There is still time to sign up for my trip to Peru in December and/or Guatemala in January to experience some of this for yourself. Space is limited: http://www.johnperkins.org/trips/
Peru in December, 2014: http://www.johnperkins.org/peru-trip-december-2014/
Guatemala in January, 2015: http://www.johnperkins.org/a-journey-to-the-lands-of-the-maya-guatemala/
A Latin American Awakening and Monsanto
By John Perkins
The “Monsanto Law”
I’ve often talked about the corporatocracy (governments and corporations,) that is working to maximize profits at the expense of people and the earth, and how it are ruthlessly exploiting its prey. I spent a great deal of my time as an economic hit man (EHM) in Latin America laying the groundwork for the corporatocracy to get its way: cheap resources and control of governments. The leaders of these countries did what was demanded of them – or paid the price when the CIA sent jackals to assassinate recalcitrant leaders or helped stage political coups.
As I wrote in my recent post concerning CAFTA (“Free-Trade:” A Death Economy Next Door,) the so-called “Free Trade” agreements have done nothing to help the majority of people in Latin countries but have done a great deal to line the pockets of the already powerful. Because the “free-trade” agreement, CAFTA- DR (in 2004 CAFTA became CAFTA-DR when the Dominican Republic joined the other nations,) binds Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and the United States together, the actions of any one country can have a ripple effect on the others and the whole region.
One of the requirements of being a member of CAFTA-DR is the enforcement of the “Monsanto Law.” This law, due to go into effect in Guatemala in late September, would essentially require all farmers there, whether large corporate operations or individual peasant farms, to obtain permission from producers of transgenic seed (seeds that have been genetically modified: GMO’s), such as Monsanto, before they can grow any food. The law in essence creates a monopoly by huge, multi-national companies – the corporatocracy – that gives them a legal way to exploit a country’s resources.
Monsanto is one of the multinational companies that is seeking to take advantage of the wonderful growing climate and minimal accountability of Latin American nations. It’s not the only one, but is one of the largest and most aggressive. The stated goal of the law is to ensure that local companies aren’t always favored over foreign companies, but in reality it puts local farmers and seed companies in jeopardy.
Studies have shown the horrible impact of Monsanto’s use of glyphosate in its pesticidal product RoundUp, which is extensive on Latin American soil, poisoning the earth, plants, animals, and people. Furthermore, in efforts to grow more and more of the modified corn and soy crops, large swathes of lush forest have been razed for fields.
Pesticides like this have been designed to kill everything except the bio-engineered GMO soy, corn, and other crops. Because the poison can kill plant cells, it is likely that it also kills human cells. We know that as human beings on this tiny planet we are also connected to the plant kingdom, and what happens to the plants around us also impacts us dramatically.
Two Central American countries that are not generally considered to be leaders in the progressive or democratic movements have recently taken admirable stands in favor of their people and in attempts to rein in the corporatocracy.
The corporatocracy almost won this battle, but it looks like the tables have turned in Central America in a historic decision by Guatemala just this summer. When I travel to the beautiful lands of Latin America, I see this damage and turmoil with my own eyes, and it is a powerful and transformative experience for me and those who travel with me. (More info on trips.) We also see the joy of awakening as the people there begin to stir.
Guatemalans have woken up in time to stop the “Monsanto Law” from ruining even more lives in their country. They know that this law does not benefit them, and that it in fact threatens them with more poverty, starvation, and tragedy. They’ve seen the terrible effects of these giant companies not only economically, but also physically, when the land and the people have been poisoned by pesticides and forests have been ravaged by GMO crops.
Late in August, the Guatemalan government suspended the “Monsanto Law,” scheduled to go into effect in mid-September of this year, in response to the outcry of its citizens. That government is now working to support the local farmers over the multinational corporations and other governments crying to make a profit out of them.
It is worth noting that the US seems also to be using the CAFTA-DR agreement in a positive way — to ensure that Guatemala enforces labor laws that are already in place, as the country has recently had complaints of poor working conditions. When we use our power to impact people positively, it gives hope for our future. The US needs to continue influencing change in this way instead of caving in to greedy interests.
In El Salvador, EHM methods have long been applied for advancing the corporatocracy’s interests at the expense of the citizens. By using economic blackmail (threatening to withhold millions of dollars in promised aid,) to force the country to buy seeds from GMO giant Monsanto instead of from local El Salvadorian farmers, the US is not only further damaging the economy there but also elevating the threat of very real health dangers from the poisonous chemicals patented by the multinational company.
According to polls, the people of El Salvador do not support this policy and are clamoring to follow Guatemala’s example, but because the US and large corporations stand to gain, the pressure being put upon the government is immense. The people are waking up, and it is incumbent on us to wake up and join with them in this crusade against Big Agriculture.
Wake up for Latin America
Despite our knowledge of the dangers of Monsanto’s pesticides and genetically modified seeds, the US is promoting those interests at the expense of poorer nations. Now that we have knowledge of the economic impact these laws and agreements and others like them have on local populations – it is a responsibility that we cannot ignore.
The Guatemalan people are waking up, working together and making themselves heard by their government. El Salvador seems to be right behind them. These are two countries with violent and undemocratic histories, and they still have a long way to go in this regard. Yet, they have begun a critical process and today they are setting an example. When we travel to Guatemala, and Peru, in a few months, our group will experience first-hand the many shifts occurring south of our border and be able to bring these lessons home to the US and our own communities. (Trips info here.)
The corporatocracy has acted irresponsibly around the world for years, including Latin America. These countries and their people are our neighbors and co-inhabitants on this space ship home of ours. When we come together, join hands, and use the votes we have as consumers and investors We the People have the power to convince the giant companies and governments to serve rather than exploit us. Let’s continue to wake up.
October 3-6, 2014: London- Plant Consciousness
October 9-19, 2014: Romania – Pachamama Romania
December 6-16, 2014: Peru – Journey to Peru
January 16-23, 2015: Guatemala – A Journey to the Lands of the Maya
February 20-22, 2015: Pendle Hill, PA – Dream Change workshop with Charles Eisenstein