Guarani communities working with NGOs to protect wildlife corridor

By Jeremy Hance / Mongabay

Last month, three Guarani communities, the local Argentine government of Misiones, and the UK-based NGO World Land Trust forged an agreement to create a nature reserve connecting three protected areas in the fractured, and almost extinct, Atlantic Forest. Dubbed the Emerald Green Corridor, the reserve protects 3,764 hectares (9,301 acres) in Argentina; although relatively small, the land connects three protected other protected areas creating a combined conservation area (41,000 hectares) around the size of Barbados in the greater Yaboti Biosphere Reserve. In Argentina only 1 percent of the historical Atlantic Forest survives.

“The agreement that has been reached is truly ground-breaking,” John Burton the head of World Land Trust (WLT) said in a press release, “and it’s been heralded as such by the government of Misiones. In my view, it is probably the most important land purchase the WLT will ever make, because of the innovations involved and the wealth of biodiversity it protects.”

Once stretching along South America’s Atlantic coast from northern Brazil to Argentina, the Atlantic Forest (also known as the Mata Atlantica) has been fragmented by centuries of logging, agriculture, and urbanization. Around 8 percent of the Atlantic Forest still survives, most of it in Brazil, and most of it fragmented and degraded.

“The rainforest of Misiones is the largest remaining fragment of the Atlantic Rainforest of South America. It is full of unique plants and important animal species—it is vital to preserve the best sample of this ecosystem,” noted Sir Ghillean Prance, an advisor to the project and scientific director of the Eden Project, in a press release.

The establishment of the Emerald Green Corridor, which was purchased from logging company Moconá Forestal, ends 16 years of the Guarani communities fighting for their traditional lands. The land will now be considered Traditional Indigenous Lands, while the indigenous community is currently working on a conservation management plan to protect the forest and its species.

Read more:
8 Steps Used By Offshore Wind to Create Agreements

8 Steps Used By Offshore Wind to Create Agreements

Editor’s note: While this article could have been written about any extractive industry, it has focused on offshore wind turbine farms. These destructive projects should require at least as much scrutiny as an offshore oil rig, but they are not. Because in the name of climate mitigation, they are rushed through without consideration for the damage they will cause, or even their effectiveness in serving this purpose and need for existence. Which is usually just based only on government mandates. And this is all done in the name of Big Environmentalism. DGR does not believe the Bright Green Lies of mainstream environmental NGOs.

By Carl van Warmerdam

People who believe that offshore wind turbines can help solve climate change are misinformed. Because the facts are that they will not. Even the companies building them make no such claim. And the truth, based on facts, will always trump belief. I am not a climate denier, but you don’t have to be a climate denier to know that these things are bad and are doomed to failure. And you also don’t have to be linked to the fossil fuel industry, the same people that knew they were causing global warming and therefore threatening the very existence of the planet. Yet, in pursuit of profit, fossil fuel executives not only refused to publicly acknowledge what they had learned but, year after year, lied about the existential threat that climate change posed for our planet. “Renewable” energy projects should require just as must scrutiny from regulators and environmentalists as fossil fuel projects.

Truth be told, most rebuildable “renewable” energy extractive companies are also liars, and have ties to fossil fuel companies. In reality what is really going on is a boondoggle, that you won’t hear about in mainstream corporate media because they only give disinformation. After years of rebuildable energy – solar and wind infrastructure – the world used more fossil fuels in 2023 than it did in 2022, as it did the year before that and the year before that. We are in fact using more fossil fuel than ever before. From 61 thousand terawatts-hours of primary energy consumption in 1973, which was the year of the OPEC oil embargo, when governments began to massively support research and development of large wind turbines and solar panels, to 137 thousand today. This is well over twice as much. In that same period, emissions grew from 17 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions to the 37 billion metric tons today. A 20 billion metric ton increase in the last 50 years. And after all of that, 80 percent of our energy use still comes from fossil fuels. The percent of US energy use from electricity has remained the same, about 20 percent. Of that, wind turbines account for 7 percent and solar energy provides 2 percent of total US electricity used. So the dream of a 100 percent electric power supply is just that, a dream.

 Why? Because these energy intense extractive technologies require massive amounts of fossil fuels to produce and those emissions are adding onto what is already being used, not reducing it (Jevons paradox). Thus spewing more planet-heating carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a time when greenhouse gas emissions world wide must nosedive to stop extreme weather from growing more unpredictable and violent. The only reason CO2 emission may drop in countries installing rebuildable extractive energy and electric vehicles is because they have outsourced the mining and manufacture of these machines to other countries, thus increasing the CO2 emissions in those countries. LNG has replaced dirty coal to run power plants.  Add on to all of this, easy access resources are gone. So the Energy Return On Investment (EROI) has gone down sharply in that time. Instead of Jeb shooting for some food, we have to use fracking and offshore drilling, mountaintop removal and deep sea mining. In the foreseeable future, the energy needed to produce our energy needs could approach unsustainable levels, a phenomenon called “energy cannibalism.”

If this continues, the so called “green” energy transition will in fact be an energy correction, complements of Mother Nature, bigger and more storms, flooding, fire, drought and biodiversity collapse. These are no longer natural disasters, instead these more powerful weather events are man made.

Nature is not more complicated than you think, it is more complicated than you CAN think” ~Frank Edwin Egler

Rebuildable extractive energy capturing machines are not clean except through greenwashing and are only making our predicament worse. The trillions in government subsidies given to this sector only makes the rich richer. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) should more appropriately be called the 4th Industrial Revolution Act. This is government redistribution of wealth from the working class to offshore transnational state sponsored corporations and the wealthy financial class, which are also principally owned by fossil fuel companies. Ultimately any money that is offered by them as payouts for grants, agreements, promotion or mitigation will come from the utility ratepayer. This is a scam that is not financially feasible without trillions in government subsidies. This is what their balance sheet looks like. What is done to the natural environment is even worse.  

Wildlife and wind turbines are an uncomfortable mix. Rotating turbine blades can make short work of anyone or anything unlucky enough to collide with them, but direct mortality is only part of the story. Having reviewed the available evidence from around the world, biologists in Finland have found that 63 percent of bird species, 72 percent of bats and 67 percent of terrestrial mammals are displaced from areas where turbines are installed. The same holds true for offshore wind farms, to include fish and marine mammals. Wind turbines are an invasive species to functioning ecosystems that took millions of years to create. The building process is a war zone. The noise and devastation are a disaster to fragile ecosystem habitats. Consider how you would feel if these massive monsters were put up next to your house in your town. The oceans, from which we came, are the lungs of the planet. Life can not exist if the delicate balance is disrupted. These projects are doomed to failure in more ways than one.

True resilience and sustainability comes by thinking globally and acting locally. The land base that people live on should be able to, on its own, continually feed, clothe and house the people who live on it. It makes no sense to destroy the sustainable food provided by the ocean in order to keep the lights on. It is preferable to eat in the dark than to starve in the light. Also know that fish farms are in the same league as wind farms. It is an enclosure of the commons for corporate control of our food supply, what they call “The Blue Economy”.    

How do we know that offshore wind will be a “pain” now and into the future for fishing, tourism, cultural heritage, beauty, integrity, stability, sustainability, ecological balance and quality of life? Millions of dollars are offered up to mitigate (bribe) it. Money would better be spent to mitigate the already abandon mines, fossil fuel wells and habitat degradation. This is where our good paying jobs should be working, to protect the planet. Life on the planet can be saved, a modern industrial lifestyle cannot.

How to Convince a Community to Destroy Their Future 


Step 1. Create an effective advertising campaign for Your Destructive Offshore Wind Project

Use a name that has a certain historical, cultural, or environmental value for the communities. Change the name from Pilgrim and Mayflower(tone deaf) to South Coast Wind or Vineyard Wind(more like Graveyard). Call it “clean”, “green”, “renewable” energy that is the solution to climate change and save our lifestyle. With the right branding, people will drink any poison, pinwheels for everyone.

Step 2. Get the Local Government on Your Side

Pay off the local politicians to agree and hand out licenses. Tell them there is nothing they can do to stop it, so they should just get the best Good Neighbor Host Agreement possible or get nothing.

Step 3. Lobby as Much as Possible to Bend the Law in Favor Offshore Wind

Create legal loopholes and tax credits for corporations, behind closed doors. Speed up the “permit” your destruction process. Buy-off federal and state politicians and corporate capture regulatory agencies. Nobody wants these in their backyard, let’s just put them out to sea. 

Step 4. Presents! Buy Off Public Opinion

Build a new school, library(Carnegie) or sewer system. Or just offer money as compensation to do with as you wish. The major ENGOs have entered into agreement with offshore wind: Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Conservation Law Foundation and taken money; Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental League of Mass., Sierra Club, etc. along with aquariums, universities and the media. 

Step 5. Offer a Compromise

Let us destroy this land/sea here and we will protect some other land/sea. Or agree with us and we will let you have a say in how the destruction will occur. This project has to be done to stop climate change, we have to destroy the planet to save it. There must be sacrifice zones. Sorry that your home is being destroyed but don’t be a NIMBY(Not In My Backyard). Actually when respondents of national surveys begin to think about ideas of what rebuildable energy entails, such as offshore wind, their support often diminishes. There will be painful trade-offs, trying to preserve comfortable lives. Most of that pain will come from other species. But if we acknowledge that our modern industrial lifestyle is causing the end of life on the planet, we must say NOPE(Not On Planet Earth).

Step 6. Threats Are Effective Deterrents

If you file a law suit against this project, we will file a lawsuit against you, a SLAPP(Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Focus on the leaders of the struggle. Scaring people works. This smear tactic was conducted by the prestigious Ivy League College Brown against the opponents to offshore wind. Attack the messenger. In the global south, this is done literally. Real nice place you got here, it would be a sham if something bad happened to it.

Step 7. Create Chaos and Conflict; Divide the Community in Two Camps

Tout the temporary “good paying union” jobs you will create over the permanent sustainable jobs, fishing and tourism, destroyed forever. Destroying a food source never makes good sense. What is truly needed, at this time of ecological collapse, is food sovereignty. Where jobs are hard to come by this is called poverty pimping. Then don’t forget to accuse those opposed to offshore wind of promoting “disinformation“. Push it as a choice in political values, Republicans against Democrats. There is a backlash against “renewable” energy. It’s turned Democrats into Republicans.

Step 8. Having Wrought Havoc, Now Frame It as a Successful Story of Growth and Prosperity

Welcome to the great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day. Technology has fixed the problem that it has created! Too bad it is a dystopian science fiction. No one willingly wants to destroy their environment. It is done because of the Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold, makes the rules! Not to mention that these companies have gotten out of paying most of the taxes required of multinationals. And avoid putting emphasis on the fact that the jobs are short term, while the environmental damage is forever.

The Community Environment Legal Defense Fund can help to fight these corporate criminals from destroying your town.

If you would like to help stop The Blue Economy of offshore wind, see Green Oceans


Contact: Ben Martin
Steinreich Communications

(212) 4911600


LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. – Rhode Island-based Green Oceans, a non-partisan, grassroots not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the ocean and the ecosystems it sustains, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging four federal agencies shortcut statutory and regulatory procedures and violated environmental protection laws by approving the South Fork and Revolution Wind projects. An additional 35 co-plaintiffs joined the litigation.

The suit alleges that the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their respective administrative leaders, issued permits for the two projects on the critical marine habitat known as Coxes Ledge, despite the acknowledgment of serious irreversible harm and without adequate environmental impact studies. The lawsuit asks the court to invalidate the approvals for both projects until the government complies with all relevant statutes and regulations.

“In a rush to meet state mandates, we cannot short-circuit our country’s most important environmental and natural resource policies. This suit will ensure the federal government follows its own rules and regulations,” said Green Ocean’s Co-founder and President Dr. Elizabeth Quattrocki Knight. 

Filed under the Administrative Procedure Act, the suit intends to prove that the federal agencies violated eight statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Clean Water Act, and their associated regulatory programs.

The suit highlights the alarming scale of proposed offshore wind plans – up to 1,000 turbines, each towering over 870 feet high. The closest turbines will reside just 12.9 nautical miles from the Rhode Island coast. Collectively, the nine projects planned for the waters off the coast of Rhode Island represent the largest offshore development anywhere in the world. The Green Oceans suit alleges that BOEM did not adequately consider the cumulative impact of the entire lease area, a legal requirement. No geographic boundaries exist between the nine different projects planned for the 1,400 square miles of coastal waters between Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“Marine mammals will not appreciate whether any given turbine belongs to one project or another. Legally, BOEM must evaluate the collective impact, not just each project in isolation,” Dr. Quattrocki Knight emphasized. The projects threaten to permanently alter the environmentally sensitive Coxes Ledge, one of the last remaining spawning grounds for Southern New England cod and an important habitat for the North Atlantic right whale and four other endangered whale species.

Barbara Chapman, a Green Oceans trustee, added, “Even people who support the concept of wind power understand the threat to sea life. On the official NOAA site, they have granted the developer of Revolution Wind, just one project of many, permission to harm and harass over 13,000 marine animals, including 568 whales, during the course of a single year. We do not consider 13,000 a small number.”

“BOEM admits the projects will have adverse impacts on the health of our fisheries, navigation safety, historic resources, the North Atlantic right whale, and environmental justice populations, while having no effect on climate change. Why accept this irreversible environmental damage for no overall gain?” questions Green Ocean’s Co-founder and Vice President, Bill Thompson.

Co-plaintiffs to the suit include the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, Save Right Whales Coalition, New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, Bat World Sanctuary, three former Rhode Island Fisherman’s Advisory Board members, along with local and regional recreational fishermen, sailors, boaters, pilots, conservationists, residents, and leading members of the business community.

Green Oceans is a nonprofit, non-partisan group of community members dedicated to combating climate change without jeopardizing biodiversity or the health of the ocean. For more information or to get involved, visit:

Featured photo by Pete Godfrey on Unsplash

Emissions Accounting System Favors Imported Goods

Emissions Accounting System Favors Imported Goods

Editor’s Note: We all know that globalization can never be sustainable. Localization is imperative for a just and sustainable world. Yet, proponents of globalization have created an emissions accounting system that argues that importing goods is better than sourcing locally. Sector-based accounting calculates the carbon emissions caused by a product in the given area. So, for example, if you are consuming a product that was produced across the world, sector-based accounting would only calculate the carbon emissions in your area, so excludes the production process and transportation. Here is a video about how our “stuff” is produced in a globalized world. It gives a fair idea of what a sector-based accounting system fails to account for.

The following is a piece about the implementation of sector-based accounting in Vermont.

Emissions Accounting System Favors Imported Goods

By Steven Gorelick/VT Digger

Now that the COP28 climate change conference has concluded, it’s time for a quick climate change quiz. See if you can identify the climate hero in the scenario below:

Jared and Annette arrive at a potluck, each bringing a mixed salad with the same ingredients. By a strange coincidence, they’re also wearing identical Christmas sweaters. They compare notes, and it turns out that Annette’s salad ingredients were all bought from Vermont farmers, while Jared’s are supermarket ingredients shipped here from California, Mexico and Chile. Annette’s sweater was knit by a local craftsperson using Vermont wool. Jared’s came from Walmart, and was produced in a Chinese sweatshop using electricity from a coal-fired power plant.

Question: Which one is doing their part to lower their greenhouse gas emissions?

Answer: Jared.

Crazy? Indeed. But if you read Environmental Action Network’s(EAN) “Annual Progress Report on Emissions” you’ll discover that Vermont’s emissions are counted in a way that makes Jared the environmental hero, while Annette just isn’t “doing her part.”

That’s because EAN uses what’s known as “sector-based accounting” to tally our emissions. Emissions from various sectors of the Vermont economy are added up, and that’s our total. Anything produced in Vermont — like Annette’s sweater and the ingredients in her potluck dish — add to that total, but emissions from goods that came from outside Vermont are ignored. So by EAN’s accounting, Jared’s supermarket and Walmart purchases — though loaded with greenhouse gas emissions — add nothing at all to Vermont’s total.

The emissions embedded in a sweater or salad may seem trivial, but even in a small state like ours they’ll be multiplied by nearly a billion. Consumer spending in Vermont amounted to $31 billion in 2019, most of that for out-of-state products. Consider everything Vermonters bought at chain stores — Walmart, Dollar General, Target, Home Depot, 7-Eleven, etc. Add to that all the fast food purchased at McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s, and all the coffee sold at Starbucks. Add in all the purchases from Amazon, eBay, and other online sellers. Few if any of these goods were produced in Vermont, and so the emissions from producing them and transporting them here are absent from EAN’s tally. The same illogic applies to most of the food in Vermont’s supermarkets: zero emissions, no matter how many tons of CO2 were emitted to grow, process, and transport it to Vermont.

It’s hard to see how intelligent climate policies can be crafted using an emissions accounting system that implicitly favors imported goods over locally produced goods. Even local food – which should be embraced as a climate strategy because of its lower food miles and reduced need for packaging — is a loser according to sector-based accounting.

There’s an alternative accounting method that does incorporate consumption, and not surprisingly it’s called consumption-based accounting. For Vermont, it would mean tallying up the emissions from everything we consume — no matter where it came from. (The emissions from Vermont exports would be excluded because those emissions are the responsibility of an end consumer elsewhere.)

Consumption-based accounting makes it clear that the best way to reduce emissions is to reduce consumption, period. By forcing us to take responsibility for our emissions, it’s a first step towards meaningful climate action.

Governments avoid consumption-based accounting, perhaps because it challenges the bedrock belief that economies should grow forever. Most mainstream non-profits don’t use consumption-based accounting either — maybe because their donor bases hope the climate can be “fixed” while leaving the growth-driven consumer economy — the source of their wealth — intact.

In any case, EAN and its “network members” – including the Vermont Natural Resources Council(VNRC), Vermont Public Interest Research Group(VPIRG), and other large Vermont environmental NGOs — are among those groups that ignore consumption. Instead, they see climate change as a problem for which technofixes are the solution. And with sector-based accounting there’s a technofix for every sector: industrial “renewables” for the electricity sector, EVs for transport, heat pumps for thermal, etc. These technologies don’t require changing our consumer-based economic system; on the contrary, they represent huge profit-making opportunities for corporations and wealthy individuals. As one prominent renewable energy advocate put it, climate change is “the largest wealth creation opportunity of our lifetimes”.

Some will argue that asking citizens to rein in their consumption would be unfair to the many Vermonters who already live with little. But the upper-income levels are where reductions are most needed. A recent Oxfam report titled “The Great Carbon Divide” reveals that a “polluter elite” is responsible for a huge share of global emissions: “it would take about 1,500 years for someone in the bottom 99% to produce as much carbon as the richest billionaires do in a year.”

Low-income Vermonters aren’t chartering private jets out of Burlington’s airport, nor do they have second and third homes with heated swimming pools and three-car garages.

The EAN report calls to mind a line from Mark Twain: “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics”. EAN’s report is loaded with creatively presented statistics, but it omits one of the most important statistics of all — consumption. In that way, EAN’s report serves to maintain the growth of an economic system that is literally killing the planet.

Photo by Eric Chen on Unsplash

More Funds Needed For Small Nonprofit Conservation Groups

More Funds Needed For Small Nonprofit Conservation Groups

Editor’s note: Environmental nonprofit groups — which include land conservation, land trusts, and wildlife protection organizations — receive just 2% of all charitable donations, research suggests.
Though small conservation groups are typically efficient about converting funds into effective, on-the-ground projects, most conservation funding goes to the largest, multi-national organizations.

“The simplest and most immediate way concerned parties with some resources, whether an individual or institution, can help is to donate more to small wildlife conservation organizations and volunteer when and where it is logistically possible,” a new op-ed argues. This post is a commentary by Gail Koelln.

More funds needed for small nonprofit conservation groups

By Gail Koelln/Mongabay

I have worked as a grant writing professional for about 24 years and am also the part-time co-director of a small, U.S.-based wildlife conservation nonprofit called One Earth Conservation (OEC) that focuses on the conservation of wild parrots in the Americas. As a grant writing consultant, I serve nonprofit clients in a variety of fields, such as animal welfare, the environment, arts, youth education and development, health, and serving people with disabilities.With this unique perspective, and at a time of massive biodiversity loss, I believe it’s urgent that small and nimble wildlife conservation nonprofits receive more support. Yet, I have noted many striking things about the wildlife conservation field. It is, arguably, one of the most important issues needing attention in a world where a sixth mass extinction event is already underway.Yet, funding in this sector is pathetically paltry, with limited numbers of foundations and corporations supporting conservation as a way to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Even government funding is mostly restricted to grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and small departments within local state environmental agencies, with very few exceptions. The silver lining is that government grants can provide substantial funding that most other funders do not offer.

More about Koelln’s nonprofit group One Earth Conservation

In addition, Allison Smith of Neon One wrote the following about how much individuals in the U.S. donated to environmental and animal welfare organizations in 2021:

“Giving USA found that just 3% of all giving went to environmental and animal welfare organizations in 2021. Other research suggests that environmental nonprofits — which include land conservation, land trusts, and wildlife protection organizations — received about 2% of charitable donations.”

This is the second lowest percentage of giving of all categories (just above giving to individuals) that includes arts, culture, and humanities; international affairs; health; public-society benefit; grant making foundations; human services; education; and religion.

I have also noticed that there is little to no capacity building support for smaller wildlife conservation organizations, which is in sharp contrast to, for example, small arts organizations. Throughout the U.S. there are many local arts councils that provide small grants, training, and other capacity building resources in support of small arts and culture nonprofits. This type of support, whether financial or not, can help small arts groups to grow and become self-sustaining. Unfortunately, I have encountered nothing of the sort for wildlife conservation organizations such as OEC.

When funders do provide financial support for wildlife conservation, the vast majority of that funding goes to larger, more established organizations. Small groups barely stand a chance of getting even a meager grant from many funders. And government applications require a great deal of sweat and tears to complete and administer, which is more difficult for small organizations with few staff members.

Smaller wildlife conservation organizations can often be more nimble than larger organizations that usually have larger bureaucratic structures. Our impact relative to the lesser dollars we have to work with can be greater. Investing more funding into smaller wildlife conservation organizations can result in a greater “bang for the buck.”

Using OEC as an example, it is important to know that wild parrots are native to five continents and they even live wild in Europe and the U.S. as introduced species. If expanded, OEC’s community conservation work could positively impact biodiversity loss globally. Our projects not only help reduce the illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss, but also improve animal welfare and empower Indigenous and other marginalized communities. With an annual budget of about $240,000, OEC currently partners with local people in six countries in the Americas.

Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, the other co-director of OEC, says, “It doesn’t take much capital to invest in social capital. It’s an infinite resource that keeps giving across generations, cultures, and species.” Our emotional, social, and organizational intelligence trainings are infused with conservation theory. Implementation of what they learn inspires participants to not only want to protect their parrots, but also other wildlife and their environment, and poachers are transforming into protectors.

We have been testing for three years novel, online Parrot Conservation Corps (PCC) trainings in English and Spanish to teach our conservation methods and create mini teams to sprout new projects. Our most recent PCC engaged new leaders in eight countries and provided them with small grants for their projects and stipends when their work was completed. We have found the PCC to be a very nimble way to influence large swaths of people and seed new conservationists and projects. These activities can be replicated by reaching out to more communities, co-organizing new PCC cohorts, and training other NGOs on our process.

We often dream about what we could do with a larger budget, as many small nonprofits do, and I know we would benefit greatly from capacity building support in areas such as tracking financial transactions in the field where there is erratic internet access. If humanity wants to preserve and restore biodiversity globally, then looking to and supporting wildlife conservation organizations of all sizes is a large part of the answer. It remains an open question how to best change the global funding paradigm for nonprofits in general, as it isn’t working well in many fields, not only in wildlife conservation. I don’t claim to have the answer, but at least I can encourage more of us to discuss the possibilities.

In the meantime, the simplest and most immediate way concerned parties with some resources, whether an individual or institution, can help is to donate more to small wildlife conservation organizations and volunteer when and where it is logistically possible. OEC is doing our part by working daily to increase the capacity of our partners on the ground in the countries in which we work. As we support them financially, we also regularly provide guidance and training to strengthen their ability to eventually continue their community conservation work on their own. Ultimately, that is the best hope for staunching the open wound of mass extinctions on Earth.


Photo: Macaw birds by Chantelle Thompson/Pixabay

Exxon Mobil Land Grab in Esequibo

Exxon Mobil Land Grab in Esequibo

Editor’s note: Exxon Mobil recently discovered more oil and gas fields in the disputed territory of Esequibo in South America. Guyana has already awarded drilling bids to the corporation. But Venezuela claims the region its own. News about the developments changes rapidly: On December 3rd the Venezuelan people voted 96% in favor of the non-binding referendum María Páez Victor writes about. Nobody informed Indigenous leaders in Esequibo about the situation, according to Deutsche Welle.

The question one might ask now is: will Guyana and Venezuela be able to protect Esequibo’s dense rain forest together with its indigenous peoples, or will Exxon Mobile set up yet another “carbon bomb”?

Apart from oil and gas, Exxon Mobil wants a part of the electric vehicle cake, too: As global energy demand grows, the corporation will start producing EV-batteries in 2026 in Arkansas.

Exxon Mobil Land Grab in Esequibo

By María Páez Victor/Counterpunch

Attacks on Venezuela by the USA and its allies include 930 illegal sanctions that shut the country out from international finance blocking it from buying medicines, food or producing or selling its oil.

Also there have been direct and indirect support for coup d’etat attempts, street violence leading to murders and injuries, cyberattacks on its electricity grid, sabotage of oil and infrastructure, financing criminal bands, corruption of officials, assassination attempt against the President and his cabinet, setting up a false presidency, appropriating CITGO oil company and billions of Venezuelan assets in banks, blocking the country from obtaining Covid-19 vaccines during a pandemic, and a brutal attack on the currency. It is estimated that at least 100,000 Venezuelans have lost their lives due to the illegal sanctions.

It seems it has not been enough.

Now, wrapping itself in old-fashioned colonialism, the USA through its creature Exxon Mobil, and hand in hand with its imperial ally Great Britain, are poised to pull the biggest land grab since the US took a quarter of México, by means of sleight-of-hand judicial theft.

Long standing issues – land and gold

All the ancient maps of Venezuela, from the time it was first mapped under Spanish rule, show that its eastern border was the Esequibo River.

On the other side of the river was a territory later claimed by England that became British Guiana. It was a place where explorers thirsty for gold invaded seeking the myth of El Dorado, which they did not find but did find gold and the sweet gold of sugar cane. Using a deliberate misinformation campaign, involving the bogus cartography by R. Schomburgk, as far back as 1835, the British Empire made inroads into Venezuelan territory.

After Britain gave independence to British Guiana and it became Guyana, these inroads did not cease. The territory to the west of the river called Guayana Esequiba, thus claimed by Guyana and which is in dispute, measures 159.542 Km², a territory bigger than Portugal and the Netherlands together.

The long-standing controversy reached a point when in 1899, an Arbitral Tribunal in Paris was convened to settle the matter – with not a single Venezuelan present! The judges were from Britain, the United States and one Russian. The USA, claiming some sort of reason to be there because of their own Monroe Doctrine, presumed to represent Venezuela. The sentence, to no one’s surprise, benefited Great Britain.

Venezuela continued to fight this astonishing judicial theft of the land that had always been part of Venezuela, and after long diplomatic struggles, the Accord of Geneva of 1966 was agreed upon by both parts. It emphatically declared null and void the actions of the Paris Tribunal of 1899, and stipulated that both parts – Venezuela and Guyana- are obligated to negotiate amicably together in good faith to resolve all matters concerning the Esequibo. Furthermore, considering this Accord, in 1980 both parties agreed to the United Nations mechanism of Good Offices, whereby a jointly appointed person would help implement negotiations.

Exxon Mobil and today’s issue – black gold

In 2014/15, the most sinister and predatory oil corporation in the world, Exxon Mobil -an avowed enemy of Venezuela- discovered oil in land and sea of the disputed territory. That ended all the ongoing amicable negotiations between Venezuela and Guyana, as the wealth of Exxon Mobil obtained the upper hand of the government of Guyana.

The present prime minister, for example, has been handed $18 million in exchange for refusing to negotiate further, denouncing the Geneva Accord of 1966 and demanding that the decision of the 1899 Paris Tribunal be enforced through yet another biased team of judges at the International Court of Justice, that actually has no jurisdiction except its own self-enlarged mandate.

But most dangerous of all, the oil corporation urges Guyana to aggressively provoke Venezuela into attacking so that it can present itself to the world as a “victim” of Venezuela. The aim is to provoke a frontier war so that the naval fleet of the US Southern Command – now conveniently posted in the adjacent seas- can then intervene militarily and invade Venezuela. Since 2015 Guyana has been carrying out military manoeuvres with the Southern Command with Venezuela as a target.

There is nothing the USA would want more than “a cause”, real or not, to invade Venezuela and get its hands on the rich oil, gas and precious minerals that are abundant there. It can no longer count on stooge right-wing governments in Colombia and Brazil, so now it is manipulating Guyana to be its surrogate war monger. The fleet of the US Southern Command is already poised in waters off the Esequibo and, in fact, the USA has army presence in Guyana itself.

However, Venezuela clearly understands this ruse. It has repeatedly stated that Venezuela has never gone to war – except when its armies marched to Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador to liberate them from the Spanish Empire. Venezuela seeks a peaceful outcome.

The people of the Esequibo

Guyana is one of the most unequal and poor countries in the region.

Its resource extraction enterprises are in the hands of foreign corporations, and the income they grant the country has not had the corresponding impact on the health and welfare indicators of the population. The first attempt to measure poverty was in 1992-93, later repeated in 2006. An academic scholar has concluded:

“The economic history of Guyana is one of slavery, indenture, colonialism and a social stratification based on skin colour.”

The first free elections occurred just as recently as June 1953, but were followed in October of the same year by a British invasion with troops and ships, abetted by the USA, which overthrew the elected populist government of Cheddi Jagan y Forbes Burnham.

Its society suffers with accusations of corruption, inefficiency, and police brutality It has about 78,500 indigenous peoples, 10% of the population, that have been sadly, and historically neglected by the Guyanese government but are now defending their rights through their own movements as since 1990 multinational resource exploitation has increased and highlighted the failure of the government to recognize and guarantee indigenous rights.

Many indigenous people of the Esequibo consider themselves Venezuelans, or at least of dual nationality. Since the Chávez government, Venezuela has been proposing joint ventures that would benefit both countries, especially the population in the Esequibo, just as it has effective and amicable gas exploitation with Trinidad and Tobago on shared seas.

The referendum

Venezuela’s position on the Esequibo is based on the borders it has always had since it was a General Captaincy of the Spanish Empire as clearly stated in Article 10 of the Venezuelan Constitution. It also emphatically declares that the nation’s sovereignty resides in the people, and that the Republic is democratic, participatory and protagonist, multiethnic and pluricultural.

In Article 70, referenda are indicated as one of the ways in which the people can participate in the exercise of their sovereignty. Furthermore, Article 71 states that matters of special national transcendence can be submitted to a consultative referendum.

Therefore, on 6 December 2023 the Venezuelan people will be asked to answer “yes” or “no” to 5 questions: if they reject the 1899 Paris arbitration, approve of the 1966 Geneva Accord agreement as the only binding mechanism to resolve the issue, agree with not recognizing the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction, oppose Guyana’s unilateral appropriation of the Esequibo’s territorial waters. The 5th key question asks voters if they agree with establishing a new state, called Guayana Esequiba, in the disputed land, granting Venezuelan citizenship to its inhabitants and implementing accelerated social programs.

This last question is of critical political relevance because it, in effect, offers the Esequibo people all the advantages, rights, equality, services and prosperity that today the Venezuelan government and institutions can provide to its citizens. It is so crucial that immediately Guyana and Exxon Mobil demanded of the International Court of Justice be brought into the dispute to do something impossible: to forbid the nation of Venezuela to carry out a referendum for its own citizens! That is, to directly intervene in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country and violate its Constitution. Thus is the fear that they have towards the voice of the people.

However, the ICJ does not actually have jurisdiction over this issue not only because for years it has creepingly and unilaterally expanded its own mandate, but also because any demands of this nature must be made by both parties, and Venezuela has not accepted that court’s involvement or jurisdiction.

Yet Exxon Mobil has paid for Guyana’s substantial legal fees before this court.

Oil corporation “paying” to grab land

Venezuela’s electoral process -considered by former US President Jimmy Carter as the best in the world- always carries out a trial vote just to make sure everything is in working order. This trial vote on November 19th had a surprising result: the turnout was three times larger than in any other election trial, more than 3 million voters turned up! This is a clear indication of the great interest that Venezuelans have in the Esequibo. In fact, the Esequibo is the most important unifying issue in Venezuela today. Government, artists, oppositions, NGOs, unions, private sector, educators, etc; it seems the entire country is standing up in defense of the Esequibo.

But there is one factor, apart from maps, judicial lawfare and referendum, that will impact on this issue: it is Exxon Mobil and the millions it is distributing among politicians, lawyers, and media to get this land grab.

Exxon Mobil is perhaps the most criminal oil company in the world.

For decades its engineers knew well what fossil fuels were doing to the climate, but not only did they supress this information, they paid writers, scientists, and media to deny climate change was happening. It has violated human rights of countless rural and indigenous people; and in Indonesia its collaboration with a brutal government led to it being accused of genocide.

Its seems wherever it operates it commits ecocide, crimes against nature.

One of its worst crimes was the environmental disaster caused by its oil tanker the Exxon Valdez. In 1989 it spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil in Alaska, causing the death of between 100,000 and 250,000 marine birds, hundreds of otters, seals, eagles, orcas and innumerable fish.

Exxon Mobil spent years fighting in courts, denying its culpability, and trying to squirm out of paying for damages caused. In the end, after 20 years of litigations, it paid the state of Alaska the pittance of $507 million, that is one tenth of the cost of the damages caused by its oil spill.

If it can do this to Alaska in its own home country, imagine what little environmental protection the people, and pristine flora and fauna of the Esequibo would get from this irresponsible corporation.

This is the monster that has bought Guyana and that is attacking the sovereignty of Venezuela.

What is at stake

This is not merely a territorial dispute between two countries, but more than that, what is at stake is the validity of international law, the integrity of the Geneva Accord of 1966, the integrity of the Good Offices of the United Nations, and the honesty of the International Court of Justice (if it has any).

In the end it is the struggle between democracy and the rapacious interests of a powerful oil corporation in the service of the United States empire.

However, Venezuela has defeated an empire before.

María Páez Victor, Ph.D. is a Venezuelan born sociologist living in Canada.

Graph: Top 10 Carbon Majors (with caption & annotations) by Carbon Visuals is licensed under CC BY 2.0.