Loesje and the fight against cynicism
While Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, our host to Rio +20, relentlessly continues to violate human rights through the construction of large dams, our State Secretaries Knapen and Atsma applaud the miracle of a plane that supposedly flied on 2nd generation biofuels and seem to be convinced that this is the kind of change we need.
At the same time, in neighbouring Paraguay, the democratically elected president Lugo is expelled by his own Parliament in a not se very democratic way. Political analysts see a clear relation between the push for his resignation and the recent refusals of the Ministers of Health and Environment to allow genetically modified soy to enter the country, as well as Lugo's initiative to raise taxes on soy production. Rumours have it that Monsanto, the only company that operates in Paraguay, has exercised its influence in these recent political developments.
Meanwhile, the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, regarded by many as an opponent of neoliberal capitalism, joyfully announces that she, on behalf of the Argentine state, just signed lucrative contracts with Monsanto, Cargill and Wal-Mart, symbols for a particular type of company that does not excel in sustainability and justice.
My cynicism gets in full swing with every page I read in Treasure Islands. The book explains how tax havens like the U.S. and the UK, but also the Netherlands, enable companies and individuals to escape paying taxes and how they fuel crime and corruption. Tax havens are governed by unknown, invisible and elusive regulatory systems that make any agreement that we might reach on sustainable development incredibly vulnerable. With the knowledge of Treasure Islands we should look again at the tremendous risks involved in introducing market mechanisms in nature conservation and management.
From Rio I got an text message from our colleague Nathalie about her meeting with our two State Secretaries. Faced with her remark that Rio +20 is a great disappointment, our government representatives replied that it is unfortunate that some of us can only see the glass half empty. They found that, "given the expectations", Rio was still quite successful. Well...
Luckily I ran into one of the marvellous slogans of Loesje, a Dutch initiative to brighten up the world with smart ideas and observations. Loesje helped me to put my cynicism at bay: 'Whether the glass is now half full or half empty, pour me another bit... !'
article in Spanish about the 'coup' of Monsanto in Paraguay
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