Perú will lose Tahuamanú Rainforest and its ecology

Perú has allowed “delincuentes” (delinquents or criminals) to ravage its people, its industry, and its ecology, as the government of Perú for hundreds of years has been the toy of self-styled aristocrats and lately popular adulation of three volleyball stars, two children of former dictator Alberto Fujimori (Keiko has never had a job for even one day, her brother lacks all experience and even knowledge of Perú) and prostitutes who sit (or have sat) in its Congress in Lima.

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's family, son Kenji (L-R), daughter congresswoman Keiko and son-in-law Mark Vito Villanella, attends Fujimori's trial at the Special Police Headquarters in Lima April 7, 2009. Fujimori was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison on Tuesday.(Xinhua Photo)

The magnificent Tahuamanú rainforest in Perú’s Madre de Dios region holds some of the last old-growth stands of mahogany in South America, a rich timber that cannot be replaced. It is openly stolen by illegal logging that is permitted by some of the most corrupt government officials in Madre de Dios who demand extortion fees from those who would turn the wood into furniture destined for the USA. Of course the lumber industry, based in the USA cries foul when any Peruano calls out the devastation of the forest by stating that it is providing jobs while rejecting all claims of strip-cutting and rapid deforestation (see: http://www.americandaily.com/article/1865 a propaganda arm for Newman Lumber Company of Gulfport, MS; cp. http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/articles5/mahogany.htm).

Parrots and macaws feed off of the world's largest salt lick in the Tahuamanu rainforest. Photo: Courtesy Frans Lemmens/Getty

“Tens of thousands of tons of Peruvian mahogany are imported into the US for luxury dining room tables, household trimmings and automobile dashboards,” Ari Hershowitz, of the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), said. “But Americans have no idea that buying mahogany contributes to the destruction of the rainforest and threatens the people who live there. People are dying – it is a crisis right now.” (cp. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jscherr/tainted_wood_illegal_logging_i.html; consumers should understand the wood they are buying; read: http://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/woodguide.asp)

Experts say much of the logging takes place in the Tahuamanu rainforest, in areas specifically set aside for indigenous Indians and uncontacted peoples [sic]. Here, mahogany trees can reach up to 120 feet in height. Each can be worth $100,000 (£55,000) by the time their timber is sold in the USA.  Situated near the border with Brazil and Bolivia, this rainforest area is home to at least four indigenous tribes, including the Yaminahua and the Amahuaca.

On the devastating effect USA timber interests are having on the rainforests, especially in Perú, read Buncombe, Andrew (June 27, 2006), “Mahogany Imports ‘Are Wiping Out Peru Tribes'” at the UK Independent online at http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/headlines06/0627-03.htm)

A single tree can create as much as $1 million worth of furniture. This mahogany furniture will sell for less than one-tenth of what the USA market will demand by those insisting on “real mahogany” and thus the USA market is as criminal as the regional and central government of Perú in depleting the rainforest.  The USA leads all other nations in the theft of this wood and the delinquent practice of the regional and local governments that employ natives for pennies while requiring the labor to work ten or more hours each day.  The reason that the USA is the chief criminal in this destruction of the earth’s last mahogany forest is that the  USA is singularly responsible for buying 80 percent of the mahogany.

Madre de Dios Perú

Loggers, struggling to feed their ever-growing families (futilely follow fanatical fundamentalism or raw Roman Catholic theology based on texts thousands of years out of touch with current reality) build roads through this once mighty forest. These roads allow farmers and hunters to enter.  The farmers care nothing for the emerging straplings or even the few remaining trees, but set the ground on fire to “clear the land” and in the process deplete the nitrogen of the soil and killing living microorganisms that could regenerate life in this dying area. 

Madre de Dios (Perú) river basin

The hunters, seeking American dollars and continental Euros further destroy the native world by capturing or killing rare species of birds and animals to

Ivory-billed Aracari Pteroglossus azara

be shipped to USA or European ports for either covert sales or direct sales to the rich who want trophies for their houses while the earth languishes and Perú fades out of existence–a reality that will occur within thirty years once the final ice cap of the Andes Mountains is gone and no fresh water is left to supply the basic needs of the people of Perú–to the contrary of what President Alan Garcia Perez proclaims as he talks expansively about building hydroelectric dams to harness energy–there will be no water to run Garcia’s dams as much as he fantasizes.

Inka Irrigation well at Cusco, Perú

Together, the farmers and the hunters, further crowd out the indigenous people who have made the Tahuanmanú rainforest their home for countless generations and whose ancestors wisely worshipped the trees, the ground and its animals knowing that this Gaia was the source of their existence and well-being. Not only will Gaia be vanquished for a time (it will return with a horrible revenge that will come when Perú becomes a desert, the tectonic plates under Lima ultimately come together with an apocalyptic sound that will send the city to the bottom of the ocean floor) but it will send earthquakes and tsunamis to cover the sins of mankind who have destroyed the delicate ecosystem that had been a part of a once honorable Perú before the Spaniards came and destroyed its empire of Inkas and other local people who built initial dams, primary irrigation systems, and more.

Inka irrigation system canal, Cusco, Perú

In nearby areas, with the blessings of the most corrupt governments in Perú from the initial Garcia Perez presidency through the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori, mining will continue to exact a toll upon the earth, especially in the field gold mining which releases mercury into the air and water. This pollution will ultimately affect not only the lifestyle of those claiming to be Peruanos. but those outside of Perú as mercury does not settle easily and it spreads quickly.

Mining in Perú and destroying the planet

Far worse for nature and for Perú is the intensity of other mining interests that dig deep into the ground to extract ore and other minerals–leaving big holes that nature will have to fill when the weight on top of the mines is too much and the vacuum to strong requiring that the vacuum be filled and the mine closed by natural forces (as happened in Chile, earlier in 2011).  Unfortunately the ignorance of mining and its ultimate catastrophic results is because of the inadequate education in Perú.

Perú students, at all levels, want to get by with as little reading as possible Writing is a lost art, and speaking logically or interpreting what is written is nearly impossible at every level. All children and youth, by Perú law, are required to go to school–but few schools have teachers who have even a basic knowledge.  Most teachers want to be “loved”.  Few teachers want to impart knowledge as few teachers in Perú are subject-matter experts. 

Perú students at test time

Students are content with minimal grades.  They frequently sleep in class when not staring blankly out of windows where summer heat sends up sundogs (waves of heat that can be seen), or in the winter when windows are closed to keep out any breeze. Few students “waste the money” to buy textbooks (many of which are too expensive for the poor that make up the largest share of Peruanos), and believing that schools should be social centers where they can make friends without having to study. 

Reading is considered a waste of time, and most students who go to public schools (and a large number who go to private and/or parochial schools) brag that they have not read a book in years.  Several of my students at a local Roman Catholic high school where I taught for two months before I quit in disgust boasted of their lack of literacy, but I found it even worse at one private university before I transferred to similar university where I still heard that proclamation as if it were a badge of honor.

When I taught in a postgraduate program for teachers of English as a foreign language, I found little reception for such novel ideas as mastering the past to understand the present and prognosticate about the future, as the students wanted “quick and dirty” directions on how to get student attention and, as one teacher at SENATI in Chiclayo informed me, he needed the master degree “to make more money.”  As in most civilizations the making of money is by far more important than training and teaching future generations who will make the final decision on the fate of this planet. Most cannot or will not or have any interest in writing original papers in any subject field. Instead, the majority cut-and-plaste (plagiarise) from the internet (especially from www.Wikipedia) and pass their theft off as an original composition.  Most teachers accept and grade these stolen compositions as “superior” as they are too lazy to read or correct papers preferring just to give it the necessary points to pass the students. Part of this is the fault and the responsibility of SUTEP, the teacher’s union in Perú which allows incompetent teachers to continue teaching. In 2007, when Alan Garcia Perez called for a general examination of all teachers in Perú, Perú teachers began a protest that they promised would be universal throughout Perú. In one situation, protesting teachers surrounded the regional education building in the central Junin department, and threw stones, burned tires and blocked roads, state news agency Andina reported. Other areas experienced similar minor problems, leading Education Minister Jose Antonio Chang to call the effort a failure, saying only 15 percent of Peru’s approximately 350,000 teachers failed to show up for work (http://www.michael-edison.com/views/peruprotest.htm).  When only 151 out of over 180,000 teachers in Peru passed the exam in March, the government announced that all those that had failed with scores between 11 and 13.9 would be allowed to retake the exam.  Over 8,000 teachers that failed an academic exam in March were given another opportunity to teach for the country’s public schools on Sunday June 1 (http://www.livinginperu.com/news/6579; cp. http://vmechanm.blogspot.com/2008/03/peruvian-teachers-tests-results.html). When I talked to a few native teachers, they informed me that the examination was written by ESAN, Peru’s top postgraduate business school and that not all subjects were covered.  Many said that it was unfair as they could not write down the answers that they presumed would be asked. Most confessed that they had memorized particular responses–something they encouraged their students to do when preparing compositions or taking examinations. This was, to me, outright theft of intellectual property: plagiarism, but, as one Peruano recorded: “Un resultado al que hay que agregar la circunstancia de que hace 6 años, estudiantes de primaria y secundaria de colegios privados y públicos peruanos quedaron últimos en pruebas de razonamiento lógico-matemático y comprensión de lectura, llevadas a cabo en contextos latinoamericanos (Test: PISA/Unesco). [These results must be understood in relationship to the circumstances of 6 years ago: primary and secondary peruvian students of private and public schools ended up last in tests of logical-mathematical reasoning and reading understanding, carried out throughout Latin American contexts (Test: PISA/Unesco).]” On PISA, see http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,3417,en_32252351_32235918_1_1_1_1_1,00.html) While all nations like to see themselves as first in the world in all areas, most Perú teachers acknowledge that their education system is in the bottom tier of academic excellence. Fortunately, there are schools and universities that are laboring hard to correct this problem which lies not only with unqualified faculty but also unqualified students.  Fortunately, today, many schools are seeking accreditation, as I have written at length in my articles on Perú.

When I protested against this massive and regular plagiarism at the various schools where I taught English as a foreign language, only one Academic Dean supported me and even lectured the faculty against accepting plagiarized work. For that reason I am proud to be on the faculty of Universidad César Vallejo, for Luis Amado Barrera Arréstegui makes living in Perú rewarding.  I have found in him one person academically gifted who wants students to reach their highest potential.  Sadly, he is in the minority (compared with my Director of English at the postgraduate school at a national university who could not speak a single word of English).  Perú must change rapidly so that his leadership is matched by others devoted to education.

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