29 April 2014

The search for transparency in a global gold rush for rare earths

the guardian

Rare earth elements are an essential ingredient of modern technologies, but poor regulation has led to environmental ruin.
Bright Yellow Sunset French Polynesia
Japanese researchers say they have found evidence of rare earth elements under the seas in French Polynesia. Photograph: Douglas Peebles/Corbis
A new global gold rush is under way. But today's prospectors aren't the fortune hunters of old, panning for precious nuggets on the American frontier. They're mining companies hoping to find lucrative deposits of rare earths, the 17 elements vital for the production of smartphones, laptops, electric cars, wind turbines and other technologies.
Although rare earths are abundant in the earth's crust, they are difficult to find in commercially viable concentrations. Extracting individual elements from the host mineral's chemistry is a complex and energy-intensive process, involving strong acids and other hazardous chemicals. Radioactive materials such as uranium and thorium are often found alongside rare earth elements, and these can end up in the "tailings" – a toxic stew of waste products from the refinement process.
In recent years the business of mining and processing rare earths has fallen almost exclusively to China, with catastrophic results. Communities living around the Bayan-Obo mining area in Inner Mongolia have had their crops, health and water supply ruined by a large, poorly maintained tailings lake. In Southern China, ion-absorption clay deposits rich with the most valuable "heavy" rare earths have given rise to illegal mining and smuggling operations.
For more than two decades Beijing effectively turned a blind eye; lax regulation of the industry allowed it to sell rare earths at low prices and dominate the global market. That changed in 2010 when China cut export quotas on rare earth supplies by almost 40%, citing a desire to clean up the mess the industry had created, consolidate it into several large districts and crack down on illegal smuggling – believed to account for almost a third of all rare earth elements that left the country in 2008.
China not only produces rare earth intermediate products, such as metals, alloys and carbonates, but manufactures the LEDs, catalysts, batteries and magnets that make use of them. According to Professor Saleem Ali, director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, that makes it "very difficult to track and trace [rare earth elements] from the mine to the product, because a lot of electronics manufacturers are outsourcing their product manufacturing and operations to Chinese companies, which get that material from somewhere within China".
Buyers in the US, EU and Japan were frustrated, convinced that China was using its effective monopoly of the market (estimated at the time as 95% of supply) to force up prices and encourage high-tech manufacturers further up the supply chain to shift their operations to the country. An appeal to the World Trade Organisation resulted in a ruling that Chinese restrictions on exports are incompatible with its rules, although Beijing is expected to appeal.
The Oeko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology) fears the "global pressure for a steady rare earth supply might lead to further new mines outside of China with unacceptable environmental standards".
Rich deposits of rare earths have already been identified in Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Laos, as well as Canada, Greenland, Australia and the US. Japanese researchers claim to have discovered vast deposits of rare earth minerals in the seabed in international waters, east and west of Hawaii and east of Tahiti in French Polynesia. The high upfront costs of establishing a mine, and potentially long and complex approval processes, could prevent many of these deposits from being exploited in the near-term.
Yet existing mines in Australia a0nd the US, which were forced out of business by cheap Chinese exports, have recently reopened. Mountain Pass Mine in California now features state-of-the-art waste processing facilities (it faced heavy fines before its closure for failing to report radiation-laced wastewater spills).
Lynas Corporation, which owns the Mount Weld mine site in Western Australian (reportedly one of the richest deposits in the world), has built a processing plant in Kuantan, Malaysia, the first to be finished outside China in three decades. The plant faced opposition from groups such asSave Malaysia Stop Lynas, after fears of a repeat of the radioactive contamination caused by the Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah two decades ago, blamed for birth defects and an increase in local cancer cases.
In Greenland, the government has overturned the country's 25-year ban on uranium and rare earth mining in the hope of boosting the country's cash-strapped economy. But there are concerns that the proposed mines will harm fragile ecosystems, and damage the traditional Inuit fishing and hunting trades. And several years on from China's rare earth export restrictions, which kick-started the hunt for alternative supply chains, smuggling and environmental damage is still an issue.
Siemens, Samsung, Toyota and other major technology manufacturers are already designing new products that use fewer rare earths or substitute materials. Recycle rates of rare earths from existing products, very low because of the expense and complexity involved, may also increase in future (Honda has already begun extracting more than 80% of its rare earth materials from nickel-metal hydride batteries).
Julian Kirby, lead campaigner for Friends of the Earth's Make It Better initiative, which aims to make companies come clean about their supply chains, is adamant that "environmental costs must be factored into the prices of rare earths", creating an incentive to recycle existing materials.
Kirby also believes there should be "a step change in reporting" to ensure it includes non-financial information. Only then will electronics manufacturers take greater responsibility for the way rare earth elements are mined and refined.

23 April 2014

Pueblo indígena Raizal de San Andrés busca estrechar lazos con pueblos caribeños nicaragüenses

El 19 Digital

Raúl Lenin Rivas

(see original article here

Pueblo indígena Raizal de San Andrés busca estrechar lazos con pueblos caribeños nicaragüenses

Establecer relaciones culturales, comerciales y tener un acercamiento con los pueblos originarios de la Costa Caribe nicaragüense es el propósito de la visita de una delegación de la Autoridad Nacional del pueblo Raizal del Archipiélago de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina que arribó a suelo nicaragüense la noche de este lunes 10 de marzo.

Dicha delegación, integrada por el Vicepresidente de la organización, su Coordinador, el Secretario General y la Vocera, fue recibida en el Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto C. Sandino por el Vicecanciller de Cooperación Externa Valdrack Jaentschke y a partir de este martes realizará una gira de trabajo por territorio de la Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur de Nicaragua, donde sostendrá encuentros con las autoridades locales y regionales de los pueblos indígenas de Bluefields, Corn Island y Laguna de Perlas en búsqueda de lograr un intercambio y relaciones comerciales, culturales y deportivas para unir a los hermanos caribeños sin importar fronteras o límites territoriales.

“Nosotros tenemos una relación desde hace muchos años que se ha roto y nosotros estamos buscando volver a lo que es nuestra herencia ancestral, tenemos hermanos aquí en este país y queremos volver a encontrarnos y mantener esa unión que nunca debió habernos separado”, manifestó Corine Beberly Duffis Steele, Vocera de la Autoridad.

Jairo Rodríguez Davis, Coordinador de la Autoridad Nacional Raizal detalló que con su visita pretenden reconstruir esa relación ancestral de forma armoniosa entre los pueblos indígenas aprovechando las afinidades y vínculos muy fuertes con las poblaciones de Corn Island y Bluefields, relación que se debe mantener independientemente de los países que tengan dominio sobre los territorios marítimos.

“Nosotros tenemos claras las relaciones ancestrales que siempre ha habido entre el pueblo raizal y los pueblos indígenas y tribales de la Costa Caribeña de Nicaragua. Ha sido un vínculo familiar, cultura, de lengua y de vecinos. Supimos convivir armoniosamente por mucho tiempo y desafortunadamente esas relaciones se fueron deteriorando ante una disputa territorial ante ese mar y lo que buscamos como pueblos es reconstruir las relaciones, las buenas relaciones con esos hermanos nuestros, el pueblo creole en Bluefields, en las Regiones Autónomas Atlántico Norte, Atlántico Sur y pueblos indígenas también como el miskito”, expresó Rodríguez.

Solo Nicaragua reconoce autonomía de pueblos originarios

El Coordinador de la Autoridad Nacional Raizal valoró de muy importante la Ley de Autonomía que el Gobierno del Frente Sandinista ha promovido sobre los territorios y pueblos originarios de la Costa Caribe, algo que no ha vivido el pueblo Raizal en San Andrés producto de las políticas de Estado que ejecuta el gobierno colombiano.

“Se ha sido muy maduro acá en concederle una autonomía muy merecida que tienen los pueblos indígenas en la Costa Atlántica nicaragüense. Esas dos regiones autónomas bien merecido lo tienen. Allá en San Andrés y Providencia el pueblo raizal todavía no disfruta de tales beneficios de una autonomía, no tenemos, es una lucha con Colombia […] estamos en esa lucha de tener derecho a la autodeterminación”, dijo Rodríguez Davis.

El Vicecanciller aseveró que el régimen de autonomía y los derechos reconocidos a los pueblos originarios por parte del Gobierno de Nicaragua, es un buen ejemplo para construir con los hermanos del Caribe las relaciones que históricamente se han venido desarrollando y se vieron interrumpida por diferentes factores.

Colombia agrede a pueblo Raizal

Enrique Pusey Bent, Vice-Presidente de la Autoridad, señaló que el pueblo Raizal sufre agresiones producto de las políticas y leyes aprobadas por el Gobierno de Colombia, que ha permitido la inmigración de continentales a las islas del archipiélago ocasionándoles la pérdida del 53% de su espacio vital sin una ley que los proteja como pueblos originarios, incluso excluyéndoles de los negocios de turismo que se han establecido en las islas.

“Hoy en día San Andrés se está convirtiendo, por la superpoblación, en un gran desierto, sacan el agua del subsuelo, bombean el agua para el sector continental y se olvidan de los raizales. Solamente una vez al mes llega el agua a San Luis y las Lomas por unas horas, mientras en los sectores donde viven los continentales el agua va diario, pero algo paradójico, las reservas de agua están debajo de nuestras casas y nuestras finquitas”, comentó

Según Pusey otra de las agresiones que sufren constantemente de parte del gobierno colombiano es el irrespeto a su cultura y a su lengua dado que los avisos públicos, la educación, los medios de comunicación escritos y documentos oficiales se emiten únicamente en español y son obligados por los agentes policiales, soldados y la fiscalía a hablar español.

“Hay discriminación en todos los niveles y el gobierno Colombiano no nos está tratando bien, no hay respeto para nosotros y lo único que piensan es en la soberanía y la nacionalidad, mientras mi pueblo Raizal está siendo extinguido, o sea aquí configura genocidio conforme al convenio internacional para prevenir y sancionar el delito de genocidio”, declaró Pusey.

Pusey sostuvo que mediante la Ley 52 de 1912 en su Artículo 14 y la Ley 127 de 1959 en el Artículo 13, el gobierno de Colombia promueve masivamente la inmigración de continentales de Suramérica y Colombia hacia las islas de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina, lo que les ha ocasionado la pérdida del 53% de su suelo vital al pueblo los Raizales, donde realizar sus cultivos y construir, “porque ya hemos perdido el 100% de las playas, de los cayos, de las lagunas y de los manglares, porque ya la defensa colombiana se han apoderado de estas zonas y nosotros apenas tenemos menos del 5 por ciento de permisos para pescar en nuestras propias aguas”.

Gobierno de Nicaragua reconoce derecho ancestral sobre Mar Caribe

Rodríguez Davis calificó como un acto de respeto y de reconocimiento del derecho ancestral del pueblo Raizal sobre las aguas del Mar Caribe, al permitir el Gobierno del Comandante Daniel Ortega que sus miembros realicen labores de pesca en el territorio que le fue devuelto a Nicaragua tras el fallo del 19 de noviembre del 2012 por la Corte Internacional de Justicia.

Destacó las facilidades que existen en Nicaragua para que las poblaciones de los Raizales visiten territorio nicaragüense, lo que debería ser reciproco y brindar el gobierno de Colombia también facilidades para que los pueblos originarios nicaragüenses mantengan contacto los que son sus hermanos en San Andrés y Providencia.

“Creo que efectivamente tanto la posición del Comandante Daniel (Ortega), presidente de la República, alrededor de los derechos de los pueblos raizales ha sido clara, ellos reconocieron y creo que hay que ver con una diáfana claridad, una claridad como los compañeros raizales se refieren a la necesidad de fortalecer las relaciones y de seguir comunicándonos como en el pasado”, agregó Jaentschke.

22 April 2014

Sint Eustatius' Nu Star diversifies its oil storage market



(Reuters) - Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which urgently needs space in the Caribbean to store its oil, has emerged as the renter of tanks owned by NuStar Energy (NS.N) on the island of Saint Eustatius, where the Venezuelan state-run company will blend crudes, sources close to the transaction told Reuters.

NuStar, a San Antonio, Texas-based pipeline and terminals company, said last month it signed a long-term agreement to lease parts of its facility on the Caribbean island to a national oil company, but did not disclose the name of its client.

"The company renting the tanks in Saint Eustatius is PDVSA. They will use the facility as a mixing hub to produce blends that can then be exported," one of the sources said.

After selling terminals to raise cash, PDVSA now must rent space in the Caribbean to store its oil, produce a wider portfolio of blends, and handle trading as it imports more fuels. It also needs the facilities to load large tankers to be sent to Asia, which has become its main market.

In a global market oversupplied with oil, the NuStar facility is one of several PDVSA has leased in recent years, particularly since fires damaged its domestic storage network in 2012. In at least one case, it pays rent with oil because of its well-known cash flow problems.


20 April 2014

Petition to Free the Raizal People from Columbian Colonization


"We are tired of being a Colony of Colombia and of her bad treatment, we are taking back our Land and our Freedom".

The ancestors of the Raizal People voluntarily adhered to Colombia in 1822 ("according to Colombian historians"), thinking it would be a safe relationship; but tod
ay, the Raizal People are on their way to extinction under the ethnocidal and genocidal Colombian regime by:
(1) Losing more than 50% of their ancestral land titles. (2) 
The capital island being intentionallyoverpopulated, today with a density of more than 3.000 inhabitants per km2 causing multiple problems, making it unsustainable environmental, social, economically, giving deaf ears to the pleas by Raizals   (3) Being outnumbered by immigrants and becoming a minority on their ancestral Territory.  (4) Being discriminated in their own land.  (5) Having their Territory ceded to other countries through unconsulted treaties.  (6) Having their traditional peace and welfare affected by Colombia's tolerating and encouraging drug trafficking, money laundering and violence through its corrupted forces and its corrupted political system.

17 April 2014

Mining seabed is real threat

Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

A.C. (Tony) Brown | Isle of Man Courier
Technology and changing economics are making seabed mining feasible
Technology and changing economics are making seabed mining feasible
According to scientists from Duke University, North Carolina, USA, the seabed is about to experience industrial scale mining for mineral deposits and rare earth metals.
These are required in the production of things like PCs, smartphones, etc – but the extraction is set to be on a scale which could transform the environment for generations to come.
Giant underwater cutters and robotic submarines would be involved in what is essentially strip-mining, where vast areas of the ocean bed are removed and brought to the surface as slurry.
The valuable minerals are then siphoned out, and the ‘waste’ – which may contain a variety of toxins and heavy metals from processing – are dumped back into the water.
Another equally destructive method, vacuum mining, involves the seabed being sucked up by machines and similarly dealt with.
Scientists from Duke told the annual general meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that these processes have the potential to irrevocably destroy the seabed, along with the unique wildlife it supports. Sensitive species will be smothered by sediment and noise will have a detrimental impact on whales and other marine life, Meanwhile, fishing communities could suffer the loss of their livelihood.
There is great concern that rapidly dwindling resources may impact on our increasingly unsustainable economic system. But nonetheless, already some 19 leases have been granted over international waters for prospecting of this type – with more pending.
Hearteningly, however, there are some signs that sanity might prevail.
As an example, Namibia’s National Marine information and Research Centre has expressed such concern over the cumulative effects of seabed mining that its country’s government has imposed a moratorium until further assessments can be made about the long-term effects of these activities.
This has, thankfully, halted at least one mining company’s plans to remove between 1 and 5 metres of depth of silt, so as to extract the phosphate deposits therein, before dumping the waste slurry back into the sea.
The Research Centre insists – and it’s hard to disagree – that long-term research is needed on the impact on fish stocks and the health of the sea-bed ecology, before more of this damaging activity is undertaken.
The team adds that there is at present no real understanding or experience of this type of mining.
Surely, enough is enough: at the rate we’re going, we continue to pursue unrealistic long-term material aspirations from which only a minority of the world’s population can benefit to any real extent. It can’t be long before the inevitable decline of our short-lived industrialised ‘civilisation’.
In 2012, the United Nations’ report Global Environmental Outlook concluded that growing economies are pushing environmental systems to destabilising extremes.
Over the past three decades:
  • many of the world’s coral reefs have shrunk by some 38 per cent
  • 170 ‘dead zones’ caused by pollution have appeared in the oceans
  • soil is being increasingly degraded by industrialised and unsustainable farming methods
  • fresh water is being over-exploited
  • there has been massive species decline through habitat loss, climate change and other manmade factors.
All of this is taking place in the name of a highly blinkered vision of ‘human progress’.
Economists and politicians are fond of proclaiming that current systems have lifted billions out of poverty over the last 150 years– and that the human race has, so to speak, ‘never had it so good’.
But the fact remains, however, that the number of hungry people has risen in recent years to more than 1 billion. Further, 1.4 billion people live on less than $1,25 a day, and 2.5 billion don’t even have the most basic sanitation.
When you consider that at the end of the 18th Century, the world was burdened with barely a billion humans – and far from all of them in poverty – it’s hard not to argue that any ‘progress’ on this front is illusory.
Can we really claim progress when a billion souls die prematurely from starvation and many hundreds of millions of the world’s population are also dying before their time or being kept alive through reliance on increasingly over-stretched health and welfare systems from diseases associated with over-eating and obesity?
The irony is sickening.
A new report by the World Health Organisation recently warned that a ‘deadly’ epidemic combining physical inactivity with diets high in fats, salts and sugars has led to obesity becoming the ‘new normal throughout Europe.
Officials said, ahead of an EU Summit in Greece, that up to 27 per cent of Europe’s 13-year-olds and 33 per cent of 11-year-olds are overweight – and the US has yet a worse record, with a new generation of sedentary, unhealthy youngsters growing up.

16 April 2014

UK ‘Disappointed’ With US Over Malvinas/Falklands Support

InSerbia News

LONDON, United Kingdom – The UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee has released a report where it was revealed that members of the Committee are “disappointed” with the United States over the latter’s stance on the self-determination right of the islands’ inhabitants.


In a 67-page report, the Foreign Affairs Committee reserved a specially titled 2-page section, “Case Study: The Falklands,” where it delved into Britain’s ‘special relationship’ that it enjoys with the United States through the prism of the political situation on the islands.

In an otherwise very positive report documenting the close political ties the two nations share, the Committee did mention that they are “disappointed that the US administration fails to give priority to the principle of self-determination in its position on sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.”

The 11-member Foreign Affairs Committee, composed of five Conservative, five Labour and one Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament, noted their lament that “the United States has taken no position on the claims of sovereignty by the islands.”

The Malvinas/Falklands have been under British control since 1833, save for the two-and-a-half-month period when Argentina invaded and subsequently lost the 1982 war.

Argentina maintains that the islands were taken illegally as they were a part of Colonial Spain’s Viceroyalty of the River Plate to which it belonged, meaning that upon the loss of Spain’s South American colonies in the early 1800s, the islands in question were transferred to the newly independent Argentina.

Argentina has repeatedly attempted to bring up the issue at the United Nations, but the UK has replied by saying there is no need for discussion as the inhabitants of the islands clearly want to remain under British rule. Indeed, a referendum held last year on the islands resulted in well over 99% of the population voting to stay a part of the UK.

Argentina claims that in 1833, British forces displaced an Argentine settlement and have since occupied the islands colonially and implanted a British population there with no legal or historic rights and thus, rejects the referendum.

Instead, Buenos Aires has repeatedly called for bilateral dialogue while Britain says they will only participate in such talks if representatives from the islands, clearly in favor of the British stance, are allowed to have a seat at the table.

In its report, the Foreign Affairs Committee brought up the referendum, highlighting that the islands wished to remain a British Overseas Territory “with an overwhelming vote of 99.8 per cent.” The United States, meanwhile, did not recognize the results of the referendum as binding and officially remained ‘neutral.’

In addition, the US has consistently said that its government supports direct negotiations between the United Kingom and Argentina to resolve the issue. However, this will likely not happen any time soon due to the UK’s insistence on an islander presence at any possible talks while Argentina rejects the notion because it will ‘legitimize’ the islands politically.

Due to the position of the United States in its calling for dialogue and negotiation, many British political figures and organizations have expressed their opinion that the US is not truly ‘neutral’ in the conflict, as Argentina itself calls for dialogue.

Luke Coffey, a former advisor to a British Defense Secretary and now a member of the conservative Heritage Foundation thinktank in the US capital, told the Committee that Washington had “clearly abandoned its position of neutrality” in the dispute.

Coffey said that “Argentina’s official position over the status of the Falkland Islands is negotiations,” and by President Obama’s backing of calls for negotiations by Buenos Aires instead of remaining quiet (neutral), “this is a change from previous administrations and a departure from neutrality.”

Obama was further criticized by the Committee for “trying to play both sides” of the issue, wishing to keep the close ties with London intact while simultaneously trying to “maintain its role as master of its own house” in the Western Hemisphere. The US, meanwhile, has said that it has been attempting to improve relations with various Latin American nations, including Argentina, who is supported by its neighbors in its claims to the Malvinas/Falklands.

Another important figure, Sir Nigel Elton Sheinwald, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2012, shared his opinion with the Committee and told the panel that the “US position on the Falkland Islands had been uncomfortable and not what we wanted.”

The report further expressed disappointment with the US and its position on the islands given that “among UK Overseas Territories other than the Falkland Islands, two-Ascencion Island and the British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego Garcia)-host substantial and long-standing US military bases.”

“These arrangements that we have constitute an important UK contribution to the bilateral defense relationship with the US, and that partly as a consequence, the UK’s Overseas Territories overall constitute an important asset in the UK’s strategic partnership with the United States,” the statement says.

Ironically enough given the situation with sovereignty in the islands in the South Pacific, the second territory mentioned, Diego Garcia, has a self-determination past of its own. In 1966, the UK expelled over 2,000 of the island native inhabitants, the Chagossians, in order to establish the territory as a US regional military base with a 50-year agreement. The Chagossians are still attempting to return and establish sovereignty on the island.

Regardless of the apparent differences between the US and UK views on the islands and their sovereignty, the report does state that the links between the two government remain very strong and that “in the spirit of realism,” the single issue “simply must take its place among the many other international questions on which the US and UK are engaged.”

15 April 2014

Samoa M.P. joins International Parliamentarians for West Papua

STANDING UP: Aana Alofi No. 3 M.P., Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster.

Aana Alofi No. 3 M.P., Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, has become the first Samoan Member of Parliament to join a global group of parliamentarians calling for self-determination for West Papua.

In doing so, Toeolesulusulu is the 86th member to join the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, and only the seventh from the entire Pacific Islands region.

The group was launched in the Houses of Parliament, London, in 2008, following decades of reports about human rights abuses by Indonesian security forces in West Papua.

The West Papua Declaration signed by the M.P.s reads,

“We the undersigned recognise the inalienable right of the indigenous people of West Papua to self-determination, which was violated in the 1969 “Act of Free Choice”,

AND call upon our governments through the United Nations to put in place arrangements for the free exercise of that right SO that the indigenous people of West Papua can decide democratically their own future in accordance with international standards of human rights, the principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.”

Toeolesulusulu is no recent convert to the cause, having first learnt about West Papua over a decade ago when he was working in Fiji for the World Wide Fund for Nature (W.W.F.).

One of the other groups also working there was the P.C.R.C., the Pacific Centre for Resource Concerns, which had long focused on making the region nuclear free, as well as supporting independence efforts.

People from West Papua were campaigning in Fiji at the time, and they, along with most other non- governmental organisations there at the time, got to hear about their concerns.

However, since then, that interest and support for West Papua is actually “waning”, said Toeolesulusulu, “in the 80s and 90s, there was strong lobbying, there was more active work going on.”

This is partly because Pacific states have moved on from their founding years, when international issues of independence have region. turned to domestic issues of sustainability and economic growth.

He also blames a lack of leadership from western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, but also closer partners like New Zealand and Australia – all with their own interests in West Papua.

“New Zealand and Australia are tied to Indonesia with trade and military connections,” said Toeolesulusulu.

He agreed that trade links had had a corrupting influence on regional politics, but indicated the problem was wider than just the region.

“It’s a global phenomenon, you look at Africa, South America, and how the United States, for example, pushes its global agendas to get their way. Also New Zealand and Australia, they also have interest to push, to put their own people first.”

However, he did not agree with criticism that the Melanesian Spearhead Group had ‘sold out’ when it recently signed trade and sovereignty agreements with Indonesia.

“That’s a strong statement.

“As I’ve said, the relationships now are more directed towards trade and development assistance, and a lot of countries are looking more to their local needs.”

As Indonesia continues to pour thousands of its own migrants into West Papua, getting self-determination for West Papua gets harder, he says.

“They should have done the right thing at that time. “It’s even harder now with still more Indonesians coming into the region.”

But he says it’s an important area of human rights, “that we should be doing more to make a stand.

“Especially when you look at how the Pacific Islands came about, when you look at Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, all these countries had colonial powers.”

Toeolesulusulu praises the role taken up by Vanuatu. “Countries like Vanuatu are starting to take a strong interest.”

Earlier this month, Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Kalosil Carcasses, a founding member of the IPWP, speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, called for international action on West Papua.

"Why are we not discussing it in this Council, why are we turning a blind eye to them and closing our ears to the lone voices of the Papuan people, many of whom have shed innocent blood because they want justice and freedom."

Mr. Carcasses said roughly 10 percent of the indigenous population have been killed by Indonesian security forces since 1963.

More recently, between October 2011 and March 2013, 25 Papuans were murdered but nothing has been done to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He urged the Council to consider adopting a resolution to establish a country mandate on the situation in West Papua, which would include an investigation of alleged human rights violations, and provide recommendations on a peaceful political solution.

14 April 2014

Report on Economic Implications of U.S. statehood for Puerto Rico examined


El informe de la Oficina General de Contabilidad (GAO, por sus siglas en inglés) sobre cuánto le costaría a Estados Unidos la estadidad para Puerto Rico lo que hace es tensar el debate en el Congreso de ese país sobre la posibilidad de la estadidad para la Isla. En lugar de que el Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) reclame vítores de que la estadidad traería un aumento de fondos federales a Puerto Rico, debería preocuparse en cómo atender esas tensiones y cómo la Isla puede enfrentar la debacle económica que la estadidad conlleva.

El Dr. Javier Colón Morera apuntó en entrevista que en el Congreso de Estados Unidos siempre ha habido una especie de tensión respecto a los argumentos que se usan en Puerto Rico a favor de la estadidad que se centran en el aumento en los fondos federales. Este argumento genera poca receptividad, resaltó. El estudioso de la política estadounidense trajo a la atención el que ahora mismo en la Cámara de Representantes el sector importante que lidera la opinión de ese cuerpo le da mucha atención a la disciplina fiscal. No descartó que en las próximas elecciones de noviembre esa ala derecha también controle el Senado por lo que “en ese sentido el informe recrudece la tensión que existe entre argumentar en Puerto Rico de que la estadidad es buena porque permite más fondos federales y por otro lado los sectores en el Congreso que están buscando formas de reducir el déficit de su presupuesto y la deuda pública de Estados Unidos. Ahí hay un choque con los sectores conservadores desde una perspectiva fiscal”.

Colón Morera, quien es profesor del Departamento de Ciencia Política de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), Recinto de Río Piedras, agregó que el otro tema importante del informe del GAO es el de los impuestos y la posibilidad de que las empresas que tienen tratamiento fiscal como empresas foráneas (CFC) se vayan de la Isla al tener que imponerles el impuesto federal.

Al cuestionarle si cree que en términos políticos es correcta la prédica del PNP a favor de la estadidad cimentada en los beneficios económicos que ello supone, apuntó, “creo francamente que el PNP, como todo partido grande, es una coalición de fuerzas. Puede haber un sector que quiera la estadidad porque considera que Estados Unidos es su nación y hay otros sectores que no, que van a estar más preocupados por cómo aumentan los fondos federales. En Estados Unidos pasa lo mismo, puede haber unos sectores liberales que digan ‘nosotros queremos liberarnos de la acusación de colonialismo en Puerto Rico, así que vamos a aumentar los fondos federales, vamos a tratar de forma más igualitaria’. Incluso se plantean la estadidad como forma de liberarse de la herencia del colonialismo”.

A juicio de Colón Morera, con este informe del GAO, por primera vez se ha estado considerando en el Congreso exclusivamente la alternativa de la estadidad. Anotó que el último proceso donde se discutió seriamente el asunto del estatus de Puerto Rico fue de 1989 a 1991, en el cual participaron los tres partidos políticos. “El informe ofrece la oportunidad para que el Congreso examine la única opción de cambio que se le está planteando, que es la estadidad. Creo que es un debate importante y que está incluyendo aspectos económicos, pero que en cualquier momento puede moverse a incluir aspectos de otros temas. Definitivamente hay que seguirlo”.

Aunque en este momento es una interrogante saber si la Cámara le va a dar vistas o no al proyecto del comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi, la fraseología al final del informe del GAO, que alude al impacto fiscal tan grande en términos negativos que tendría la estadidad sobre Puerto Rico, provoca que la cita a vistas públicas y la discusión del tema es una decisión que el Congreso no puede tomar livianamente, consideró Colón Morera.

El efecto sobre la clase media

Por su parte, el profesor Raúl Cotto Serrano destacó las lagunas que deja el informe del GAO respecto a la clase media en la Isla, que considera que prácticamente desaparecería con la anexión.

Bajo la estadidad, la clase media sería la que tendría que pagar los impuestos federales y los de Puerto Rico y frente al hecho de que los ingresos no van a aumentar porque la Isla sea estado, los impuestos del ELA tendrían que bajar para dar lugar a que se puedan cobrar los impuestos federales. Reparó en que éstos tienen prioridad bajo la estadidad y no se van a reducir porque Estados Unidos tiene unas escalas para todos los estados.

“Eso quiere decir que la clase media aportaría menos al erario puertorriqueño, los ingresos del gobierno estatal se reducirían”. A juicio de Cotto Serrano, aun cuando eso confirma algo que los anexionistas siempre han dicho, el problema es el efecto que tiene la estadidad sobre el sistema entero de la economía y el gobierno puertorriqueño.

El también profesor de Ciencia Política del Recinto de Río Piedras de la UPR adelantó que un cambio de estatus hacia la estadidad como presenta el informe provocaría un disloque social muy grande, porque ante la reducción notable del mercado laboral aquí, habría un sector importante de la población que podría llegar a la conclusión de que el sistema laboral no tiene nada que ofrecerles y que no vale la pena estar tratando de conseguir trabajo y educarse para conseguir trabajo.

Coincidió en que el ambiente en la Isla puede provocar que más personas de la clase media continúen emigrando hacia estados en el continente que les ofrecen ventajas económicas, laborales y sociales más cómodas, por lo que acusó que el informe lo que hace en alguna medida es alentar el interés de una clase media a irse de Puerto Rico. “Si un número importante de la clase pobre se ve desalentado para el trabajo y numerosos de la clase media se ven incentivados para emigrar, ¿qué es lo que va a quedar?”, lanzó con tono de incertidumbre.

Según Cotto Serrano, dentro del movimiento estadista ha habido una paradoja durante mucho tiempo, que se agudiza de manera profunda ante esta situación, y es que los estadistas han cultivado y defendido la dependencia económica de Puerto Rico con respecto a EE UU como un incentivo para atraer votos.

Ahora el informe muestra el lado débil de esa estrategia. Punto seguido destacó que la “ayuda” que ofrece EE UU no está diseñada para sacar a la gente de la pobreza sino mantener a la gente en la pobreza, como tampoco el dinero recibido está dirigido a actividades productivas sino para el consumo, lo que resulta en fuga de capital.

Cotto Serrano recalcó que los estadistas deberían estar más preocupados por el informe porque cada vez pone a la estadidad en una posición más incómoda para el comprador, EE UU, lo que provoca a su vez que si el informe del GAO es el mecanismo para atraer a los pobres hacia la estadidad, es también el mecanismo para distanciar a los estadounidenses. Por parte de EE UU tiene ante sí la situación de una población cuyo vínculo con EE UU no es social, ni patriótico.

Aludiendo a la euforia en que se encuentra el movimiento estadista reclamando que haya un plebiscito de estadidad sí o no para que se demuestre el apoyo que hay de los pobres a lo que presenta el GAO, apuntó en su lugar que el movimiento estadista tiene la responsabilidad de contestar no sólo al pueblo puertorriqueño, sino también al pueblo estadounidense cómo se va a sostener el estado de Puerto Rico ya que no hay ninguna justificación racional para que el pueblo estadounidense acepte un nuevo estado que de su faz se ve que es inviable.

Respecto al estadolibrismo, indicó que por lo menos a corto plazo el informe puede reducirle su base de apoyo entre los pobres además de que han sido muy poco efectivos al tratar de contrarrestar el mensaje de la estadidad.

Acotó que el independentismo tampoco debe quedarse fuera de la discusión y debe reaccionar porque tiene la responsabilidad ante el país de exigir que los estadistas presenten un plan que haga a Puerto Rico viable bajo la estadidad y no debe permitir que se proclame la estadidad aunque a Puerto Rico no le convenga. Apuntó que ese tipo de planteamiento tiene un efecto sobre el poder de convocatoria del independentismo porque en la medida en que se dirija a la clase pobre y trate de recabar su apoyo entonces va a encontrar que hay la resistencia por la idea de que es en la estadidad donde la persona va a tener mas ingresos a corto plazo.

El profesor Cotto Serrano recordó que ninguno de los territorios antes de ser estados ha tenido los vínculos de dependencia que tiene Puerto Rico, sino que eran entidades viables que se hicieron estados de EE UU. Por el contrario, muchos territorios fueron hechos estados porque llegó un momento en que el Gobierno Federal había decidido que para el desarrollo de la nación era necesario dominar todo el territorio hasta el Pacífico.

En el caso de la Isla, destacó que no hay un proyecto nacional de Estados Unidos que requiera que se le incorpore como estado para cumplir sus metas, porque tiene todo lo que quiere de Puerto Rico sin hacernos estado y gastar todo ese dinero.

En lo que respecta al independentismo advirtió, “los independentistas les están dejando el problema a los Populares como si fuera un problema de los Populares, pero si los Populares pierden esa batalla la receptividad al mensaje independentista va a ser más baja”.

11 April 2014


Alexander F. Gittens
APRIL 10, 2014 - 4:52 AM

1804caribvoices joins the international community in mourning the passing of two of CARICOM’s most distinguished sons.  The region has lost two great minds and patriots.  We mourn the passing yet celebrate the life and legacy of former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister and President, Arthur Napoleon Raymond (ANR) Robinson and distinguished scholar, thinker and integrationist, Professor Emeritus Norman Girvan.  Their contributions to the regional and international  communities will have a lasting impact.
ANRArthur N.R. Robinson will be remembered for, among other things his courageous position in the face of  grave personal danger when the country and seat of power were threatened.  The phrase “murderous scoundrels… attack with full force” – his command to the military, in response to demands to surrender the country and democracy to insurgents, has become part of his epithet and continues to inspire citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
ANR Robinson’s legal and intellectual contribution to the formation of the International Criminal Court  places him in the pantheon of exceptional Caribbean and international leaders.  1804caribvoices remembers Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson.
1804caribvoices also remembers its founder, Professor Emeritus Norman Girvan.  “Prof” as he was fondly called by his students, colleagues and comrades, leaves a great legacy.  His contribution to the regional integration project will not go unnoticed.  He was an integrationist to the core.  Norman was an intellectual giant yet remained humble and simple. In the coming weeks, months and years, his name will be mentioned in the same breath as CLR James, W. Arthur Lewis, Lloyd Best and Walter Rodney, to mention a few.
NormanProfessor Girvan’s contribution to the Caribbean, the Global South and indeed the international community goes back decades.  He was the second Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States; Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica; Senior Research Fellow at the United Nations African Institute for Development and Planning in Dakar; Regional Coordinator of the Caribbean Technology Policy Studies Project of the University of the West Indies/University of Guyana; Chief Technical Director of the National Planning Agency of the Government of Jamaica; Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies; Visiting Fellow at the Universities of Chile, McGill, Northwestern, Sussex and Yale; and visiting consultant to the South Center.  In all of this he remained just Norman.
I am sure many who knew Norman better than I do and will offer personal stories about him.  1804caribvoices will give them the opportunity so to do.
Today we remember and celebrate the life, contributions and achievements of two of the Caribbean’s finest.  1804caribvoices especially feels the loss of Professor Girvan whose vision for a united Caribbean and confidence in future generations to achieve that dream, joined with colleagues and his former students, to unselfishly form 1804caribvoices: Pan-Caribbean voices for Integration and Social Justice.  His confidence was not ill placed.
In what must be fate, Norman passed in Cuba, a country he held dearly.
1804caribvoices knows that a brief statement on these two illustrious sons will not suffice so we dedicate at least the next two weeks to reflect and honour them and to give expression to the many voices which will certainly want an opportunity to pay homage to our brothers and comrades.  We extend sincerest condolences to the families of Arthur N.R. Robinson and Norman Girvan.  Your loss is shared by us all.
To ANR Robinson and Norman Girvan, your labours have not been in vain.  You fought a good fight.  You finished the course.  You kept the faith.  You have inspired generations and we will continue the work, as you indeed continued from those who went before.  We will houour you and your legacy.  A luta continua, Vitoria e certa!

Sénat : Richard Tuheiava propose de protéger les terres et savoirs agricoles des Outre-mer


Richard Tuheiava, l'un des deux sénateurs polynésiens
Richard Tuheiava, l'un des deux sénateurs polynésiens

PAPEETE, le 8 avril 2014 – En commission parlementaire du sénat sur le projet de loi d'avenir pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et la forêt, le sénateur polynésien Richard Tuheiava a co-déposé cinq amendements vendredi 4 avril, dont plusieurs sont destinés à mieux protéger les ressources agricoles outre-mer. Par exemple pour lutter contre le phénomène de mitage, le sénateur et cinq collègues socialistes des DOM-TOM ont proposé l’amendement 473 rectifié. Le mitage (ou grignotage) est ce phénomène qui voit une maison s’installer en zone rurale, puis une autre, et encore une, jusqu’à ce que les anciens champs soient transformés en quartiers résidentiels. Un grave problème pour l’agriculture, en particulier à la Réunion. Les sénateurs veulent donner aux SAFER (des sociétés publiques chargées de dynamiser l’agriculture) plus de pouvoir pour racheter des terres agricoles disputées par l’urbanisation. Des propositions de ce genre ont déjà été bloquées 26 fois par la commission des finances. Un bras de fer parlementaire est donc en cours. 

Deux autres amendements défendus par les six sénateurs ultramarins ont plus de chances de passer. L’un veut adapter la réglementation sur les projets d'intérêt général (PIG) aux spécificités de l’Outre-mer. Ces PIG permettent entre autres de faciliter des projets d’aménagement ou de protection de l’espace naturel. L’autre proposition veut mieux protéger l'accès aux ressources génétiques et aux savoirs traditionnels de nos territoires. 

Une dernière proposition, qui a cette fois rassemblé d'autres sénateurs socialistes et de droite à l’intérêt plus métropolitain, vise à combler les « dents creuses » dans les villages du littoral. Les terres en bord de mer sont en effet protégées en métropole, mais certains hameaux ont des espaces non construits au milieu de parcelles bâties (les fameuses « dents creuses »). Les populations se plaignaient que de nouveaux hameaux soient autorisés à être construits alors qu’il reste de la place dans les villages existant. Cet amendement a de fortes chances de passer.