Climate change reflects crisis of capitalism: Bolivian President

The Hindu, 11 December 2010

Calls for referendum involving people on steps to save planet

“Agreement must focus on life, not victory for some powers”

“We should not make other people pay for luxuries”

CANCUN: Bolivian President Evo Morales said climate change reflected the crisis of capitalism and called for a worldwide referendum involving people from all over to decide for the planet and Mother Earth. He endorsed Bolivia’s support to the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol as well.

Mr. Morales, one of the more high profile leaders here, was accompanied by indigenous people from his country and later visited the campsite of La Via Campesina which is holding an alternative forum for social justice here. Mr. Morales told the media that he had come here to save the planet and to support actions that would cool the planet. “Evidently we have many differences and we do not have the will to change. Capitalism was not the solution to the problem and we are in reality debating the crisis of capitalism.”

While climate change was the central issue, finance, energy, the food crisis were all related to the issue of global warming which killed people. If there was drought there was no food production. He called on governments to form an alliance with people, “since governments represented people we should not be afraid of them.” Despite differences the governments all over had the same goal and that was to save life. A global alliance of people and governments would guarantee hope for the world.

He said the wisdom and knowledge of social forces and people’s movements were making proposals to save the planet. He said it was really simple to support those policy changes rather than the destruction of the planet. An agreement at Cancun should focus on life, not victory for some powers.

“The current debate will allow us to recognise that the earth has rights and can exist without pollution and can regenerate its capacity. The planet can exist without human beings but humans cannot exist without a planet,” he warned.

He said all this talk of carbon bonds and other proposals was turning nature into a commodity and was being done for the survival of capitalism.

Questioned on Bolivia’s role in the current climate talks, Mr. Morales said the media was painting a picture that Bolivia was isolated. “I am isolated from capitalism but I can never be isolated from people.” He said that he would be accused of being a radical president. He was not going to use the Cancun meet for partisan goals and he was thinking of a broader outlook.

He said the media were allies of the transnational corporations and trying to isolate Bolivia. When people question the government, they are up against the wall. “I will never be isolated as President,” he added.

Coming back to the issue of climate change, he said for the first time he had seen millions of dead fish in some parts of the South American continent and even the quinoa crop, which is a grain like local staple, was being affected by climate vagaries.

He said he had a proposal for new socialism for this century and it must be debated. It was not a solution but solutions would be found if there was debate. He admitted that the WikiLeaks expose that the U.S. cut off funding after Bolivia refused to sign the Copenhagen accord was true and he was not affected by threats and intimidation. There were attempts to break the country’s policies and identity and the WikiLeaks only confirmed what he already knew. He said there were attempts to divide the countries of South America but “we are not children.”

He said earlier his slogan was country or death but now it was planet or death. “Either capitalism dies or Nature. We are trying to find some compromise using indigenous people and the forests, selling carbon and cheating people,” he pointed out.

“We have to abandon luxury, wasteful merchandise and not make other people pay for luxuries.”

Meena Menon