Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: One of the “twenty Greenpeace activists from seven countries” who committed a shocking act of vandalism has been sentenced.
BIG PICTURE: The Nazca Lines are a collection of approximately 300 figures that were etched into the Peruvian desert 1,500 years ago. UNESCO describes them as “the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world” and “a unique and magnificent artistic achievement of the Andean culture.”
Typically described as ‘sacred’ and ‘fragile,’ it is illegal for anyone (even heads of state) to visit this site without permission and without special footwear. To Greenpeace, however, the Nazca Lines were just another place to protest.
While the United Nations climate confab was underway in Lima in December 2014, Greenpeace personnel illegally tramped around unfurling “massive letters.” A total of 44, in fact. These declared:
Time for change!
The future is renewable
The activity was recorded by Greenpeace-invited journalists. In a video posted on the Guardian website and embedded at the top of this page, Greenpeace personnel can be seen trudging through the dark, wearing ordinary running shoes/trainers, and burdened with large backpacks. They can also be seen weighting down the fabric with bricks to facilitate aerial photography.
Afterward, Greenpeace issued a press release. The message in the desert, it said, was
directed at world leaders and ministers at the ongoing UN climate talks, in Lima, who are failing to take real climate action…a week of talks in Lima has simply not shown enough progress… [bold added]
But that’s just a story. These conferences occur every year, and Greenpeace routinely tries to grab media attention. The stunt would have taken place regardless.
Two days later, in a statement apologizing for its actions, Greenpeace desperately tried to recast these events. Rather than merely hectoring politicians, its said its intent had been to deliver an “urgent message of hope and possibility.” (That lovely word, ‘hope,’ didn’t appear in the first press release but was used twice in the second.)
In May 2017, one of the guilty individuals was finally sentenced by a court. News organizations in the Spanish-speaking world appear to have been the only ones to report on this. Presumably, Greenpeace neglected to press the ‘send’ button on that particular press release.
Wolfgang Sadik of Greenpeace Germany, described as the mastermind of the incident (and seen in the video claiming that “the Nazca culture disappeared because of climate change”), received a suspended prison sentence of three years and four months.
He was also fined 650,000 Peruvian Sols (in the neighbourhood of $200,000 US dollars). While required to report to the court every six months, he remains at liberty.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Only one person appears to have suffered any notable consequences for Greenpeace’s Nazca debacle. To this day, Greenpeace refuses to identify the full list of culprits.
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