Trampling on the tribes: ‘The Corporate Way’

Photo from survivalinternational.org
You might think Man has come a long way from the Dutch and English slave masters of the 18th Century selling work-able men and women from Africa at “markets” in North, Central and South America. But look at the attitudes to indigenous people.

The facts are that in our day and age Power – the ability to do things irrespective of any resistance from anybody – has been fundamentally privatized worldwide.So when private corporations decide to grab resource-rich lands they use all methods – modern and primitive – to get their way, as occurs for example, with the primitive Awá Indian tribe dwelling in Brazil’s Amazonian rainforest where major logging companies simply hunt them down to extermination.

For the Awá people, modern Western “democracy”, “market economy” and “human rights” mean decimation so complete that, according to a London Guardian newspaper report last Sunday 22nd April, today there’s only 355 of them left.The whole tribe could easily fit inside a jumbo jet!

That’s the result of the private logging industry inside Brazil ramming into the Amazon forest to get their trees.Reminiscent of the film “Avatar” these corporations use strong private armies of pistoleros – gun-toting “soldiers of fortune” – to round up and kill anyone, primitive aboriginal or local townsfolk, who doesn’t immediately grasp the benefits of the “market economy”

Why did this particular case reach the Western press? Because an NGO called “Survival International” campaigns in the Awa’s defense, supported by British actor Colin Firth. No doubt, this at least is something, but…what about all the other thousands of tribes and unprotected, voiceless peoples throughout the world who haven’t caught the eye of any Oscar-winning actor?

Does a British NGO helping an Amazonian tribe basically serve to publicly ease Western governments’ and corporations’ dirty conscious?If so, then it’s little help considering the untold millions of suffering aboriginal and poor local peoples elsewhere.

The Guardian explains how the Awa’s misfortunes date back to the early eighties when European Economic Community and World Bank-funded programs promoted mass iron-ore extraction in Brazil’s Amazonia.That ripped open Awá country to railways, roads and mining.As money-hungry corporations worked their way through the resource food-chain in that region now its forestry’s turn, hence the logging companies recruiting pistoleros to do their dirty work against the Awa for them. Investigating their plight, even Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (Funai) reported they “did not dare to stop the loggers who were almost certainly armed.”

This, in fact, has been one of the World Bank’s key missions over the past 30 years or so: ensuring that dozens of weak countries around the world enact legislation favoring mining company interests by making their highly contaminating mining processes “legal” at the local level. The World Bank is just one of many Corporate Over-world tools used to control national governments.

Another example. Canadian transnational gold mining giant Barrick Gold’s rapacious behavior has triggered myriads of protests from aborigine groups and local people in Argentina and Chile, who have seen their livelihoods endangered and turned upside-down by open-air dynamite-based mining techniques intensively using highly poisonous Cyanide in their processes, killing off animals, wildlife and people.

Mega-mining corporations pressed the governments of Chile and Argentina to sanction local laws, and in 2000 even a bilateral treaty, granting giants like Barrick full autonomy, tantamount to territorial sovereignty, over huge tracts of territory where they prospect and mine gold on the Andes Mountains.This legislation “facilitates investor’s actions in developing mining business… with the use of all types of natural resources, supplies and infrastructure”.

The key to understanding why they get away with all these lies in the highly asymmetrical relationship that exists between the very powerful private Corporate Over-world bent on maximizing profits, and increasingly weak public institutions and governments unable or unwilling to defend the Common Interest of their local populations.

In fact, this forms an integral part of a giant corporations’ strategic exploitation process, that includes controlling local authorities so that theypass legislation promoting corporate interests (or block legislation limiting those interests), and then exerting little or no controls.

A good (or bad!!) example of this is Governor Beder Herrera of Argentina’s mining-rich La Rioja Province who before becoming governor organized public protests against Barrick Gold.This made him popular and later got him being elected governor, whereupon he “saw the light”, negotiated with Barrick, retracted on everything he had said and now fully backs Barrick who use their pistoleros against the Citizens’ Assemblies for Life groups.Governor Herrera has even made anti-Barrick protests illegal in his province.

So, to understand how the poor and defenseless of this world are kept ever poor and defenseless, one need first understand how today’s Global Power System actually works.

It systematically preys on weak local governments that are easily neutralized, or invited to “join up and partner” with major corporate interests, or simply thrown out in a multitude of ways: ranging historically from orchestrated military and financial coups, and media operations, to today’s complex engineered popular insurrections (in the Middle East, aka as “The Arab Spring”).

These are sobering reminders that today’s world is run not by “international law”, nor by the quest for the “common good” of the people, nor – much less – by “democracy”.No, no: today’s world is run by people wielding Power.

And a Law of Iron governs the use of Power: Those who wield Power use it in their interest and benefit; whilst those who wield little or no power have no choice but to suffer the consequences of the actions of individuals, corporations, entities and countries that do wield power to impose their interests and objectives on everybody.

You might say, “OK, the world’s been this way ever since the dawn of history” and you would probably be right.But never in history has naked power been wielded with such insolent hypocrisy as it is today.At least, past empires openly invaded, exploited and colonized weaker nations for their own benefit, so the vanquished knew right away who their enemy was.Today’s imperialists, however, demand that we believe that they promote “human rights”, “freedom” and “democracy”.

The more things change, the more they remain the same…

Adrian Salbuchi for RT

­Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina. www.asalbuchi.com.ar

Disclaimer: ­The views and opinions expressed in the story are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.