A tale of two Peru’s?

Mongabay, an online enviromentalist publication, carried a story today about four environmentalists gunned down by Peruvian troops protecting illegal logging in the country’s rain forest. Included among the environmentalists who met their unfortunate demise was a man named Edwin Chota. The man is pitched as being a prominent anti-logger, however, when it comes to environmentalists that is not necessarily a good thing. Just like the Communist movement of old, it’s obvious that the mean greenie movement has replaced hard Leftists as a freedom movement of some kind in a similar sense to how the Viet Cong were seen as liberators of south Vietnam.

However, in a Peruvian context, it looks like there are no winners when it comes to illegal logging the country. According to The New York Times, Peru is a country rife with corruption. The Grey Lady reports:

The company has been accused by environmentalists of regularly buying from a Chinese supplier that traffics in illegally harvested Russian oak. Lumber Liquidators disputes the claims, saying that it carefully monitors the origins of its wood.

Here in Pucallpa, a city at the heart of Peru’s logging industry on a major tributary of the Amazon, the waterfront is dominated by huge sawmills piled high with thousands of massive logs. They are floated in from remote logging camps, pulled by small motorboats called peke pekes, while trucks stacked with logs and lumber jam the roads.

A military officer stationed here to patrol the Ucayali River said that he had largely stopped making checks of the riverborne loads of timber, though the checks are supposed to be mandatory. In the past, he said, he had repeatedly ordered loads of logs to be held because they lacked the required paperwork, only to learn that forestry officials would later release them, apparently after creating or rubber-stamping false documentation.

In some cases, he said, loads of mahogany, a valuable type of wood that has disappeared from all but the most remote areas, were given fake documentation identifying the wood as a different kind.

“It’s uncontrollable,” said the officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Referring to local forestry officials, he said, “The bosses give jobs to people they trust and then take a cut of the bribes they get.”

Mr. Berrospi, who worked as an environmental prosecutor until August, recited a bitter catalog of frustrations. The local authorities are paid off by loggers to create or approve false paperwork, he said. On one occasion, he said, he was offered about $5,000 to stop an investigation. He reported it to a local prosecutor who specialized in corruption cases, but said he was dismayed by the response.

“Listen, in one year here you’ll get enough to build yourself a house and buy a nice car,” he recalled the other prosecutor saying. “So take care of yourself.”

Lucila Pautrat, director of the Peruvian Society for Eco-development, an advocacy group, said that despite new laws and the mandate under the trade agreement with the United States, the government had failed to tackle deep-seated corruption.

“There is a lack of interest, a negligence on the part of the authorities to regulate the forestry sector,” she said. “And, meanwhile, the wood keeps going out.”

In terms of Edwin Chota and the environmentalists who were murdered, their demise is unfortunate but one has to conclude that they sought to be used as martyrs or chose to die. A reading of the Mongabay article paints the local Ahaninka activists in an extremely positive light as if they are indigenous missionaries out to defend Gaia against the evil capitalists benefiting off of the bounty of Mother Earth. I suppose this kind of propaganda is not only helpful for the cause but it goes to show how naive the Peruvian tribal people are since groups like Global Witness ultimately don’t give a damn about the lives of the Ahaninka.

The Mongabay article helps raise money for the green groups while demonstrating how inclusive and multicultural the global environmentalist movement is. Then the deceased are eulogized as martyrs, glorifying the deaths of Ahaninka people like Edwin Cota. Altruism par excellence.