Bolivia enshrines rights for nature

April 16, 2011

“Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans,” the Guardian said on April 10.

“The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as ‘blessings’ and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry”, the article said.

The Bolivian government of President Evo Morales was the only government to oppose the deal on climate change that came out of the December United Nations climate talks in Cancun, Mexico — insisting far greater and quicker emissions cuts were needed to save the planet.

The Guardian said Bolivia would establish 11 new rights for nature: “They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.”

The paper said it also included the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

The law is part of restructuring Bolivia’s legal system in line with the new constitution, which was drafted by an elected constituent assembly and passed by referendum in 2009. The new constitution is part of the process of “decolonising” Bolivia that is being driven by the country’s indigenous majority.

Morales, a former coca growers’ union leader, is Bolivia’s first indigenous president.

Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera said: “It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all..

“It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”


Bolivia's main export earners are the extraction industries. The government subsidizes the cost of gasoline and diesel to the tune of 80%. Each year during the burning season, the country is blanketed by smoke from the practise of slanch and burn. Rights of Mother Nature? Please. Jim
Ambassadors from round the globe Will don a diplomatic robe, And to the great Assembly Hall Today will make a service call To raise their voices in debate On Mother Earth’s eternal fate. The plan calls for the world to sign A treaty that will make divine Our Pachamama (Mother Earth – For those who suffer from a dearth Of education on the gods Of Andes and enviro-squads). The plan, as point of trivia, Was hatched down in Bolivia, Which hopes the world will soon be chained To living standards they’ve attained By granting equal rights in law To She who orbits sun god Ra. When once these rights are well enshrined All Western countries will be fined At twice their yearly GDP If they should harvest from the sea, Or drill for oil, build a dam Or have been known as Uncle Sam. And when the world economy Is left in tatters and debris, Our friends who hearken from La Paz Will cheer the triumph of their cause; And having made the whole world poor, They’ll star in films by Michael Moore.

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