Tuesday, June 07, 2005

'War on Terror' Has Indigenous People in Its Sights

by Gustavo González, IPS

The ”war on terror”, identified in Amnesty International's annual report as a new source of human rights abuses, is threatening to expand to Latin America, targeting indigenous movements that are demanding autonomy and protesting free-market policies and ”neo-liberal” globalisation.

Pedro Cayuqueo, director of the Mapuche newspaper Azkintuwe, also from the city of Temuco, wrote that the growing indigenous activism in Latin America and Islamic radicalism are both depicted as threats to the security and hegemony of the United States in the ”Global Trends 2020 - Mapping the Global Future” study by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC).

NIC works with 13 government agencies, including the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), and is advised by experts from the United States and other countries. Cayuqueo described the report as ”a veritable x-ray” of potential ”counterinsurgency scenarios” from now to the year 2020.

Aymara activist leader in Bolivia, Juan de la Cruz Vilca accused foreign oil companies of backing the demands for regional autonomy put forth by business and large landowners in the wealthy eastern regions where the country's natural gas reserves are concentrated.

”Behind that movement lies a hidden plan aimed at generating a violent reaction by the indigenous movements, in order to justify external military intervention,” he maintained.

The land conflicts that are currently raging began with the arrival of the foreign mining, oil, forestry and water companies, Mauro Millán, leader of the Mapuche Tehuelche Organisation of Argentina, told IPS. ”The United States is trying to depict the reaction of the Mapuche people in defence of their land as an internal security problem facing our countries,” he said.


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