A few blocks from the main entrance to the university where the peoples’ climate summit is taking place, hundreds of Bolivian and Latin American environmentalists have been crowding into a single hall to participate in discussions that they say were too controversial for the actual summit. Dubbed “mesa 18,” or “working group 18,” the discussions were focused on the environmental destruction inside Bolivia caused by development projects, mining, and oil and gas exploration promoted by the Morales government. On Wednesday afternoon, Anjali Kamat spoke to Moira Millán, an indigenous Mapuche activist from southern Argentina. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We continue to broadcast from the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth here in Bolivia.
A few blocks from the main entrance to the summit, hundreds of Bolivian and Latin American environmentalists have been crowding into a small hall to participate in discussions that they say are too controversial for the actual summit. Dubbed “working group 18,” or “mesa 18,” the discussions are focused on the environmental destruction inside Bolivia caused by development projects here, mining and oil and gas exploration promoted by the Morales government.
The summit itself has included a series of seventeen working groups, each discussing a separate issue, from climate debt to forests to the rights of Mother Earth. But the activists associated with working group 18 claim their issues have been excluded from the summit. Their two-day session ended Wednesday night with a declaration from indigenous organizations and peasant groups rejecting large-scale development projects, transnational corporations, and natural resource extraction on their territories.
Well, on Wednesday afternoon, Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat spoke to Moira Millán, an indigenous Mapuche activist from southern Argentina. She’s an active participant in working group 18 and an outspoken critic of the extractive model of development practiced in countries across Latin America.
MOIRA MILLÁN: [translated] I am a Mapuche. I am from the south of the Patagonia, which is occupied by Argentina. The nation of Mapuche is occupied by two states: Argentina and Chile. From a long time ago, we’ve been struggling for the recuperation of our land.
ANJALI KAMAT: Moira, we’re standing outside mesa 18, workshop 18. Can you explain what workshop 18 is, what the goals of it are, and why it’s not included in the main conference?
MOIRA MILLÁN: [translated] Working group 18 is a space for reflection, much more profound. It’s an autonomous space where, for example, we didn’t have a pre-prepared document, but what will come out here will come out straight from the debates that have happened here. But also working group 18 is the evident reality of a people who want to work towards the model of living well, because there are lots of contradictions in the process.
The contradictions that we can hear here in the testimonies of the people, the brothers and sisters affected by the extractive industries, these contradictions can be overcome by first recognizing these contradictions, and then we can participate and commit all our selves to develop proposals for economic models to really have a revolution in our thinking, because this system that takes all the resources, that is depredating, is affecting our ways of life, as well.
The working group of 18 should have been inside the official event, because — inside the event of the Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change. But unfortunately, it wasn’t authorized. But what we want to say is that this working group is complementary to what’s going on inside the official event.
The working group does not want to delegitimize the figure of Evo Morales. We don’t just want to come out with pamphlets against Evo Morales’ government. But what we do is we take up the historical responsibility to show the world what we got right and the failures of this whole process. And we, the original people, the indigenous peoples, we need real, legitimate spaces where the good and the bad can both be talked about, because we all have to learn about what went wrong and what went well in the Evo Morales government program for change.
What I can say, the challenge to break with the logic of the market within the structures of the state, which has imposed on itself or is imposed with the rules of the market and the world market system, is a really difficult road. And we are not really thinking enough about how we’re going to resolve this challenge. But I think we need to start with rethinking the ancestral geopolitics of the continent and of the world. And we want to determine the cultural constitution and the economic constitution, political and social constitution, and cultural constitution of the peoples, should be the very nature or the very nature to which we belong.
I feel in solidarity with the Bolivian process. But being part of a nation that has no state, but who reaffirms their right to existence, as such, I have no confidence that real and profound revolutions could happen from the structures of this type of state.
AMY GOODMAN: Moira Millán, an indigenous Mapuche activist from southern Argentina. She was interviewed by Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat. Yes, Moira is an active participant in working group 18. And we’ll hear from that group. We’ll hear from one of the miners who has been protesting at a silver mine called San Cristóbal, and we’ll see what’s happening there in a minute.