Posted by: Stephen Paul | April 24, 2010

First World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

The following is an letter by Eduardo Galeano that was presented at the First World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. You can find this article and other related articles on the summit at the Yes! Magazine website listed below.

The Open Veins of Climate Change

Message from Eduardo Galeano, the author of Open Veins of Latin America, to participants of the First World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba.
by Eduardo Galeano
posted Apr 20, 2010


Bolivian headdress
Photo by Tupac Saavedra and Lauren Rosenfeld.

Sadly, I will not be able to be with you. Hopefully, all that is possible, and also the impossible, will be done so that the Summit of the Mother Earth becomes the first phase towards the collective expression of people who do not direct world polices, but suffer from them.

Hopefully, we will be able to carry forward the two initiatives of companion Evo [Morales, president of Bolivia]: the Climate Justice Tribunal and the World Referendum against a system of power founded on war and on waste, which scorns human life and auctions our worldly goods.

Hopefully, we will be able to speak less and do much. The wordy inflation, which in Latin America is more damaging than monetary inflation, has done us, and keeps inflicting, grave damages. And also, and above all, we are fed up with the hypocrisy of the rich countries, 
which is leaving us without a planet while it delivers pompous discourses to conceal the hijacking.

There are those who say that hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. Others say that hypocrisy is the only proof of the existence of the infinite. And the babble of the so-called “international community,” that club of bankers and war-makers, proves that both the definitions are correct.

I want to celebrate, for a change, the force of the truth that words radiate and the silences born of human communion with Nature. And it is not by chance that the Summit of the Mother Earth is being realized in Bolivia, this nation of nations that is rediscovering itself after two centuries of a life of falsehood.

Bolivia has just celebrated ten years of a popular victory in the water war, when the people of Cochabamba were able to defeat a powerful Californian company, owner of their water by the grace of a government which said it was Bolivian and was very generous to those from afar.

That water war was one of the battles that this land saves for the defense of its natural resources: that is in defense of its commonness with Nature. Bolivia is one of the American countries where indigenous cultures have been known to survive, and those voices now resound with more force than ever, despite the long period of rejection and persecution.

Eduardo Galeano quote page, issue 42Eduardo Galeano on the YES! Magazine Quote Page: “Your legs will be your passport, valid forever.”

The world, bewildered as it is and stumbling like a blind person in a shoot-out, will have to hear those voices.

These tell us, mere humans, that we are part of Nature, related to all that have legs, feet, wings or roots.

The European conquest condemned the indigenous people who lived in that communion for idolatry and, for believing in it, they were whipped, beheaded, or burnt alive.

From the time of the European Renaissance, Nature was converted into merchandise or into an obstacle to human progress. And till now, that divorce between Her and ourselves has persisted, to the point that there still are people of good faith who are moved by poor Nature, so badly treated, so hurt—but they see Her from the outside. The indigenous cultures see Her from the inside.

Seeing Her, I find myself. Whatever I do against Her, is done against myself. In Her, I find myself; my legs are also the road that they walk.

Well, we celebrate this Summit of the Mother Earth. And if only the deaf do listen: Human rights and the rights of Nature are two names of the same dignity.

Eduardo Galeano is a Uruguayan author whose books include Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America), Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire), and Espejos: Una historia casi universal (Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone).

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