As mentioned in a recent article, activists await a formal announcement from the British Museum as to the future of their relationship with BP, because the current sponsorship deal appears to be over according to the terms of a contractual extension signed during the Covid lockdowns, but so far the institution is being tight-lipped about any decision.
While covering a small outreach protest at the museum at the beginning of the month, Real Media came across two South American activists carrying a Wiphala flag. They are members of a network bringing together native Andean people in a struggle against colonialism and extractivism.
Luis from Bolivia, and Belgica from Ecuador, spoke to us about Chevron’s very long-running fight to avoid responsibility for horrific oil pollution in Ecuador, the puppet government in Peru handing indigenous land to oil companies, the 2019 Bolivian coup against Evo Morales.
The common theme is that the wishes of powerful extractivist multi-national corporations often coincide with those of Western governments, leading to a wide range of corruption, from undemocratic lobbying to full on military coups.
And Luis tells us it’s not just about oil – Bolivia is being ravaged by lithium mining – he says the country is home to more than half the world’s known deposits of this valuable “green economy” mineral.
But Indigenous and poor communities are networking across the Andean region and fighting back. The Wiphalas Network / Red Wiphalas emanates from Bolivia but links to many similar struggles. Their flag is a rainbow coloured square of seven colours, symbolising earth, culture, strength, land, time, resources and self-determination.