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The voices we need, not the voices we want

25 September 2019

Tú no puedes comprar el viento
Tú no puedes comprar el sol
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia
Tú no puedes comprar el calor

(Calle 13, “Latinoamérica)

The leadership of the broadly diverse movement against climate change should not depend on a single political actor. Partnerships with very different groups of politicized people are needed, but when it comes to decision making, often there is a tendency to heed only one type of speaker.

People fighting against the destruction of ecosystems and territorial dispossession have existed since the Conquest. In our time, dubbed “environmental defenders,” indigenous women and men who defend their territories in Latin America face a high likelihood of being crime and murder victims, as well as being at a disadvantage in resources and media attention. In the same UN forum where Greta spoke on Monday, only a single indigenous person, a Shuar leader from Ecuador, was allowed to speak… for two minutes. Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapo of Brazil was stopped by event security when he attempted to enter.

The necessary role of the indigenous in the climate movement is not simply a matter of superficial inclusion, but the introduction of such crucial demands for their collective rights to the land, as well their valuable contributions to discussions of alternative ways of thinking about our relationship to the natural world and systems of production. “Green” solutions can be so diverse that they veer into the danger of justifying territorial dispossession in the name of conservation… as has already happened.

The necessary meeting and joint work between the youth movement for climate change and organized indigenous peoples with a long history of territorial defense is a key part in the struggle.

(Orignal post, in Spanish, by Tania Daniela Gómez Perochena)

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