37 thoughts on “From Columbus to Bolivian ‘water wars’, film review

  1. Anglian Water boss scores £10m payout

    Pension Payout: The GMB union responded with anger today to the news that Anglian Water boss Johnson Cox has left the company with a payout of £10 million, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

    According to the union, the payout was funded by Anglian’s owners private equity firm 3i and three pension funds.

    GMB organiser Mick Ainsley said: “What is particularly galling and hard for GMB members to swallow is that earlier this year Anglian Water reduced the terms and conditions of water workers and made redundancies claiming poverty in light of the OFWAT determination to stick to the current five-year plan.”



  2. Morales suspends controversial road

    BOLIVIA: President Evo Morales ordered the suspension on Monday night of a planned Amazon highway that has sparked clashes between police and indigenous people who say the road would ruin a nature preserve that is home to their community.

    Mr Morales also distanced himself from the decision to break up a protest march on Sunday.

    His announcement came hours after police released hundreds of activists when mobs of local people blocked roads and an airport to prevent the detainees from being taken out of the area.

    “We repudiate the excesses yesterday at the march,” he said, adding that a high-level commission including international representatives should be formed to investigate the crackdown.


    See also here and here and here and here.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales has apologised for a brutal police crackdown on indigenous people protesting against a new Amazon motorway project.


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  26. Monday 9th October 2017

    Let us throw Christopher Columbus on the dust heap of history where he and his ilk belong, demands MICHELLE ZACARIAS

    TODAY marks the 80th official federal observance of Columbus Day in the United States.

    For decades, young children have been taught about Christopher Columbus and his “heroic” adventures in school, often reciting the old poem: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

    However, the reality is that Columbus’s legacy was far from heroic, as the “explorer” was not only a coloniser, but a murderous slave master who was sent on a suicide mission by Spain’s king and queen.

    Columbus was not, contrary to popular belief, attempting to prove the world was round. This claim was already hypothesised by mathematician Pythagoras at the start of the 6th century BC and was backed by Aristotle two centuries later.

    Columbus was, however, interested in spices, a product central to the European economy at the time.

    After years of attempting to convince the royals of Europe to fund his journey, with Portugal, England, and France all refusing, Columbus finally won over King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I of Spain.

    Though royal advisors warned against it, the couple believed that, were Columbus to succeed, they might gain access to rich minerals and resources. The royal couple gave Columbus a bare minimum of materials and a crew to plot his westward route to Asia.

    The explorer hoped his efforts would bring glory, fame, and gold. However, he highly miscalculated the distance of his route — by almost 10,000 miles.

    After months of travelling, Columbus and his crew landed in the Bahamian Island of Guanahani (which he named San Salvador), where they encountered the indigenous Taino people.

    Columbus and his men mistakenly assumed they had landed in an area of the East Indies and dubbed the indigenous inhabitants “Indians.”

    This landing was the kick-off to what would be a horrific massacre across the Caribbean, although the native Tainos did not know this yet.

    In diary entries detailed by Columbus himself, the conqueror described the natives as welcoming and hospitable. He noted that they never hesitated to share their resources and that they had skilled farmers and navigators.

    The explorer was eager to claim his newfound discovery and quickly “established” the Town of Isabella on Hispaniola, which was created on existing Taino territory.

    In the years following his initial journey, Columbus hit a number of nearby Caribbean islands, including the places that eventually became Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and even parts of South America.

    As a consequence, many of the existing indigenous tribes suffered great loss and bloodshed. The Taino people, whom scholars estimate may have numbered more than three million on Hispaniola alone, were nearly extinct by the end of Columbus’s reign.

    Once thriving and complex economies and social and political systems stood no match against the incoming flux of Spanish conquerors.

    Thousands of women and young girls were sold into sexual slavery, some as young as nine years of age. As recounted in Columbus’s own writings, “a hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

    Those that didn’t die from the diseases that the Spaniards brought over were put to work in gold mines.

    As for Columbus himself, his name wasn’t found in to many history books until 1828, when author Washington Irving wrote The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, which was a mostly fictional book that many misinterpreted as an autobiography.

    Then, between 1880 and 1924, more than four million Italians immigrated to the United States, fleeing the rural poverty in Southern Italy and Sicily.

    Many of the incoming immigrants clung to the distorted tale of the “Italian-American hero,” as a reflection of their own immigrant stories, and by 1937, “Columbus Day” had become a national holiday.

    In reality, Columbus didn’t return to Spain as a hero. In fact, he was widely considered a disgrace.

    He was arrested in 1500 — brought back to Spain in chains due to his mismanagement of the island of Hispaniola — and was stripped of his governorship. Eventually, he managed to get a pardon from King Ferdinand II.

    As more people across the United States begin to acknowledge these atrocities and efforts to replace the outdated celebration with “Indigenous People’s Day” expand, we can reflect on all that was lost: the native stories that will never be told, the women and girls who were forced into horrific acts of sexual violence, and the ongoing erasure of violence against indigenous communities.

    Let us forget the monster who started it all, and throw Columbus in the dust heap of history where he belongs.



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