May 27, 2018

Law of Mother Earth


Dear Editor,

This is international news that is highly relevant on both national and local levels and especially dear to the attitudes and hearts of Topangans. (I don’t know if the U.S. law granting corporations the same rights as people preceded Morales’ 2009 proposal at the U.N. or was a response to it, but they seem somehow related.)

With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the “Law of Mother Earth,” which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. This piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra (the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth), is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: 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. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.”

National opposition to the law is not anticipated, as Morales’ party — the Movement Towards Socialism — holds a majority in both houses of parliament. On April 20, two days before this year’s “International Mother Earth Day,” Morales will table a draft treaty with the UN, kicking off the debate with the international community.


—Bill Flaxman