Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Unseen Hydropirates

Petrol freighters, from as far a field as China and the Middle East, are stealing fresh water from the Amazon Basin - the contraband of which being facilitated by the absence of authority in the region.

The Amazon - with the largest fresh water reserves in the world – is silently being robbed of its abundant resources, with water being its most recent free-for-all commodity. The water is captured by petrol freighters either at the mouth of the Amazon River in Northern Brazil or well within the Amazon Basin. Some ships even go as far in to the Colombian port city of Leticia - the tri-border region of Peru, Brazil and Colombia – an area rife in arm and drug trafficking, and where little goes accounted for. The ships return to the high seas, with little regard as to what they are taking

The water, despite having an immense variety of residue has a high percentage of minerals and can be easily treated. It can then be bottled elsewhere from where it can cater to an already hugely lucrative bottled-water industry.

For many countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel, the cost per litre in extracting from their already scarce underground water reservoirs is far more expensive than venturing this far; $1.50 per cubic metre compared to only $0.30 for treated fresh water.

Similarly countries like China, that possess 20% of the world’s population, yet only count 8% of the world’s fresh water, also need to look elsewhere for water.

The world’s rising demand for drinking water is already bringing the conflicts that were for so long predicted. In all this, water from the Amazon has now become a strategic resource, and will be more so, for 21st Century South America.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Cartels seem to be increasingly going beneath the waves, relying on submarines built in clandestine jungle shipyards to move tons of cocaine.

Some of the new vessels, with whimsically shaped fins, and ducts and pipes sticking out, bring to mind Captain Nemo's Nautilus from Jules Verne's imagination. Others are cigar-shaped, narrow and hydrodynamic, not unlike the World War I German U-boats that prowled the North Atlantic.

Some have surely made it far. In 2006, a 33-foot sub was found abandoned on the northern coast of Spain, where the authorities suspect the crew had unloaded a cargo of cocaine before fleeing.

In 2000, Colombian police discovered a 78-foot submarine, half-built with the help of Russian engineers, in a warehouse outside Bogota high in the Andes.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Amazon Pyramid

Julian Haynes, 40, from Rugby, England, wants to build a 25-metre-tall floating pyramid in the Amazon. He says it will hold the world’s most powerful self development course. He has since renounced his previous life leaving his kids with his ex-wife in search of a form of counterculturalist mysticism that will guide us to a next stage in man.

A sort of new-age Fitzgeraldo has arrived in the Jungle.

Haynes’ carpenters are busy building the skeleton of what will be the first three floors of the pyramid. There will eventually be seven. Their designs however are not based on that of an architect or an engineer but on the visions Haynes had on Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a vine that when prepared and then drunk is said to connect people to the mystery of the jungle and open up other dimensions. It is illegal in most countries. For Haynes this connection between mankind and nature offers the solution to the current world problems.

It’s a long way from Maidenhead.
For ten years Haynes worked as an IT programmer for several reputable companies, the last Exxon Mobil. The prospect of becoming a manager made him resign.

In search of something lasting Haynes began studying artificial intelligence, but eventually saw himself a follower of self-help guru Tonny Robins, attending his courses around the world, ending up in Fiji on a course with a small select few, called Life Mastery - “Anything is possible if you mentalise it”

Haynes began reading Terence Makenna, an American etnobotanist, who acquired fame through his polemical theories on psychotropic plants and its effect on the evolution of human beings. Considered a charlatan in intellectual circles, Makenna wrote a book called “The Nectar of the Gods”, in where he describes his experiences in the Amazon. Haynes then, following similar footsteps, came to Iquitos, Peru’s Amazon Jungle Capitol to try Ayahuasca.

Haynes believes that the only real way for man to progress is through higher intelligence. Through his ventures on ayahuasca he says he has subjective proof that aliens are commanding the strings behind the scenes and that they are constantly communicating through a form of synchronicity in life’s coincidences.

Numerology, for this reason, is vitally important for him which is why on the 7th of July of 2007 he went to the pyramids of Egypt, smuggling Ayahuasca, to carry out a ritual asking the Gods for help to raise a pyramid in the jungles of Peru.

Similarly this year on the 8th of August he will mark the inauguration of the beginning of his pyramid.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Peruvians in Baghdad

There are more than 1,600 Peruvian recruits in Iraq, making it the largest Latin American contingent operating in that country. (1,200 in Baghdad, 400 in Basra)
The second being Chile with 1,200.

In Baghdad many carry out security work in and out of the Green Zone, some doing searches on cars.

They’re working as military guards and get given military training and arms. The training lasts four days. In Basra there are accounts of Peruvians being given orders to repel attacks from insurgents. So goes the so-called passive guarding role given to Peruvians who fill the void in military enforcement. The companies involved are Triple Canopy and its Peruvian subcontractor Defion.

Most recruits are former soldiers and police officers, many with experience fighting leftist rebels. They are paid $1,000 a month - less than a tenth the salary paid to American mercenaries.

Miraculously so far only a dozen Peruvian guards have been injured by "indirect fire" (mortar shells or rockets). The noncombat casualties included one man who died of a heart attack and another Francisco GutiĆ©rrez, 38, who succumbed to leukemia shortly after being sent home. His wife received 6 thousand dollars after nine months as compensation, the equivalent of six months work her husband was expected to have completed. It is widely suspected in Peru that Gutierrez’s leukemia was the result of exposure to high levels of uranium in Iraq.

Another Peruvian, Martin Jara Hichard, 40, was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan. To this day it remains unclear how he died. Like Gutierrez, he had signed on with a US recruiting firm to guard US installations.

Gregorio Calixto, 27, lent his services for more than 13 months in a British military camp in Basra. In a bid to save more money Calixto accepted to extend his contract by four months. Until then everything was going well; he’d been able to evade continuous mortar attacks and the death threats given to him by Iraqis. All until, a little moment after a change of guards, a huge mortar attack fell onto his position. Calixto ran for cover, but was caught by shrapnel, injuring his leg, his right arm. His hearing was also seriously affected.

He was taken to a British Military Hospital, a few days later being sent to an American hospital in Baghdad. In view of his non-improving recovery he was sent Lima.

Triple Canopy sent Calixto to Peru on a commercial flight without medical attention. That is to say they risked the condition of man with an open wound with an exposed bone to sit for three days on a commercial flight from the Middle East to Lima.

He is now an unemployed street vendor, renting a spartan room and struggling to recover physically and emotionally from his wounds.

Since his return to Peru Calixto says he has problems getting help. The U.S. Defense Base Act requires that contractors such as Triple Canopy provide coverage, including disability, for work-related injuries. Claims, however, are reviewed by the U.S. Labor Department and are administered by a U.S. insurance company.

Calixto describes a frustrating process of telephoning representatives in the United States and finding no one who speaks Spanish; of frequent trips to downtown Lima, the capital, to speak with representatives of Triple Canopy; pleading for reimbursement for clinic bills, medicine, taxis, international phone calls and other expenses. He only irregularly attends physical therapy sessions, he says, because of delays in getting reimbursed.

He lives on $492 in monthly disability checks provided through the Triple Canopy insurance. But he says he doesn't know how long that's going to last. Nor does he consider it sufficient: The injury has severely limited his prospects in a country where the maimed can often end up begging in the streets.

Monday, 4 February 2008

About Iraq

Santiago El Mercurio (conservative), March 27: Demagoguery has always been the gravedigger of democracy. The imperial pretensions of democratic regimes such as Great Britain, not to mention the Napoleonic wars in the name of "liberty, equality, and fraternity," have always been incompatible with democracy and republicanism. Rome had to give up its republican institutions in the face of the rigors of the accumulation of power which resulted from the formation of the Roman Empire....The Athenians killed all the adults of Melos and reduced their women and children to slavery in order to infuse awe among their real and potential rivals in the Pelopponese and guarantee their unchecked dominion. In the long run, the logic of this bloody and prolonged war put an end both to democracy and the empire. Although extreme, simplistic parallels with the current war by Bush in Iraq are to be avoided....in the final analysis, the logic is the same.
—Ignacio Walker