So here's an interesting conflation: As we battle AGAINST the idea of corporations as people (with free speech rights ala Citizens United), Bolivia is about to give human rights to mother earth.
With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.
The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".
But Bolivia is not the first South American country to make such a move.
Back in 2008 Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa, included the inalienable rights of nature in their new constitution.
Ecuador has become the first country to approve a constitution that, among other reforms, recognizes certain inalienable rights for nature.
Under five provisions in the new constitution's Rights of Nature chapter, an ecosystem has the "right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution," and "every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of [these] rights."
None of this has gone smoothly for Ecuador, nor will it for Bolivia. Battles over the balance of protecting the environment and development will continue. But it does provide an interesting contrast of priorities from the battles we are having to wage in this country. Perhaps Mitt ought to quit worrying that we want to model ourselves after European countries and start worrying about the example being set in South America.