Bolivia Celebrates Law Granting Rights to Mother Earth
LA PAZ, Bolivia, April 20, 2011 (ENS) – Bolivia today marked the International Day of Mother Earth with a ceremony in the Plaza Murillo, the center of political power. An ancient ritual shared center stage with speeches in which authorities in this Andean nation extolled the Law of Mother Earth – the world’s first legislation that grants to all nature rights equal to humans.
President Evo Morales advocates climate protection at the UN’s Copenhagen Climate Summit, December 2009. (Photo by Simon Wedege)
President Evo Morales, the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, is the architect of the Law of Mother Earth. Supported by politicians as well as nongovernmental organizations, the law is expected to easily pass the National Congress where Morales’ ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, has a majority in both houses.
Today’s event was attended by representatives of the executive branch and legislators, diplomats, indigenous peoples and peasants.
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told the crowd, “In Bolivia we seek a return to balance, a harmonious life not only between individuals but between man and nature, so today must be a day of reflection of awareness of all to care for our Mother Earth and take timely means for our mother back to its natural balance.”
The first article of the Law of Mother Earth says that every human activity has to “achieve dynamic balance with the cycles and processes inherent in Mother Earth.”
It defines Mother Earth as “a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.”
Bolivians celebrate International Day of Mother Earth, April 20, 2011 (Photo courtesy Government of Bolivia)
In parallel, a fair was held to raise awareness about global warming and its effects, and the Bolivia-led crusade for nature protection.
Minister of the Presidency Oscar Coca told the crowd that Bolivia has the “conviction” to promote international policies that promote awareness of the climate change problem in all nations across the planet.
“President Evo Morales says the planet can live without humans, but humans can not live without the planet and reminds the world today that the rights of nature should be rights equal to those we, ourselves, enjoy,” Coca said.
Inspired by Bolivia, in 2009, the UN General Assembly proclaimed April 22 as International Mother Earth Day, expressing its conviction that, to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth.”
In October 2009, the General Assembly named President Morales “World Hero of Mother Earth.”
The Morales Government intends to establish a Ministry of Mother Earth to implement the Law of Mother Earth, which will establish new rights for nature, including:
- the right to maintain the integrity of life and natural processes
- the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered
- the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration
- the right to pure water
- the right to clean air
- the right to balance, to be at equilibrium
- the right to be free of toxic and radioactive pollution
- the right to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities
The law promotes “harmony” and “peace” and “the elimination of all nuclear, chemical, biological” weapons.
At the same time, President Morales is set to announce on May 1 that he will be “dismantling the privatization model,” thereby expropriating privately owned zinc, silver and tin mines.
The government plans to place these mines under government control reversing the actions of previous administrations that sold the mines to private interests.
The Corp Minera de Bolivia, known as Comibol, will operate all the newly expropriated mines. Several mines have already been expropriated under Morales presidency, including the Vinto tin smelter.
Soon after his election as president in 2006, the Morales Government took over gas and oil refineries, all in a bid to have the government control the country’s natural resources.
As a result of these policies, foreign private investment in Bolivia has plummeted.