Indigenous Woman with Calla Lilies in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico 2003
Elder Indigenous woman takes part in a march for world peace in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. Bishop Felipe Arizmendi led the march, days before the launch of the second US war on Iraq.
Elder women during the First Annual Whapmagoostui (Great Whale) Gathering Quebec, Canada 1993
During the First Annual Whapmagoostui (Great Whale) Gathering, Cree and Innuit peoples came together to discuss their resistance to Hydro-Quebec, which planned to build a massive dam on the Great Whale river that would flood vast expanses of their land and poison the fish with mercury. The historic event took place on the banks of the Great Whale river off Hudson Bay.
In opposition to the destruction of their homeland, Cree Robbie Dick said, “The importance of saving the environment is as important as saving one’s life.”
Cree Helen Atkinson: “Cree culture has a lot to offer in the area of nature, which is something very much needed in the world. In western society, everything is segregated. That is what is ruining the world. People have to think more holistically about their actions. Everything comes down to ‘how much money can I make from this.’ Until this changes, all this talk of environmental protection is bullshit.”
As the result of a huge international opposition campaign, the Great Whale river was never dammed.
Elder women attends the First Annual Whapmagoostui (Great Whale) Gathering Quebec, Canada 1993
Elders of the community Amador Hernandez, Juana Cruz Jiménez (right) and Doroteo Ruiz Loenzá. Some few are still left who remember when the vast majority of Indigenous peoples of Chiapas worked as indentured servants on plantations.
At the Cancún, Mexico United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, journalist Jeff Conant and I learned that California’s then-Governor Arnold Swarzenegger had penned an agreement with Chiapas, Mexico Governor Juan Sabines as well as the head of the province of Acre, Brazil. This deal would provide carbon offsets from forests in Mexico and Brazil to polluting industries in California—enabling them to comply with the new California climate law (AB32) while continuing business as usual.
Conant and I took an investigative trip to Chiapas in March of 2011. When we arrived, we were invited by the people of Amador Hernandez–an Indigenous village based in the Lacandon jungle (Selva Lacandona)–to visit, document and learn of the plans of the government to possibly relocate them from their homes. What we uncovered was another battle in the ongoing war between a simpler or good way of life (buen vivir) vs. the neoliberal development model.
Since 2010, Amador Hernandez has been denied medical supplies, and the Mexican government has suspended emergency transport of the gravely ill.
A communiqué issued by Amador Hernandez stated: “For the Indigenous peoples, who have freely and bravely decided to walk our own destiny on a different path from that of the political regime and the economic system that turns everything into merchandise and thievery, the bad government sends illness and slow death, and projects that fortify intercommunity conflicts, paid for now by the resources associated with REDD+ [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation]. And all in the name of service to humanity… It is a strategy that doles out sickness and death, dose by dose…”
During an Earth First! occupation in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, John Wallace, who turned thirty years old that day and was wanted by the Forest Service for entering a closure area illegally, turned himself in using a kryptonite bicycle lock to lock his neck to a logging skidder (1990). The Forest Service responded by putting an aluminum shield around his head and cutting off the lock with an acetylene torch while John sang, “God Bless America.”
For almost three months [80 days] activists occupied the logging site (at that time the longest Earth First! blockade in history). The area slated to be cut was rich in biodiversity, a haven for songbirds and loved by the many locals who went there to watch the birds, camp or observe nature.
The major daily newspaper in Springfield, IL, the state’s capital, called the Earth First! blockade “a popular uprising.”
This clown in front of riot police was one of 80,000 demonstrators at the opening march in Rostock, Germany prior to the beginning of the Group of 8 (G8) meetings. In early June 2007, the heads of the world’s richest nations, the G8, held a summit in the old resort town of Heiligendamm, Germany (near Rostock).
Shortly after this scene, police used water cannons to spray the crowd with water mixed with tear gas during a rally on the waterfront at the end of the march.
Later that week, G8 leaders held their summit behind a 12 km fence topped with razor and barbed wire, with their only access into the meetings either by helicopter or boat as over ten thousand protesters blockaded all main roads and train tracks into Heiligendamm. The fence itself cost over 12.4 million Euros and millions more were spent for security.
Comandante Tacho of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico—rebel territory (1996). When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect on 1 January 1994, the Indigenous Peoples of Chiapas staged an uprising. The Zapatistas denounced NAFTA as a “death sentence” for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico.
The uprising continues today and has been an inspiration to millions of people throughout the world.
Young boy jumps in a MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – Landless Workers Movement) encampment called Galdino dos Santos, in Espirito Santo, Brazil.
In 2005 the MST here took over portion of an eucalyptus plantation owned by Aracruz Cellulose, cut down the non-native trees and constructed their encampment, dug a well, built a community space and instituted an elaborate system of non-hierarchical decision making. The camp was named Galdino dos Santos, for an Indigenous chief who was murdered two years earlier in a racist attack.
Two protesters are arrested attempting to blockade President Bill Clinton’s motorcade during the National Governors’ Association Conference in Burlington, VT in 1995. They were protesting to draw attention to the impending and unjust execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who signed the Death Warrant for Mumia Abu-Jamal, attended the National Governors’ Association Conference in Burlington, VT from July 29 to August 1. Governor Ridge was targeted during four days of militant protests in support of Abu-Jamal during the conference. There were 24 arrests.
In what many believe was a frame-up for his political beliefs, activist Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a policeman in 1981. The protesters said his “trial” was farcical, with an inadequate defense, suppression of evidence and a judge who put more people on death row–the majority them people of color–than any other judge in the U.S. The execution order was overturned, but left Abu-Jamal on death row. Mumia Abu-Jamal would have been the first political prisoner to be legally executed in this country since Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were electrocuted in 1953. Following the protests, the death warrant was rescinded.
Nuevo San Gregorio campesinos work the community’s milpa (2003)
Many of the the Indigenous communities in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico, are under threat of forced relocation by the Mexican military, which works in collusion with NGOs like Conservation International to “protect” the land from the Indigenous inhabitants. This community has survived so far. Many have not been that fortunate.
An Indigenous man with his mouth covered by a UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) gag during a protest at the climate talks held in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. The protest concerned the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples from the official negotiations even though the UNFCCC was developing plans to use their lands to provide resources and carbon offsets to supposedly address climate change.
Inside and outside the convention center, activists demanded alternative policies and practices to protect livelihoods and the environment. In dozens of side events, reports, impromptu protests and press conferences, false solutions to climate change – such as carbon offsetting, carbon trading, agrofuels, trade liberalization and privatization pushed by governments, financial institutions and multinational corporations – were exposed.
Affected communities, Indigenous peoples, women and peasant farmers called for real solutions to the climate crisis.
Indigenous Mayangna traveling by panga (dugout canoe) on the Rio Pis Pis in the Bosawas Reserve in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region in 1998. The Bosawas rainforest was the largest rainforest north of the Amazon Basin. Illegal logging threatens the rainforest’s biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples.
Michael Colby (center) is arrested after disrupting a speech by John Negroponte. Pictured on right is St. Johnsbury, VT Police Chief Rich Leighton
Negroponte Visit Spurs Protest and Arrests–National Intelligence Director (in 2006) John Negroponte’s Commencement Address to the graduating class of private St. Johnsbury Academy was disrupted twice by protesters inside the auditorium where the ceremony was being held.
Over 75 protesters gathered on the sidewalk outside of the Academy protesting Negroponte’s deadly record that spans decades including a stint as the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras and Ambassador to Iraq before his then-present position (2006) as the nation’s number one “intelligence” overseer.
Briefly after Negroponte began his address, Michael Colby, from Worcester, VT stood up saying, “In the name of democracy I object to this man speaking. He has blood on his hands from his work in Central America and Iraq. He shouldn’t be at the podium, he should be in jail. He is a war criminal.” Colby was grabbed by police and security and escorted out of the auditorium to awaiting police cars.
Colby said that he told the arresting officer that, “I come in peace.” Colby said the officer then punched him in the stomach.
Prior to the arrests, while the protesters were gathered on the sidewalk, a statement from Professor Dennis Brutus of Johanesburg, South Africa was read. Brutus is a poet, activist and former political prisoner in South Africa. He said, “Delighted to hear of protest against that monster Negroponte – he is more than a ‘black bridge’ – he is a black bridge to murder, assassination and mayhem, from Honduras and beyond. All power to those who protest in the name of social justice and humanity – and shame on those who invited this monster. On behalf of all the victims of oppression everywhere.”
During the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, FL, members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) show their outrage as they protest the lives lost (both US and Vietnamese) in the Vietnam War. Both VVAW members and thousands of anti-war demonstrators massed at the convention to show their opposition to the war. Covering these events was my first professional photo assignment.
Photograph from Roadmap to Extinction: Are Humans Disappearing?
In Copenhagen, Denmark during United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2009, my exhibit, Roadmap to Extinction: Are Humans Disappearing? premiered in the Klimaform, the alternative peoples’ space.
The theme of the exhibit was climate change and the possibility of human extinction if serious steps are not taken. These were not the usual photographs one associates with climate change: ice caps and glaciers melting or polar bears adrift. The photographs in Roadmap to Extinction: Are Humans Disappearing? are images designed to show that time and space are fleeting and we are on this planet for only a brief time, so we should use that time meaningfully.
The photographs were taken on two successive evenings, 10 and 11 October 2008 in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain. During the day I attended the annual meeting of an international conservation organization held in that city. I found the meetings quite disturbing, as the overwhelming majority of strategies to protect nature put forth to the 8,000 in attendance emphasized market-based mechanisms at the same time that the markets were collapsing globally.
The logic of looking to the very markets that have caused the ecological and climate crises to now solve them motivated this series of photographs.
All photographs are copyrighted by Langelle Photography (2015), all rights reserved. No photo can be used without the consent of Langelle Photography. See Publishing and Acquisition Information.
Why Copyright? One of the reasons I copyright my photographs is to track where these photos are being used in order to monitor the impact of my work and evaluate the effectiveness of Langelle Photography, a nonprofit organization.