Evo Morales calls for environmental justice

Federico Fuentes, March 9

Commenting on the natural disaster that has left large swathes of Bolivia’s lowland east underwater after months of flooding, and much of the Andean region covered in ice, in late February Bolivian President Evo Morales called for a global debate on the effects of climate change and environmental destruction on poor nations.

Pointing the finger at the rich First World nations, Morales stated: “There are countries who, in an excessive, uncontrolled manner, have implemented industrialisation policies and this has affected the planet and is ... destroying the environment and it is the poor countries that have to bear the brunt of it.”

The consequences of the environmental crisis are being faced in
Bolivia, a country with scarce economic resources, and there has been a poor response from the rich countries, according to Morales.

He added, “There needs to be a profound analysis made at the global level. Why are these changes in the climate occurring in this country and the world? Should we or should we not continue with the excessive industrialisation plans in the world? We hope that there will be a profound debate in the United Nations”.

Following months of heavy storms, a result of the El Nino effect, much of
Bolivia’s eastern lowlands now resembles inland seas. So far, more than 40 people are dead as a result of the disaster. More than 70,000 families have been directly affected. An Associated Press dispatch reported that “an estimated 22,500 head of cattle have drowned and 200,000 hectares of cropland have been destroyed”.

Responding to the worst natural disaster in
Bolivia’s history, the UN called for international aid to the tune of US$9.2 million. So far, the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Spain, Japan, Italy, US, Argentina, France and Chile have responded. Venezuelanalysis.com reported on March 5 that Venezuela increased the aid it was sending to $15.7 million and 75 tonnes of supplies, in addition to logistical support in the form of emergency teams, helicopters and transport planes.

Cuban ambassador Rafael Dausa was quoted by the ABI news service on February 28 as saying that the 1771 Cuban doctors and paramedics in
Bolivia are placing themselves under the Bolivian governments directions to help flood victims.

Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera welcomed the 138 tonnes of food donated by the UN, but said: “This can only provide for 15 days, but these waters will not be gone in 15 days. They’ll be here for two, three months.”

First published at Green Left Weekly

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