April 19, 2010

Okay to meddle in Brazil?

Avatar director James Cameron joins Amazon tribe's fight to halt giant dam

By Tom PhillipsNot all Brazilians have taken kindly to Cameron's engagement with the indigenous cause. "This type of intervention strengthens the belief… that the aim of the ecological movement is simply to maintain the status quo of the world economy," one columnist wrote in the Monitor Mercantil newspaper last week, adding that "Cameron's colonialist message" was an attempt to "exterminate the future of Brazil." Brazil's outgoing energy minister, Edison Lobão, told the Record news channel that Cameron understood "nothing about electric energy." "We don't try to get involved in cinema, because we know nothing about it," he said. "I wouldn't try to make Avatar, would I? It would be horrific."

But in many of the Xingu's indigenous villages, the man they call Camerón has been an instant hit. "It's very important that he has come here," said Mokuka Kayapó, a leader from the Moikarako village, after meeting the Canadian director. "Now he must invite us to go where he lives to tell the people our truth, in our language."

Cameron also defends himself from accusations of meddling. "I think one of the biggest questions is: 'What is your standing? What are you gringos doing here? What gives you the right to tell us how to run things within our country? It's our problem, it's not your problem.' I get all that," he said. "But North America is Brazil's future. We can come to Brazil from the future and say: 'Don't do this.'

"If this goes forward then every other hydroelectric project in the Amazon basin gets a blank cheque. It's now a global issue. The Amazon rainforest is so big and so powerful a piece of the overall climate picture that its destruction will affect everyone."
Comment:  It's okay with me if Cameron meddles in Brazil's affairs.

For starters, he isn't just criticizing the government. He's criticizing the government on behalf of the indigenous people whom the government doesn't represent. If they asked him to butt out, it would be a different story, but they clearly want his help.

Also, as Cameron notes, the fate of the Amazon rainforest affects us all. Like the oceans or Antarctica, it really should be an international resource. I wouldn't mind if the United Nations or whoever declared it one.

In short, when Brazil's actions start depriving Indians of their lives and the planet of oxygen, I'd say we have the right to intervene. If Brazil doesn't like it, too bad.

For more on the subject, see Cameron:  Lakota = "Dead-End Society" and Dam Suspended with Cameron's Help.

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