One of the things that went right in 2008 was the victory of Peruvian indigenous people. Over 50 different indigenous groups in Peru, got together and used non violent direct action to protest at the planned sale of their land. As part of a free trade agreement with the USA, Peruvian President Alan Garcia, once a pioneering socialist leader, sought to make it easier for multinationals to seize the communal indigenous land. Alan Garcia’s plan would have accelerated climate change, first by allowing much of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, which is a carbon sink, to be logged and secondly by allowing more oil and gas to be extracted. The indigenous lead a largely ecological lifestyle but use modern technology to improve their lives and where necessary to campaign politically. There succesful and militant protest stopped a huge amount of environmental damage.
In 2009 Hugo Blanco the Peruvian indigenous leader who publishes Lucha Indigena (Indigenous struggle) is planning to tour Britain. I think the tour could be of historical importance and could reinvigorate green politics in our part of the world. Hugo Blanco led the Quechua peasant uprising in the Cuzco region of Peru in the early 1960s when he was a young man and traditional socialist affiliated to the Fourth International. At the time peasants could still be branded by landlords. Hugo was sentanced to death, imprisoned for many years and exiled in Sweden after a campaign that gained the support of such figures as Ernesto Che Guevara, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell, succeeded in winning his freedom. Returning to Peru he despite being in his 70s is still highly active.
I am lucky enough to be in email contact with Hugo and to be in touch with his son, Oscar who lives near Bristol and is like his father a passionate ecosocialist. Oscar told me that his father was radicalised in a green direction by spending time with the Zapatistas who led an indigenous rebellion in Mexico in the 1990s. While Hugo has clear affection for his comrades in the traditional socialist movement, he argues that socialism must be ecological and must draw on the experience of indigenous people.
Hugo spoke of this in 2003:
To end I would like to stress that my generation and the preceding generations have struggled for a world of equality. You, those of the new generations, you struggle not only for that, but for the survival of the human species, because the big multinationals have brought about an ecological disaster which endangers, among other things, our species. The destruction of nature in a world ruled by them is so rapid that I do not believe that, if it remains subject to this system, humanity could survive another hundred years. Your struggle is, then, fundamentally a struggle so that humanity can pursue its existence.”
In an article entitled 'Our Culture' Hugo explores the nature of this struggle in more detail:
"We don’t seek a return to the past. We know we must make the best in general of advances in human culture.
That does not contradict our resolve to go back to our own roots. Our past will be vividly present in our future.
We love and care for Pachamama. We fervently yearn to return to basing our economy on our rich biodiversity,
through agriculture and natural medicine, along with any modern advances that do no harm. We don’t want our social system to be based on the deep seated, antisocial individualism that the invaders brought here. We intend to recover and strengthen at all levels the vigorous, collectivist solidarity and fraternity of the ayllu, making use, as well, of universal knowledge that is not harmful. We dream that the past 500 years of crushing blows are just
a passing nightmare in the ten thousand years of building our culture"
I believe that the current ecological crisis, of climate change and species loss, is severe yet the response of the
green movement is inadequate, we need to be thinking more deeply and taking more focussed action. I have been
inspired by the climate camp, the green policies of Jerry Hicks in his trade union battles in Amicus but above all I
have been inspired by Hugo Blanco and others involved with the indigenous campaign. We need to give solidarity and learn.