China's Amazon railway spells environmental disaster.
Chinese premier Li Keqiang announced last week that the Chinese government is planning to build a 5,300km railway in South America that will cut directly through the Amazon rainforest. Critics are already speaking out about the potential environmental dangers of the plan, as well as the fact that it will force indigenous populations out of their homes.
Paulina Garzon, director of the China-Latin America Sustainable Investment Initiative seems to think that the plan should move forward despite its controversy.
“This project is iconic and is likely to become centre-stage for Latin American civil society organisations. It is way too big to pass unnoticed, and … will be tremendously controversial on both environmental and social fronts: first because of its size and location but also because Latin-American environmental groups and indigenous organisations are quite vocal and very well-networked,” Garzon told The Guardian.Garzon told The Guardian.
“It would be smart to establish a robust and meaningful multi-stakeholder consultation from the very beginning,” she added.
Similar promises were made prior to the building of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, the Belo Monte dam and the Carajás open-cast mine. However, these projects have become some of the most controversial in the world, causing severe environmental problems and displacing large number of indigenous people.
“Past mega-projects suggest that far from consulting the indigenous communities that lay in their path, the government is more likely to steamroll their rights while paying mere lip service to environmental protection. As with road projects, railways open access to previously remote regions, bring a flow of migrant workers inevitably followed by deforestation mafias and cattle ranchers, creating a perfect storm of pressures upon the forest and forest peoples,” Christian Poirier of Amazon Watch said.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.
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