David Choquehuanca: Decolonization Drives Bolivia’s Climate Agenda

Justine Teba
David Choquehuanca: An Earth-Centered, Anti-Capitalist Climate Policy from the South

Watch full speech here:


October 11, 2021

Everything is at risk, brothers. Our God is at risk. Our mountains are at risk. The animals are at risk. Life itself in the world is at risk, brothers, it is in danger.

All these crises have been provoked by a global system, a civilization based on the greed of capital. The global capitalist system is trapped in a worldwide crisis that does not have a solution if we are to continue down that path.

But despite that, it keeps expanding forcing the people beneath the dictatorship of money, commercializing nature, destroying economies of nations and impoverishing millions of our planet’s inhabitants.

Imperialist forces are based on the dialectical logic of eliminating differences, and on the liberal logic that centers the individual, which creates division in the world and negates the existence of others. These logics establish a world whose structure is based upon limitless accumulation: in the free market, which gives freedom to some and creates slavery for the rest; in the national protection of nature as an object for dominion and control; in puppet governments in which transnational corporations create conditions that multiply profits for an elite few.

For the thousand-year-old people who have lived thousands of years in harmony with nature, Mother Earth is the totality of time and space. She is a living being, our sacred Mother Earth, she is the mother of the universe. But our form of living in harmony and equilibrium with Mother Earth is about to be eliminated from the face of the earth.

Therefore, the sons and daughters of Pachamama need to awaken our consciousness, we need to understand what global forces are at work in order to act accordingly.

The current geological era known as the Anthropocene confirms human beings’ complete dominion over the planet.  The Anthropocene has created a wasteland of disequilibrium in the world and is carrying Mother Earth towards irremediable collapse.

The human being, within the smallest fraction of the time that makes up universal history, is about to put an end to thousands of millions of years of life on the planet in an act of self-destruction that destroys the source of their own life, Mother Earth.

The disequilibrium of Mother Earth is revealed through the climate crisis in the mass extinction of species, in the lack of water, in the deterioration of vital cycles, in the persistence of poverty and inequality, and in the loss of nature’s capacity to renew herself.

The system of global capitalism and unlimited consumerism have caused, over the last two hundred years and with greater intensity in recent decades, a one-degree Celsius increase in temperature as compared to pre-industrial levels.

It is possible that within the next decade the number increases by two degrees centigrade; and in the second half of this century, it may increase by three degrees centigrade.

According to a scientific report, a 1.5 degree increase in temperature would lead to irreparable damage to all systems of life on Mother Earth, and possibly produce catastrophe on our planet.

To stop the climate crisis, we know that fossil fuel emissions must end, and the production of hydrocarbons must go the way of history within the next few decades. We cannot stop the climate crisis without putting an urgent end to greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.

This is an undeniable reality to which we cannot remain blind.

In the race to stop the production of fossil fuels, transnational corporations have found a world of opportunities, that is, the world of green businesses or green capitalism.

Capitalist forces have begun to construct a new ethic of global environmentalism, adapted to climate-friendly businesses oriented towards finding new sources of energy, yet which continue to reinforce capitalist industriousness, but this time with zero carbon emissions.

The twenty-first century will be very different from the twentieth, but we can only distinguish the vague outlines of this new reality.

This new reality is based in synthetic biology, nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and space colonization. Transnational corporate forces are taking human beings and living things to extreme biological and natural limits, disconnecting the lives of the living, and claiming to achieve digital immortality for human beings.

In a not-too-distant future, biological beings will be artificially produced in laboratories where living beings will be designed and manufactured with biological systems made to order, placing life, biological systems that do not exist in nature or modifying those that do exist. Energy will be generated by biological systems and biomass transforming nature in unimaginable ways. Transnational corporations have the knowledge of biology and genetics as well as the technological power to eliminate and discard all living beings of Mother Earth.

Transnational corporations have placed themselves in charge of the new planetary order and of writing the new rules of relation and coexistence between human beings, modern biotechnologies, and cybernetic organisms, with the object of eliminating all vestiges of natural life as we know it today on Mother Earth and implanting forms of artificial or transhuman life.

In this world biological beings will be obsolete and antiquated. Human life will be disposable. The producers of food will become expendable. Living systems will become slaves to technology. Nature will be a blank space that one can fill up with whatever. Society and knowledge will be packaged, and algorithms will provide answers to social, economic, and environmental problems.

In this way, they wish to transform the human being into a supreme being.

Capitalism gains universality with the support of the digital age, and the climate crisis becomes the new instrument to dominate and re-invent the world. In the world, a gigantic technological and socioeconomic breach has formed between developed countries and developing countries.

Technological domination has allowed developed countries to move towards a new postindustrial revolution, based on the creation of alternative sources of energy that can support their economies while developing countries continue to be dependent on hydrocarbons and extractive economies and yet we are being coerced to de-industrialize and to stop our economic growth.

We cannot accept this current model from developed countries to confront the climate crisis.

This process is creating conditions for a great polarization between North and South, a global neocolonization and a shift in systems of life away from that with which we are currently familiar. To prevent this, it is important to promote an equitable and just transition towards a new reality that respects the systems of life.

The developed countries propose two solutions to end the climate crisis. The first is based on natural solutions that propose the idea of observing the carbon in the biosphere that has been placed into the atmosphere for the past two hundred years and which will continue to accumulate. The thought process is that nature can absorb in the next three decades the carbon that has been created over a period of 60 million years.

The second idea is the technological solution that suggests capturing thousands of tons of carbon in the geosphere so that they will not be emitted into the atmosphere. Finally, if that doesn’t work, it is believed that someday there will exist a technology that can remove carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

For transnational corporations, we human beings have all become guinea pigs, on whom they can experiment without conscience nor mercy. For capitalist forces, nature is called upon to reduce carbon emissions and they have the goal of ensuring that the biggest consumers of carbon can continue to do so with their lucrative businesses. For them, the market in carbon is necessary so that someone else can resolve the climate problem that they have created with developed countries.

The time has come for the recolonization of the world through the colonization of carbon. In this new colonialism, developed countries impose new global architectures and rules for conduct upon all countries and peoples of the world. Where this model fails for the better, it is imposed for the worse.

Despite their self-proclaimed liberalism, these countries use any method within reach to impose their new mandates upon the entire world.

If we continue like this, we, developing countries, will continue to lag behind wealthy and powerful countries, disposable and expendable. We will all be minuscule parts pertaining to an imperial technological power centered on transnational corporate interests.

To work towards a solution to the climate crisis, Bolivia proposes the necessity of reducing emissions by 1.5 degrees centigrade, a goal that our president voiced in his message this morning. This should signal an effort, an additional obligation from developed countries to immediately reduce carbon emissions. These countries need to multiply, five-to-tenfold, their efforts to reduce emissions.

In any other way, we will not be able to meet this objective.

The leadership for the reduction of emissions needs to be assumed by developed nations because they are historically responsible for the climate crisis. And they ought also to pay the climate debt they owe to developing nations.

One long-lasting solution to the multiple crises faced by humanity would be to substitute the current model of anthropocentrism for the cosmobiocentrism of the culture of life, centering all of Mother Earth and all systems of life. We must learn to live well in harmony with Mother Earth. We must stop the movement of society towards posthumanism which works against humanity and work instead towards strengthening communities and systems of life.

For that reason, all our energies must be concentrated on the protection of all communities of life, of all that is organic and has natural life. We must do everything possible to protect and restore our natural ecosystems because they are the flesh and blood of Mother Earth, and because our lives depend on them.

Our age-old worldviews and ways of life, in complementarity with Mother Earth, are strengths capable of supporting other countries, other peoples of the world in resisting the force of neocolonization.

The age-old mandates of ama sua, do not steal; ama llulla, do not lie; and ama quella, do not be lazy, need to go beyond the rules of coexistence among human beings, and need to become principles of coexistence among all living beings on Mother Earth.

Be respectful of Mother Earth, because we do not need to take advantage of her for our own benefit. That which belongs to us also belongs to other living beings, and we must not rob Mother Earth of the future. Be honest with Mother Earth, because we cannot pretend to work for the benefit of all living beings when truthfully, we are working for the sole benefit of human beings. Be hard-working with Mother Earth to prevent taking the maximum benefit from her products, from goods that come from nature, and engaging in environmental operations without working towards the care and reproduction of life.

We must unite as men and women that share one consciousness with Mother Earth. We must delve more deeply into our dialogues, our ceremonies, and our rituals, to meet with our Pachamama, with Mother Earth.

Produce organic nourishment, take care of our seeds, reproduce life, and strengthen nature’s vital cycles. Strengthen the connections between women and men with cosmic energies and telluric energies. Return to nature, converse with plants, protect environmental functions, conserve biodiversity, fight against the climate crisis, denounce transnational recolonization, and fight against methods that place the reproduction of life at risk.

In Bolivia, we must fully enforce law number 071 on the right of Mother Earth. Law number 300 frames Mother Earth and comprehensive development for living well and in creating an office for the protection of Mother Earth. In the world, we must create an assembly for the earth; in the universities, unite as for a universal, primordial mission for the salvation of humankind and Mother Earth from the forces working against life.

Brothers and sisters, this is a very important detour. We must find the time. It is about defending life. It is about defending our mother. Her children, all children, must take care of our mother. Our mother is sacred.

One of the world’s greatest concerns is called climate crisis. Therefore, world leaders, presidents of the world, will be gathering in November. Our president will be there; he will bring the proposals that will emerge from these dialogues. These dialogues will include participation from not only our professional Bolivian brothers, not only those of us that are here are going to participate, but through many of them who have connected, who are connected in this moment. They are connected across five continents.

They are worried, we pay attention, we discuss responsibly. It is about saving life, brothers.It is about preserving the future for our children. It is about taking care of our waters. It is about taking care of our seeds.

Brothers, with these words I conclude my participation for today. Tomorrow we will work and tomorrow afternoon, we will have arrived at some conclusions.

We will work with responsibility. We will take care of our Mother Earth. We will take care of our unity. That is why we are here, brothers.

Brothers, jallalla to Pachamama! Jallalla to unity among the peoples of the world! Jallalla to our Mother Earth!