Pacific Resource Issues

Karl FitzgeraldCommentaryLeave a Comment


Read this innovative Helo Magazine interview. As a crisis journalism magazine, we were interviewed via a skype roundtable chat session:

Part of the intro states:

Can Pacific peoples bridge the world’s chasm between understanding cause and effect of climate change as well as coconut colonialism? Paradise, blue water, blue skies, abundant marine life, smiling faces, bible harmonies, simple lives, and resorts for cashed-up suburbanites. Or abject poverty, menacing kava stares, razor wire, machete-wielding youth, laplap dictatorships, tribal violence and raskol gangs running amok.

We jump into the interview:

Karl: My answer is to use the language of the corridors of power to fight back:  Use economic lingo to protect the earth, the community. Also, foreign aid has to be carefully looked at. Throughout Melanesia, aid has built ring roads around islands and new wharfs so the Multi-National Corporation’s (MNC’s) can rip out the resources quickly. Thirteen such projects by the Millennium Development Corp in Vanuatu. [For example] the ring road is almost finished on the main island of Efate.

Daniel J Gerstle, HELO Editor:  Forgive me, but given that foreign aid development may need to be done with more fairness, particularly in terms of MNC, does it really follow that you consider those ring roads and development unhelpful to the indigenous people in other ways, in terms of infrastructure, healthcare logistics, and markets?

Karl: More resource-based greed is showing through in the carbon cowboys scouring Papua New Guinea (PNG), and I bet other Pacifica islands. Check the comments re: Kirk Roberts.

The roads do improve life in the short run—less dust for local communities, quicker travel times – are dwarfed by the motivations these improved services provide to land sharks. Land becomes hugely valuable when you can fly into an airstrip in the north of Efate, one of the 13 infrastructure projects being built in Vanuatu, and zip off to the coastal mansion you have. All with little interaction with the locals, missing the urban drift in Vila. When this happens the local fisheries are fenced off by these essentially gated communities and the locals can no longer live off the land.

They have to head into town to work for the man. This form of dispossession has racked all developing countries where land scarcity delivers more workers to the smokestack MNC’s, and thus cheap labour. Check out the land speculators paradise: They have the cheek to call it barrier beach! To turn it into a marketing ploy when the locals can’t fish there no more!!! This site is in Santo, the 2nd biggest island in Vanuatu. 

Elite property investors are attracted to this slick site. Check it out and invest with a click of a button, with no thought of the impact on the local community. The Washington consensus has been aiming for this, for the flexibility of capital to swoop into a country and buy up a prime location, sell it a year later to make a killing. This is happening to all of the world’s most beautiful areas, particularly those like in the pacific where private land title is barely thirty years old.

Read more at HELO

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