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An anti-imperialist speech from the Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, during the Summit of Amazonian Presidents

Alvaro Enrique Saldivia Lopez

Aug 12, 2023

"I think it is important, after listening to all the presentations and reflections, to highlight what the Amazon basin means for our region and for the world. It must be something well-known to our peoples. The Amazon Basin, as you have already said and many other presidents, is the basin with the world's most biological diversity.

This basin, with one of its largest rivers, discharges 20% of its fresh water into the Atlantic. It also represents 40% of the world's tropical forests as well as 25% of biodiversity and the largest number of fish species in its fluvial spaces. It is, as the president of Bolivia said, a great thermal regulator and capturer of 10% of the carbon emitted worldwide, supplying 16% of the oxygen for humanity.

These numbers have placed on our shoulders the responsibility for the existence of human life on the planet; not only for our peoples, for the peoples of our countries, but also for all of humanity. Today, I want to expose the serious threats that are close to our countries in our region.

Firstly, on the very clear message from President Nicolás Maduro and his proposal to address this situation:

His first point is that we declare a regional emergency for the Amazon countries. We find ourselves in the midst of a genuine crisis, as we witness the magnitude of the significance of and harm done to the Amazon Basin. President Nicolás Maduro is putting forth the idea of establishing a powerful ACTO Environmental Task Force. This task force would be comprised of representatives from various chancelleries, ministries of environment, ministries of defense, as well as coordinating bodies and unions. The objective is to collectively tackle a situation beyond our individual capacity to address and which demands a collaborative approach.

In his second initiative, President Nicolás Maduro is advocating for a zero-deforestation strategy. The question of negotiation arises: what percentages of deforestation should we consider acceptable? Should it be over 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, or even 70%? This is akin to asking, what is the value of life? It's the very inquiry we are facing here: what is the price of life? Can life be assigned a monetary value? Urgent attention is required on this matter. This proposed zero deforestation plan holds the potential to pinpoint critical zones, accurately measure deforestation rates, assess forest coverage, comprehend the scale of greenhouse gas emissions, and establish sustainable practices as viable economic alternatives. Just yesterday, President Lula emphasized that "this region cannot remain a mere sanctuary; rather, it necessitates balanced economic advancement." We also echo this sentiment of sovereignty and ecological consciousness; this is what President Lula alludes to with the idea of harmonious and equitable progress for the communities inhabiting this region. This pertains to the 400 indigenous communities who share this space, this verdant lung of our planet.

President Nicolás Maduro's third point introduces a reforestation and rejuvenation blueprint for the Amazon region. This proposal underscores the paramount importance of establishing an Amazonian seed bank that safeguards the region's biodiversity. Furthermore, it advocates for the creation of an Amazon-focused entity tasked with combating forest fires and instituting safeguard zones.

I think that this moment requires us to think about Amazonian identity. This entails strengthening institutions but also thinking about what the Amazonian identity means, which is why in his fourth point he also calls for eliminating the use of heavy metals in mining activities. This would mean a total prohibition and the very important articulation of an Amazonian Parliament.

Similarly, his fifth point involves the eradication of illegal mining and its substitution with responsible mining practices.

We have also heard the sixth initiative, namely to create an Amazon Research Center that would provide instruments and mechanisms to monitor the real crisis that we face. Science has already coined concepts such as the abrupt climate crisis, where the only thing that reigns and explains is uncertainty. But when the abrupt climate crisis arrives, towns will have practically no possibility of defense. So this Amazon Research Center is a scientific compass which also conforms to an Amazon Scientific Council and which allows for the preservation of biodiversity and ancestral and community knowledge that has preserved biodiversity.

President Maduro's seventh point proposes the launch of an Amazonian satellite that allows us to remotely monitor our region.

The eighth point involves an ecological and sovereign sustainable development plan. We already know that the Amazon has lost 20% of its size due to illegal activities, due to the anarchic activities of cattle ranching and logging. The peoples truly require a sustainable, sovereign, ecological economic plan, in harmony and in balance with the rights of nature.

And finally, his ninth axis deals with this organization as an institution. Many have raised this and we really can integrate all the options that have been presented here to allow us to reaffirm our sovereignty and address the serious threats facing the Amazon Basin today.

We must create councils for ministers of the environment, science and technology, health, defense, security, economy, indigenous peoples, social movements, and institutionalize all the potentialities of the states in a way that does not postpone a plan of action in the defense of the Amazon. But here we have to be frank and speak with the heart and the mind, and seek a good understanding. There are serious threats that we cannot avoid and that we must address. President Petro called to talk about the disagreements, but there are many practical proposals on which we agree.

We identify the voracity of transnational pharmaceutical and food emporiums as serious threats. 14 large food companies and 11 large pharmaceutical companies concentrate the capital the world today and as well as markets. If a reality caused the pandemic and is causing the war, it is a greater concentration of capital and a greater concentration of the market that favors very few in the world and creates profound social inequalities with the peoples of this planet.

The second serious threat is the outsourcing of the function of the states. That is why I say that the path is not to decentralize the states but rather to strengthen the capacities and functions of the state. Do not hand it over to non-governmental organizations that are ultimately instrumentalized by the large pharmaceutical, food, and energy empires to seize the great biodiversity of our Amazon Basin.

The third major threat is the aspiration of NATO to commodify the biodiversity of the Amazon Basin. And here we have to call ourselves to reflect. Because sooner or later, and I would say sooner rather than later, there will come a time when the interests of this organization will conflict with the interests of the North Atlantic empires. So how can we let US, European, and NATO military bases exist in our countries? We know that the countries of the North Atlantic already have their sights set strategically on the resources, the water, and the biodiversity of this expanse of territory that, as we said, represents 40% of the tropical forests on the entire planet.

So we believe that this organization should be at the service of the political, economic and territorial sovereignty of the countries that make up ACTO. Hopefully, never again will any instance or structure of ours be used to ignore legitimate governments or to endorse economic blockades that prevent the true defense and protection of the resources of our Amazon. We pray that this sad page in the history of our organization will never again be repeated.

Ultimately, President Lula, what is present here is a profound debate between a criminal international economic order with obscene profits and a sustainable development model that guarantees a true balance between the land, the oceans and the atmosphere.

I want to take advantage of this space to denounce the North's attack against progressive nationalist governments in our region and particularly against the countries of the Amazon Basin. Every time we receive news about death threats against President Lula, we know that behind these are the interests of those who prefer to have a government in Brazil and in the Amazon Basin that is complacent towards illegal activities and the destruction of biodiversity, and which accommodates the interests of the North. Given this, what do we have left? We are obliged and called to coordination and union. If we want to preserve this environmental soul of humanity and the planet, there is no other way.

Of those 8 flags that we see there, President Lula, 5 countries were liberated by Our Father Simón Bolívar. And I want to close with words from his Letter from Jamaica, in which he wrote: 'Surely unity is what we lack to complete the work of our regeneration.' Well, we are in a vital regeneration to preserve and take responsibility for life itself on Our Planet. The message of Venezuela is: 'Union, union and more union!' Thank you very much, President."

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