US Obstruction of Climate Justice: What Would Romero Do?


Nearly thirty years ago Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in El Salvador.
 
Just a few weeks prior he wrote a letter to then President Carter pleading him to cut off aid to the Salvadoran government since its aid was being used to terrorize the civilian population.
 
Fast forward ten years and witness the world celebrating the end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism. One menace down.
 
Fast forward another twenty years to modern times and we see that world leaders, scientists and social organizations convened in Copenhagen, Denmark to do more than discuss climate change, but to act to change course.
 
However, one world leader, President Obama, showed up and sabotaged the entire conference with his exclusive, anti-democratic, non-binding political agreement that undermined the Kyoto Protocols.
 
The data is uncontroversial. Climate change is real. It is largely man made. We know what a safe amount of carbon is that can be emitted and we are not only over that threshold, we are increasing it with each year that passes.
 
Presidents Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales of Venezuela and Bolivia received applause for acknowledging the link between Capitalism and environmental degradation.
 
Ideally, transcending Capitalism into some form of Participatory Economy would be a viable and preferable alternative, but it’s not likely we can achieve that in time to change directions in regards to the climate.
 
Recently the political economist Robin Hahnel wrote a three part series that was published on ZNet that highlighted the need for an international cap and trade treaty.
 
When asked how to respond to the US and China’s veto power at the UN Security Council, a despotic tool the US often uses to obstruct justice, Hahnel said world leaders could create "binding caps [that] can be addressed through diplomatic boycotts, economic boycotts, and travel bans among other measures” if a veto power tries to ignore their obligations.
 
Maybe Romero appealed to the wrong leader for help, and maybe Hahnel is on to something.
 
So long as we continue to face a clear and present danger, and so long as the democracy of the UN and efficacy of the Kyoto Protocols can be undermined by rogue states with powers of impunity, then asking other governments, businesses and social organizations to organize and carry out a boycott, divestment and sanctions of the United States, or any other nation that goes along with its “political agreement,” is in order.
 
~
 
The reason I bring up Romero is that there are parallels, but mostly because the anniversary of his death is coming up in March. This leaves us plenty of time to organize a petition to deliver to world leaders on the anniversary and in the same spirit that he pleaded for the lives of ordinary Salvadorans we plea with them to put diplomatic, political and economic pressure on the US to change course and join the international community in democratically solving climate change with a binding international treaty.

Leave a comment