|The announcement by Bolivia President Evo Morales that Bolivia would build a nuclear power plant came as troubling news to those who attended the Climate Change and Protection of Mother Earth Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010.
"As co-President of the Indigenous Working Group on the Rights of Mother Earth at the 2010 World Indigenous Climate Change Summit, I recommend a world-wide petition to express our deep concern of this 'economic liberation' development decision in Bolivia. I recall the words of the grassroots women of Bolivia, and their deep heartfull love of Pachamama, Mother Earth and the absolute determination to protect her.”
Bolivian President Evo Morales announced that his government will invest around $2 billion US through 2025 to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, TeleSur reports.
President Morales said, "We can never feel like a small country again now that we have liberated ourselves economically. With this type of investment toward atomic energy we are going to guarantee that.”
Bolivia began nuclear cooperation with Argentina in May of 2014, and most recently in mid-July, after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brazil. Morales then announced that the Russian leader offered Bolivia technology and ongoing training for the country's scientists, TeleSur reported.
The nuclear power plant would be built in La Paz province. The announcement was made after uranium was discovered in the Santa Cruz area. In a strange turn of event, La Paz and Santa Cruz were two of the cities that Native Americans arrived in for the Mother Earth Conference in 2010, before traveling on to Cochabamba.
Following the gathering in Cochabamba, Bolivia and Ecuador both passed laws upholding the Rights of Nature.
In Indian country in the United States, Native Americans are quick to point out the dangers of uranium mining and nuclear waste dumps to Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia.
Klee Benally, Dine' (Navajo) said, "The nuclear production process has only meant death for Indigenous Peoples and desecration of sacred lands. From mining, milling, processing, transporting, energy, weapons, and waste, the toxic legacy of nuclear colonialism is anything but a "green alternative."
"There are more than 10,000 abandoned uranium mines located throughout the US, many of them are in or near Indigenous communities where high cancer rates and birth defects are caused by exposure to these toxic sites. Sacred places like Mount Taylor in New Mexico or Red Butte in Arizona, are desecrated for uranium extraction. The US currently has more than 71,000 metric tons of that it's attempting to store at Yucca Mountain, a sacred site for the Western Shoshone. The Western Shoshone have also faced more than 1,000 atomic bomb detonations on their lands," Klee Benally told Censored News.
Navajos and Pueblos, and other Natives throughout the west, have suffered from cancer and other deadly diseases for decades because of uranium mining. Navajos were sent to their deaths in uranium mines without protective clothing. As late as the 1990s, in the communities of Cove and Red Valley near Shiprock, N.M., on the Navajo Nation, Navajo elders lived in homes built of radioactive rocks. Navajo members of every family in those communities died from cancer from uranium mining. Navajo children in the region played in yards strewn with radioactive rocks from uranium mining.
Even in the area of the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley on the western portion of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, which are both major tourist attractions, uranium mines and strewn radioactive rocks left a legacy of death.
Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, said Pueblos died after the radioactive dust covered their foods, and the radioactive dust covered the fields where their livestock grazed. Pueblo women were contaminated further as they washed the clothing of their husbands who worked in the mines.
Today, unreclaimed radioactive tailings remain scattered on the Navajo Nation. The uranium mining corporations have largely escaped responsibility for the widespread deaths and devastation, even as new uranium mining threatens the region.
Further, Western Shoshone battle the threat of nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, as Native American lands have been targeted for dangerous nuclear waste storage. Nuclear disasters have proven there is no safe way to transport or store nuclear waste. Western Shoshone lands were also the site of US atomic bomb testing.
Responding to the deadly dangers of uranium mining and nuclear waste storage, Louise Benally, Dine' of Big Mountain, told Censored News, "It is all bad, it is not safe."
The dangers were resounded in an open letter from the global community to President Morales, posted on Breaking the Nuclear Chain:
Excerpt from the letter:
Anna Polo, World without Wars, Italy
Olivier Turquet, chief editor Pressenza Italy
Angelo Baracca, Professor of Physics, Italy
Carlos Vassaux M.D., USA
Dr. Jouni Ylinen, Finland
Ira Helfand, MD, USA, co-President International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize
Claudio Giangiacomo, Italy
Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nigeria
Roberto Renzetti, Professor of Physics and essayist, Italy
People for Nuclear Disarmament, Australia
Human Survival Project, Australia