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Date Tue, 17 Jan 2006 10:49:54 +0200

In Latin America, a war is brewing. Very soon, a worldwide resource
grab led by the US will shake up this part of the world, just as it has
in the Middle East, to supply the modernized consumer markets
(rich countries) with cheap energy and labor for the next century to
come. Enemies are being created, lines are being drawn, and the
sentiments of the masses are being played on to ensure that there
will be large revolutionary armies that will fight the US-led invasion.
The allies, if they weren't already consolidated, are being bought for
cheap, with merely the promise of being spared in this epic saga of
the "War of 100 Years."

This phrase and premise are taken from a number of proclamations
by the Venezuelan government and its charismatic president, Hugo
Chávez Frías. As the story goes, the Bush administration is
attempting to assassinate Chávez, in the hopes of replacing him
with a US-friendly representative of the Venezuelan elite. If this plan
succeeds, Venezuela is prepared to immediately cut off all shipments
of oil to the US. Currently, Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest
exporter of "black gold," supplying the US alone with 1.3 million
barrels a day. With this checkmate move, George W. Bush would
have no other choice but to knock over the chess board and invade
Venezuela, bringing about the prophesied war to prevent the
economic collapse of the US and the world's financial systems. And
since Latin America is a region full of inspiring rebellions and strong
social movements, which have been made to understand that they all
have a common enemy, the people of this region will rise up in a war
against the US to defend their fatherlands, their cultures, their
indigenous heritage and their resources-for the next 100 years to
come. But there may be something else going on behind the scenes
of this too-inevitable tale.

In the last decades, América Latina has virtually exploded onto
the stage of global politics, as if awakening from 500 years of
forgetfulness and marginalization. All over the greater Latin
continent, rebellion and resistance movements are standing up to
their oppressors and the culture of political corruption, taking back
their power long denied. From the resource wars for natural gas and
water in Bolivia to the political deterioration in Ecuador and the
massive uprisings in Argentina after its economic collapse, the
pressure-cooker whistle of social politics is screaming, and the pot is
red hot-and by the looks of things from the outside, it seems like the
lid is about to blow off. For its part, the US government is constantly
tightening its grip on the region through a three-fold
submission-hold-political, economic, and military. And then there
are the sketchy IFI-types, the international financial institution, such
as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the other
regional development banks that claim to be fighting poverty but,
more often than not, are finding ways to squeeze timely debt
payments out of impoverished countries.

If this isn't enough drama for the region, we can always tune in to
the daily diplomatic soap opera and find out what Condoleezza said
about Fidel, or what Hugo said about George, and who's sleeping
with whom-the simplified protagonist-antagonist duality of the
revolutionaries vs. the conservatives. We get to feel the bravado of
David standing up to Goliath, and we get to wave our flag-colored
pom poms, helping to beat the war-drums of resistance. In this way,
we all get drawn into the polarized battle of ideas; we all get to
choose our favorite characters and episodes. But this is not just a TV
reality show; this is the fine line between entertainment and war.
This is called Psychological Warfare 101. Most of the "independent
media" covering the topic has, to a large extent, contributed to this
warmongering by not offering a more critical analysis of the
on-the-ground reality in Latin America, tending to just "report on"
the hostile comments and retaliations made by the talking heads of
the political show.

And what does this have to do with Earth First!? Well, in the story's
plot, there's also a fine line between defending the Earth and
defending your enemy's enemy. For many of us, the no-brainer that
we have a common enemy in Bush makes it hard to accept that his
enemy, Chávez, may not be a friend of the Earth either; it's even
harder to speculate that they may even be on the same team. But
when the ecological collapse draws a line in the sand, Bush and
Chávez won't find themselves on opposite sides.

While the Bush administration accuses left-leaning governments in
Latin America, especially Venezuela, of fanning the flames of the
political instability in the region, and everybody seems more than
convinced that the CIA was behind the business-led military coup
that temporarily removed Chávez from power for 48 hours in April
2001, trade between the US and Venezuela has actually improved
considerably. Aside from an increased flow in manufacturing and
textiles, the last few years have also seen Chávez hand over major
concessions of heavy crude and natural gas from the the Orinocno
Belt and the large off-shore reserves of the Plataforma Deltana,
respectively, to Shell, Chevron and other major US and European oil
and energy companies.

Self-proclaimed leftist elected governments across Latin America,
using the current "democratic openings" that their nations find
themselves in, have recreated development plans and trade
agreements with the same underlying neoliberal goals as their more
right-wing neighbors like Colombia and Chile. Since Chávez's
presidency began in 1998, unpopular industrial
mega-projects-previously defeated by broad, national alliances-have
been recycled, renamed and given a new opportunity within the
newly created context of the "Bolivarian socialist revolution." Other
so-called progressive, leftist governments-represented by populist
leaders who have come from "our" ranks-have also replicated this
pattern in their countries. While we turned our attention away from
the struggles in these nations, believing that wild places and peoples
were safe in the hands of these progressive leaders, record levels of
deforestation, mining and oil exploitation have occurred-still in the
name of Westernized progress, but now with the added rhetoric of
revolutionary change.

To pick the most alarming example, while much has been written
on Plan Puebla Panamá and the long-term master plan behind this
regional development project, little attention has been given to the
true mother lode of integration initiatives: the South American
Regional Infrastructure Integration Initiative (IIRSA). Financed
largely by the aforementioned iffy regional development banks and
requiring continued investments and commitments from every
country on the continent, IIRSA would tie together all the major
industrial infrastructure across South America-heavy cargo
transportation routes, water resource diversions, dams, industrial
ports, hydrocarbon pipelines and long-distance energy grids and
stations-all facilitating the massive exploitation and exportation of
the continent's vast natural resources (see EF!, July-August 2005).

Using the legend of Simón Bolívar, the "Liberator" of the Andean
countries, and his aspirations for a unified Latin America of
sovereign republics, the script-writers of the Bolivarian
Movement-who are more often Colombian guerrilla leaders than
Venezuelan government officials-have plotted a new historical
trajectory for the whole region, and have marketed it as Latin
America's second independence. They have advertised regional
energy-sector mergers such as Petrocaribe, Petrosuramérica and
Carbosuramérica-joint ventures between state oil and mining
companies and private Latin American firms-as the culmination of
Bolívar's dream: South America taking care of itself, sharing what
it has between the countries in the region.

There are, however, a few inconsistencies to this "regional
intergration" story. One is the relationship of governments with the
US. For example, Colombia-the largest recipient of US military aid
in the hemisphere-has made substantial progress in the projects
outlined by IIRSA. It would be easy enough to call the projects in
Colombia expansions of US imperialism, since they involve heavy
investment in environmentally and socially destructive infrastructure
for the sole purpose of extracting cheap raw materials (especially
energy resources) from the most biologically diverse region in the
world. But when we assess the motives behind the "regional
cooperation" initiatives that are being developed within the IIRSA
framework by the Venezuelan "Bolivarian" government, one must
apply the same criteria to these development projects-continued
investment in destructive industries for the majority benefit of
northern consumers. In other words, IIRSA can't be US
expansionism in one country and revolutionary integration in the

As the Zapatistas say in their recently released Sixth Declaration
from the Lacandon Jungle, "The neoliberal globalization of
capitalism is based on exploitation, plunder, contempt and
repression to those who resist it-in other words, the same as before,
but only now globalized." This is important for Earth First!ers to
keep in mind when we hear about the need to blindly support
romantic struggles throughout Latin America. There will be no stone
left unturned in capital's search for profit, and every place on Earth is
a sacrifice zone.

This "globalization" of the war on the Earth also has implicated our
resistance, and we risk becoming its unwitting tools. Our
movements and struggles have extended across national borders and
continents. We are now defending the Earth on an international
front; we are truly everywhere. And because of this reality, we in the
Earth First! movement have aligned ourselves in solidarity with
struggles that aren't necessarily Earth-centered, but are a part of the
greater social struggle to end tyranny. However, there is a real cost
to our Earth-centered movement when we identify with these
wide-ranging social struggles around the world. We are aligning
ourselves with objectives that may not be our own. While it's
obvious that we must end the destruction of the Earth-primarily
caused by the disproportionate level of material wealth consumed by
industrialized countries-it's not so clear where most of us stand on
the continued techno-industrialization of the "under-developed"

While preserving a healthy environment may seem characteristic of
the overarching political trend of progressive movements around the
world, the leaders of Latin American, leftist political movements are
not all necessarily convinced of putting the Earth first. In fact, what
seem to be growing calls for the end to US and European
expansionism in the region are really code words for: "We want the
gringos to stop stealing the biggest piece of the pie, so that we may
have it ourselves." To the majority of leftists in the "developed"
world who want to build solidarity with the social struggles of the
Global South, this demand is not only justified, but has been a long
time coming.

But there's a grave flaw in this reductionism of thinking that it's only
the gringos who perpetuate inequality. The South American elites
have just as much intention of mining the Earth of all its resources
for a profit as their northern counterparts. And the Latin American
upper, middle and lower classes aren't all completely ready to forego
21st-century, automation and comfort. For us "radical ecologists,"
the dilemma is two-fold. On the one hand is the struggle to reduce
the amount of natural resources consumed by the "First" World, so
that there may be more natural resources for the rest of the world to
use in its unhurried development.

On the other hand is the struggle of most moderates and liberals to
lift the "Third" World out of poverty and up to the "First" World's
level of material wealth. Yet having a whole world consume on the
same level as the US, Europe or Japan would mean sudden death for
most life on the planet.

It's important for us to recognize how the masters of war will create
and use each other as enemies to justify leading us toward the end of
the story already written-the war for the remaining essential
resources on Earth. Hugo Chávez has taken full advantage of this
role, being one of the most outspoken critics of the Bush
administration and the US government. Championing the fight to lift
his corner of the world out of abject poverty, offering petro-dollars to
any social initiative he can get his name and face on. With these
politically conditioned gifts and declarations, Chávez and his
Bolivarian revolution, are becoming the leadership and vanguard of
all the social pressure building up south of the US.

But for Chávez's closest associates and investors-the biggest and
most favored being the all-stars of Big Oil, such as Chevron, Shell
and ExxonMobil-this arrangement couldn't get any better. It's a
virtual green light to accelerate the industrial development and
exploitation of the largest reserves of crude oil, natural gas, coal and
other minerals in the hemisphere-and sacrifice any forest, river, sea
or living community that lives above them. Anybody who raises an
objection or stands in the way is, by default, a counter-revolutionary
and a Bush supporter.

There will be no war in Latin America, other than the ones already
being fought. The broad sentiment for social change and justice
expressed by la gente de América Latina is valid, and we should
support it. But when Chávez offers subsidized heating oil and
gasoline to the US poor, we should understand the political strings
attached-he's buying our sentiments and loyalty with 10 to 20
percent "cheaper" oil. When Chávez calls Bush "Mr. Danger," we
should have our laugh and agree that the US government is
dangerous to the world. However, what we must remember is that
all governments-leftist or conservative, socialist or fascist-work
together to keep the machines of the global death system alive.
Some, like the US and its allies, work with the obvious intention of
entrenching the world deeper into their hegemony. Others work with
the stated claim of reforming the system's shortcomings with
"popular democratic participation"-but all of them are committed to
their goal of industrial and economic growth, which means the
continued destruction and deterioration of the Earth and all that is
wild. Our revolution will not be funded by oil.

[Christian Guerrero is a thorn-in-the-side whistleblower of leftist
sell-outs who believe that we're buying into their "capitalism with a
human face"-compromised resistance culture.]
, which needs to be combated and destroyed.

While I have heard some people say ‘I’m not
going to go in
and talk to my fellow workers, and folks
Christian Guerrero
[From the 25th anniversary edition of the Earth First! Journal.
November 2005]
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