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UPDATE: Evo Morales speaks about Pachamama (Mother Earth)

Two days ago we were in a large stadium in Cochabamba, Bolivia with thousands of people and Bolivian president Evo Morales Ayma.

Today we are in Buenos Aires, Argentina on our way home and I am reading a collection of his speeches in a book titled, ‘The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth’.

While it’s hard to encapsulate a 139-page book in a short blog, I wanted to share some key statements from the host of the Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

“The right to clean water, means the right of Mother Earth to live without contamination, because not only do humans have the right to Live Well (in harmony with nature), but also the rivers, the fish, the animals, the trees, and the land itself has the right to live in a healthy environment, free of poisons and toxins.”

“By means of a new constitution in our country, we have decided that water is a human right. If it is a human right, it may not be privatized and must be a public service. It is our obligation to implement these new policies, not only with water, but with all basic services.”

“I feel that we should consider an international convention for water, for the purpose of protecting sources of water and guaranteeing it as a human right, so that we may avoid its privatization and its hoarding in a few hands.”

“What is happening now with climate change is precisely because the rights of Mother Earth were not respected.”

“We need the development of clean and nature-friendly energies, which would end the wastage of energy. In 100 years, we will finish off the energy created over millions of years.”

“I welcome the fact that there are other ways of resolving the energy problems. For example, there is geothermal, solar energy, wind energy, and hydroelectric energy on a small and medium scale in our regions.”

“Agrofuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human beings.”

“We are against what is currently the Western model of becoming wealthy by promoting carbon markets. This is a very grave situation and we denounce certain interests from some countries which want to promote this carbon market. We want to say, enough of making profits from the disgrace which they have provoked upon humanity.”

“Historically the natural resources of my country were robbed, plundered and auctioned off by neoliberal governments and handed over to transnational corporations.”

“The time has now come to recover these natural resources for the Bolivian state under the control of the peoples.”

“Under the logic of free trade treaties, the transnational neoliberal capitalist system tries to fracture harmonious human relations with nature. They commercialize the natural resources and the cultures of various peoples. They privatize basic services and even expect to patent life.”

“It is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the international economic system as a whole, in order to guarantee fair and complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.”

“It should not have been called the ALCA (the Free Trade Area of the Americas), but rather the ALGA, because it was a Free Profits Agreement of the Americas.”

“I want to tell you that we want to commit to fair trade – a trade by the peoples and for the peoples which resolves the problem of sources of work.”

“Basic services, whether they be water, electricity, education, health, communications, and transportation, ought to be recognized as a human right, because we are talking about basic services. If these basic services are a human right, they cannot be a private business, but have to be a public service. Basic services should never be the private business of transnational corporations.”

“We are convinced that the privatization of basic services is the greatest type of human rights violation.”

“I do not believe in wars. When speaking of wars, I am sure that the people want neither wars nor the military intervention of any country in any part of the world. In the new political constitution of the Bolivian state, the state and the Bolivian people renounce the initiation of war for the first time constitutionally.”

“I want to take this opportunity to give my regards and to thank you for the support of all the governments, except for four of them (Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Australia) for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

“The peoples of the Americas have waited for more than 500 years for their rights to be recognized, we are from a Culture of Patience.”

“The grave effects of climate change are not the product of human beings in general, but rather of the inhuman capitalist system, based upon unlimited industrial development.”

“At the hands of capitalism, everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death…and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything can be bought and sold under capitalism. And even climate change itself has become a business.”

“If we fail to understand that capitalism destroys humanity, I am sure that we will not solve the problems of life, the planet, or of humanity.”

“We have an obligation to liberate Mother Earth from capitalism and end or eliminate the slavery of Mother Earth.”

(Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez – seated next to Evo Morales in the picture – said, “Capitalism is a destructive model of development. It has brought us to the edge of an abyss, what could be the point of no return to the minimum environmental equilibrium necessary on the planet that guarantees the continuity of the existence of the human species.”)

So those are a few words to consider from the Bolivian president that I’ll also be thinking about as we say farewell to Latin America this evening and continue on to Washington, DC and then Ottawa.