Ecuador's Vice President Lenín Moreno, 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Reflects on Human Welfare and the Rights of Nature
By: Michael Charles Tobias
Michael Tobias: Mr.Vice President, when we first met, in Quito’s Botanical Gardens, surrounded by indigenous bromeliads, orchids and the Espelitia plant, now endangered because much of its habitat has been usurped by potato agriculture in your country, you spoke of a “magical upbringing” in Ecuador’s Amazon, in the town of Nuevo Rocafuerte, in the wild province of Francisco de Orellana. Years later, having seen your country grapple with significant environmental challenges – as all nations do – what is the most important message you carry with you from that childhood in the Amazon that you could share with readers?
Vice President Lenín Moreno: Michael, the most wonderful teaching was to be in contact with Nature, from whom I learned to love and to fear at the same time. It was a dialectical duality that was permanently in contact. It was the taste of travel on the river, but also the danger of eddies. It was the satisfaction of seeing a large cat.
Michael Tobias: And in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park and surrounding buffer areas a large cat is virtually “tiger” sized, a jaguar, puma or the much smaller ocelot.
Vice President Lenín Moreno: And at the same time the risk of what that meant. It was unforgettable. I have experienced the hurricane-like storms, endless rain, fishing, hunting, surrounded by trees, orchids and [all the] flowers of the rain forest.
Michael Tobias: Do you ever have the opportunity go back there?
Vice President Lenín Moreno: Whenever I have the chance, I return to the Amazon.
Michael Tobias: Mr. Vice President, in 1998, you were nearly murdered by thieves, as I understand it; shot in the back. Your survival, abetted by that infectious smile and goodwill of yours, has become legendary. And much more: for now, you have been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of your extraordinary, and wide-ranging commitments to those with physical challenges and mental anguish – through “Ecuador sin barreras” (Ecuador Without Barriers) – as it has been widely hailed. As an ecologist I find the notion of breaking down barriers extremely critical. And, it would appear, so does Ecuador’s Constitution which, in 2008, added an Amendment to declare that all of Nature is deemed to be vital, interdependent, and that if we erect barriers between ourselves and Nature, we are likely to ignore her; to exploit places like Ecuador’s Amazon – at our peril. Two of Ecuador’s ecological jewels, the Galapagos, and Yasuní National Park, are among the most biologically diverse protected areas on the planet, particularly Yasuní, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is theorized to contain as many as 100,000 species per hectare – an astonishing biodiversity zenith. Surely, Yasuní is a fitting tribute to this “Ecuador Without Barriers” concept, wouldn’t you agree? An explicit relationship between human health and happiness and the environment. And in your case, specifically...
Vice President Lenín Moreno: A couple of young men assaulted me. One of them shot me, but despite this fact, I did not put up resistance. At that moment came a health condition, a Via Crucis. This condition was marked by pain that was left by the pieces of bone, pockets of nerve bundles in the spinal column. This induced my searching for some remedy for the pain, but I couldn’t find it, either in classical or alternative medicine.
Published 7 months, 2 weeks ago under The Good Life