Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blames “criminal capitalism” and climate change for flood victims
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blames the West for the deadly casualties that resulted from heavy rain showers in Venezuela and Colombia last week. “Criminal capitalism”, so the President said, is responsible for climate change and in turn for the death of 32 people and the loss of the homes of another 70.000 people in Venezuela. President Chavez called the natural disaster his country is facing the “unfair and cruel paradox of our planet”, blaming “the developed nations for irresponsibly shatter the environmental order, in their desire to maintain a criminal development model, while the immense majority of the earth’s people suffer the most terrible consequences”.
With this statement, President Chavez is aiming at the Climate Conference currently going on in Cancun. President Chavez, together with Evo Morales of Bolivia, is expected to attend the Climate Conference for its final negotiation days. Also expected are a number of other left-winged South American leaders, attending the COP16 Climate talks with demands of radical change. This could put a lot of pressure on the Climate negotiations, considering United Nations rules require an unanimous agreement of all participating parties to come to binding agreements.
During yesterday’s talks in Cancun, Pablo Solon (Bolivia’s lead climate change negotiator) told the participants at COP16 that Bolivia would stand strong in its demand to sign a binding treaty with a set target of limiting temperature rise by just one degree Celsius, blaming industrialized nations for the deaths of 300.000 Bolivians every year as a result of natural disasters linked to climate change.
So what do I think about this?
South American countries, and all developing nations for that matter, are right for pointing the finger at the developed nations. CO2 emissions, climate change and global temperature increase; with an increase in natural disasters and a changing climate are rooted in the capitalist societies of the West. And yes it’s true that developing nations are the first victims of this global phenomenon. I also think it’s good they put some pressure on the UN Climate talks, as long as they don’t become a blocking factor for final agreements on reduction targets and a global binding climate agreement.
However, I disagree with President Chavez and Pablo Solon when they start playing the “blame game” to avoid their own responsibilities. President Chavez for one knows his country has a big problem with deforestation, accounting for the third highest deforestation rate in South America. He was also highly criticized for his government and military response to the resent flooding, blamed by Venezuelan officials for not being prepared for such a wide scale natural disaster.
So what’s important here is to avoid starting a witch-hunt against developed nations, blaming others for anything and everything and putting every casualty count on the account of climate change. Of course developed nations are to blame for sky rocketing CO2 emissions, temperature increase and global climate change. But playing the blame game is very dangerous. It could give wrong arguments to developing nations to avoid dealing with their own and multiple internal problems, expecting the Western countries to fix everything.