By Pratap Chatterjee for CorpWatch Blog. The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has ordered the government of Venezuela to pay $1.386 billion to Crystallex, a bankrupt Canadian gold mining company, for canceling a 2002 permit to mine for gold in the Imataca Forest Reserve. Crystallex brought its arbitration claim to the ICSID in 2011 stating that Venezuela had violated the company’s rights guaranteed under a bilateral treaty between Canada and Venezuela. Even though most national courts refuse to hear community claims against companiesfor environmental or human rights abuses abroad, a number of international ‘arbitration’ courts routinely rule allow companies to sue governments for investment ‘rights’ written into new bilateral and multilateral treaties. (ICSID alone is currently hearing 211 cases)
By Nicky Woolf for The Guardian. Standing Rock Nation – Dozens of tribal members from several Native American nations took to horseback on Friday to protest against the proposed construction of an oil pipeline which would cross the Missouri river just yards from tribal lands in North Dakota. The group of tribal members, which numbered around 200, according to a tribal spokesman, said they were worried that the Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed by a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would lead to contamination of the river. The proposed route also passes through lands of historical significance to the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation, including burial grounds.
By Alysa Landry for Indian Country Today. Winslow, AZ – A Navajo woman was shot and killed by police on Easter Sunday after apparently threatening an officer with a weapon in Winslow, Arizona. Loreal Juana Barnell-Tsingine, 27, was shot five times after an altercation that began with a shoplifting call at a Circle K at around 4 p.m. Officers located a woman matching the description of the suspect a few blocks away from the convenience store and a struggle ensued. An officer, who has not been identified by name, said Tsingine displayed a weapon that posed a “substantial threat.” Police have not divulged what the weapon was, though family members claim Tsingine was armed only with a pair of scissors. “While attempting to take the subject into custody, a struggle ensued,” the Winslow Police Department states in a press release.
By Nancy Piñeiro Moreno, Translated by Laura Beratti for Tele Sur – These women have put their bodies on the line, chained themselves to rigs and barricades, in order to protect their land. These six Mapuche women have taken the risk of putting their bodies on the line to stop the drilling rigs from further endangering their community. Aboriginal women are central to the continent-wide resistance against extractivism, and the story of these women from the Campo Maripe community in the Argentine Patagonia is a solid example of their ongoing contribution, and the importance of indigenous resistance for social movements worldwide.
By Staff of CUPE – The North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade agreements protect the rights of multinational corporations to export and use Canadian water for profit. Multinational water companies such as Suez have contracts in Canada and around the world, privatizing water services and delivery. CUPE has built awareness with indigenous communities around the dangers of using public private partnerships to build or restore access to water services in their communities.
By Nika Knight for Common Dreams – Another member of Berta Cáceres’ Indigenous rights group was brutally murdered by unidentified assailants on Tuesday, following a violent eviction of Indigenous people from their land. Nelson Garcia, a father of five and community leader, was shot four times in the face—”gunned down in his home,” the Nation reported. His assassination occurred less than two weeks after Cáceres’, and only days following her funeral.
By Jake Dacks of BertaCaceres.org. Washington, DC – Concerned DC residents unfurled banners inside the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building today, in front of the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) information office, calling for USAID to break ties to the controversial Agua Zarca dam project being built in Honduras. On Thursday, March 3, world-renowned Honduran indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres, who led her Lenca peoples against the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River, was assassinated in her home. Berta had received the Goldman award in 2015 – the highest award for environmental activism – in the very same Ronald Reagan building in April of last year.
By School of Americas Watch, HONDURAS – At approximately 11:45pm last night, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Caceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation. Berta Cáceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources. Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people.
By George Pauk for Popular Resistance. Oak Flat, Arizona – We are back at the mountain campsite that is the prime example of the persistent greed of our empire. The shame of us “whites” is palpable here in the beautiful high desert. Again, we find the Native Americans already here, —we are visitors. They welcome us, but we know it is long past due that we need to decolonize this land. It has been one year since a group of people of the San Carlos Apache tribe called out the dastardly actions of our Arizona Senators (McCain and Flake). The senators, joined by other politicians, slyly “gave” this sacred land of the Apaches to foreign corporations. The politicians have benefited financially for their campaigns. They blatantly continue their charade of pretend that the rape of this land and waters will benefit us. They wish to create another huge pit of rubble where the beauty of ancient, historic trees, wild animals and sacred culture now lives.
By Donna Martinez for Sea Ranch Abalone Bay. Sonoma County, CA – For the first time in nearly two centuries the Kashia Tribe of the Pomo Native Americans will be able to enjoy the Pacific coast where they and their ancestors once hunted, fished, and developed a rich culture. The final piece of the complex deal was completed October 18, 2015 when California landowner, Bill Richardson, agreed to gift his 700 acres family farm to the neighbouring Kashia Tribe of Stewarts Point. The sheep ranch has been in the Richardson family since 1925. No longer must the Kashia remain inland, away from their breathtaking coastline. It took five years of fundraising by the Sonoma County supervisors, The Trust for Public Land, private foundations and groups.
By Cecily Hilleary for Voice of America. Celebrities and politicians have rallied around the city of Flint, Michigan, where thousands of children have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in drinking water. But Native Americans say they have been facing an even more dangerous water contaminant for decades – uranium – and received far less attention The Cold War arms race triggered a boom in uranium mining in the U.S. Between the 1940s and 1980s, uranium mining operations were carried out under a 19th century mining law that did not require them to clean up after themselves. When demand for uranium waned in the 1980s, companies simply walked away, leaving open pits and tunnels – and enormous amounts of radioactive waste. Today more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines dot the U.S. West.
By Chris DAngelo for Huffington Post. Isle de Jean Charles, LA – Deep in the bayous of Louisiana, about 80 miles southwest of New Orleans, lies the Isle de Jean Charles, a tiny swath of land that’s all but vanished into the Gulf of Mexico. Over the last half-century or so, the island has fallen victim to irresponsible oil and gas extraction practices and the effects of climate change. Many of its residents — members of the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native Americans — have been forced to flee. “What you see of the island now is just a skeleton of what it used to be,” Chris Brunet, a tribal council member and lifelong island resident, told The New York Times in a mini-documentary called Vanishing Island in 2014.
By Leonard Peltier for CounterPunch. Coleman, FL – What can I say that I have not said before? I guess I can start by saying see you later to all of those who have passed in the last year. We Natives don’t like to mention their names. We believe that if we speak their names it disrupts their journey. They may lose their way and their spirits wander forever. If too many call out to them, they will try to come back. But their spirits know we are thinking about them, so all I will say is safe journey and I hope to see you soon. On February 6th, I will have been imprisoned for 40 years! I’m 71 years old and still in a maximum security penitentiary. At my age, I’m not sure I have much time left.
By Daniel Lak for Al Jazerra. Afederal Human Rights Tribunal issued a stinging ruling. For decades, the tribunal found, children living on reserves – aboriginal communities mandated by historic treaties between Ottawa and tribal groups – have been denied support, services and funding that every other Canadian child can count on. It’s no surprise. In almost every category imaginable, Canada’s aboriginal people – defined as First Nations, mixed-race Metis and the Inuit of the Arctic – fare poorly against the rest of the population.n Here’s where we find signs of hope. Consider that phrase “taking matters into their own hands”. Many aboriginal Canadians are acting to make change happen themselves, faster than governments and much faster than non-aboriginal society.
By Klee Benally for Clean Up The Mines! Washington, DC – Tommy Rock, a member of Diné No Nukes and graduate student from the state of Arizona stated that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was extremely similar to a crisis near the Navajo Nation in Sanders, AZ. “The regulatory agencies are responding by sending the Army National Guard to provide bottle water for the community of Flint. However, the small community of Sanders which is also predominantly an Indigenous community that is off the reservation are not receiving the same response from the state regulatory agency or the state legislatures and the media,” stated Rock who worked on a recent study that uncovered levels of uranium in the drinking water system of residents and an elementary school in Sanders that violated the drinking water standard for uranium. Rock continues, “The same can be said about two Lakota reservations. They are Pine Ridge and Rock Creek, Standing Rock Reservation that have not received any assistance from regulatory agencies.