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"Planet or Death!" -- Bolivian President Evo Morales' Courageous Speech at World People's Conference on Climate Change

"Without equilibrium between people, there will be no equilibrium between humans and nature."

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Sponsoring a conference with the radical approach of the CMPCC puts Morales, the first indigenous head of state in Bolivia, a majority-indigenous country, in direct conflict with another head of state whose election marked a historic political and racial shift, Barack Obama, who also played an active role in the Copenhagen “consensus.

“The failure of Copenhagen caused Evo Morales and other leaders on climate change to call for the (CMPCC) conference,” said Lim Li Lin, senior legal and environment researcher at the Third World Network, a global rights group based in Malaysia. “By leading Copenhagen, Obama helped provide a platform for the alternative leadership of the movement led by President Morales.”

The growing conflict between the political interests and agendas embodied by Obama and Morales was on full display recently when the United States decided to cut aid for climate change to Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries opposed to the Copenhagen accord. Representatives of some of the governments attending the conference also told me that the Obama administration and other industrialized nations were applying pressure on countries not to attend the CMPCC. Though he may not intend it, Morales' leadership of the revolutionary movement for the rights of Mother Earth also appears to be overshadowing, at least momentarily, the hemispheric and global left leadership of his ally and fellow conference attendee, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has received similar treatment from the Obama administration.

Bursting with enthusiasm under the blaring hot sun filling the stadium that shook with chants of “ Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Evo, Evo ,” Marcelina Vargas, a Quechua-speaking member of the Peasant Confederation of Peru, accepted Morales’ Planeta o Muerte ( Kay Pa Chachu o wanyuychu in Quechua). “For our people, for everybody, water is life. In Peru, we’re defending Pachamama (Mother Earth) from companies with U.S. and Canadian investments, companies that are contaminating our water,” said Vargas, who wore one of the ubiquitous hats and ponchos seen throughout the region. “Evo is an expression of our movement and I feel happy he’s helping the world see our ways.”

Roberto Lovato is a New York-based writer with New America Media . Read more of his work at Of América .

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