Here in the US, the controversy is raging over a decision still pending regarding the Tar Sands Project (Keystone XL pipeline) -- a proposed 1661 mile pipeline from Canada through the middle of the US all the way to Texas refineries.
In Bolivia, an 185 mile highway has been proposed from Brazil through virgin lands of the Amazon jungle all the way to the Pacific Coast of Chile. This road is to be largely paid for by Brazil, to whose benefit it would accrue because of increased exposure to trade in the East.
The indigenous people of Bolivia to whom Evo Morales owes two terms in the presidency are protesting this road through their land. Morales wants the road to gain commerce for Bolivia, Brazil favors the road in order to gain access to the sea and the Indians want their land to remain untouched.
Through a temporary order on October 13, the Bolivian Judiciary delayed construction; however, the peasants still march in protest towards their capitol in LaPaz as they believe it could be overturned and is not binding.
Morales, the first indigenous president in the history of Bolivia, had promised his people upon re-election in 2009 that they would always have a voice in the development of the country. It seems he has forgotten, but the people remember. And Morales is in danger of losing the opportunity to win a third term in 2014.
To the north of them we, in 2008, elected Barack Obama in part to help put a stop to wanton development of our lands and to adhere to a reasonable approach to global warming. Obama has dragged his feet and now has to make a stand or lose what popularity he still has and agree to a project that would (by many counts), support 600,000 American jobs by 2035 (see below for source).
This of course is the good part -- we need jobs. But some environmentalists believe it would be an ecological disaster (James Hansen from NASA for one).
These are monumental decisions - both, and I do not envy these two progressive leaders in this strangely symmetrical dilemma who are both so eloquent in their defence of global warming and saving "mother earth."
A White House decision is forthcoming November 1, at which time we will see which way the political winds blow.
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