XXIst Century Eco-socialism

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Political nature
Political nature
Political nature

A few days ago Miguel Rodríguez, the Environment Minister, leading a march toward Miraflores, said this:

“Let’s put on a great national demonstration to show the indignation that is felt at this moment in the Venezuelan environmental movement because of what is happening (…) A demonstration of what we are going to do for our nature, our species, our ecosystems”

My inner Greenie-Sea-Shepherd-loving-dolphin-worshiper-wetland-junkie squealed with joy.

I was like YES, FUCK YES, FINALLY. What are we going to do? Are we going to go Rambo mode in Amazonas and Bolívar to stop illegal gold mining once and for all?

Because many of the illegal and small scale gold mining uses mercury without control causing grave environmental problems in the the Venezuelan Guayana. Mercury contamination  has been a public health issue for 25 years, and over 92% of the Ye´kuana and Sanema women from the Caura River basin have mercury levels higher than the safe levels established by the WHO (and we all know what happened in Minamata).

No!

Do you want to detour dump trucks from the  landfills and have them throw the waste in front of the mayor’s houses so we can finally get moving on a solid waste disposal system in the whole country?

Venezuela has doubled its solid waste production per person in only seven years, to almost 1kg per person per day, and the solid waste system has trailed far behind. We have seen a rise in illegal dumping grounds and their effect on human health and the wellbeing of the ecosystem.

Or, are you in with washing the walls of Miraflores with some raw sewage? I mean, just to make the point that 70% of our wastewater falls untreated in to our aquatic ecosystems. Important and iconic rivers and bodies of waters are polluted (Tuy river, Maracaibo and Valencia lakes), and to make matters worse, some of them serve double duty as water reservoirs for human consumption (the Guarapiche river in Monagas for example).

Is it pesticide regulation and ensurance of compliance of the legislature? ‘Cause I could totally back you on that. Do we steal the containers?  Because … I know a guy who knows a guy.

Oh …you mean something less ecoterrorist. Ok, I can do that. I mean, I can totally be non-confrontational when it comes to the environment

So, what important environmental impact are we channelling?

The what? The protests? You are talking about the environmental effect of the protests?

Oh, I mean, you said Ecocide, so I thought, it would be one of these. I mean, have you seen the effects of the illegal mining in the Venezuelan Guayana, that’s ecocide territory right there. But that’s cool, there are a lot of other environmental problems that need looking up to.

So, are we talking about using expired tear gas canisters and their effect on the environment?

No?

I’m sorry, so what are we indignant about again?

5000 trees and trash burning?

Not that I agree with that, I mean, yes, trash burning is a hazard, specially when it is not done in a controlled furnace at the right temperatures. Still, you do know San Miguelito has been ablaze sin last February in Tachira, don’t you? And who knows how many illegal dumping ground are on fire at this moment? So, wouldn’t it be better to focus on those?

And 5000 trees? Really, I mean, that number is as absurd. Sorry, I just have to call you out on that one.

I mean, not to be rude, but it’s starting to look like you’re using these very serious environmental issues … for your political agenda which is centered on trying to criminalize the protests.

Wait, you wouldn’t be totally, unabashedly using the environment for your political persecution now, would you? Would you?

47 COMMENTS

  1. Audrey,

    I really like your posts. They touch topics that are absolutely fundamental but somehow few other bloggers touch. I have posted in English about the environmental catastrophes in Venezuela (and several time about gender violence) and I had seen so few others do it.

    Venezuela is really sinking in rubbish. The water Venezuelans drink is heavily polluted. What most people in regions such as Carabobo get from the tap is not drinkable and it once was. We have serious health hazards in areas such as Tocuyito in Carabobo, with the largest landfill around…and Tocuyito and nearby Southern Valencia are the places we, the opposition, want to gain more support in.

    The beaches we are so proud of are not just full of visible junk but really chock-a-block of feces. I am talking about not just the beaches along La Guaira or Miranda or Carabobo, but Morrocoy and virtually anywhere else.

    It is a pity this Chavecrat had to come up with these 5000 trees but then: we let that happen.
    First of all: we never ever had seen any of our top politicians – I think of Capriles, I think of Borges, López, etc. spend even 10 minutes discussing one or two of the environmental disasters currently taken place in Venezuela.
    It seems as if they think those issues won’t matter to voters, on both sides of the fuzzy left-right spectrum. The opposition could have won over a lot of people from ecological movements if it had spent some time discussing the topics. On top of that, no one dare call any attention to this tree-cutting thing (I saw it coming, I know it is a minor problem compared to the real environmental disasters we are having, but I found it amazing that students who are supposed to be better educated than the average didn’t see how stupid and counter-productive the tree-cutting thing would be).

  2. Ecological questions merit greater attention in Venezuela than they receive.

    Here in Canada, oil spills from aging pipelines are important stories, as are questions about bringing heavy oil to market through new pipelines, pipelines which would affect pristine mountain environments as well as the territories of native peoples.

    As far as I can tell, Chavo-Madurismo gets a free pass on all of these angles. I doubt that it is because there are no stories to tell.

    • It is true but our opposition people haven’t spent the time talking about that with knowledge of the situation.

      I would like Capriles or one of the others who are no yet in jail to spend 2 bloody hours of their lives reading
      hard data on the mining disaster, on the pollution of the water system, declarations from the government, promises, etc and then organise a couple of speeches where those topics are discussed at least for half an hour.

      No. We let it pass.

      Perhaps it’s because most of our oppo leaders are lawyers or such and they don’t seem to be reading anything away from their topic or fluffy meta-politics.

  3. excellent post. The whole national situation is so ridiculous that the so-called “dialogue” is a reflection of the mediocrity of government and opposition alike. This is unsustainable, cannot be the object of “negotiations”.

  4. Being from evil capitalist Germany I remember the bad smell of the huge Rhine river near my hometown. 20 years later it became possible to swim in that river. I do it nearly every year. Ok, we outsourced many contaminating industries to China and other places. Nevertheless it shows that with some serious attitude to the real problems progress is possible.

    and ” you’re using these very serious xxx issues … for your political agenda”.

    so true. again and again and again

    • In that Germany’s an example. And look at the level of pollution that the “socialist” and “democratic” Eastern Germany had in 1989 and what the situation is today.

      My parents would swim in the Valencia lake in the fifties. That changed completely 15 years later but now pollution levels are much higher. In 1999 it was safe to drink water from taps in Valencia. Now virtually no one does it: if you can afford, you buy water from the water lorry, if you can’t, you boil it (and that can only kill some stuff but you still get a lot of non-organic poison).

      If you were to tell Valencianos a day can come when you don’t need to do that, they wouldn’t believe you.
      There are a couple of NGOs trying to talk about the topic bu not even the current mayor of Valencia, from the opposition, seems to care about that.

      • N.B.: the reply I posted below to your other comment was meant to be here! My bad.

        And, yes, my parents have the same thoughts regarding the Lago de Maracaibo.

  5. Again the govt shows its obssession with being pretentiously a la mode with this the most morally chick concern of the Developed World while being criminally negligent in the actual protection of the enviroment .

    By way of example lets remember what happened when they let a ruptured pipeline in a river in Monagas poison the whole water system supplying the needs of Maturin ( apparently caused by a dearth of pipeline maintenance and the responsible Pdvsa personnel having on that day abandoned all their work to attend a Chavista concentration in some other town).

    In the US people have become contaminated with a paranoid histeria concerning these topics which is well neigh irrational ( but deeply satisfying of their morally uplifting , politically correct narcicism) .

    Most industry and oil professionals I ve met are very serious and scrupulous about protecting the enviroment without being too effusively mystical about the whole subject !!

    And yet I also know of some second rank US companies that coulndt care less if it affects their bottom line , dont know how they get away with it !!

  6. Not to pile on, but allow me to pile on: The biggest environmental issue in Venezuela is oil. The country’s vaunted oilfields, if tapped, contain enough carbon to make our planet permanently uninhabitable for our species. Already, the country has filthy upgraders on the Caribbean coast and leaky pipelines (as Dr House mentioned) tracing across the llanos. The criminally low gasoline price incentivizes consumption, promoting the purchase of inefficient 4x4s for city driving and expanding urban sprawl. Call me nuts, but I think one of the few viable paths out of the dead end of Bolivarian socialism would be ecological socialism.

      • That’s where all Venezuelan drinking water is thoroughly contaminated with fecal matter and newly mutated bacteria and EVERYONE happily drinks from said drinking water because of the non-discriminatory nature of the practice. We’re all equal now, dontcha know.

      • Come on, you have Green parties over there in Eurolandia. Democratic socialism informed by environmental awareness, rather than the old industrial socialism that’s all about cars, coal and conquest.

        • OK, you mean THAT! Well: it’s good we have them but even better that those that have got some power are a little bit more realistic when it comes to the economy. There is the German Green Party, which is, as far as I have seen, the most down to Earth. Most of its supporters are actually better-off than the average German citizen.
          The Green Party even decided to reduce as much as possible the ideological crap (although they remain social) and that paid well politically for some time. The “realos” won over the “Fundis”.

          Recently they tried to turn more to the left and because of that they were severely punished in the last German elections. I have previously voted for the Belgian version…although not now, also they became too lefty. Other parties are taking over their ideas, which is something good. They need again to focus on economic and social sustainability and that means much more than “don’t pollute” and “support for the weak”, it means businesses should be able to compete and social tension to be properly treated.
          Greens are a very mixed lot, from right to left.

    • This is absolutely right. The single most important issue in any discussion that would include the environment has to include if not revolve around oil. It is a discussion that none in the government is willing to engage in but neither the opposition is up to the discussion. In a way, it is another ‘point of agreement’ Nagel alluded to in a previous post.

    • I don’t know what ecological socialism is but I agree with everything else you said. I’d add, it might seem quaint with thousands being gunned down every year in the streets to say that recycling would be an improvement, but I’ll say it: recycling would be an improvement.

    • If we are still going to be an extractive economy then we better make sure we can do it as clean and as efficient as possible while searching or building other alternatives.Venezuela has one of the strictest environmental laws in the world. Not only that, 46% of our territory is under some sort of ABRAE (área bajo régimen de administración especial) be it National Park, National monument, forest reserve etc. It all boils down to MInisterio del Ambiente and it’s Guardería Ambiental to make sure there’s compliance to the norm! PDVSA actually used to fight with the Environmental Office, now, it’s actually patting PDVSA on the back for their “cleanup” effort in Guarapiche River.
      I fear the environmental Office is just becoming subjugated to the Ministerio de PPPPPPPPPP Energía y Petróleo. Maybe we will end up like Russia, with no independent environmental office at all.
      This goverment is the worst capitalist ever.

      • “Becoming”? It’s worse than you think. Back when I was still working there, in early 2010, I went to a presser with the environment minister. After covering her drought speech, I had some additional questions about oil. I asked if there was any air-quality monitoring in Caracas and she said there were ozone monitors in some metro stops. I said no, I mean street level air quality, and she said no, why? I asked if Venezuela had a schedule for moving to cleaner diesel, and she said that’s Energy & Oil’s area, that she couldn’t talk about it. I asked if there was any air quality monitoring or regulation on the upgraders in Jose, and she said that was Energy & Oil’s area, and she couldn’t talk about it. At this point she was giving me the evil eye. I asked something about protection of the Caribbean from oil spills and she said she was tired of being asked about Energy & Oil issues, and she turned around and stormed out of the press conference.

        • Pdvsa has much more bureaucratic muscle than the enviroment ministry , there was even a time when the enviromental minister got fired for being too fuzzy about some permits Pdvsa wanted. Of course there was a time Im told , when enviromental concerns were taken seriously inside Pdvsa , when a manager could have his yearly evaluation wrecked if he showed himself indifferent to enviromental concerns ..

          When the Chinese first expressed interest in Pdvsa’s orimulsion back in the late 90’s , they had to promise that the use of the stuff in China would have to meet certain World Bank enviromental standards , the Chinese laughed , locally they had very strict legal standards but no one paid them any attention . They stopped laughing when told that if they didnt meet the standards nothing would be supplied to them .!!

          The idea that you have to depend on ferocious external control and punishments for the enviroment to get protected is flawed , thats the Chavista way of making things work , using savage threats and punishments , what has to be done is to get people in industry become truly conscious of the importance of protecting the enviroment , Maybe give industry a fiscal incentive for investing in enviromental controls.!!

          An effort has to be made to make enviromental rules technically well grounded , not just exagerate them to advertise the morally becoming ecological passions of those that ennact or enforce them . Thats the flaw in latin american laws , they are made overly rigid and then are never applied while in other places they are made rationally and practically but everyone must observe them .!!

          What is happening in Jose is just sheer sloppiness , the operation of the upgraders was carefully planned to avoid the accumulation of the mountains of coke the upgrading process produced , every thing was in place and was run so as to avoid such accumulations . When red Pdvsa in ‘a proud gesture of sovereignty ” decided to take over operations they left the whole system for the handling of these accumulations break down and now we have the ecological disasters that those huge mountains of coke represent .!!

      • ABRAEs are not the über form of environmental protection. Actually more than half of ABRAEs are for regulating land use/extraction, which means they don’t protect at all. Thus, you are referring to those Protection ABRAEs, which are basically National Park, Natural Monument, Biosphere Reserve and Fauna Refuge/Sanctuary. Not even forest reserves enter the previous category. Moreover, of 47 National Parks more than half don’t count with Rules of Use (called PORU “Plan de Ordenamiento y Reglamento de Uso), which leaves without effect the National Park protection. The President has the powers to override, the legal term is decommission (desafectar), any ABRAE by decree without consulting anybody (you can still go to the Supreme Court but I think we all know what’s going to happen anyway). The most recent legal developments during the “socialist revolution” have made almost impossible to go after someone who is illegally extracting wood or hunting, if that person(s) belong to the local community. There’s no way you can implement an environmental monitoring program for endangered species without having approval from the communal council (WTF! they are most of the time the offenders). Having said all this, I don’t think I agree with your affirmation that Venezuela has one of the strictest Environmental regime (that could have been true in the 1979s, but not anymore). The problems between PDVSA, the Energy Ministry and Min Environment INPARQUES are nothing new; the environmental legal apparatus is subjected to the developmental/strategic needs of the state, and that has constitutional status; which means that if PDVSA or the Army needs to build a pipeline/radar (real cases) within the boundaries of a national park, that’s unstoppable.
        All in all you were well headed when mentioned compliance as the right way to go; the term goes hand in hand with surveillance and enforcement. We have been praying for years the creation of a special brand of environmental police that could enforce, along with PROFAUNA and INPARQUES, environmental regulation. But in the mean time the National Guard is just bleeding the little decency that was left in Venezuelans. Time to obliterate such gang group!

        • Thank you for the info! Great that you mentionend the lack of Planes de Ordenamiento y Reglamento de Uso I used to work in an “Environmental” office in Caracas and one of the things that was a serious setback in the proposed projects was the lack of PORU’s.
          Obviously, the more dependent we become on Oil, the more likely that the environment will get thrown under the bus.

  7. Living in Guayana, let me tell you, the people in El Callao and Santa Elena rather die than let their gold mining be taken from them.

    I mean, the military tried to take it and it ended up on that incident where a general got kidnapped.

    • More creative methods are needed to tackle the issue. It won’ be easy at all. I don’t live there but I have traveled a bit through mining territory.

      One of the first things one needs to do is a real DIGITAL registry of everyone getting into that region.
      Then you can start focusing on documenting all the ecological destruction people are creating there. By documenting I mean that whenever you go to Santa Elena you get a couple of big boards, preferably next to a military/cop station, describing the diseases, the poisons there, etc.
      Then you give a deadline for people to start paying a lot of taxes for that and reporting all the gold.
      You make every lorry, every jeep register. Then you give a deadline when to stop using mercury or else go to jail.
      At the same time you need to stop illegal immigration to the area.
      Venezuela is now chock-a-block with Brazilians who can’t mine as they can in Brazil.
      The Venezuelan military have no cojones for when it counts, only when they want to shoot at innocent people doing nothing.

      • I hear you. I’m actually very concerned about the situation in La Guajira. Mining interests from “allied countries” (i.e. China, Russia, Iran) are pulling strings in that zone. The assassination of the Yukpa cacique Sabino Romero is believed to be related to that. Given that the government is actually quite efficient when it comes to murder investigations, seeing particularly important cases simply get stuck tends to raise suspicions: el que calla otorga.

        La Guajira is pretty much the only thing that remains somewhat untouched in Zulia. El Lago is dark and nasty, the Costa Oriental is barren and keeps on sinking, and the rivers in the Sur del Lago are teeming with pesticides. I was quite depressed when the Catatumbo stopped temporarily a few years ago—thank God it came back, but we don’t know for long, and I want my children to see it 🙁

        This government, of course, has done nothing, and will do nothing.

        Ironically relevant:

    • It’s really not about “taking” their mining away. It’s about regulating and enforcing the legislature. It’s about getting garimpeiros and other illegal miners OUT of Venezuela. It’s about teaching the small scale indegenious community the effects and harms of extracting gold using mercury and maybe even outlawing this type of extraction. Most of all, it is about giving people other economic options.

      • Audrey, where can I buy an Audrey T shirt? Seriously: thanks.

        In the nineties I met a German who was working on environmental stuff in Venezuela. He was not the usual hippy guy but someone who put a commercial value to forests and other natural resources. He is currently the rector of a small but key university in the Black Forest. Mind: Germany has now more forests than 600 years back. Admittedly, one of the reasons was the 30-year war, where up to a third of the population was killed. Then they decided to use those areas to plant forests and to keep them in a sustainable way. You can read a bit about that in Jared Diamond’s book Collapse (maybe there are some videos about that on Youtube, wit Diamond talking about the book). There were ups and downs in the way people treated the environment in Germany, as LemmyCaution said. The Rhine and many other rivers were a mess in Western Germany (in the East it was much much much worse). In Western Germany and then in the unified Germany they started to tackle then rivers and lakes and city pollution in the last 50 years. They have become cleaner and cleaner.
        But most importantly, the concept of “sustainability” is very often associated not only with trees, with dolphins, but also with the economic and social parameters…it’s like a furniture that needs three or four legs…two won’t do and one is not possible.

        When I was in the Pemon/mining territory I talked to a lot of Pemon and miners. That was before Chávez came to power, a couple of times. They repeatedly told me stuff like “no, eso no me ha hecho nada de daño” and others, specially miners, did say something like “no, eso no hace daño a la naturaleza, aquí hay monte que jooooode, mira eso…eso quizá me está jodiendo la salud a mí, pero yo voy a dejar esto un día de estos, pero a tooo este monte? No, eso es una gota en toda una selva”

        Why don’t we get those estudió-derecho/economía politicians in Caracas to learn a little bit about these issues and talk about them?

        We could challenge the government in so many fronts…but we need to know the facts.

        Back then I learnt a couple of things from him.

        • Pretty sure the Pemón are aware now. The Yukpas know what’s up, which is why their cacique Sabino Romero was killed. I am almost sure that the government was involved in that.

          My argument is simple. Sabino was involved in two separate conflicts: on one side, with the ranchers of the Machiques zone; on the other side, with the government and its mining interests. Those two groups are the main suspects of his assassination. Now, the government has been consistently attacking ranchers since 1999 with the INTI (Ley de Tierras, production regulations), the GNB, and its media apparatus. I am not a fan of ranchers, but if they were responsible for Sabino’s death, I’m sure the government would’ve seen the juicy PR gains from making a big fuzz about it and the investigation would be conclusive by now… instead, the investigation is stuck, and the government is strangely silent about it.

          So, I agree with you. The government has to be challenged in fronts where it has zero moral authority despite their insistence in being the only ones who actually care about those issues. The ecology and the rights of the Indigenous peoples are veritable gold mines (pun intended).

      • Ah, that German told me back then the same thing about the Venezuelan legislation: one of the strictest on Earth…but just paper.
        One of the things he saw was that we could not link resources with costs.

        I have often thought whether it is not because we, as we never developed the technologies we use, still think like part of our ancestors, who were living in the early Neolithic, in times when human rubbish was not so much different from that of other species (but even there, as we could read from Diamond’s work, humans were already pretty destructive, as the Maya collapse and the Easter Island collapse and the Pueblo Indian collapse showed)

      • The things you say make sense, but let’s go to the crux of the matter: Other economic options like….? I mean, Santa Elena has commerce and tourism, but El Callao has…uh….well.

        (Living in a city built around mining and hydro-electric consumption is weird per-se, but the revolution turned it into a bizarro-land experience. That’s why I have to ask these things).

    • Similar problems have been developing for years along the Caura basin. Yekwana tribes enslave sanima groups to work as porters in the mines. All the logistics are controlled by the Yekwanas, while the chief of the CORE of the area buys the gold and controls who works in the mines. The idiot of Elias Jaua went in 2010 and ordered a military operation to end up with illegal mining. Half an hour after he left El Playon by helicopter, the Chief of the CORE 8 made a phone call leaking the date of the assault, so when the five helicopters arrived, they found three miners.
      The sad reality is there’s no way to control corruption in that area, too much money involved.

  8. You know, Venezuela has a disproportionately high rate of autism. The causes of this condition aren’t fully understood but there is growing evidence that pollution might be related to it.

    Our population urbanized too fast, and we’ve been unable to put pollution under control. Moreover, the way the oil industry pollutes the air by burning gas instead of processing it is astounding—anyone who has lived in Cabimas or El Tigre can attest to that. (Also, quite ironic because people in Oriente are making multiple hour-long lines to buy a cylinder for their kitchens).

    • Interesting. I know the practice of burning waste in los llanos makes for pretty sunsets, but it is hard on the lungs, especially during hot, breezeless weather (most of the time). You have to wonder about the long term impact of that.

      Environmental regulation is a perfect example of how this regime completely fails in areas where government plays an important role in capitalist countries. This minister may as well be the Minister for Ancient Greek, he is so inconsequential. And yes, as people point out here, being a proper regulator in Venezuela mans, primarily, being able to push back at the state and state corporations. Fancy that!

  9. One side of the issue seldom mentioned is how if you give bureaucrats a chance to exercise their powers they often go haywire,veritably power mad and interpret and apply the law not just with zeal but with malicious irrational and abusive pettifogging rigour so as to gleefully block any activity which needs their approval , always full of the morally glamorous sensation that they are protecting the sacred purity of the enviroment !!

    Too often they dont even understand technically what the rules are about and insist on an ‘improved’ version of them that simply makes any project impossible without any resulting benefit to the enviroment . The redundant masses of red tape they introduce into projects makes them totally un economic to execute or adds unnecessary costs to the execution that ultimately every body has to pay for one way or another .

    Of course Lord Acton had it right and ecolatric lawmakers and bureaucrats charged with enforcing the rules use their powers not to protect the enviroment but to make their awesome regulatory might felt. They become professional nay sayers and grand moral cruzaders for things they often have no idea about..

  10. Yes, Audrey, Rodriguez is one more ass in a paddock full of them, so, it should come as no surprise that his braying is as asinine as that of the rest of the herd. And, yes, Venezuela is an ecological disaster in full bloom.

    With respect to mining en La Guyana venezolana, the situation in Brazilian Roraima isn’t much better. In fact, because the operations are on a larger scale and the pay-offs to the authorities that more rewarding, the environmental and social tragedy playing out there is, probably, much worse. The main difference, it seems to me, is that the Brazilian government has, of late, been paying more vociferous lip service to dealing with the issues than ours has. That ain’t much, but it’s something. You’ve got to start somewhere. 😉

    Still, as we joyfully beat up on the current regime, we shouldn’t forget that environmental protection wasn’t particularly high on the agendas of previous administrations either. Los lagos de Maracaibo y de Valencia didn’t go to hell during just the last fifteen years. But, yes, they didn’t get any cleaner either, and they should have, if only to prove that Socialism of and for the twenty-first century was good for something.

    In that regard, isn’ it a splendid paradox that the most significant, but surely unintended, accomplishment of the Castros has been the preservation of Cuba’s environment, as well as keeping its historical architecture from being replaced with steel and glass high-rise monstrosities and preserving the largest operational fleet of classic automobiles in the world? Hey, I always say, you’ve got to get your blessings where you find them.

    One more observation and then I’ll shut up, and this is mostly for the several historians who regularly show up here: I often wonder how much of our conquistadores and El Dorado exploitation heritage has to do with our disregard for the environment that sustains us.

    • The Brazilian government strategy was to transform most of Roraima state into the largest indian reserve in the world (google “Raposa Serra do Sol”), so journalists and Brazilians can’t even enter there anymore. It’s a black spot on the map. Not even the Brazilian army is allowed to go in there. The place is controlled by international NGOs, drugdealers and all kinds of criminals exploiting the natural resources. Last time I heard, the “indians” living there had divided themselves into different factions and were killing themselves for food. So I agree with you, the situation in Brazilian side is probably worse than in the Venezuelan side.

  11. Brilliant… sadly in Venezuela environmental issues fall way behind in the list of concerns, after crime, economic capacity and food supply, transportation, etc. one point i think you missed is the fact that most services related to environmental problems such as waste disposal, water, etc., are subsidized and, thus, people not only take them for granted but abuse them, which explains the rise in waste production per person, poor water quality and gas scarcity. The first thing we have to do if we want to attack these problems is charge real fees for them, that way you encourage people to become more aware, encourage recycling and rational use of water, gas, etc. I recommend a small piece on this week’s economist about the water problem that Berlin is having right now (they have too much… and they are way too rational to be convinced to use up more, this is actually causing floodings in basements and other problems), at one point they mentioned that the only moment in history when Berlin has faced water problems (other than during Hitler’s megalomaniac projects) was during the cold war when East Germany’s communist regime subsidized public services, thus people took them for granted and wasted them.

  12. To not appear too patriotic with the stuff I write here, I firmly believe that people everywhere are very open and supportive to ecologic policies. The protest wave in Chile started with HidroAysen, just as an example. Governments just have to find ways to channel the energy. But with well planed politics, feedback loop (as any problem started as a solution) and not … well.

  13. I cannot find the papers on the Environment Policies done by MUD’s Comisión Técnica de Ambiente on the matter. So I’ll only quote the parts of the 2013-2019 goverment plan by the MUD (which summarizes its concerns and proposals on the matter (MUD. Lineamientos para el Programa de Gobierno de Unidad Nacional. 23 de enero de 2012)):

    Ambiente
    Situación actual
    1008. En la última década Venezuela ha vivido un acentuado deterioro de las condiciones
    ambientales, lo cual repercute directamente en el empobrecimiento general de nuestra
    sociedad y de su capital natural.

    1009. Esta situación se expresa en la reducción de la calidad de recursos esenciales para la vida
    como el agua, la diversidad biológica y en un alto riesgo para la seguridad integral de la
    Nación y en particular de su base de recursos. El patrimonio natural de los venezolanos
    sufre serias amenazas, derivadas del estilo de desarrollo petrolero rentístico que ha
    motorizado el crecimiento económico, dejando pasivos ambientales, así como de las altas
    tasas de urbanización desordenada, de la poca conciencia ecológica de la población y de
    la pobre gestión del gobierno nacional en los últimos trece años.

    1010. Un inventario del deterioro ambiental nos indica los principales problemas: la
    contaminación del agua para consumo humano y la disminución de su calidad; la
    intensificación de los problemas asociados al manejo de la basura; la contaminación del
    aire y de la atmósfera; la erosión y empobrecimiento de los suelos; la disminución
    acelerada de poblaciones animales y vegetales, así como el deterioro de hábitats y
    ecosistemas; la vulnerabilidad ante los impactos derivados del cambio climático.

    1011. El incremento de los pasivos ambientales petroleros, de los cuales se estiman más de 15
    mil fosas de desechos tóxicos peligrosos por sanear en el país, y en la región Guayana,
    producto de las operaciones de las empresas básicas y la minería; la contaminación y
    abandono de los planes de recuperación del Lago de Maracaibo y Lago de Valencia; la
    contaminación alarmante del Río Orinoco; los desmanes del centralismo; la impunidad
    ecológica; la deforestación injustificada; y el descuido de las Áreas bajo Régimen de
    Administración Especial (ABRAE).

    Lineamientos de acción
    1012. El gobierno de la Unidad Nacional asumirá con la mayor prioridad la situación ambiental
    del país. A tal efecto:
    Revalorizará e impulsará la política ambiental con base en los preceptos de la
    Constitución.
    • Reencauzará la gestión ambiental sobre bases técnicas, científicas, humanas y
    corresponsables.
    • Redimensionará, consolidará y modernizará las instituciones mediante el
    fortalecimiento financiero, tecnológico y del talento humano.
    • Potenciará un programa nacional de educación ambiental en todos los niveles y
    ámbitos de la sociedad.
    • Promoverá cambios de estilo de vida para una sociedad sustentable.
    • Reforzará y revalorizará los procesos de planificación ambiental y ordenamiento
    del territorio, con base en criterios de sustentabilidad
    • Reafirmará la inserción de los principios y criterios ambientales en la
    planificación, construcción y mantenimiento de obras de infraestructura.
    • Diseñará un marco de políticas de estímulos fiscales con el fin de promover
    actividades económicas apegadas a los principios del desarrollo sustentable.
    • Actualizará la legislación y las normas técnicas ambientales.
    • Incorporará y fortalecerá el tema ambiental en la agenda de Ciencia, Tecnología e
    Innovación.
    • Fortalecerá y agilizará un sistema de permisiones ambientales.
    • Dará mayor participación y financiamiento a las universidades nacionales e
    institutos de investigación en los planes, programas, proyectos y acciones
    definidos para una nueva y moderna gestión ambiental.
    • Diseñará una política de negociación y búsqueda de recursos financieros para
    apoyar una gestión ambiental.
    • Retomará la participación efectiva y el liderazgo del país en foros y convenciones
    ambientales internacionales.

    —————————–

    And it goes on until paragraph 1090.

    http://www.unidadvenezuela.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/lineamientos2012.pdf

    You can also check news itmes such as http://www.unidadvenezuela.org/2011/10/el-compromiso-de-la-unidad-nacional-es-con-el-desarrollo-sustentable/

    http://www.unidadvenezuela.org/2011/09/en-venezuela-estamos-en-presencia-de-un-socialismo-ecocida/

    The MUD has denounced the ecological disaster that besets Venezuela time and again. And not with mere statements, but with actual proposals. Up to 2013…

    But it cannot replace civil society.

    • Did Capriles or anyone else talk about these things in any of the speeches? Perhaps they did but I do not recall them. José Gregorio González and María Rodríguez don’t usually read the MUD’s site. Quite honestly, I don’t either.

  14. Environmental awareness is like educacion civica.

    Must be taught from early age, and must be supported by society so young kids do not face dissonance between what is taught/ learnt and what incentives and behaviours you see reinforced by society.

    Here is a give away, Went to a private school in CCS where we used the figure porkus bipedus! in reference to the stereotypical polluter,!!! (I am sure some of you may know the school!?) all environmental education was centred on what this figure did wrong…. etc.

    People on the streets (and in industry, and in government) regretfully WERE mostly porkus bipedus types…
    Such a contrast to what I later experienced in societies like Costa Rica’s and Canada’s where it not all lip service, but actually there is enforced legislation and civic values pro-environment.

    Again, i see this issue as a red herring, another thing to distract us from the goal of gaining power again and kicking the invader commies out.

    The only way for real change on this issue: education. Payback period 1+ generations.
    Not a good deal for any political calculation. Must be promoted by statesmen.

    • Quite right, but then, are there any problems in this world of ours that can be solved without education? The other side of the coin, of course, is that most persistent great ills also depend on it, starting with totalitarian regimes of all stripes. Paradoxically, even ignorance, fear, and hate must be taught, as that song from South Pacific reminds us.

      I guess the message is that double edged swords should be handled with exquisite care. 😉

  15. Pardon me, but any eco-anything coming from a regime that made the economy completely reliant on the production and burning of fossil fuels is straight up BS. I work in the environmental space and there is no country in Latin America as bad for the planet as Venezuela.

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