Activism Travel

Pachamama Rumblings in Lima!

Sven Eberlein
Written by Sven Eberlein

Yesterday the whole left brain greenhouse gas haggling exercise at the COP20 Climate Summit got a huge kick in the pants when 20,000 marching souls took to the streets of Lima for Latin America’s biggest ever climate march.

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Indigenous people from all over South America were calling attention to the disproportionately devastating effects climate change is already having on native lands, especially the Amazonian rainforests down here.

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On this International Day of Human Rights, they were joined by a diverse coalition of international allies, who not only understand that it is morally untenable to stand by while the people who did the least to cause the climate calamity have to bear the brunt of its burden, but who are keenly aware that as the Amazon goes, so go all of us.

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The “March in defense of Mother Nature” (Marcha en defensa de la Madre Tierra) was part of the People’s Climate Summit, the alternative gathering outside of UN talks that brings together civil societies and social movements from across the globe. The people’s message is deeper than just another piece of tinkering around the edges of the corporate-industrial-fossil complex. They point to the fatal folly of the current development model, with its priority of massive accumulation and consumerism that “is based on irrational and accelerated extraction of natural resources with no account taken of the globe’s limits.”

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While the prophets of environmental fixes at the official talks are often bureaucrats and bankers (and even oil company executives), the messengers of planetary healing at the people’s march are the rivers and the forests.

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It seems that we have come to a crossroads where we have two choices: Trust the forces that got us into this mess to get us out of it, or sync our steps to follow the rhythms of Pachamama. Which will it be?

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The reason I’m here is to network on behalf of the Ecocitizen World Map Project, which seeks to empower and educate urban communities living under the hardest conditions in cities around the world. So aside from the great energy and inspiration the people’s march provides it is quite relevant to my work because they both seek to address fundamental questions of inequity that are at the core of the social, environmental, and economic imbalances that have brought our planetary ecosystems on the brink of collapse.

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Follow me for more impressions from yesterday’s march…

March in Defense of Mother Nature

December 10, 2014
Lima, Peru

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When my co-worker Holly and I got to Campo de Marte just a short walk from the Central Station, a sizable crowd had already formed at the North end of the park.

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I’d been worried that we would miss the beginning of the march because we were running late, but people were still just filing in from everywhere. I was happy I could take some “getting ready” shots, which is one of my favorite parts of rallies.

Last minute face paints…

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Dress adjustments…

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photo ops…

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and mutual respect and adoration were in order…

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Of course, the police was out in full force, to a backdrop that couldn’t have been more fitting…

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What I loved about this gathering was that this was indigenous people’s stage to make their voices heard unfiltered, with solidarity from other groups like mine workers unions who’ve been getting the short end of the globalization stick…

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and western allies taking mostly the role of supporters, listeners, and documentarians…

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though some had come to hold their corporate-owned governments, who are responsible for so much of the greed and inequities, to account.

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It was getting really really crowded now, and it was hard to tell which direction people where going to march in. We were right at a big arc de triomphe-like roundabout, so the march was going in circles while people were feeding in from all different streets.

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The circular motion allowed us to take in all the different people and messages as they were coming by…

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some of them hopeful…

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some of them sorrowful…

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a lot of them colorful…

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and a lot of them truthful (get the smelling salts, American media!)

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Within minutes, the massive, constant, and ant-like Lima traffic came to a screeching halt, which I admit the pedestrian and cyclist in me kind of enjoyed, as it lays bare just how much it is taken for granted in most cities around the world that cars own the roads.

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Speaking of cyclists, it was nice to see representation, both of the ordinary…

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and the extraordinary kind…

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and speaking of solutions to the fossil-induced madness we have allowed ourselves and the planet to be subjected to…

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A huge banner snaked its way around the circle and then up north as the march made its way toward the historical Plaza San Martin.

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It was past noon and Holly and I had to get back for a meeting. I feel like we got a really good glimpse into this exciting grassroots mobilization that is no longer content with letting the wolves guard the hen house. What gives me hope is that there seems to be a growing number of souls in the high level ranks who agree that the transformation we need is much more fundamental than letting the “market” take care of the planet.

I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes from Evo Morales, who I caught on the big screen back at the Voces por el Clima pavilions. I didn’t understand everything he said but this I did:

Planet Earth can exist without humans, but humans cannot exist without Planet Earth.”

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All photos by Sven Eberlein, licensed under Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs)
crossposted at Daily Kos

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Sven Eberlein

Sven Eberlein

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