Benetton company, which owns large swathes of indigenous ancestral land. Benetton is the largest land owner in Argentina, owning around 2 million acres. 

Much of the land was acquired in 1991 when the government sold off large amounts of state-owned and indigenous land to multi-national companies. The sell-off was done without consultation of indigenous people, in direct contravention of article 17, section 2 of ILO Convention 169, which Argentina delayed ratifying until 2000.

Benetton claim that they have been reluctantly dragged into this conflict, however they have been quick to employ the services of the local Gendarmerie to violently remove families from land under dispute. Land that the Mapuche have lived on for centuries.

The Mapuche conflict with Benetton has been long and is ongoing. However, the violence towards the Mapuche has been escalating in recent months. On January 10th, 2017 Argentinian armed forces opened fire on Mapuche in the Chubut region, who were reclaiming ancestral lands currently in the hands of Benetton. Around 200 Gendarmes attacked the community of Lof en Resistencia, Cushamen, which comprises fewer than two dozen adults and five children.

The attack left many community residents injured, two seriously. The armed forces then ransacked the main house, and arrested at least ten members of the community. There have been reports of harassment and physical abuse of women and children. Amnesty International have condemned the police actions.

The hypocrisy in Benetton’s business practices is hugely dispiriting. On the one hand, they cynically exploit the notion of a world of multicultural and ethnic harmony for profit, as reflected in their ‘United Colors of Benetton’ tagline.

Yet while profiteering on this image, they are simultaneously investing in land that was illegally and immorally seized from indigenous communities – depriving them of the basic means of subsistence and their ancestral homes. Their political and economic power has given tacit support to the violent evictions of Mapuche families from disputed lands, the latest incident resulting in the sinister disappearance of Santiago Maldonado.

From these actions, it is clear that the Mapuche are the missing colour of Benetton.

Looking forward

Patricia Bullrich’s contempt in neglecting indigenous people’s legitimate land claims by dismissing their resistance as instigated by foreign agitators and terrorists may well prove fatal to her party’s chances at the upcoming elections. Her slow and lacklustre response to the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado has generated outrage and may well bolster opposition parties, some of whom have reacted with the sense of urgency that his disappearance quite rightly requires.

On the two-month anniversary of his disappearance, it is important to continue the fight for Santiago’s return. And international pressure is building on this issue.

While we keep up this struggle, it is of upmost importance to remember the cause he was campaigning for when he was taken away: the disenfranchised Mapuche in Argentina. If we are to move forward in addressing the unrest in Argentina, then we must to look backwards with honesty to the causes of that unrest.

Mapuche people have long been the victims of the Argentinian state violence. In 1879 thousands of Mapuche were massacred in the ‘Conquest of the Desert’. The land that they had resided on and defended for centuries was violently seized. This is but one of a series of atrocities that have characterised the Argentinian and Chilean states relationship with Mapuche people.

The colonial history of the region has yet to be put to rest. It is only through engaging in consultation with Mapuche self-organised structures, and recognising the legitimacy of their claims to ancestral lands, that Argentina can move forward. Politicians behaving in the way that Patricia Bullrich has done do nothing to further that reconciliation.

This Author

Atus Mariqueo-Russell is the public relations officer of Mapuche International Link. He is a postgraduate philosophy student at Birkbeck University, and a former Green Party of England and Wales council candidate. He tweets at: @AtusMariqueo

Carole Concha Bell is the press officer of Mapuche International Link. She is a postgraduate creative writing student at Anglia Ruskin University. You can find her blog here. She tweets at: @nextgenchileans