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Copenhagen: Democracy Now! interview with Evo Morales -- `We cannot end global warming without ending capitalism'
December 17, 2009 -- Democracy Now! -- Bolivia's President Evo Morales joins us in Copenhagen to talk about the UN climate talks, capitalism, climate debt and much more. “Policies of unlimited industrialisation are what destroys the environment”, Morales said. “And that irrational industrialisation is capitalism.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Climate Countdown. It’s Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from inside the Bella Center [in Copenhagen].
It’s just one day before the COP15 UN climate summit comes to a
close. The summit has been described as the biggest gathering on
climate change in history. And now, ten days after it started, are the
talks on the brink of collapse?
The dispute between rich and poor countries, between the global
North and global South, on key issues, including greenhouse gas
emissions and climate debt, remain unresolved. World leaders from more
than 110 countries have begun arriving at the summit and are delivering
their addresses to the main plenary as we speak. As for civil society,
the only thing worse than the endless lines of thousands of people
trying to get into the Bella Center are no lines, because civil society
has largely been locked out.
Well, just before we went to air today, I interviewed Evo
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president. He was re-elected in a
landslide victory earlier this month.
On Wednesday, Evo Morales called on world leaders to hold
temperature increases over the next century to just one degree Celsius,
the most ambitious proposal so far by any head of state. Morales also
called on the United States and other wealthy nations to pay an
ecological debt to Bolivia and other developing nations.
AMY GOODMAN: President Morales, welcome to Democracy Now!
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Thank you very much for the invitation.
AMY GOODMAN: You spoke yesterday here at the Bella Center
and said we cannot end global warming without ending capitalism. What
did you mean?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Capitalism is the
worst enemy of humanity. Capitalism—and I’m speaking about irrational
development—policies of unlimited industrialization are what destroys
the environment. And that irrational industrialization is capitalism.
So as long as we don’t review or revise those policies, it’s impossible
to attend to humanity and life.
AMY GOODMAN: How would you do that? How would you end capitalism?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] It’s changing
economic policies, ending luxury, consumerism. It’s ending the struggle
to—or this searching for living better. Living better is to exploit
human beings. It’s plundering natural resources. It’s egoism and
individualism. Therefore, in those promises of capitalism, there is no
solidarity or complementarity. There’s no reciprocity. So that’s why
we’re trying to think about other ways of living lives and living well,
not living better. Not living better. Living better is always at
someone else’s expense. Living better is at the expense of destroying
AMY GOODMAN: President Morales, what are you calling here—for here at the UN climate summit?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Defence of the rights
of Mother Earth. The earth is our life. Nature is our home, our house.
Happily, the United Nations have declared a Mother Earth Day. If the
mother is recognised as Mother Earth, it’s something that can’t be
sold, it’s something that can’t be—it can’t be violated, something
sacred. This is nature. This is planet Earth. And that’s why I’ve come
here, to defend the rights of Mother Earth, to defend the rights to
life, to defend humanity and saving Mother Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: What does climate debt mean, President Morales?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] After the destruction
of Mother Earth, it’s important to recognize the rights of Mother
Earth. And the best way to recognise this is by paying a climate debt.
Second, it’s important to recognise the damages that have been done and
attend to the people who have been affected by climate change, people
who will lose their island homes, for example, people who will remain
AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said today, “We can’t look back; we have to look forward.”
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Looking forward means
that we have to review everything that capitalism has done. These are
things that cannot just be solved with money. We have to resolve
problems of life and humanity. And that’s the problem that planet earth
faces today. And this means ending capitalism.
AMY GOODMAN: The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton
also said today that US$100 billion would be promised if a deal were
arrived at, not just by the United States, per year, but in a
public-private partnership with a number of countries around the world,
but only if a deal is arrived at. She would not say what the US would
contribute to this. What do you say about the US spending on the issue
of global warming versus—well, you talked yesterday about war.
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] The best thing would
be that all war spending be directed towards climate change, instead of
spending it on troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan or the military bases in
Latin America. This money would be better directed to attending to the
damages that were created by the United States. And, of course, this
isn’t just $100 billion; this is probably trillions and trillions of
dollars. How are we going to spend money to kill and not save lives? We
have to spend money to save lives, not to kill. These are our
differences with capitalism.
AMY GOODMAN: You called the war in Afghanistan terrorist. Are you saying President Obama is a terrorist?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] People who send their
troops to kill outside their country, that’s terror. There’s not only
civil—terrorists dressed as civilians; they can also be dressed in
military uniforms. Worse still if they’re financed with the money from
the peoples, from taxes. Of course, every country has the right to
defend itself, just as every country can defend itself. But invading
another country with uniformed people, that’s state terrorism.
Moreover, to establish military bases in Latin America with the
objective of political control, and where their military base is an
empire, that’s not respect for democracy. There is no peace, social
peace. There is no development for those countries nor integration in
those regions. This is what we’ve lived in South America and Latin
AMY GOODMAN: What is your message to President Obama at these climate talks?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] After listening to
his speech at the heads of state Summit of the Americas, we were very
hopeful that he would be an ally in addressing poverty. Now I’m not so
hopeful. Rather, we’re disappointed. If something has changed in the
United States, it’s the color of the president.
So I’ve been called upon, through administrative resolutions, to
close unions, or to eliminate unions, when I’m doing exactly the
opposite. [translator: “I apologise.”] In the report that was done
regarding access to trade preferences under the ATPDEA program, it was
charged that the Bolivian government has been involved in suppressing
unions, when, in fact, quite the contrary, the government’s been very
active in providing infrastructure and support to unions through
improving the centres where unions meet, etc.
Even President Bush did not make any observations about the new
clauses in the constitution of Bolivia, whereas under the new
administration there have been observations and comments made about the
new constitution that’s been drafted, in particular in relation to the
management of the gas and oil sectors. This is a clear involvement in
Bolivian internal affairs by the Obama administration. At the end of
the day, it seems that they’re asking us to change the constitution.
This is something that not even Bush did. If we just look at this, this
makes Obama seem—look worse than Bush. And the documents are there.
AMY GOODMAN: I know you have to leave. My last question is: you’ve called for a climate tribunal; what do you mean?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Those who do damage
to planet Earth and those who do damage need to be judged. Those who do
not fulfill the terms of the Kyoto Protocol should also be judged. And
for those ends, we have to organise a tribunal for climate justice in
the United Nations.
AMY GOODMAN: And one degree Celsius?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] That’s our proposal.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it could be achieved?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Yes. Yes, otherwise it would be a lack of commitment to humanity.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think there will be a deal that comes out of Copenhagen?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] I doubt it. We’re developing other proposals for my intervention.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it’s catastrophic that there’s no deal?
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] No, it’s a waste of
time. And if the leaders of countries cannot arrive in an agreement,
why don’t the peoples then decide together?
AMY GOODMAN: We will leave it there. I thank you very much, President Morales.
AMY GOODMAN: The Bolivian President Evo Morales speaking to us here in Copenhagen. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. It’s Climate Countdown. You can go to our website at democracynow.org to read the transcript of what President Morales had to say and also to see or hear the video podcast.
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