Building the Movement of the People for El Buen Vivir

by Lynda Sullivan, Upside Down World

All eyes were on Peru as December began and this rising economic star hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP 20 (20th yearly session of the Conference of the Parties), the latest in the annual climate talks where 195 states congregate to discuss our changing climate. The main mission in Lima was to advance negotiations for a new climate treaty that is hoped to be agreed at the COP 21 next year in Paris.

Peru, to mark the occasion, officially labeled 2014 "The Year of the Promotion of Responsible Industry and Climate Commitment." Alongside this noble gesture, the Ollanta Humala government also passed a series of laws cutting back whatever weak environmental protection had existed and stripping the already weak Ministry of Environment of many of its key functions, in addition to laying down the red carpet in terms of tax breaks and ease of project approbation for the big investors/polluters. The economy has indeed risen in recent years as a result of this neoliberal strategy; however, so has the number of social conflicts; a report released by the Public Ombudsman's Office in September 2014 showed that on average almost 200 social conflicts are reported across the country every month, 69 percent of these conflicts being related to socio-environmental issues. In the majority of cases conflict arises when a mega-project is being forced through without consultation and against the wishes of the local population, and the resistance that naturally rises up is met with the heavy handedness of the security forces that are tasked with repressing it.