Is development a death sentence?

peruThe indigenous people of Peru call it a death sentence, their government calls it a lifeline. Over 50 people have been killed in riots in Peru over government plans to develop gas and oil on land that the indigenous people believe belongs to their ancestorsHere’s more on the story and on the oil companies involved.

Artappraiser responds to the blogpost and says 

“We have some big national parks but we didn’t let a big portion of our country go undeveloped so that our indigenous could live there in their traditional manner…Chavez would be nowhere in accomplishing his socialist dreams without Venezuela’s already developed oil industry. Highly populated nations can’t live off handicrafts.”

Pictures on this blog are pretty shocking and protests have been taking place across the world.

For those of you reading this from Oregon, I know protecting the environment is pretty big there (I’ve heard it’s  the US’ most environmentally friendly state) what do you think? Over 30,000 indigenous people might be affected by the Peruvian government’s plans – but with some of the worst violence the country has seen in a decade, is it a risk worth taking?

There’s certainly a lot of anger about this. This blogger calls it Peru’s Tianamen  whilst another calls it  a war on the indigenous but isn’t the country just trying to better itself?

Mark Doyle blogged about a similar situation in Liberia the other day and asked will big foreign companies help stop Africa being poor ? It’s a common story in Bolivia where Indians are trying to reclaim their land. There’s an ongoing dispute  between a tribe in India against development by a British mining giant. And land conflicts between foreign investors and locals have been growing in Tanzania in recent days.

What should come first in poor nations – the environment, indigenous rights or the future of a nation’s economy?    

18 Responses to “Is development a death sentence?”

  1. 1 Ramesh, India
    June 11, 2009 at 19:19

    Aborginies, indgenious people or whatever they may be called as, governments should try to bring them to the mainstream before attempting to grab their land and other resources.

    • 2 Venessa
      June 11, 2009 at 20:13

      Ramesh –

      Do you think these people need to be forced into mainstream or should they have the option to continue living as they always have?

  2. 3 Venessa
    June 11, 2009 at 19:40

    Sadly it won’t matter what is the right thing to do. Money always wins out. It’s a shame that these tribes will be displaced from land they have always lived on for a greedy few that benefit from destroying the indigenous people’s homes and environment.

    • 4 Ramesh, India
      June 12, 2009 at 02:08

      Vanessa, I believe people within a country should not have different rights. If the indigenous people have to be left alone from the mainstream, they deserve to rule themselves, how small area they may come from and they would not have any moral right to expect any aid from others which is also not practically possible. Hope you understand my point. It is not meant to be against indeginious people.

  3. 5 Ramesh, India
    June 12, 2009 at 02:46

    Vanessa, there is another thing I like to mention spcific to my own country and where I live. There is an attempt to build a big dam in my area. Many villages would disappear and a big number of people would be displaced. These people don’t mind to be displaced for the sake of development. What they expect is help from the government to rehabilitate them in a different area which should change their lives for better. Whether using natural resources for the sake of development is bad for the environment is a different matter. In India the imperative for development arises because of excessive population. The governments here try to contain the population growth when there is actual need to reduce the population to reduce the burden on environment. If the governments try to reduce population(not sure how it can be done, though), can we say let us live our lives in our way and like to have as many children as possible???

  4. 6 deryck/trinidad
    June 12, 2009 at 04:03

    Money, money, money. Those in charge will do anything to get it. Lie, cheat and kill. They’ll promise jobs for all just so that they can get what they want. Governments, leaders, multinational companies exploit poor, uneducated and powerless people in the pursuit of their religion GLOBALISATION and their GOD(MONEY).


  5. 7 deryck/trinidad
    June 12, 2009 at 10:55


    I hear your point but the specificsof the Peru case is that the government actually repealed laws that protected the forest reserve in the area where the indigineous people live. This was done to honour a Free Trade agreement with the US that was made under George W Bush. One of the oil companies involved was purportedly a financier of the Bush campaign.

    In my country the same thing is happenning as the government is going ahead to build an aluminium smelter plant in conjunction with Alutrint depite the protestations of the population.

    Despite many governments claim the world over that particular developments will favour the poorer classes as well as the minorities this is not the case and I will not be fooled by the rhetoric of leaders and their desire to help the poor and displaced, especially in the case of the Peruvians where the government has run roughshod over the constitution and the people of the land in order to please a few multinational companies and fill their pockets as well.

    Reminds me of: Open veins of Latin America, the book President Chavez gave to President Obama.

    • 8 Ramesh, India
      June 12, 2009 at 18:38

      Deryck, I thanks for giving details pertaining to the specific Peru case. The issue in case of Peru is environmental one rather than about the rights of the Indigenous people there because there is an attempt to destroy forests reserved for the sake of environment. Even if the indigenous people approve the govt’s actions, it should not be acceptable to destroy those forests. Hope you get my point.

  6. 9 Tom K in Mpls
    June 12, 2009 at 15:50

    If you want to see what will happen here, just look at Zulu history. Political actions may speed up change. But change can never be stopped.

  7. 10 Tom D Ford
    June 12, 2009 at 17:08

    Historically every “civilization” has grown itself to death, read “Civilizations” by Oxford Historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, if you’re interested in that history.

    We have not learned the lessons yet, will we before it’s too late?

  8. 11 Tom D Ford
    June 12, 2009 at 17:12

    “Mark Doyle blogged about a similar situation in Liberia the other day and asked will big foreign companies help stop Africa being poor ?”

    Foreign companies got big by making Africa poor, so what would be their incentive to stop creating poverty in Africa?

  9. 12 deryck/trinidad
    June 12, 2009 at 17:25

    Tom D Ford

    Extremely correct!

  10. 13 Tom D Ford
    June 12, 2009 at 17:33

    When I consider that indigenous peoples have learned how to live on the part of earth that they inhabit in a sustainable manner, I suggest that they ought to be studied for any lessons that “developers” ought to learn and learn quickly before they destroy too much too fast.

    Years ago I watched a program about Aborigines in Australia who only had to work about two hours a day to supply all of their needs and they spent the rest of the time doing whatever they wanted, hanging out with family, friends, or whatever.

    Quantity of consumption or quality of life, isn’t that the basic question that ought to be addressed?

    As an aside, IBM has a new ad out about ” What if we can make a Smarter Planet”. I suggest that this planet has billions of years of accumulated knowledge about how to sustain myriad species of life in a dynamically stable way and we humans ought to take a long think about how and what we do to modify what the earth has already evolved into. In other words we need to make people smarter and learn from our little blue marble of a planet. Compared to humans, Mother Nature is a genuine genius!

    • 14 Tom K in Mpls
      June 12, 2009 at 22:36

      Extinction is a part of Earths history. With both species and societies. Now I have no desire to mass consume, eliminate any species or go to any lengths to preserve any species or society. I will do what small things I can to help others but I choose not to fight our society or nature unless my immediate existence is in peril.

    • 15 Ramesh, India
      June 14, 2009 at 04:11

      Tom, Don’t the population of aborginies increase? If there is an increase, the aborginies themselves may have to destroy the forests. If the population is not increasing, it could be due to lack of proper medical facilities. So how can we turn a blind eye on them just to let them live primitive life?
      Anyway, I find the word aborginies derrogatory, if not racist.

  11. 16 deryck/trinidad
    June 12, 2009 at 22:24

    Ramesh @Tom D Ford

    Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were the President of a very poor country that had many social ills but was rich in natural resources. Over time you have been trying to get foreign investment for your country and then one day it materializes and companies present you with many plans that promise jobs and wealth at the expense of the environment. What will you do? I know we idealize these situations but in reality its tough being a leader.

  12. 17 David
    June 13, 2009 at 00:36

    The question is “Is development a death sentence?” Part of the answer is “What development?”

    Look, mother earth is telling us “I am very tired of you lot. I feel like destroying you all. You don’t deserve my sympathy because you are too greedy”

    Can you blame mother earth now for the uncertainty, anxiety and frightful feeling of humans? Even trees, I see trees dying of no identifiable cause.

    We humans think making the most money is the best development of all. Think again. I am an optimistic believer of indigenous people and life they have lived since time immemorial.

    There is a road sign that says “STOP” What do greedy lot do? They don’t stop because they believe that carrying a lot of money will cushion the impact! Stop and think.

    Why Is Africa Poor? IS it poor really? Or is it because it is called “Third World? And its people are meant to believe it is poor?

    Who do we blame for this mythical believe?

  13. June 13, 2009 at 12:57

    When development is done in a balanced way it can be positive. However, too many developments are not and that leads to resentment. It’s that old financial question/conundrum “How much is enough?”. And the answer is like the repetitive 7 in 3.17.

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