Friday, February 16, 2007

My vacations with Anderson Cooper

An exotic location, with an Epcot Center feeling, the sense that you are there, but in reality it is just a facsimile with a checklist of clichés...

Topless women in the background, checked!

Naked big belly children running around and curious about the “white man” and his camera, checked!

Exotic animals, well not so checked …

Anderson Cooper in a stoic poise, checked, checked, checked!

I'm having serious problems with the information they are presenting in the Amazon story, not once they have disclosed that the region they are - the Tocatins basin - is the area assigned for commercial exploitation. But it almost sounds as if they didn't make any Pre Production for the show and decided to just describe things as they encountered them... they should spend less in advertising and more in research!

To say I'm disappointed with the Amazon coverage is a gross understatement. The Amazon is as complex as the countries (internationally recognized and the indigenous ones) that govern its territories and history. Economic and political changes, have the most impact on this ecosystem, and it's been ignored by the coverage. To understand these changes, one must look, for example, at the history of colonized Brazil. When the Portuguese navigators first landed on the Brazilian coast in the 16th century, the native population, estimated to total 5,000,000, consisted of 900 different ethnic groups who spoke 180 different languages and dialects. Today, there are approximately 400,000 Indians residing in 215 ethnic groups. Not only is the forest at peril. It seems as if their producers (Serena and Charlie) didn't make any pre production research at all. Limited their efforts to coordinate with the Brazilian government and chose a location that understandably will allow live transmissions, but settled for a tourist trap even if it is "sustainable tourism"... and didn't have the decency of disclosing the fact that they were not within protected or virgin forest territory.

They are within 1 million square kilometers of Indian land set aside by the Brazilian government for this native Indian population. Currently, 510 areas have been created, representing slightly more than 10 percent of the Brazilian territory. Despite the fact that many Brazilian Indian communities inhabit apparently large areas, there is no longer sufficient space for the ancient agricultural practice of shift cultivation that the Indians have practiced historically. Consequently, the native population has been forced to cultivate the same area for several years.

The Kraho is of Brazil's 215 surviving native nations, and one of the few tribes that have been able to maintain many aspects of their traditional ways of life. The nation has survived despite the waves of diseases brought to America by European colonizers. During the 1940s, moreover, it withstood violent attacks carried out by non-native settlers to drive them off the land. In 1951, after negotiations with the Brazilian government, the nation was granted 3,200 square kilometers of territory in Taconites state.

The changes within the Kraho culture - unlike the stale image of a frozen in time culture Anderson gave us - presented the tribe as innocent victims of the farmers, when they are, in fact, farmers, and responsible for their practices. As described by Antonio Carlos Guedes from the Centro Nacional de Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnología (CENARGEN) in his research Conservation and Cultural Values: Brazil

“Just a few decades ago, the Kraho Indian communities in Tocantins state
in Brazil discovered that they
were not only
undermining their region's
environmental well-being but worsening their economic plight as well
— and, in the process, becoming even more dependent on the government.
The shift from itinerant to permanent site cultivation, along with the use
of new commercial and modern input-requiring crop varieties, as well
as reliance on a single permanent crop system, encouraged
the Kraho
to adopt agricultural practices that degraded the soil and
consequently reduced agricultural productivity. In addition, seed
varieties, which had been selected by their ancestors and maintained
from generation to generation, began to disappear due to the
introduction of modern crop varieties. According to the Krahos,
loss of these seeds contributed to a gradual loss of both plant and
community roots. The latter, after all, was given life by rituals
associated with traditional agricultural methods, the annual rhythms
of the agricultural calendar and the food supply. The withering away
of agricultural and cultural sustenance forced many Indians to
abandon their traditional lands and migrate to already
impoverish URBAN areas
. Such movement contributed to the cycle of
dependence of entire Indian communities on government welfare
programs. In some areas, this dependence led to severe malnutrition
due to the inadequacy of grains
distributed to the community or
caused a lack of food supply for year-round consumption."

Completely ignored by Anderson Cooper and his production team, are the new politics of preservation established by the political incorrect (or lefties) socialists governments of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Lula Da Silva in Brazil, and the Indian Evo Morales from Bolivia. Under Da Silva, constitutional rights and recognition were granted for the indigenous nations from Brazil. Chávez has developed an array of social projects for their health and stopped the exploitation and oil drilling from the sites closest to endangered areas, while Evo Morales, stopped foreign exploitation of natural gas in the region of Chapare. Of course that is better to only pay attention to Chavez antics, the fact that Da Silva is a hard core socialist and that Morales was a leader of the cocalero movement, because focusing on this, they distract the audience of the core reason of their popularities throughout their countries and regions. They are actually taking care of their natural resources.

If you are interested in knowing more about the economic and political situation of the Amazon and the countries that encloses it check out the site of the Amazon Alliance For Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Of the Amazon Basin, where you can learn all the international companies that are exploiting the forest or how the USA, through the US Aerial Eradication Program and the State Department, are affecting both the forest and human health in the Colombian Amazon.

And although I admit that it is cute to watch “field Anderson “on vacation, and how David Doss goes to great lengths to let us know how the Krahos nicknamed the crew (Anderson "Regal Bird." Jeff Corwin "Running Deer." Our associate producer, Selena, is "Coconut." Neil, a cameraman, is "Bound Legs." Phil, second cameraman, is "White Pig." Jeff Hutchens, photographer, is "Dead Fish” and Charlie Moore, senior producer, "Hanging Thing.") I strongly believe the program is missing the big picture. They missed the opportunity to really present a 360 view of the richness, dangers, problems and solutions that are going on in the Amazon Forest.

If at least they have gone through the trouble of explaining the painting ritual in detail...but not even that...

thanks to Sahira for the screecaps!

8 comentarios:

Rudy said...

Thank you Christiane!
As Jr said in another post, you are really helping us understand this topic. I really liked the 360 show, but with the information you are giving us, you force me to see things from another perspective, and I have to agree, they are letting us down.

Sharla Dawn said...

Oh yeah, totally thank you for some real information. As to not talking about the good stuff? Last time I checked, the news doesn't like to report happy-warm-fuzzy stories because people seem to tune in more for death-and-destruction. Case in point being how I pitched a positive idea to CNN and got ignored. Gee, who wants to see a severely disabled man that has succeeded in life? Apparently not them. That sucks. Maybe I'll do the story myself and post it on YouTube. Hrmph.

And I commented about the names on the blog, which got posted. Amazing. I say something serious and nothing happens. I make fun of Anderson? Check. I make jokes? Check. Serious comment? Oh yeah, no.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Christiane

I have learned nothing except that Anderson Cooper looks sexy with a tight shirt on- BUT that I already knew...

They are spending too much time on pictures and NADA on research. Do they really think we are that shallow?

ivy said...

@chris, Keep Them Honest, girl!

Yes, it gives impression of exactly what you said -- vacation. Then no need to start the show with amazon reports, just have couple of segments at the end is enough. And no need for loud titles --like " Planet in Peril". And no need to use it for Anderson's marketing. Serious well-balanced reporting is the best advertizing he could have.

Anonymous said...

I jump all over the Anderson Cooper blogs and you really have an unique perspective. This information is very interesting and it is sad that people don't really get the facts.

courtney01 said...

Great post, Chris. Once again you keep me on my toes with your fresh perspective. I appreciate it and respect you greatly for it.

Christiane said...

Thank you Court, I really appreciate it. Same!

jr said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who wasn't getting the whole "Planet in Peril" concept and how it was being presented by AC360. I'd be the first to admit that I'm not a tree hugger. I was open to learning about the issues of global warming thinking that AC360 would inform us and allow us to make our own decisions regarding it.

All I got this week was an aerial view of deforestation; a frog that scared AC; a look at the Kraho tribe (which was more a picture slide show than understanding them as a people); and a look at some extinct animals.

And the connection to global warming is???? I got lost somewhere between the frog fear, blue ink, and tribal names.

It's as though when things aren't going as planned, they resort to the things they know the "fangirls" would enjoy and I find that so insulting.

Thanks Christiane for your efforts at providing the angles. Very insightful.


Don't think for me. Don't assume what I want to hear or read. Give me facts. Give me reasons. But not yours. Bring me debate. Enlighten me. Today, accountability is masked behind anonymity; bylines are hidden by zeros and ones. Everyone publishes; everyone is "in the know." Ethics are non-existent. Speculation is king. The truth is masked and a hostage. Empowered by our minds, WE ARE THE FREAKSPEAKERS!


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