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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 04:12 PM

Latin America timber bust hailed as breakthrough on forest crime

Source: TrustLaw

Latin America timber bust hailed as breakthrough on forest crime
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 19:43 GMT
Source: trustlaw // Megan Rowling

By Megan Rowling

LONDON (TrustLaw) - The first international INTERPOL operation to clamp down on illegal logging, which led to nearly 200 arrests and the seizure of the equivalent of 2,000 truckloads of timber in Latin America, is a breakthrough against a trade that is destroying forests and people's lives around the world, anti-corruption group Global Witness said on Wednesday.

INTERPOL, the world’s biggest international police organisation, said this week its officials had inspected and investigated vehicles, retail premises and individuals and watched ports and transport centres in 12 countries in Central and South America from September to November last year.


"This is a major development in the fight against illegal logging, which is a much bigger global problem than most of us realise,” said Billy Kyte, forest campaigner at Global Witness, which investigates graft and conflict involving natural resources.

"Local people often get the blame, but they are usually not the real problem. Much more damage is done by big companies connected to business, political and criminal elites, who systematically skirt laws and regulations in order to destroy forests on an industrial scale," he added in a statement.

Read more: http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/news/detail.dot?id=06b599cd-5852-40c2-87a9-5df4e0dc6dff

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Reply Latin America timber bust hailed as breakthrough on forest crime (Original post)
Judi Lynn Feb 2013 OP
Peace Patriot Feb 2013 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:42 PM

1. Interesting list of cooperating countries...

"INTERPOL's operation involved law enforcement agencies in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. It was the start of a drive to help INTERPOL's 190 member countries combat illegal logging and forestry crime, the organisation said." --from the OP

I looked at the list to help me assess whether this was a sham operation, like the U.S. "war on drugs," which I believe targets the lesser drug lords or those who won't "play the game" (for instance, won't direct their revenues to U.S. banksters for money-laundering, or to the Bush Cartel or the CIA), in favor of the really big players (whom the "war on drugs" protects). There is some REALLY DIRTY DEALING in the U.S. "war on drugs" in my opinion. And one way to begin to figure out if Interpol's operations are legit is to see who has gone along with it. The above list points to it being legit but I have some serious reservations.

Many of the cooperators are countries with leftist governments which tend to be more open, more responsive to real public concerns, more sincere about regulatory enforcement and more honestly committed to protecting the environment, especially on climate change matters such as deforestation. The list includes Brazil (huge country, huge amounts of forest at risk--leftist government), and other leftist governments--Venezuela, Bolivia and, notably Ecuador, where Chevron just lost a big lawsuit brought by Indigenous tribes over Chevron's despoiling of a rainforest the size of Rhode Island. That these countries are cooperating suggests that Interpol is not shilling for bigger corporations, at least not in those countries. Suggests--I use the word advisedly.

The list also includes some very rightwing, U.S. corporate-friendly countries--Colombia, Honduras and Paraguay in particular (the latter two having suffered rightwing coup d'etats, to the benefit of U.S. corporations and the U.S. military). What THIS may tell us about Interpol is an open question--maybe just that they had some skillful diplomats putting this operation together. Or it may mean that the problem is so huge, so widespread, that even rightwing governments agreed to cooperate, even if their own rich criminal cronies and corporate sponsors are negatively affected. But I think that how this Interpol operation plays out in these countries ought to be looked at carefully--for favoritism, corruption, moles and spies tipping off friends, who gets the confiscated timber, who ends up with the land rights, etc. If it's anything like the "war on drugs" that U.S. is waging in Colombia and Honduras, for instance, it IS corrupt and is not likely accomplishing its stated purpose.

All government involvement should be scrutinized, of course, but some of those rightwing governments on the list are so corrupt, and so elitist and corporate-friendly, that they require extra efforts of scrutiny.

I have no reason to trust Interpol. That's why I looked for details. Interpol cooperated with the Bush Junta on the Rumsfeldian "miracle laptop" dirty trick (concocted lies about the presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador being "terrorist lovers" and with Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S. on smearing Julian Assange and trying to get him into U.S. custody for "rendering" to a U.S. torture dungeon. They also refused a warrant to Colombian prosecutors for the extradition of Alvaro Uribe's spy chief from Panama. (Uribe's illegal domestic spying is probably the Bush Junta's biggest vulnerability, as to crimes that it may have committed, or colluded on, in Colombia. Uribe's spy chief probably knows how it was connected to the U.S. embassy.) Interpol has toadied to U.S. interests.

Maybe, by this illegal logging campaign, they are trying to restore their credibility in Latin America. But I don't inherently trust them at all.

I also have questions about the relationship of so-called legal vs illegal logging. For instance, I happen to know (since I've studied the matter and have been an activist on it) that so-called legal loggers, and even Forest Stewardship Council certified loggers, will go into a virgin forest area and carve the place up with roads--not incidentally taking ancient trees in the road building itself as well as in targeted parcels--and THEN the illegal loggers use those same roads to take out more of the forest and stress the ecology, and its wildlife and streams, even more. In fact, the so-called legal logging converts the entire area to a timber-exploitative economy, which might have been a mixed or even an eco-friendly economy, and opens the area up to loggers, both employed or unemployed, to migratory exploitation of various kinds, to loss of local culture and to yet more roads, machines, settlements, building construction, urbanization, alienation and consumerism.

What I'm saying is that there is a symbiosis between legal and illegal logging. Both degrade the environment and local culture, and it is a toss-up which of them does more damage. They both do severe damage. They both are among the parties responsible for catastrophic climate change, and for local catastrophes such as polluted water and loss of species diversity. Until this entire matter is resolved in favor of the planet and all life on earth--that is, until virtually all logging is banned, everywhere in the world, which it should be, given the state of the resource--enforcement against "illegal" logging is a half measure and will not likely succeed, as long as the "legal" loggers keep opening virgin forest areas to logging.

In countries with leftist governments, this is an agonizing dilemma for government leaders. In countries with rightwing government, it is not. The latter favor exploitation of resources for the benefit of the rich. The former are torn. What we saw with Lula da Silva's (leftist) government in Brazil was a strong lean toward workers and the poor getting more benefit from the exploitation of resources (more jobs, better wages, more services). And we see something similar in countries like Venezuela and Ecuador as well (i.e., it's okay to exploit oil and contribute to global climate change as long as the profits pay for schools and health care, etc.). But this is a Latin American tragedy--a classic tragedy (hero tries to do good but inadvertently does evil)--since the leftist leaders are acutely aware of climate change and have consciences.

Is the whole thing hypocritical, useless and cosmetic (Interpol's project)? I don't know. I really don't. I will need to study it further. It does remind me of the Forest Stewardship Council, the organization by which the World Bank and corporate loggers put a "green" gloss on their deforestation. But I won't condemn Interpol's project...yet. I'm just asking the question at this point: Will Interpol's project legitimize phony "green" logging that SEEMS, on paper, to be okay--that dots its regulatory i's and crosses its public relations t's, and even pays taxes, but is not really okay at all, as to our dying planet and deforestation? I'm asking the related question: Are the leftist leaders grasping at this--going after illegal loggers--as a sort of desperate effort to squirm out of their tragic dilemma (major natural resource exploitation but for a good cause--temporary prosperity and spreading the wealth)? Will their forests survive any more than California's virgin redwood forest has survived? It's gone!-- in a blizzard of regulatory paper that reads well and is a lie from first to last! Lies told by both Democratic and Republican governments. Lies told by the FSC (which has essentially "privatized" Californian's forest regulatory system).

California's virgin redwood forest, unique in all the world, is gone--GONE! All done LEGALLY!

Does it make any difference when liberals, leftists and Democrats do it for jobs, economic development and the funding of public services, while fascists and Republicans do it for the likes Louisiana Pacific and Georgia Pacific? Well, yeah, it makes a difference--but not to our imperiled planet and the future of the human race. It seems like all political leaders, everywhere, cannot stop the deforestation of our planet, and what will be the death of our planet, sooner rather than later.

Anyway, those of are the questions I'm asking about LEGAL logging. The tragedy is so searing that it makes you weep. How can the vastly exploited, impoverished people of Latin America avoid this tragedy? How can we ask them to? The tragedy of LEGAL logging.

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