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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Goldtooth at Via Campesina: Beware of Carbon Cowboys

La Via Campesina Cancun, the Peoples Climate Movment: Tom Goldtooth (center) executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, speaks on a panel Sunday night at La Via Campesina in Cancun. Photo copyright Brenda Norrell.
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
CANCUN, Mexico (Dec. 5) -- At La Via Campesina, the Peoples Climate Movement, Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, sang a sacred water song tonight, before a panel of Indigenous Peoples spoke on the theft of their natural resources and lands by corporations and capitalist governments.
A representative of the Zapateca community of northern Oaxaca said the governments of other countries do not need to meet in Cancun to tell them what to do.
"We have respect for our own land, we have our own customs, and we are not harming the environment."
Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, described the corporate scheme of REDD, which allows corporations and governments to continue polluting, and continue the genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
Goldtooth began by saying, "It is true what you hear, I live in occupied territories by the United States."
Speaking of Indigenous Peoples, he said, "We are the memory blood of Mother Earth." Goldtooth recognized Indigenous Peoples gathered under the large tent in downtown Cancun where caravan buses have been arriving from throughout Mexico.
Pointing out the need to fight deforestation, Goldtooth spoke on false carbon solutions, carbon credits and carbon trading, which targets Indigenous Peoples' territories.
REDD is the capitalization of the forests and the privatization of trees, he said.
Carbon is being produced from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal in power plants, and adding to the greenhouse gases. Still, countries are not serious about trying to reduce this pollution.
Goldtooth explained the scheme of REDDs. The corporate scheme is this: They say they are going to plant trees, and protect the forests in the global south. Meanwhile, the corporate countries continue to poison Mother Earth. As they continue to poison the Earth, the corporate governments schemed and produced REDDs to allow them to get away with it.
As an example he explained how in Australia, Conoco Phillips said they would pay Indigenous Peoples to do what they always do, burn the waste debris of the trees and shrubs. It sounded good. But what the people did not know was that this money is "Blood Money."
Goldtooth asked Casey Camp, Ponca, to stand. Goldtooth pointed out that her people are dying from the fumes and pollution of Conoco Phillips oil and gas refineries in Oklahoma.
"Anyone who participates in REDDs is taking blood money," Goldtooth said.
"That is genocide."
"A lot of our Indigenous Peoples are not being told about this."
Indigenous Peoples are demanding "free, prior and informed consent," in the official documents. "We are demanding our rights," said Goldtooth, who has been inside the official UN negotiations this week in Cancun.
Conoco Phillips claims to be going "green," because they are investing in trees, and claim that new trees would offset the damage the company is doing.
"Don't sign these contracts," Goldtooth said, warning that these carbon cowboys will come knocking on their doors. He said there will be no safeguards in their contracts, no protections for the Indigenous Peoples or their forests. There will be no clarification of who owns those trees, who owns the forest.
"We must reject climate capitalism."
"We must reject the capitalization of our trees."
"No to REDD!"

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