Bolivia may be one of the poorest places on Earth, but it’s rich in at least one commodity: Legislation.
It’s about to pass the Mother of All Laws giving Mother Nature equal rights to human beings. In Bolivia, Ms. Nature goes by Pachamama, an Andean deity that is at the centre of all life.
As soon as the law is passed — and pass it will because the ruling party has what Stephen Harper most desires: A majority in both houses of Parliament — Pachamama will gain 11 shiny new rights.
Most of them are pretty basic: The right to life and to exist; the right to continue all her various cycles, from carbon to Krebs, without human interference; the right to pure water and clean air; the right not to be polluted; the right to balance; and the right not to be genetically altered.
Then there’s this: Pachamama will enjoy the right “not to be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.”
Right now, the guys who run the resource companies are howling with boyish laughter.
You see, Bolivia has its own brown skeletons in its own sooty closet. More than one-third of its foreign currency comes from the mining of tin, silver, gold, etc., and you can bet Pachamama is feeling more than a little violated on that front.
When you’re the world’s 100th ranked economy, below Trinidad and Tobago and Turkmenistan, for goodness sake, it’s tough to resist the temptation of all that glitters. Without precious metals, Bolivia’s largest export is … soybeans and natural gas, a potent combination for sure.
Ecuador has already tried something like this, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from plundering the Amazon.
You have to wonder why they even bother — they’re just going to end up making themselves depressed as they continue to pollute and genetically modify until one day Pachamama decides to take the law into her own hands.
That may be what’s motivating Bolivia: It’s not nice to fool Pachamama and she’s already showing signs of losing her legendary maternal patience: Bolivian scientists predict temperatures will rise by as much as 4 C over the next 100 years, all the glaciers will melt and Bolivia will become a desert.
So rather than risk the loss of her affections altogether, all they can do is promise to try to nurture nature. And if they break their promise, she can always complain to the newly-established Ministry of Mother Earth.
Good luck with that.