Colombia and palm oil
Waiting at the traffic lights on route to the park to enjoy a rest day after an intense week involved in the organisation of an event about Climate Justice here in Bogota, the captial of Colombia, an old man approached us. He was dressed as smartly as he could, dark suit, a tie and a felt hat, but he didnt look like your average suited man. Old, weather face by the sun that makes guessing ages very difficult, a calmness, resignation about him. He held a carefully handwritten sign in his hand, "please help my family, we are displaced from Bolivar( a region where there is huge amounts of palm planted) god bless you."
My eyes welled, i got angry at the taxi driver for taking me a longer route to get more money from me, hating myself for having got the taxi in the first place, i could have made the effort and walked, what a unneccesary luxury. Every night thousands of Colombians walk the length of the city with hand made carts filled with rubbish, recyclers, they easily walk 30 miles a day in the city to live one day to the next. I could have walked.
Angry at myself for the pesos I take out from the bank, angry for knowing that giving at the traffic lights is not the solution, angry for knowing how far we are from stopping the tide of people being forced from their land so that their land can be used to grow palm, or other monocrops, or becuase there is gold, or silver, or copper, or coal, or oil, or emeralds, or uranium, beneath them.
But guilt is not helpful, so as i write this, i feel the motivation to fight to stop this biofuel power station come strongly to me.
Knowing that it is possible. Knowing that in 22000 hectares there could be 200 familes forced to move to the cities and live in total poverty, and perhaps worse, live without dignity having to beg.
Since the beginning of September, the network I work with has been accompanying a village which was violently evicted by riot police at the orders of a palm oil company which sells to the Body shop. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/13/body-shop-c...tions
If the use of palm oil grows in Britain, people being forced to leave rural areas and beg at traffic lights will only grow.
Here are some other first hand reports about palm oil in Colombia by another Espacior.
What can we do here in Bristol?
I can help from a far.