rn: the cost of imperialism/globalization (U’wa) & “natives & moon”


Jan Slakov

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 12:12:57 +0000
From: Paul Swann <•••@••.•••>
Subject: The cost of globalization

Please read to the end of this message.

Thank you.

(With apologies for cross-postings)


Banking on earth, light, water

Berito Kuwar U'wa of the U'wa people


Copied with permission from Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures,
Spring 1999 issue: Economics as if Life Matters

Yes! PO Box 10878, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 (206/842-0216)
http://www.futurenet.org Subscriptions $24/year.

Berito Kuwar U'wa is a leader of the U'wa people, an indigenous group in
Colombia that is struggling to regain control of their traditional land.

The U'wa people have a traditional constitution that was created many years
ago. We look at the way that life works and the way life is interrelated.

The petroleum companies create their own constitutions and decrees with a
computer. They plant the seeds of this constitution all over the entire
world, and it's not for the benefit of the world. It's for the benefit of
their country and themselves. The petroleum companies believe that they can
be the landlords of the world, that they can control the whole world until
it ends. Until it dies.

The money that the U'wa have is the Earth. Everything that we make, that we
sow, that we grow, we also consume in our community. We don't have to sell
it, and we don't have to buy things. The U'wa don't need money to build a
house, for example. When we want to build a house, we plant a cassava
plant. Then we take the cassava and make a drink called chicha, which is
like our money. We pay people with chicha to come and help build the house.

As we say, "The sun is the money." The Earth is also money - it's our gold.
The water is also our gold. That's what we value. The Earth is what gives
us everything that we need to live, to eat, and to drink. The light that
the sun gives, the moon, our relationship with the moon - these are things
that we need to value so that life can continue. We need light, because
right now we are hungry. If we are hungry and we need food, where does that
food come from? It comes from light; it comes from the Earth.

You should think about water. What is water worth? How do you value it?
Water should be free for everyone. But now we're supposed to pay the
government for water, when the water is born from our territory. Water is a
benefit for everyone. All the world has property rights over water. But the
government  makes this law so the campesinos - farmers - have to pay. And
it's very sad. It shouldn't be this way.

The government wants to have $40 billion in its bank. U'wa, all of us
equally, are very poor. The bank that we have is the Earth, so we respect
many things. We don't kill each other. There's nobody who has more money
than anybody else. There's not this sense of inequality. If somebody
doesn't have food, for example, then a person with food needs to give it to
the one without. The poor help those who are even poorer. That is the U'wa.

We have always said that we don't want to enter the culture of money. Our
word for it is "the number of money." That's what we call their culture.
Why? There's this mountain of money that only some people have. Tomorrow we
will fight over that money, brother against brother.

No, that simply doesn't work.

It would be good if the people in America understood the organizational
structures of the indigenous people of the world. The indigenous people
have the most ancient structures of the world, and they have a kind of
intelligence that is very concrete and complete. I've seen indigenous
people from many parts of the world, and we are all almost exactly equal.
Our hearts give us the intelligence to know we shouldn't rule the world.

There are many laws in the world, but no one thinks to protect Mother
Earth. But I think that if the petroleum companies continue to exploit the
petroleum, they will take all of the strength and spirit out of Mother
Earth. If they do this, if they take it all, then we're all going to die.
That's why I said to one of these petroleum men, "Take all of that money
you make and stuff it into the Earth, and see if it sustains life. That
money won't sustain anyone."

For more information on the U'wa, or to obtain their information booklet,
"Blood of our Mother", contact Project Underground, 1847 Berkeley Way,
Berkeley, CA 94703; E-mail: <•••@••.•••>; Web:

The U'wa: the "thinking people" of Colombia

The U'wa are known as "the thinking people" or "the people that speak
well," because for thousands of years they maintained peaceful
relationships with surrounding tribes without the use of weapons or war.

>From 1940 to 1970, the Colombian governnment took away more than 85% of
U'wa traditional territory. Since 1940, contact diseases, violence, and
loss of land have killed more than 18,000 U'wa. Two U'wa clans were
completely exterminated. The current territory of the U'wa is barely 386
square miles, far too small to produce enough food to sustain the tribe.

In 1992, Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum was granted exploration
rights to much of the traditional U'wa territory in a combined venture with
Shell Oil and the Colombian government.

U'wa tradition recounts that a portion of the U'wa tribe committed suicide
400 years ago rather than surrender to the Spanish Conquistadores. The U'wa
have compared current developments on their land to that time in their
history, and have not ruled out another mass suicide.

- Steve Kretzman & Terry Freitas


The Guardian, Saturday March 6th 1999

US kidnapping victims dead

Three bodies found near Venezuela's border with Colombia yesterday were
believed to be those of Americans kidnapped in Colombia on January 25. The
authorities said they had been shot.

Ingrid Wasinawatok, aged 41, Terence Freitas, aged 24, and Lahe'ena'e Gay,
aged 39, were seized at a reservation 200 miles from Bogota, where they
were working with the U'wa Indians, who won a lawsuit against Occidental
Petroleum in 1997 that prevented the Los Angeles-based company from
exploratory drilling on traditional U'wa territory.  -AP, Bogota.




As a tribute to the work that Terry Freitas, Ingrid Wasinawatok and
Lahe'ena'e Gay were doing on behalf of the U'wa tribe, I encourage you to
post this article far and wide on the internet.

Paul Swann
London Human Rights Forum

~~~ ******************************************************************* ~~~ 

From: •••@••.•••
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 22:05:50 EDT
Subject: Native Americans and the moon

A Native American Perspective on the Apollo Project

When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project, they had some astronauts
training on a Navajo Indian reservation. 

One day, a Navajo elder and his son were herding sheep and came across the
space crew. 

The old man, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question, which his son
translated:  "What are the guys in the big suits doing?" 

A member of the crew said they were practicing for their trip to the moon. 
The old man got really excited and asked if he could send a message to the
moon with the astronauts. 

Recognizing a promotional opportunity for the spin-doctors, the NASA folks
found a tape recorder. 

After the old man recorded his message, they asked the son to translate. 
He refused. 

So the NASA reps brought the tape to the reservation, where the rest of the
tribe listened and laughed, but refused to translate the elder's message to
the moon. 

Finally, NASA called in an official government translator. 

He reported that the moon message said: "Watch out for these guys; they've
come to steal your land."