Hugo Blanco was speaking in Birmingham during the Green Party Conference in a fringe meeting of Green left. Speaking before Hugo, Derek Wall, author, pointed out that it had been forgotten that Karl Marx was relevant to environmental issues, and that he referred to indigenous people and their value systems. This ties in with his socialist ideas and is possibly an influence on them.
Hugo Blanco, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter, spoke of the continuing struggles of indigenous people. They were confronting various organisations intent on extracting mineral wealth, destroying large areas of forest and creating pollution in their wake. In Peru some groups had succeeded in stopping the destruction of the Amazon Tropical Rain Forest, so vital to our planet and well being. In other cases there were massacres of indigenous people who were fighting to uphold their rights.
On his travels Blanco had met up with indigenous people across the world, including the U.S. and Canada. He found that value systems were similar – and that many were facing exploitation of land and pollution from multinational corporations. This was also true in India and Africa.
Hugo Blanco is the historic leader of the Peruvian peasant movement, who has been actively campaigning for more than fifty years. A contemporary of Che Guevara, in the 1960s he played a central part in the ‘Land or Death’ peasant uprising in the southern highlands of Peru. He was captured, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. After an international campaign to free him Hugo was released from prison and expelled to Sweden in1976. After a lengthy exile living in Mexico he now resides again in Peru.
The consistent struggles of the indigenous peoples of Latin America against neoliberalism and in defence of the environment are an inspiration to many ecosocialists across the world and this event, and other parts of Hugo’s British tour, will give an opportunity to find out more including the struggles in Peru which are less well known.
Today Hugo Blanco is the editor of the Cusco based newspaper ‘Lucha Indígena‘, and part of the purpose of this tour is to raise funds for this publication. The indigenous organisation ‘Aidesep’ has been in intense conflict with the neo-liberal Peruvian government for several years, fighting to prevent the Amazon rainforest from being sold to oil and gas corporations. In 2009 Peruvian military police massacred an unknown number of indigenous activists at Bagua, Hugo Blanco will report on this struggle and the wider struggles of indigenous people in Latin America.
Derek Wall is the author of six books including ‘Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements’ (Pluto Press, 2005) and, with Penny Kemp, ‘A Green Manifesto for the 1990s’ (Penguin, 1990). He teaches Political Economy at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Derek’s new book ‘Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement’, with an introduction by Hugo Blanco, and released on 20th September 2010, draws on the work of key thinkers such as Joel Kovel and John Bellamy Foster. The book provides a unique insider view of how ecosocialism has developed and a practical guide to focused ecosocialist action. It is considered to be a great handbook for activists and engaged students of politics.
Notes for Editor:
1 .Climate change and other ecological ills are driving the creation of a grassroots global movement for change. From Latin America to Europe, Australia and China a militant movement merging red and green is taking shape. Ecosocialists argue that capitalism threatens the future of humanity and the rest of nature. From indigenous protest in the Peruvian Amazon to the green transition in Cuba to the creation of red-green parties in Europe, ecosocialism is defining the future of left and green politics globally. Latin American leaders such as Morales and Chavez are increasingly calling for an ecosocialist transition.
2. Green Left is an ecosocialist, anti-capitalist current within the Green Party.
3. Socialist Resistance is a Marxist ecosocialist party, and is the British