The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Senator Juan Pablo Letelier and Mariana Almeida on ” Where is Captain Paul Watson?”

Dear Mr. Vidal,

I refer to your article “Where is Paul Watson?” published in the environment blog of The Guardian, yesterday August 22nd, 2012.

Please allow me to share certain thoughts on the subject of Sea Shepherd’s founder and Captain Paul Watson.

We wish to suggest that first of all, political asylum for Captain Watson is exclusively the initiative of the International Environment Mission (IEM), a grass roots movement that strongly urges states and governments to implement policies in themes where a majority consensus exists in civil society. We believe that a very large percentage of world citizens are opposed to commercial whaling and strongly support the creation of a whale reserve in the southern Atlantic. Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, who represents a breath of fresh air for environmentalists in Latin America, founded the IEM.

Senator Juan Pablo Letelier and Captain Paul Watson with Amazon Peace Prize awarded by IEM 

Concerning the legal proceedings surrounding the extradition of Captain Watson, we consider these to be a mixture of Kafka with Gabriel García Marquez’s magical realism. Shark fining is prohibited under Costa Rican and European Union law.  Therefore it is legally incongruent that Germany and Costa Rica consider extraditing a person based on a highly dubious complaint made by fishermen engaged in an illegal activity. It is also curious that an extradition treaty does not bind the two countries.

Furthermore the influence and violence of Taiwanese mafias operating out of Punta Arenas is well documented, and the life of Paul Watson definitely would be highly endangered should he be jailed in Costa Rica.  Germany has to be aware of this fact, whereby their extradition directly contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Convention.

The cases of Assange and Watson have to be differentiated. We do not envisage Watson holed up in a small room in a given Latin American Embassy. Our asylum request is much broader, and its intention is to provide both Captain Watson and Sea Shepherd with a safe operating base to continue their activities in the southern Atlantic and other areas, where NGOs such as Sea Shepherd, do have the legal authority to protect; as per numerous ratified UN Conventions and Declarations.

The importance of Watson in helping to save our oceans is all the more apparent after attending the IWC meetings in Jersey and Panama.  In these conventions Japan clearly demonstrated that it has no interest at all in finding diplomatic solutions to whale preservation.  Japan’s ability to undermine the Latin American initiative in creating the south Atlantic Whale Reserve is unacceptable.  We believe that it is high time that both the IWC and Japan be placed under scrutiny, and that suggestions of corruption within the Commission be investigated.

The IEM does not consider that the IWC has exclusive authority over the fate of whales. Latin America intends to ensure that the southern Atlantic Whale Reserve will be internationally recognized in a very near future, and alternative bilateral and multilateral agreements exist to successfully implement our regional initiative.

Finally and regarding your reference to Ecuador, the IEM would only consider this option if the government of President Correa effectively addresses and corrects the flagrant Human Rights abuses and environment destruction which are fostering a developmental genocide of Indigenous communities in the Amazon Region. President Correa would also have to nullify his Presidential Decree No. 486, as it is decimating shark populations in Ecuadorian waters.

Illegal arrest of Shuar leader Pepe Acacho and shark fins in Manta facilitated by Presidential Decree 486

The IEM will be pleased to forward future developments to the Guardian concerning our special request that Captain Watson will always have a safe home in Latin America.  His dedicated efforts to protect our Oceans deserve to be compensated accordingly.


Mariana Almeida

Executive President

SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Founding member of the IEM

Where is Captain Paul Watson?

Anti-whaling activist Captain Paul Watson
Anti-whaling activist Captain Paul Watson. Photograph: Corbis

One fugitive from justice fights for human rights, the other for those ofanimals. Both have long histories of confronting governments and legions of passionate supporters. And now both have skipped bail in foreign countries to avoid extradition to much more powerful nations which they believe want to try them for political reasons. But the similarities between WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, and Paul Watson, charismatic founder of radical marine enforcement organisationSea Shepherd, end there.

Assange is holed up very publicly in the Ecuadorean embassy in Londonto avoid being sent back to Sweden where he faces questioning on sexual assault charges but fears he will be extradited to the US.

Watson has disappeared after skipping bail in Germany in the face of allegations by Costa Rica – strongly denied by Watson – that he endangered the lives of some of its shark finners back in 2002. The Canadian-born environmentalist who co-founded Greenpeace and has waged a 40 years’ war against illegal fishing and marine destruction faced extradition requests from both Costa Rica and Japan, against whom Sea Shepherd have waged a long and bitter war over whales in the Antarctic.

But where is Captain Watson? This week I left messages around the world for him in an attempt to invite him to write a piece for the Guardian. Oliver Wallasch, his lawyer in Germany was not taking calls, nor was the European director of Sea Shepherd. The organisation’s US HQ in California referred me to his legal status on their website, and Watson himself was not answering his US or European phones.

Meanwhile, the bridge of the Sea Shepherd flagship, the Steve Irwin, took a call as it steamed off the Western Australian coast but the message was clear: “We have no idea where Captain Watson is.” Only his PR company said they had been in contact with him in the past few weeks, receiving several emails from him. But they, too, said they had no idea where he was.

The best bet is that Watson is at sea – his home. Last year he told me he only spent a few days a year on land, and his lawyer last month said that he felt he [Watson] thought he could be of more use to his clients – the whales and fish – on a ship than he could in a German or Japanese prison. But if he is not on the Steve Irwin, could he possibly be on either of Sea Shepherd’s two other boats, the Brigitte Bardot and the Bob Barker? Both are thought to be in Australian waters preparing, like the Steve Irwin, for a new anti-whaling campaign in the Antarctic against the Japanese, starting in December. Neither ship could be contacted but anyway, it seems unlikely he could have left Europe without the authorities noticing.

So could he still be in Europe? The Guardian has been told that his daughter and the head of Sea Shepherd’s European office had been seen in Amsterdam. But equally, it was claimed that he may be seeking political asylum in Chile through senator Juan Pablo Letelier, who, it appears, has been asked to “accelerate political asylum for Watson”.

Much more likely is that Captain Watson will apply for political asylum, like Assange, in Ecuador, where President Correa has a strong human rights record and where Sea Shepherd has a long history of working with the national police and the Galápagos to catch illegal fishers and apprehend the shark mafia. The organisation was in 2005 even granted the power to arrest people believed to be fishing illegally and in 2007 Sea Shepherd donated their old US coastguard boat to the marine national park. Although Correa once expelled Sea Shepherd’s Ecuadorean representative, Sean O’Hearn, relations were patched up and Watson has been very complimentary about Correa.

The last hint that Ecuador may be the preferred destination of Watson is that he is known to be good friends with Mariana Almeida, head of Ecuador’s vibrant Life Without Frontiers ecological foundation. In a letter to a US website, she recently wrote with apparent knowledge of the legal case Watson’s legal team may be expecting to pursue:

“The case of Captain Watson would also be presented to the pertinent human rights commissions and organisations and shall be placed on the agenda of the European parliament, the international agreements shall be respected and it is clear that Germany might need to explain to the European parliament the reason to accept the extradition request from a Caribbean country without an extradition agreement.”

It’s not conclusive, but Watson needs all the friends on land that he has got right now. He has proved many times that he is the master of maritime law but whether he can now outwit an array of governments led by the powerful Japanese, may define the rest of his buccaneering life.

Source: The Guardian

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

Editorial:SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

 Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

~ by FSVSF Admin on 23 August, 2012.

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