An Open Letter to President Moreno regarding the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest & SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras’ Amazon Emergency Fund.

SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras´

AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN

09/09/2019

READERS GUIDE: This article is Subdivided into three inter-related themes: 1) the Leticia meeting concerned with the burning of the Amazon Rainforest; 2) An editorial comment on President Moreno’s choice of singing a Joan Manuel Serrat song during the inauguration (inserted in blue within the Leticia meeting article); and an Open Letter to President Moreno.

LETICIA, Colombia (Reuters) – Seven Amazonian countries on Friday signed a pact to protect the world’s largest tropical forest via disaster response coordination and satellite monitoring, amid recent fires that torched thousands of square miles of the jungle. Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno and Suriname’s Vice President Michael Ashwin Adhin sign a pact for the Amazon during the Presidential Summit for the Amazon, in Leticia, Colombia September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

The presidents of Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, the vice-president of Suriname and the natural resource minister of Guyana attended the one-day summit in the jungle city of Leticia in southern Colombia.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro participated by video link, while his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, attended in person.

“This meeting will live on as a coordination mechanism for the presidents that share this treasure – the Amazon,” Colombian President Ivan Duque said at the signing, adding the countries will meet again at the United Nations Climate Change conference in December.

“Goodwill alone is not enough anymore,” Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra added.

The countries will create a natural disaster network so they can better cooperate in the face of events like large-scale fires, the pact said.

The group will also work on reforestation initiatives, increase efforts to monitor deforestation activity via satellite, develop education initiatives and increase the role of indigenous communities in sustainable development, it added.

The countries also agreed to share information on activities like illegal mining that hurt conservation, the pact said.

The group will “work together to strengthen the programs and financial mechanisms, reiterate the commitments made by countries in these scenarios, mobilize public and private resources, including the multilateral banks, as appropriate, for the implementation of this pact.”

Bolsonaro said in his remarks during the meeting that the pact was an affirmation of each country’s sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno opened by singing “Padre,” a song by Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat about environmental destruction.

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EDITORIAL COMMENT :

“President Moreno’s choice of singing Joan Manuel Serrat’s song “Padre Pare” is rather curious, to say the least, given the lyrics and the setting the Ecuadorian President chose to convey Serrat’s message. Maybe it could be interpreted as a form of MEA CULPA “

“Serrat correlates environment destruction to the governments and perpetrators of economic extractivism who he refers to as Monsters “de carne con gusanos de fierro.” Large scale agro-business, oil and mining in the Amazon Rainforest, are, in Serrat’s words, ” killing the land and they are the ones who have declared war on us. These scoundrels burn our forests, pollute our water, poison our food and enrich themselves at the cost and the misery of others.”

“Subsequently, while we evidently support all efforts which attempt to rectify the ongoing disaster in the Amazon, President Moreno allies in Leticia are precisely Serrat’s Monsters of “carne con gusanos de fierro.” Bolsonaro and Morales are directly responsible for the fires in the Amazon, while the remaining heads of state and their representatives have tended to leave Mother Nature literally on the back burner , in favour of economic activities, proven to have a disastrous environmental track record. President Moreno, neither is it advisable to sleep with your enemy nor can you ask the author of a premeditated crime against nature and humanity to be the defender of the victim. You would be eclipsing the irrationality of your predecessor, President Correa.” Editorial Comment by Pieter Jan Brouwer

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Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon have surged in number by 83% this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.

Some 60% of the forest is located in Brazil. The Amazon is also home to around 1 million people who are members of 500 indigenous groups.

Fires have also raged in recent weeks in Bolivia.

Bolsonaro initially accused nongovernmental organizations of setting the fires, without providing any evidence, while environmentalists have warned his plans for more agriculture and mining in the region will speed up deforestation.

The far-right firebrand engaged in a public war of words with French President Emmanuel Macron, who called for more to be done to combat the fires.

Source:Reuters

***

EDITORIAL COMMENT: OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MORENO

Dear President Moreno,

When you sang Serrat’s Padre Pare to inaugurate Leticia, did the words ” “Father, what have they done to the river, because it no long sings” ring a bell? Were you referring to one of the Amazon’s main arteries, the Aguarico? You probably were, especially in light of the agreement you signed in Colombia, whereby Ecuador promises to share information on activities like illegal mining that hurt conservation. Subsequently, let us share a short story about the plight of the Aguarico River.

Illegal mining in the bed of the river, induced by oil interests, started in 1992. Maxus and Andrade Gutierez, represented by their questionable CEOs Hutton and Mauricio Recupero, were contracted by the state to open up the road to block 16, which initiated the exploitation of the Yasuni National Park, the most sacred and bio-diverse Rainforest on the planet.

They literally raped the Aguarico. With the support of the Municipality of Shushufindi, but without legal permits, heavy machinery entered into the river bed, constructing a series of dikes with the intention of altering the natural course and flow of the Aguarico; since 1992 Ecuadorian Civil and Penal law strictly forbids such procedures.

By reducing the width of the Aguarico, from approximately 180 metres to 80, and by re-directing the flow to a narrow channel of 60 metres, the strength and force of the river, especially in the seasons of intense rain, caused havoc to the environment. Anacondas, caimans, and innumerable fish species turned up dead along the river banks, while re-directed water washed away and eroded small farms, important tracts of rainforest, Ancestral lands and 1 hectare of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras’ operational base, the Amazon Reserve for Peace.

The situation became especially dire when, and as direct result of these mining practices, accelerated erosion left a mere three metres separating the Aguarico from the road to Tarapoa and the oil and gas pipelines. In order to avoid an imminent disaster, the State was forced to remedy the crisis and had to invest millions of dollars in building metal protective barriers; multiple national and international media outlets published articles on the subject.

One may want to ask why oil companies would resort to illegal mining in the Aguarico? The answer is simple – Corruption, and here Andrade Gutierez, like their compatriot Odebrecht, are masters in the field. The Congressional anti-corruption commission established that Andrade Gutierez sold the stones extracted from the Aguarico river bed – property of the state in the first place- back to the state under the items of material and transport. The Ecuadorian Congress concluded that the Brasilian contractor had significantly overpriced construction materials, stolen from the state, and received a $ 30 million fine.

The Ministry of Energy and mines ruled that further mining activities in the Aguarico – especially the Bellavista sector of Aguarico 3 – were totally prohibited. Unfortunately, the Municipality of Shushufindi, in association with oil and mining interests, are oblivious to the law, and since May 2019 have started to extract, without the legal permits required under law according to the regulating agency, construction material from the Aguarico, in an exactly identical manner as their predecessors Maxus and Andrade Gutierez.

Illegal mining Aguarico May 2019

Building dikes to alter the natural course of the Aguarico- June 2019

Illegal mining Aguarico river: July 2019

Truck loaded with illegally extracted material from the Aguarico August 2019

Truck with Municipality of Shushufindi identification in the Aguarico: August 2019

Insanity can be described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the case of the Aguarico, insane mining practices are producing a carbon copy of the environmental disaster evidenced between 1992-1996. Altering the natural course of the Aguarico is seriously compromising the river banks located in the province of Sucumbios. Consequently flora and fauna are once again threatened, as are the oil and gas pipelines, the Lago Agrio to Tarapoa road and SVSF’s Amazon Reserve for Peace; in a period of less than 3 months more than 1,000 sq. meters of land has disappeared into the river, including a significant number of trees, and if this situation remains unchecked, major infrastructure – conference facilities and a medical clinic- will be destroyed.

Environment and infrastructure destroyed by illegal mining: Amazon Reserve for Peace/ August 2019
Amazon Reserve for Peace under threat due to illegal mining/August 2019
Up-rooted trees on the Amazon Reserve for Peace / August 2019
Eroded soils as a result of illegally re-directing the natural course of the river: Amazon Reserve for Peace/ August 2019
Water pumping tubes destroyed on the Amazon Reserve for Peace/August 2019
Erosion compromising important infrastructure (center left) on the Amazon Reserve for Peace/August 2019

President Moreno, in Leticia you signed an agreement to work on reforestation initiatives, increase efforts to monitor deforestation activity via satellite, develop education initiatives and increase the role of indigenous communities in sustainable development. As you know, SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras, from the Amazon Reserve for Peace -our operational base in the Amazon’s Aguarico 3 region – has been working for over three decades, implementing pragmatic solutions to the issues you discussed in Colombia, and which have proven to be successful in the field. That is why, and as Vice-President of Ecuador, you officially endorsed our fluvial and land based medical services for Amazon communities.

SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras would be pleased to carry on supporting you in our agreed areas of common interest. However we can only continue if the Executive branches of Government do not undermine our ability to do so. Consequently, and if it is not too much to ask, we kindly request that you instruct the Minister of Energy and Mining to put a halt to the illegal mining occurring in the Aguarico under the auspices of the Municipality of Shushufindi. Arcom has confirmed that the mentioned Municipality has been operating illegally and consequently we have no other choice but to resort to the courts to uphold the rights of the Amazon & Nature, as stipulated in the Constitution and enshrined in law, and to ensure that those responsible for this disaster, stop their illegalities and repair the damage they are causing.

Within this context, SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras’ Executive President, Mariana Almeida has requested an interview with the Minister of Energy and Mines, Carlos Perez, as well as numerous other state officials. We have been told to be “patient”. While “patience” maybe a bureaucratic virtue, you will agree with us Mr. President, especially in view of the fact that we have been fighting illegal mining in the Aguarico since 1992, “Patience” has the tendency to run thin after 27 years. We presume that you will also agree that one can not “patiently” stand by while the Amazon is being destroyed.

Given the critical situation in which the Amazon Rainforest finds itself, thanks largely to the irresponsible and destructive policies of Bolsonaro and Morales, not to mention the misconceived development policies of Leticia member states in the region, we totally agree with the Peruvian President, Martin Vizcarra that at this point in time “Goodwill alone is not enough anymore.”

In this direction, we are requesting our Sister organizations, Friends of SELVA The Netherlands and USA, to jointly set up an Emergency SOS Amazon Fund, to urgently address and resolve the issues inherent in protecting the Amazon Rainforest from devastation. Solutions to reforestation, illegal mining, community empowerment, medical attention, food relief, etc, however small, go a long way if they are pragmatic and concrete. We owe this to our present and future generations

President Moreno, thank you for your consideration of this Open Letter, and following your initiative in singing a song for the Amazon written by Joan Manuel Serrat, I dedicate the following to you. Unlike you, my voice can not carry a tune, and I prefer to delegate to Mercedes Sosa; like Serrat, Sosa was also opposed to those who have declared war on the Amazon and suggests that we should not remain indifferent. You are the first Ecuadorian President to be born in the Amazon, and you are invested with all the powers of the state, which enable you to take the appropriate actions, as your conscience and soul should dictate. History will be your witness and judge.

Editorial Comment & Open letter to President Moreno: Pieter Jan Brouwer

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE:

Mariana Almeida

Arno Ambrosius

David Dunham

Gustavo López Ospina

Gertjan Storm

Editor: Pieter Jan Brouwer

“Amazon Pink Dolphin” is the official blog of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras. The intention of the blog is to generate debate on environmental issues; the Amazon Rain forest in particular. Contributions and support are done on a voluntary basis and do not imply institutional affiliation.  Similarly opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the official position of SVSF.

All Title photographs of SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras’ Amazon Pink Dolphin are the creation of Kevin Schafer.

~ by SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras on 9 September, 2019.

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