Issue - May 2010

May 2010


In this edition, Rocío Carranza writes of her experience at the Climate Change Conference, Sradhanjali Kootungal distills Cochabamba’s confusing transportation network, Husein Meghji uncovers the story behind the political graffi ti around the city, Jamie Bassett looks at one of the city’s oldest festivals and Walter Sánchez unearths the origins of Santiago the Indian-killer. read more...

May 2010

World People´s Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba

Last month the city was host to a climate change conference attended by thousands of people from all fi ve continents. It was a chance for people to get together and rally for Mother Earth and her rights.
Rocío Carranza was fortunate enough to be in attendance.

Rocío Carranza
Projects Abroad
Ontario - Canada

How to describe on paper, the emotions felt at the inauguration of the fi rst Climate Change Conference organized by Bolivian president Evo Morales. More than 10,000 people came together, some with drums and indigenous clothing to celebrate Mother Earth and respect her rights. Th e beating of drums and indigenous singing touched an emotional chord. Th is is our earth we are fi ghting for, our land and our air, all that supports life. Presenters such Nnimmo Bassey spoke frankly about the need for drastic change.

This meeting was in response to the failure of the Copenhagen Summit. Morales wanted and got a more open forum for people of all backgrounds to discuss issues of climate debt, mother earth’s rights and climate migrants. Th e inauguration and conference were held in Tiquipaya, a short bus ride from Cochabamba. Th e town is located at the foot of beautiful and majestic mountains, a fi tting backdrop for the issue on hand.

Social groups, non-governmental organizations and Indigenous peoples along with foreigners and Bolivians alike were there. They were there for one reason, to bring the issue of climate change to the forefront of public discussion. At the last conference, in Copenhagen, some world leaders like Morales were discouraged by what did not take place. There were no legally binding treaties and the most powerful nations continued to drag their feet on climate issues. At this conference there was an undeniable sense of urgency, climate change is real and it is already affecting the livelihoods of people around the world.

During the conference, the university in Tiquipaya came to a standstill to accommodate the more than 16,000 people that were expected to attend the discussions held in the stadium and auditorium. Issues such as scientific discoveries for climate change, migrations forced because of climate change and ways to re-establish harmony with Mother Earth were discussed. Experts like Jim Hansen, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva and Leonardo Boff came to talk about these issues. People had the chance to come and sit in on some really heavy topics and to learn more about what needs to be done.

The closing ceremony was on Thursday April 22, it was no coincidence that this day was also International Earth Day. The day was aptly celebrated with a ceremony at the Félix Capriles Stadium in Cochabamba. In attendance were President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other government representatives from Cuba and Nicaragua. There were many musical groups such as Semilla and Kjarkas who relayed the message of environmental issues with songs.

“I think finally some governments are truly doing their part to have a better environment,” said Sebastian Ibarra from Argentina. “What will come out of the conference is a higher consciousness for Latin Americans and the world,” he said. “That’s the most important message.”

The conference was loud in Cochabamba but barely made a peep in international news.

Still, the event will go down as the first steps taken by people to get the attention of those in power such as the more powerful governments and large corporations. Mexico will host the next conference later this year and maybe just maybe this event in Cochabamba has shown the urgency for climate change policies.

“I will not dance to your beat”
I will not dance to your beat if
you call a plantation a forest.

will not sing with you if you privatize my water.

I will confront you with my fists if climate change, which means death to me, brings you profits.

I will expose your evil greed if you don’t leave the good oil in the soil, coal in the hole, and tar sands in the land.

I will confront you if you insist on Carbon offsetting and other no-good solutions.

I will drag you to the climate tribunal if you accumulate your ecological debt and refuse to pay your climate debt.

I will make you drink your own medicine if you continue with genetically modified crops.

I will not dance to your beat unless we walk the sustainable path and accept our solutions and respect mother earth.

Nnimmo Bassey
Do you really know public transport?

Using public transport today? What could bemore ordinary! Whether going to work, to theshops, or to grab a bite, without it, the simplestoutings become impossible. But what do we reallyknow about public transport?

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