On December 21, at a solstice celebration in Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes, Bolivian president Evo Morales introduced the “Manifesto of Isla del Sol.” His talk, translated below, includes the full text of the manifesto.
“Vivir Bien” has long been a key element in Morales’ political philosophy. The phrase literally means “living well,” but its meaning in Bolivia is closer to “living in the right way” or “living appropriately, so that others may also live.”
Thanks to Richard Fidler for the translation, which was first published, along with his introduction and commentary, on Life on the Left.
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Ten Commandments to confront capitalism and construct the culture of life
Sisters and brothers, I want to express my surprise at the size of this huge gathering that today brings together, on this Isla del Sol, sisters and brothers from Abya Yala, America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Greetings to our Vice-President of Bolivia, Álvaro García Linera; to the Vice-President of Nicaragua, Moisés Omar Halleslevens Acevedo; to the Minister of Communications and Information of Venezuela, Ernesto Villegas, and to the deputy ministers of Venezuela for Latin America and the Caribbean, Verónica Guerrero, and for North America, Claudia Salerno; to the Minister of Culture of Cuba, Rafael Bernal Alemany; to the ministers and ambassadors of Bolivia, of all of America, of Asia and of Europe.
Greetings, as well, to our leaders, men and women who are leading the social movements and organizations of the various sectors that were debating around this 21st of December and expressing some profound thoughts on political, economic, social issues and on the environment and Mother Earth. They are engaged in an ongoing debate about equality and social justice.
Today we are all reunited here, in the time of Pachakuti, in the time of change.
The Isla del Sol, the birth of a new time
From the Isla del Sol, from the Sacred Lake Titikaka that we share between Peru and Bolivia, we want to tell you that we are reunited today, the 21st of December 2012, not in the expectation that the world is to end, as some were saying. The world will never come to an end. We are here to provide hope in this new dawn for the peoples of the world.
In this Isla del Sol, where a thousand years ago the time of the sun began, Manco Kapac and Mama Ocllo, who were to found Tahuantinsuyo, were born. That is why this island is the founding island of the time and the history of the children of the sun. But later, darkness arrived with the foreign invaders. Emboldened by greed, they came to our continent, Abya Yala, to subject the indigenous nations. It was the time of darkness, of pain and sadness, a time that for the children of the Willka was a time of no time.
Today, from this same island that gave birth to Tahuantinsuyo, we are closing the epoch of darkness and of no time, and we are opening a new time of light: the Pachakuti.
Again, the peoples of the world, the social movements, the marginalized people, discriminated, humiliated, are organizing, mobilizing, gaining consciousness and arising again as in those times of the Pacha, the times of Pachakuti.
That is why, sisters and brothers, this great unprecedented historical event is a great surprise, as it is, too, for our brothers in Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and in other countries of the world that today are mobilizing to receive the Pacha.
This morning, with the brother Vice-President Álvaro García and with the brother Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Choquehuanca, we were informed that the peoples of North America, both in Canada and in the United States, are mobilizing to express their hope in this summer solstice.
Sisters, brothers: The world is being hit by a world-wide multiple crisis that is manifested in a climate, financial, food, institutional, cultural, ethical and spiritual crisis. This crisis indicates to us that we are living in the final days of capitalism and unbridled consumerism; that is, of a model of society in which human beings claim to be superior to Mother Earth, converting nature into an object of their merciless predatory domination.
The ideologues of capitalism argue that the following are the solutions to the crisis of the capitalist system:
On the one hand, more capitalism, more privatization, more commoditization, more consumerism, more irrational and predatory exploitation of natural resources and more protection for companies and private profit.
On the other hand, fewer social rights, less public health, less public and free education, and less protection for human rights.
Today the societies and peoples of the developed countries are tragically experiencing the capitalist crisis created by its own market. Capitalist governments think that it is more important to save the banks than to save human beings, and it is more important to save the companies than to save people. In the capitalist system the banks have priority economic rights and enjoy first-class citizenship, which is why we can say that the banks are worth more than life. In this unfettered capitalism, individuals and peoples are not brothers and sisters, they are not citizens, they are not human beings; individuals and peoples are debt defaulters, borrowers, tenants and clients; in short, if people do not have money, they are nothing.
We are living in the kingdom of the colour green. Green like dollars are the monetary policies, green like dollars are the development policies, green like dollars are the housing policies, green like dollars are the human development policies and environmental policies. That is why, faced with the new wave of crisis of the capitalist system, its ideologues have come out in favour of privatizing nature through the so-called green economy or green capitalism.
However, the recipes of the market, of liberalism, of privatization simply generate poverty and exclusion, hunger and marginalization.
The images that unfettered capitalism leaves to the world are sinister:
(a) More than 850 million hungry people in the world, almost 200 million more than those who existed 30 years ago;
(b) Life expectancy of the poorest in the world continues to be the same as it was in 1977, that is 44 years of age;
(c) Approximately 1.3 billion people live in conditions of poverty;
(d) There are close to 230 million unemployed in the world, 40 million more than there were 30 years ago;
(e) Finally, the developed countries annually waste 700 million tons of food, that is, three times more than what Sub-Saharan Africa produces in a year.
Among the structural causes of the global crisis of capitalism are the following:
(a) The accumulation and concentration of wealth in a few countries and in small privileged social groups,
(b) The concentration of capital in production and marketing of resources and goods that produce the quickest and greatest profit,
(c) Promotion of massive and excessive social consumption of products in the belief that to have more is to live better,
(d) Massive production of disposable products to enrich capital and increase the ecological footprint,
(e) Excessive and unsustainable extractivist productivist use of renewable and non-renewable natural resources at high environmental costs,
(f) Concentration of capital in processes of financial speculation for the purpose of generating quick and generous profits,
(g) Concentration of knowledge and technology in the rich countries and in the richest and most powerful social groups,
(h) Promotion of financial practices and extractive and commercial productive schemes that undermine the economy and sovereignty of states, particularly in the developing countries, monopolizing the control of natural resources and their earnings,
(i) Reduction of the role of states to that of weak regulators, converting large investors into managers of the property of others, and states and peoples into weak servants or partners with the myth that foreign investment can solve everything.
Sisters and brothers of the world: Capitalism has created a civilization that is wasteful, consumerist, exclusive, clientelist, a generator of opulence and misery. That is the pattern of life, production and consumption that we urgently need to transform.
The planet and humanity are in serious danger of extinction. The forests are in danger, biodiversity is in danger, the rivers and oceans are in danger and the earth is in danger. This beautiful human community that inhabits our Mother Earth is in danger owing to the climate crisis.
The causes of this climate crisis are directly related to the accumulation and concentration of wealth in a few countries and in small social groups; to massive, excessive and expensive consumption resulting from the belief that to have more is to live better; to pollutant production of disposable goods to enrich capital, increasing the ecological footprint; as well as the excessive and unsustainable extractive use for production of renewable and non-renewable natural resources at high environmental costs.
Sisters and brothers: The Plurinational State of Bolivia, echoing the voice of the world’s peoples, accepts an ethical obligation to the planet and advocates the need for human beings to recover a sense of unity and relevancy with Mother Earth.
We are in a crucial moment for the definition of the future of our planet. In our hands and in our consciousness lies the responsibility to agree on the road we are going to follow to guarantee the eradication of poverty, the distribution and redistribution of wealth, and the creation and strengthening of our social, material and spiritual conditions in order to live in harmony and equilibrium with nature.
The rich and industrialized countrie