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Bolivian Peasant leader comes to Ireland to demand IRMS investigation

Andrew - WSM - Indymedia

A leader of the Bolivian Confederation of Peasant Workers (CSUTCB) is in Ireland this weekend to visit the local people who continue to resist Shell's experimental gas pipeline in Rossport and to demand that the Irish government investigate the role of Shell's security company IRMS in the attempt to start a civil war in Bolivia. Meanwhile in the wake of the An Bord Planala decision Shell's dangerous experimental pipe has been exposed as just that and many people are starting to question the wisdom of giving the energy corporations 420 billion of oil and gas for next to nothing.

Dublin Shell to Sea say of the visit that "Cristian Domínguez, the Secretary of Defence of Natural Resources and the Environment section of the Bolivian Confederation of Peasant Workers (CSUTCB), will today be handing in a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs requesting a full investigation by the Irish Government into the involvement of Irish security company, IRMS, with right wing mercenary elements in eastern Europe, and anti government paramilitary forces operating in Bolivia. Mr. Domínguez is a survivor of the massacre of Pando in 2008."

The Pando massacre took place on September 11 2008 when peasant protesters were ambushed by those opposed to land reform and at least 25 people were killed with over 100 missing in the aftermath of the massacre. The province of Pando like Santa Cruz is controlled by those opposed to President Morales reforms. In a report a year after the massacre Amnesty International said it had "received testimonies about threats and harassment directed at certain witnesses, human rights defenders and union leaders in the context of the investigations. Several people in Pando told the Amnesty International delegation that people involved in the massacre are still walking around the city of Cobija or in the vicinity of communities where some of the victims or their relatives live"

The limited oil nationalisation and land reform program of Morales is opposed by the wealthy elite of Bolivia. Leaders of this elite are following a strategy of promoting a civil war so that they can split the oil rich provinces off from the rest of the country, a strategy in the interests of energy corporations like Shell which would expect to pay lower royalties and taxes as well as recovering the pipeline Morales nationalised.

When Michael Dwyer was shot by Bolivian Special Forces in a Santa Cruz hotel room in April 2009 he was part of one such scheme by the ruling elite to trigger a civil war. From evidence emerging from Bolivia it appears he was acting as bodyguard for Eduardo Rozsa Flores, a Croatian-Bolivian fascist who was heading up this plot which had already included the bombing of the cardinal's of Santa Cruz’s house. Dwyer was among 7 men who had traveled from Ireland to Bolivia, supposedly for a bodyguard course. At least 6 and possibly all seven of these men had worked for IRMS, the company that provides security for Shell's pipeline in Erris. Up to the point of the announcement of Dwyer's death the IRMS website advertised its "special services" as including "international armed and unarmed security." Just after his death the website was first altered to remove these details and then taken offline for months.

This is the context in which Mr. Domínguez and the other signers of the letter are asking the Irish government for "A full investigation into the legal status of I-RMS in Ireland and the services it offers, as well as an investigation into any other companies offering international armed security services from Ireland." As people in Ireland looked into the story in the aftermath of Dwyers death it emerged that some of those 7 men had links to European fascist groups. That is the context Mr. Domínguez asks for "An investigation into the links between security company I-RMS and extreme right wing elements from Eastern Europe."

In the summer of 2008 Shell in Ireland were triumphant. Government ministers whether they were in Fianna Fail or the Green Party complied with every Shell demand. The Gardai acted as Shell's private security force, battering those campaigners who engaged in civil disobedience. Shell's multi million PR campaign had convinced the media and through them many Irish people that there were no real dangers to the experimental pipeline, that those who resisted it were either extremists or luddites. And no one even mentioned the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway that was going to allow Shell and other corporations pocket 420 billion from exploiting Irish resources.

The period starting in April has been a disaster for them. Events in Bolivia revealed which side the real extremists were on. This was the period when fisherman's Pat O'Donnell's boat was being sunk at sea by masked and armed men and farmer Willie Corduff was beaten by more masked men in the dead of night inside the Shell compound. Then in the last few weeks an Bord Pleanala confirmed what Shell to Sea campaigners have been ridiculed for saying for years, that the pipeline is a flawed experimental design and that it puts many local houses inside the blast zone of a pipeline failure. Remember that for resisting the pipeline, despite these now acknowledged dangers, hundreds have been beaten by the Gardai, dozens have been arrested, and over a dozen people have spent time in prison, some for no more than the most minor of public order offences.

Recently Shell paid 15 million out in a New York courts case leading John Vidal to observe in the Guardian that "Shell wants to bury the facts about what was happening on the Niger delta in the 1970s and 1980s when it was extracting tens of millions of barrels of oil a year from Ogoniland while allowing the people to slide into destitution as it was destroying their environment. The settlement stops the world knowing exactly what was the company's relationship with the national government and the military, and the extent of Shell's involvement in the human rights abuses that led to Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution." More recently the Pando massacre is a measure of how bad things can get when the wealthy elite is allowed to run things in the interests of the energy corporations.

The alarming events of the last year in Erris start to make sense when you consider the record of Shell and other energy corporations elsewhere in the world and when you consider that there is 420 billion worth of oil and gas off the Irish coast. That is a lot of money, why would we not expect the energy companies to stop at nothing to ensure it all flows to their shareholders. The only question is, are we going to let them get away with it?


More details on what happened in Bolivia and the connections with Erris in 'The Shadow over Erris' -

Amnesty On Pando massacre -

Eyewitness testimony on Pando massacre -

An Bord Planala letter to Shell -

Dublin Shell to Sea press release and text of letter demanding enquiry -