Week 12 Discussion Prompt: Environmental Disaster

For this week, please write a response that connects the issues of uranium mining in Navajo country and the post-tsunami “relief” and reconstruction in Sri Lanka. What do you think the role of government and industry should be in both these contexts?

86 thoughts on “Week 12 Discussion Prompt: Environmental Disaster”

  1. In 2004 a tsunami hit Sri Lanka, it killed thousands and left millions without homes. Naomi Klein in her book, “The Shock Doctrine,” looks at how the government used this natural disaster to push through own agenda. Tourism along the east coast began to pick up once the place became less dangerous; however, people lived on the beaches and fished there. The hotels saw them as detracting from the area and a barrier to their ability to expand. The tsunami did the work that the businesses and governments were unsuccessfully already trying to do. The government then used to disaster as an excuse to push through the changes and to back up the tourism industry. This was good for the economy and thus good for the government, but it was bad for the original people living there, they were forced into camps, “for their own good”.
    In the case of the Navajos, companies were mining for uranium around the area and did not bother to take into account the natives or the environment. The government did nothing about it either and ignored the possible health effects of the situation. In some cases companies used building materials that were mixed with uranium to pave house floors of people on the area which only increased their exposure to the radiation. “The U.S. government appealed to both Navajo patriotism and self-interest when it asked the tribe to open its land to uranium exploration in the 1940s. The mining would aid the American war effort and provide jobs, federal officials said,” but as government and businesses tend to do, they did not care about any negative effects only the money that could be made.
    In both cases the governments and the industries discount the local population, instead focusing on making money and saving money, whether it is through tourism and focusing on rich foreigners, or it be mining uranium and ignoring any negative effects. While the EPA did try to help the uranium situation later, many were still unsatisfied with their help because they did not consult the local people or take into account their concerns. The government failed in the Sri Lanka case to provide for its people, instead it focused on businesses. The government’s primary role should be to provide for its people, especially in a country that claims it is a government by the people, for the people. While industries are expected to have money as their primary concern, they should not be allowed to cut corners and governments should not focus on how well the industries are doing over the people themselves. The government should protect the people from the businesses, not the other way around. In the case of Sri Lanka, the government’s primary concern should be aiding the people in rebuilding their homes, not aiding the tourist industry in taking over these people’s old homes. With businesses it should be expected for them to focus on money, which is why governments need to limit them at times, especially in times of disaster. In the case of the Navajos, the companies need to be more careful in how they extract uranium and become more eco-friendly as well as open a dialog with the locals. The government needs to be more attentive to companies that ignore environmental impacts, and they too need to communicate with the locals.

    1. Hey Ryan,
      I really like how much you focused on the economic aspect of these issues. While I agree with you that fiduciary responsibility to make money for their shareholders, environmental destruction is a cost that has to be factored into their analysis. I think we would see a different pattern of behavior if companies were required to follow strict environmental restrictions

    2. I think both cases illustrate the failure of governments and I agree that the government failed to meet the need and demand of the local people. As it is seen in Navajo case, even if we live in United States where government should be by the people and for the people, the reality is that it is not in many cases and government tends to lean toward industries that give profits to them. I think this is very sad reality that we should be alert about.

    3. I really liked how you analyzed and summarized both articles. I definitely agree with you too; the government should be more attentive to companies that ignore environmental impacts and they need to take the impacted citizens’ concerns and inputs into account. Environmental issues may not seem like the number one concern to governments but they are putting people’s lives at risks by ignoring this issue.

    4. Good write up. It’s unfortunate what happened in Sri Lanka, we see the governments and business exploiting their vulnerable populations with or even without disaster. They get to save face since the tsunami did all the work for them in terms of wiping the slate clean. The navajo dilemma is unfortunate that future generations will be the real victims of the radiation fall out. Even if the government paid more attention, it’d be over 50 years til the radiation isn’t harmful.

    5. Hey Ryan,

      I agree with your concluding comments, there should be stricter regulations on such business that take advantage during environmental catastrophes. Also laws should be in place to insure the basic needs of people before pursuing business interests in national or international emergencies. In both cases the government and the corporations failed the people.

  2. The biggest connection between uranium mining in Navajo country and reconstruction in Sri Lanka is the predatory nature of corporations when left unchecked by the government. Klein’s chapter outlines how the government and ruling elite of Sri Lanka had planned all of their “reconstruction” goals before the tsunami, but when stymied by public protests, these plans went on the back burner until the massive disaster of the tsunami could allow them to be implemented without public debate. Likewise, uranium mining was eased into Navajo country by a successful propaganda campaign during WWII and when the government was no longer buying uranium (they were the sole customer of these private mining companies), these companies left without doing anything but minimal attempts at clean up.

    On the industry aspect, there is nothing wrong with a company making money. But I take huge offense with a company applying the concept of higher-use value to people. Just because beachfront property is worth more to the GDP as a luxury hotel doesn’t mean that the land you are building that hotel on is empty. I think Klein’s discussion of terra nullius is incredibly effective because it points out that the situation in Sri Lanka has nothing to do with economics and is instead about a neocolonial mindset that views land inhabited by peasants as a wasted opportunity. This “open” land would not be such a clear cut economic victory (in terms of adding high value to GDP at low cost) if the peasants were actually compensated appropriately for the loss of their land, homes and livelihoods. And although these fisherman will have jobs selling goods on the streets (as Klein wryly points out), can anyone really call the loss of economic autonomy as a victory?

    As for the government end of this mess, the Navajo example is a clear cut example of why the government should not be run like a business hoping to make profit. To have a discussion about whether or not it makes economic sense to test the homes of a nation’s citizens for uranium and radon is abhorrent. I understand the issues of trying to claim compensation from a mining company that may no longer exist, but that is not the situation in all of these cases. The harsh reality as the two articles point out, is that we don’t even know the extent of the problem (and thus of the companies involved) without finishing the time and money intensive house to house testing.

    1. I completely agree with your argument that the Sri Lankan government had a neocolonialist mindset in their desire to move the fishermen from the beach, especially since this was in regions that had previously been hostile to the government, while areas in the south, which had been government supporters, were not subjected to this type of resettlement.

    2. Hi Maggie,
      I agree with the points that you are making here. Specifically I agree that taking away land from the fishermen in Sri Lanka, just to make a bigger profit by giving it to the hotels is very wrong. These people have lived there and depended on the land for generations, it is not fair to take it away from them, especially when they have already lost everything from the tsunami.

  3. Within both of these articles, we learn how irresponsible governments have acted toward the Navajo uranium mining issue and the Sri Lankan tsunami disaster. As many of us can probably agree, many governments are always making decisions financially beneficial for themselves, not taking into consideration the country’s citizens. We see this in capitalism and through Marxist theories, also. When governments act on things that result in negative consequences, the situation is not fixed properly and many are left to suffer.
    In the Navajo uranium mining article, we learn that uranium was used widely during the Cold War to produce deadly weapons. Navajo settlements were closely located near these uranium mines and this drew the attention of many private companies and the government of course. Once the Cold war ended, many of these mines were left actively hazardous and contaminated in these residential areas, which caused severe fatal/nearly fatal risks to these communities. Many residents continued to use their everyday resources around the mines because no one was aware that the mines were still contaminated. This led to their bodies developing cancer and ultimately death. The United States government ignored this and did not conduct the proper research on the health impacts of uranium mining. The USEPA 5 year uranium cleanup plan is considered the beginning of the long process solution.
    In the Sri Lankan tsunami disaster article, we learn that many civilians lost their homes and jobs and were left internally displaced. The government moved those who resided on the coast out elsewhere to leave the beach in the investors’ hands. Foreign aid was given to Sri Lanka and many NGO’s and aid agencies provided the basic needs for these displaced civilians such as food, water, and medications. But the majority of the aid money was used for reconstruction of the country and not specifically for the lives and homes destroyed by the tsunami. These tsunami victims were located in the buffer zone and were distanced from their prior home and jobs, which many of which were within the fishing industry near the water. They could not return to do their jobs, which left them worse off and more impoverished.
    Aforementioned, governments can be corrupt and have been seen to act for themselves for financial gains. The citizens are struggling and they are not the government’s first priority unlike financial benefits. In both of these articles, the governments showed irresponsibility, carelessness and greediness, leaving their own citizens to pay for their faulty actions. Capitalism is what is driving these governments to commit these careless crimes. There is no priority over the citizens’ interests and those entities giving aid money should be aware of this. Aid money should be used for the direct cause of providing support and assistance to those in need and governments receiving or giving aid should not have any financial/beneficial/capitalist motive. Unfortunately, we do live in a capitalist society with very sneaky government and people so sometimes this is inevitable.

    1. Hi Leticia,

      Your thoughts on the disaster capitalism complex concept to these two articles were very well explained. I like your connection with Marxist theories, reminding me of deeper reasons for the government’s motivation. It is unfortunate that governments act in this manner rather than help their people in times of disaster. I completely agree with your analysis on the government’s behavior. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Hi Leticia,

      I think you did a great job with your post. I agree with you that after the tsunami, millions of people lost their home, however the government gave a very little aid to them. Instead they focused more on making the country glamorous and tourist friendly.

    3. Your analysis on the greed of the governments is very well done. It seems as though the governments are willing to do anything to improve their economic standing. It is interesting to note that in both cases, the citizens that suffer are either poorer or non-priority groups. The fishing community and the Navajo community both suffer in this case because of their little to no economic impact.

    4. I agree with you that capitalism is what is driving governments to commit these activities. Aid money should definitely be used for providing support and assistance to those who are affected but with capitalism this is very hard to happen.

    5. Hi Leticia, your last comment about the government is very relatable. With capitalism being such an important part of our society and how corporations are more powerful that the government it has become hard to actually do something about this. It is a sad truth that instead of helping those that need the help, the government instead wants to benefit those that are already rich.

    6. I completely agree when governments get involved, less attention to detail is offered. However, if we miss one tax payment they are right at our door. In the Navajo situation, it’s sad to see so much fallout from radiation can impact such a big population yet we never hear about it nor any clean up was offered! Although the Sri Lankans got international assistance, it doesn’t save the indigenous population from the government and business exploitation. Nice write up!

  4. The post-tsunami relief and construction in Sri Lanka and the uranium mining in Navajo country both have environmental impacts that have damaged a native community, while other communities are either benefiting or unharmed from the problem respectively. Furthermore, both the Sri Lankan and United States government seems to be apathetic towards the grievances of the effected community. The tsunami hit the Sri Lankan fishing community hard, destroying 2.5 million people’s homes and taking the lives of 250,000 people, 80 percent of which were small-boat fishing people. While the global relief effort raised more money for Sri Lanka than any other time in previous history, the fishing community was not rebuilt. Instead, the Sri Lankan government used the funds to support the creation of luxury hotels to increase revenue within the tourism sector of the economy. The local fishers in Sri Lanka lost their way of life after the tsunami due to the actions of the Sri Lankan government’s decision to allocate the aid towards hotels. In the Navajo community, cancer rates skyrocketed after it was discovered that the materials used to create homes originally was waste from the nuclear weapons programs and was still radioactive. While this seems like a dire issue, there is a lack of interest within the federal government to solve the issue because of small population density of the Navajo and the great potential costs to clean the land effectively. Eventually, efforts were made by the United States government to clean some of the abandoned mines, however only 1 percent of the mines were scheduled to be cleaned.
    Both the Sri Lankan and United States government should have reacted differently to solve their respective issues. While there had already been plans to remove the fishing community from the beaches, abusing the tsunami disaster left too many people without a job to support their families. Clearly, the appropriate action would have been to rebuild the fishing community instead of pandering to the needs of the hotel industry and tourism economy. The industry should not have lobbied the government to use the donations to build the new hotels instead of aiding the devastated community. While this plan does go against their potential business interests, the practice is highly unethical. To solve the crisis in Navajo, the government simply needs to fund more into cleaning the radioactive mines to both protect the Navajo community and environment. This could potentially create temporary jobs that could influence the economy in a positive way. For the business aspect, other nuclear energy corporations need to see the potential dangers of their waste materials and dispose of them properly.

    1. Hi Matt,

      I enjoy reading you post, which is very clear and descriptive. To solve the crisis in Navajo although I agree with your point that the government simply needs to fund more into cleaning the radioactive mines, which could potentially create temporary jobs influencing the economy in a positive way, it is still not an ultimate method from the long-term perspective. The government should treat an emergency seriously instead of an opportunity for making profits.

    2. Hey Matt,
      I’m glad that you focused on the massive amount of relief aid raised and the Sri Lankan government’s misuse of those funds. I think that this is one of the biggest challenges in international aid is ensuring that the money raised is going to actually help the people affected, not to government projects or the overhead of NGOs. Really clear summary and analysis.

    3. I really enjoyed reading your post. It was very clear and explained the problems at hand very well. I like how you thought a lot about your solutions such as the government needing to fund the uranium clean up, which is also an advantage because this could create more jobs and influence the economy positively. I also agree that corporations need to be well aware and act on the potential risks their actions may have on the surrounding communities.

    4. A large part of the blame is on the companies so they should be a big part of the solution. I wonder if you could get businesses to clean up after themselves without the government making them. It would help create jobs though, and perhaps those jobs could go to local people who need the money.

    5. Hello Matt,

      Don’t you think that the Indian Health Services should be looking to protect their own instead of just washing their hands of involvement? You refer to the government needing funding, but I think the IHS could help raise some funds. Also it’s interesting that you say clean up could create new jobs. It makes me think of the video on the Navajo that we watched in class.

    6. Hey Matt,

      Corporations today need to focus on more than just making money because they play large role in their ability to act and make a difference. A lot of companies today are active in corporate social responsibility which is slowly becoming a standard. hopefully this trend will urge companies to look beyond the business of things and be social aware to assist the communities they do business in.

    7. Hi Matt,
      Your analysis on the role of government and industry is really interesting. I completely agree that the governments in each case could have handled things better. The industry, on the other hand, did what any profit-seeking industry would do no matter how unethical it is. I believe it is ultimately the government’s responsibility to ensure that affected communities are re-established.

  5. The uranium mining in Navajo country, the post-tsunami “relief” and the reconstruction in Sri Lanka all give a good example of how the government failed to protect their citizen as well as make changes in their country. When natural disaster such as Tsunami occurred, thousands and thousands of people were dead and millions were left without homes. Kleins chapter summarizes the Sri Lankan government had planned their reconstruction before tsunami occurred, but the project had to be halt due to massive protest. But as soon as there was a natural disaster “Tsunami” the reconstruction project started to take place, only this time there was no public protest. Hotels, houses, and business were built near the beachfront. All the government wanted to do was make profit. As for the uranium mining in Navajo country, companies during world war II were in the country dealing with the uranium, however as soon as the war ended, these companies left Navajo living the country in a worse position from before. The companies left without cleaning up or sorting out the mess. The role of the government and the industry for both of these contexts should be how to assist and take care of their country and its people. It should not be building luxurious homes and hotels so they can make profits out of everything. It is very easy to realize that governments in Sri Lanka (Tsunami disaster) as well in Navajo (Uranium mining) were very irresponsible. The governments are always trying to make profits, however I do not think they have any rights to do so. These people are elected to represent the government so they are able to give back to the public, however as we saw in these cases, they were more than happy to leave a place in ruins once the place is no longer profitable. I believe when governments are not acting fast to solve these kinds of issue, the situation worsens, and ultimately it is the citizen who has to suffer. Most governments are like this in the world (only look for profits), however I think all of us need to work together so they do not take any advantages of the citizens of the particular country.

    1. I really like the way how you summarized and composed your argument and back it up with a lot of evidence and also gave the reader some background information as well.

    2. When there is foreign aid coming from other countries, it generally mostly goes to the government because they want to make themselves profit out of it. I agree with you that we as aid sender as a country should work towards this so that they don’t take any advantages out of it.

    3. Hi Alisha,
      I like that you point out the accountability of governments. It’s such a fundamental characteristic of a democratic government to keep the interests of its citizen a priority but this is not being realized as more and more incidents and disasters somehow pan out in favor of the corporations instead.

  6. The uranium mining in Navajo country and the post-tsunami “relief” and reconstruction in Sri Lanka brings up the issue of how negligent the government is and looks after themselves, and not the people who are living in the land and being affected by their decisions. Klein explains in “The Shock Doctrine” how the government had already planned how to get rid of the native people who lived on the beaches and made a living fishing there. The people on the beach and the hotels never had a issue but tensions arose when the hotels complained that the fish created a “smell pollution” and was deterring tourists. However, after the tsunami hit in 2004 and killed thousands and displaced millions of people from their homes it created the perfect opportunity for the government. Before, villagers were aware of what was going on and protested which created a set back for the government. But since the community was broken and millions were trying to figure out how to survive the government made changes right away and told the villagers they would be unable to live on the beach. The international aid that poured in went into the rebuilding of resorts and hotels in Sri Lanka and other parts such as Thailand who was also devastated by the tsunami. The new “buffer zone” was imposed along the entire east coast, but hotels that were catered to rich foreigners were not. The government used the excuse of creating the buffer zones for safety measures, but it was not being applied to the tourism industry. In this context, the role of the government should have been to protect the natives and those who were displaced and left homeless. Obviously the money wasn’t going to the right places, and instead aiding the rich. Just like John Varley’s example of the elevator, “on the first trip it picks up one group of passengers and takes them to the top, where they create wealth that allows the elevator to go back down and pick more people up. The people waiting at the bottom have to know that the elevator will be back for them too-eventually” (Klein, 398). The tourism industry shouldn’t be so money hungry, obviously they are taking away land, jobs, and everything from the natives to cater to the foreigners.
    As in the case of the Navajos, the government did nothing to help when there was a problem with the rise of health problems and cancer in the mining areas where uranium was left and not removed from the land. Water was contaminated and the risk of developing breast cancer increased dramatically. People were dying from cancer at a young age, and the reason why was because people were being exposed to radiation without being informed. The U.S. government failed to aid the natives or rebuild their homes after finding out that the house floors of people homes were mixed with uranium. Although the EPA went to help the natives nothing could be done because the government wasn’t funding to help replace the homes. People were left to consume and inhabit the areas where uranium was still active, and the government didn’t look after the best interests of the people living there. They looked after the corporation’s best interests and as explained in Bitsol’s article in Navajo Times, they are still trying to address this issue. The government is making all the calls and the community’s voices are not being heard. If the industry was not doing anything to help, in this case similar to the Sri Lankan case the government should have stepped in and listened to the voices of the people and not corporations.

    1. Sharon, I like your discussion of government negligence, particularly concerning the failure to listen to the voice of the people. There is definitely a clear divide between what the government does and what the people actually need. Your inclusion of the elevator metaphor also highlights this idea of prioritizing certain populations over others.

    2. I liked your post and you refreshed my memory about the crazy “elevator” comment. Some kind of ‘trickle down’ economics, huh- taking the only thing left from people who were just struck by a natural disaster, then swooping in to take over the only bare land they have left to stand on where their homes used to be. . . I think the really bothersome part is that the author mentioned that the fishermen had initially been willing to share their space with the hotels, even though the fisher people had been there first, just as generations had before them. How appalling it is that it wasn’t enough for the tourist industry to share it – literally a case of giving someone an inch and them taking a mile.

  7. When it comes to government negligence of its people in resolving disasters and protecting the interests and health it is a very slow and biased process with little outcome. In the Navajo case where private corporations mined for uranium with very little regard to the inhabitants of the land or the environment. The reckless endangerment of Native Americans by the federal government left many exposed to a lethal element. The uranium was used in the race for building up arms during the cold war. The government was so caught up in the international relations that they forgot to secure the safety of the people. They left the Navajos poorly informed of the risk they were placed in and did very little to remedy the situation. The people were left to face severe health problems and fatalities in some cases due to the exposure of radiation from the mines that were secured. The mines would have taken millions of dollars to decontaminate and isolate which the companies didn’t feel necessary to do. Another potential factor was that the Navajos are a small population and the idea might have been why worry about such a small minority. In the Sir Lanka tsunami case, the natural disaster killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions displaced along the coast. Homes and necessary infrastructure was destroyed and the people were left in the area without adequate assistance from the government. The international relief funds that were donated went straight to the government; the money was used to rebuild the country and not focused on the area heavily hit. The money was funneled into developing the tourist industry in an attempt to stay afloat. Even though NGO’s provided as much support as they could to help the people receive the basic needs, the people were left with very little to work with to rebuild their lives. They were left in an area where they could find jobs or permanently begin establishing themselves. In both cases we recognize governments lack of ability to comprehend the full scope of a situation to prioritize focus where it’s needed most. The decisions made were purely capitalistic and meant to benefit the government and corporations. The cleaning and decontamination of the mines would have cost the corporation millions of dollars and managed to avoid it for a long time. In Sir Lanka relief funds and donations were used to increase the tourism industry and benefit the many hotels and resorts that popped up after the disaster. In both cases the priority and focus of the governments should haven to those directly affected first, once that was resolved other interest could than be attended to.

    1. I think you made a great point and glad that you included the background of how the corporations got started on mining uranium in the first place. Corporations didn’t care about the inhabitants there and knew they could get away without cleaning up the mess. They could’ve saved the natives lives who were living there and later suffered from cancer, but because like you said were such a small minority – they didn’t feel the need to do anything. Like you said, the government should’ve attended to those directly first and tend to other matters.

    2. Good response. I was interested in the part where you mentioned that: “In both cases we recognize governments lack of ability to comprehend the full scope of a situation to prioritize focus where it’s needed most.” I do agree that they probably did initially lack comprehension of the full scope, but also – they allowed themselves to be swayed and to listen to the wrong people -for the corporate interests to have unfolded their plans so quickly after the typhoon, I agree with the author that the plans were always there. It’s hard to say whether the government was on board the whole time, or if they allowed themselves to succumb to the likely barrage they encountered by the opportunistic tourism capitalists who likely used the chance to pounce and try to sway them to their ideas.

  8. The convergence of interests of governments and industry, at the expense of impoverished persons, is really disturbing in these articles. In the articles regarding cleanup from Uranium mining on Navajo lands – I really found the foot-dragging actions of the US EPA regarding cleanup of the site to be frustrating, especially since it’s an agency that came to be solely for the purpose of cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and to protect the environment and people’s health from industrial wastes. There is a federal fund, known as the Superfund, that was established to fund long-term cleanup of hazardous waste sites. The Navajo site absolutely qualifies as a superfund cleanup site, and usually there is quick response to take care of such cleanups swiftly and completely. In my opinion, (I have worked in the hazardous waste cleanup field for the last 9 years – it was my background before going back to school to change my career path), I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the EPA seems to operate not just with the welfare of the environment in mind, but they also seem to cave to outside pressures and interests easily. I have seen necessary and extremely important projects (such as this) get neglected or abandoned, and projects that are questionable as to whether they have any real benefits are undertaken – often when there is something at stake that the EPA may want or may benefit from (the introduction of new jobs or funding for them, for example.) And certainly, I believe that the EPA has also fallen into the trap of catering to protecting the white bodies and their environment, whereas the native bodies and their land have seemingly fallen lower on their list of whom the government feels they are obliged to (and incentivized to) protect. The story also exposes the historical issues that have a neocolonial tinge – with the government exploiting the native’s lands to extract resources underneath – and any wealth created back then from the mines was certainly not seen by any Navajo people – and they took the brunt of the suffering and disease created from the mines while the government and industry benefited.
    The Shock Doctrine article about Sri Lanka, and other places like the Maldives and Thailand being exploited post-tsunami for the proliferation of expensive resorts that were able to use the tsunami, and the aid money that came out of it, to take over the beaches where locals lived and worked was really disheartening. I remember the huge amount of response the tsunami created, and how it seemed to bring together people of all types so that they could figure out some way to help. It is sickening that the government of Sri Lanka, and everyone in the tourist industry who stood to benefit, used the opportunity immediately following the disaster to finally permanently evict the natives and their fish from the beaches just like they always wanted to. I am especially disappointed that USAID is so interconnected in this – in the neoliberal economic policies – than I thought they were. It is really pathetic that we paraded around the stories of the natives and the fishermen who lost their homes, loved ones, and livelihoods, and all the aid donated as a response to their suffering only worked to line the pockets of the already better-off, the wealthy, white-dominated tourism industries. The “plutonomy set” as a market set of people was something I hadn’t heard of before this – or at least hadn’t really considered. How sad that a disaster that tore apart the poorest of the poor only helped the richest of the rich. The role of NGOs and the Sri Lankan government was supposed to be to support the people, to really come to their aid – rebuilding their homes and lives and boats, perhaps even slightly better than they were before. Anyone who banded together to try to send whatever financial or physical support they could certainly didn’t do so to aid the high-end hotels at the expense of the natives – they completely violated any form of sovereignty that the natives should have had. Anyway, I think it is so sad that with all the political will and financial aid was there to really actually help the poor, it seems like it was squandered on the rich . . . and it’s really terrible that it all was used inappropriately to further the expansionist ideas of the high end tourism industry, and to further neoliberal ideals. It is another example of how Chicago School economics have so drastically failed to produce the economic prosperity for all across the board – as it so widely promises. Instead it creates only wider gaps between the rich and the poor, and often leads to broad opportunities to exploit the poorer and native populations, in some way, for corporate gain, while governments turn their head.

    1. Anita, I really enjoyed reading your post; it was interesting to hear your perspective, given your experience in this field. I agree that it’s just depressing to read about these stories of the rich capitalizing on the poor, exploiting their vulnerabilities. Your statement, the “EPA has also fallen into the trap of catering to protecting the white bodies and their environment, whereas the native bodies and their land have seemingly fallen lower on their list of whom the government feels they are obliged to (and incentivized to) protect” particularly struck me. It is unfortunate because most times, indigenous populations value the environment much more than “white bodies” – they have historically lived off the land and deem it vital to their existence.

    2. I enjoyed reading your post and it caught my attention reading your perspective since you had experience in the cleanup of the removal of hazardous waste. I think it’s sad that the government is using the aid that was sent for the locals to rebuild their homes and boats to provide aid for the resorts and hotels. Like how the author explained, the woman who was homeless said “if you would like to help, put it in my hand”. The aid didn’t directly go into the hands of the natives, but to the corporations that were charging $500/night at their luxurious resorts.

    3. You have an interesting perspective on the Navajo radiation issue. The Superfund is clearly not being used to help the Navajo despite their obvious qualification for it. This type of corruption is literally degrading the way of life of the people that the EPA was created to protect. It is amazing that this issue did not get national attention. While people suffer from nuclear radiation caused by the remains of nuclear testing sites, the government does nothing to protect the people in harms way.

    4. Anita, I enjoyed reading your post. It is always more interesting to hear it from someone who had some sort of actual involvement in the issue. It is disappointing to see an organization start out with a goal in hand and then become the opposite of what they say they are supposed to stand for.

  9. On December 26, 2004, tsunami swept through Sri Lanka killing 250,000 people and leaving 2.5 million people without a home. This was a tragic event for the people of Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the government saw it as an opportunity to reconstruct the area with new hotels for tourism. Before the tsunami, Arugam Bay was home for many local citizens but as the area got popular and crowded with tourists, there was a conflict between the locals and hotel owners regarding the beach area. However, the tsunami solved the problem by clearing the beach area and making it a blank sheet. After the tsunami, the government made it illegal to build houses on beaches along the entire east coast and the locals had to be displaced into temporary camps. On the contrary, the government allowed and encouraged tourist industries to build new hotels near the beach. Moreover, the leaked document called for the development of Arugam Bay which transformed the area into a profitable tourist attraction. Thus, the author points out that the reconstruction would be “victimizing the victims, exploiting the exploited.”

    During the Cold War, mines were built in Navajo reservation to extract uranium for the Manhattan Project. However, after the war, the mines closed down and the companies left the mines with radioactive wastes, tunnels, and pits. As a result, the local people suffered from high radioactive dust and developed cancer which doubled the cancer death rate on the reservation. Moreover, the air, water, and soil were highly contaminated with radiation. Nevertheless, the government didn’t make much effort to solve problems in Navajo reservation and simply walked away. By the time U.S. government tried to deal with the problems, it was “too little” and “too late.”

    These two cases are similar in that both shows lack of governments’ role in protecting the interest of the local people. In both cases, the governments were capable of protecting and aiding the people. The U.S. government could have required the mine companies in Navajo reservation to clean up the mines before they left and made regulations to protect the environment and the health of the local people. Similarly, the government of Sri Lanka could have helped the local people to rebuild their houses after the tsunami to recover from their losses. Instead, both governments sought to minimize costs and make most profits out of it by not charging the mine companies for their wastes and allowing tourist industries to expand through new construction of hotels. Therefore, it is ironic that government who should serve the interest and well-being of their citizens serves the interests of industries who bring profits for the government.

    I think both governments and industries should have taken the interest of the local people into their considerations. For the case in Navajo reservation, the U.S. government should have required the mine companies to clean up the wastes they have produced while the mine companies should have acted ethically and made sure that they did not cause any environmental and health hazards to the local people. Moreover, government of Sri Lanka should have worked with the hotel owners to build traditional houses along the beach that could become the homes of the local people and do not block the views of the tourists. If they had played their role, protecting the interests of the people, following ethical standards, and giving back portion of their profit to the society, all could have been happy.

    1. Hi Julia,

      I think you did very good job with the post. I agree with you that I think the government of Sri Lanka should have worked lot harder to build the damaged house of the citizens, and protect them rather than looking only after their personal gain. Like I said you did a very good job working with describing the message.

    2. The government definitely need to play roles that benefit the people. I wonder if setting strict guidelines to things like the mining would help, or if the government would also have to threaten heavy fines to companies. All they seem to care about is profit so maybe the best way to get to them is to threaten their profits.

  10. Though on the surface, the issues raised by the uranium mining in Navajo country, and the disaster relief in Sri Lanka seem to not have much in common, underneath, we can see how they both show examples o f governments and private industries ignoring the plights and hardships of the poor, as they do not have enough political or economic clout to entice governments to aid them in their hardships. In the cases of both the Navajo and the Sri Lankan tsunami refugees, their home governments basically ignored their problems, seeing the solving of these problems as not being beneficial to the governments themselves. In the case of the Navajo, though the US and private companies had caused this massive increase in cancer rates because of their uranium mining and subsequent refusals to clean up the waste and abandoned mines, they simply told the Navajo that they did not have enough money to aid in cleaning up these abandoned mines, or moving people who lived in irradiated homes to new, non-radioactive homes. In contrast though, the US government did find the money to aid in clean up in a similar case in Colorado, but only because their congressman lobbied extensively for it, and was on several important committees in Congress. In the case of the Navajo, they had no such lobbying powers or importance, and thus the US government and the private industries did not view it as important to find the money necessary to aid in the cleanup of Navajo country. Likewise, in Sri Lanka following the tsunami, the government prioritized the massive hotels and resorts that took over the lands previously inhabited by Sri Lankan fishermen, giving aid and subsidies to these Western conglomerates to build more and larger hotels and resorts, while barely spending any of the aid money on the actual tsunami refugees. This same incident occurred in the other countries impacted by the tsunami, with the national governments funneling the majority of the aid money to hotels and resorts to build more, while ignoring the plights and problems of the people actually affected by the tsunami.
    Instead, in both of these situations, governments and private industries should be aiding the people actually affected by these problems and disasters, whether or not it makes “economic” sense. In the case of the Navajo, the US government and private industries directly caused these increased cancer rates, and thus should be taken to task over fixing it. They should admit their faults, and aid in both the cleanup of the radioactive areas and the disposal of the abandoned mines, along with providing new homes to those people living in radioactive ones, while teaching them about the dangers of radiation. Likewise, in Sri Lanka and other countries affected by the tsunami, the governments should instead focus on helping the refugees, and funnel almost all of the money to them, as they are the ones it was raised for. Instead of using it as an excuse to line their own pockets, they should look to help their own citizens and brothers, as they are the ones that actually matter after a disaster, not how you are going to increase your governments revenues.

    1. I found it interesting that you did not differentiate greatly between the role of the government and the role of business in your last paragraph. As things stand you seem to place both business and governments within the realm of financial considerations and profit motive as primary drivers. I think that it is sad that we view government this way as government should not be a profit seeking enterprise, especially in a democracy.

    2. Hello Michael,

      Do you think that either government will admit their faults? I’m just curious. I feel like that admission of guilt would cause way more problems. I like your use of words, “excuse to line their own pockets”. That’s very sad to see.

    3. Hi Michael,
      I strongly agree that the money that was raised for the tsunami victims should have been used to exclusively help them and their cause. It is shocking to imagine that relief funds would be allocated towards building up tourist attractions, while the countries own people are put into shanty towns. The poor treatment of people and failure of government justice can’t be more obvious then in both of these cases.

  11. After reading all three articles, numerous issues can be found relating the people suffering from the environmental hazards. In the article by Judy Pasternak, “A Peril that Dwelt Among the Navajo,” the Navajo reservation has been built of uranium deposits, and the people living on the reservation is completely oblivious to the uranium that is deposited under the floorboards of their homes. Due to this, many of the people on the Navajo reservation had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and though victims of such disease, none of them had a habit of smoking, which causes lung cancer. Although the US government is aware of such deposits in the Navajo reservation, they have failed to take an action for the people to evacuate their homes and remove the uranium deposits from their homes. Their reason of overlooking such a serious issue was that it would cost them millions of dollars, and did not attend to and protect the people in Navajo, as most of them are dying of cancer. Similarly, the issue is the same in the chapter 19 of The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. Once the tsunami hit Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka, many people who survived and lived off their living by catching and selling fishes were told to clear the beach because the government wanted it to be a tourist sight for the foreigners. Also, the restaurants on the Arugam Bay supported the idea that all the people living on the beach and selling fish for livelihood should be terminated from the area. Once the tsunami had hit the Arugam Bay, the government forced people like Roger and his family out of the beach so they (government) can reconstruct. Roger says, “a plan to drive the fishing people from the beach.” He calls it a massive plan to clear off the beach so the government is able to reconstruct and keep the beach free of people living on it and from selling fishes.
    I, in both cases, I find it extremely devastating that how can the government not think or care for its people. What is the role of a government if they are not going to support its people and protect them in drastic times as these? If the government is given aid from another country, they should implement that money for the security of the people rather than thinking ways of reconstructing or evicting people from their only livelihood. In case of the Navajo, I find it appalling that the government does not care enough to take fast action for removing the uranium deposit. Even in Sri Lanka, all the government cares about is how to make this beach a tourist attraction for the foreigners. I think it is ridiculous and inhumane.

    1. Yes, it is ridiculous and inhumane but it is the reality. Governments often favor profits over their citizens’ well-being and as a result, when disaster like tsunami happens, government acts quickly to meet the demands of the industries but acts slowly to meet the needs of the people. This pattern prevails in our society and I think it is important for us to be awake.

    2. It is disheartening to see that one of the influential factors in the government not evacuating people from Navajo was because it cost too much money. Environmental racism is so prevalent yet not discussed in conversations in today’s society at all.

  12. This first reading, The Shock Doctrine, brought many of the environmental, economic, and social issues that modern day Sri Lanka is going through. This shocking tsunami turned into be a tragic loss of life and finally the loss of homes and land for many native workers. This article focuses mainly on the fisher families of Sri Lanka and how they were effected throughout the tsunami and its consequences. Right after the tsunami there was a great loss to families who made their full living in fishing and residing on the coast. Once the coastline was completely destroyed by the tidal waves, government used this chance to make strict laws preventing the families from living on the beaches; but this same rule did not apply to businesses such as resort repair and expansion. The Sri Lankan government was showed as the development of new and improved resorts and hotels as a boost in economy and used the natural disaster as an excuse to finally remove traditional fishing villages that obstructed the Western-style resort atmosphere. With these lavish, new and improved resorts sprouting up, a new source of water and electricity was very much needed, therefore the World Bank agreed with a new shock therapy program. The terms of this shock therapy included taking over all beaches – throwing out any potential of fishing family return, dominating oceans by “industrial trawlers”, and driving up prices for services.
    The second article, a peril that stayed amongst the Navajos, focused on the Navajo lifestyle among radioactive waste. This waste came from large, World War II mining companies excavating uranium deposits in the rich land in order to develop bombs throughout the Cold War. The one thing that left behind was one thousand mines with scattered piles of waste. As Navajo residence spread all over this land, cancer rates doubled. Lastly, the tribe was able to gain a Superfund program that would help repair damaged lands. However, mines were cleaned only half-way as there was not enough agreement between the tribe and government of how thorough the clean should be. This cleanup did not include rubble or windswept ore that leaked into fresh, drinking sources. Other cities that were affected by the same problem were able to champion cleanup funds from their Representatives in the government. The Navajos did not have this same luxury. However, the article, 5-year uranium cleanup only the beginning, gives a current summary of the governmental efforts that Navajos have been seeking to clean up the environment. When EPA representative announced that the cleanup process included screenings, demolition, and the excavation of many locations inside the Navajo territory. Many governmental agencies have now been brought on board to produce their own screening efforts. Some concerned citizens say this is still not enough, and that over 500 mines are going untreated and disposal of waste is still onsite.
    The role of government for both of these of the contexts will be in the case of tsunami in Sri Lanka the action was taken to benefit the interest of the most profitable sector of the economy. In case of Navajo country, the role of government was ignore by the issue where people would less heard and chose to take swift action where the issue might draw the most attention.

    1. I like how you bring in the example of the Colorado town that was able to use its US representative, who was also on an important environmental committee, to get US aid in cleaning up its own uranium mining problem. I wonder if the fact that the Navajo are technically their own country is a big excuse used by the US in not aiding so greatly in the cleanup, since in their minds, its not technically on US soil.

  13. Based on past readings that we went over, there is a joint or connection we clearly see in regards with some issues of uranium mining in Navajo country and the post tsunami “relief” as well as the reconstruction in Sri Lanka. Let us start by going back to Klein’s idea of the Shock Doctrine. I feel like this would be the best example to represent the Sri Lanka issue which we see as a post disaster. Sri Lanka was a nation that involved civil warfare, which pretty much left the region destroyed .As you can imagine, Sri Lanka was no tourist spot. However, just when things could not get any worse for Sri Lanka, one big tsunami took place leaving Sri Lanka in an even worse state than it already was. This natural disaster was the key and the start of governments getting involved with the situation with intentions to change policies and make a profit and just take over for their benefit. The Sri Lankan government took advantage of the natural disaster as they wanted to convert it to a tourist attraction from a fishing village. The US government came to Sri Lanka’s aid by contributing millions of dollars. Unfortunately, after this natural disaster and the focus on aiding the population and inhabitants of the village, (who by the way had nowhere to go, and were not allow to build new homes in the same area) the focus shifted to building big time resorts and tourist destinations. This plan of course captured the attention of international investors and on top of that the building of these resorts in which the donations from the US was being spent on gives way to the US government to carry out some of their policies regarding the resorts and tourists spots that were being built. Seems like they have to have a say in it since the money that was given to make this possible came from them. We can see a sense of neocolonialism in this part and the whole morality of this Sri Lanka issue is a good example of the Shock Doctrine. Just like the Sri Lanka issue we can also see the government not caring enough in the Navajo country about the people and taking advantage of the land which is very rich in uranium deposits. And just like the governments involved in the reconstruction of Sri Lanka, privatizing what was once the home of a population, the US government privatized digging mines as the uranium was important to them for making weapons. When they were done with it, they did not care at all about the hundreds of people dying from radiation these people were exposed to relating to cancer causes. The government finally made an effort to do away with the mess after a long time though and this really shows how much they cared.

    1. Hi Karrie,

      I enjoyed reading your post. I really liked how you connected these articles to topics that we previously discussed in class. It made me think about these articles in a different way than I had previously. I definitely agree with you about the connection between neocolonialism and Sri Lanka’s reconstruction. The US industry is essentially pushing its way into Sri Lanka by exploiting the locals and government that were in dire need to foreign aid. Overall, your post was interesting to read and made connections to previous topics that we discussed in class that fit perfectly with these articles.

      1. I like how you have structure your argument. Your argument was interesting and I like how you connected your argument with the Navajo, Sri Lanka and you also connect it with neocolonialism and it also match with our class lecture. I cannot even imagine how it feels to be in that situation.

      2. Hi Karrie:

        Great post! I like your arguments that you connected these issues and what we discussed in lecture regarding Navajo and tsunami. I agree with you that the government transfer the aid to Sir Lanka to rebuilt resorts for tourists which is worst than I imagine because people are indeed needs aids , shelters, other commodities since they left with nothing after tsunami.

  14. The tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004. It killed thousands of people and destroyed millions of houses. The most damage was to fishing families (80 percent). After the tsunami, Sri Lanka received great amount of financial aim from other countries to rebuild the houses and recover the damages caused by tsunami. However, instead of spending this fund on health and housing for the people, the government of Sri Lanka with the assistance of businesses, used this money to improve the country’s tourism industry. As the result of this change, the fishing community lost their jobs and income, so became enable to support their families. The most upsetting point is the fact that this change was planned even before the tsunami. The government of Sri Lanka and businesses were just waiting for an excuses to apply their reconstruction plans and they were given this opportunity when the tsunami happened. It is a surprise that the government of Sri Lanka scarified its people in order to improve its economy. Similarly, in Navajo the health and environmental impacts of mining uranium were ignored by the government and companies. The government of Navajo was aware of the fact that materials used in houses were mixed with the nuclear wastes and the positive relationship between radioactive and cancer rate, but yet denied to take effective actions to clean up the area due to the cost for cleaning. To solve the health and environmental issue in Navajo, the United States Environmental Protection Agency got involved. However, their five year plan failed to be successful as no more than 1 percent of the area had been cleaned up in the last year of the five-year plan. The government of both Sri Lanka and Navajo manifested unbelievably irresponsible behavior toward their people. While the main responsibility of governments is to protect their people, these two countries decided to focus more on their economy rather than their people well-being. On the other hand, even though it is not nice to make a profit with the cost of others, there is less blame on businesses in this case. This is because the nature of business is to make profit and not to protect people. The government of Sri Lanka should had not spent the international donations on its tourism industry instead of helping its people. The government of Navajo also should take the health and environmental impacts of uranium more seriously and develop strategies to clean up the area more quickly and more efficiently.

    1. Hi Fardad,

      I really enjoyed reading your post. You summarized these articles very well and brought it the main points so that the reader was able to see the connection between them. I was especially interested on what you thought the roles of the industry should be. I definitely agree with you that the role of protecting the citizen falls ultimately on the government as the main point of industry is to gain profit. Unfortunately, many of these industry companies are linked to powerful globalized countries, looking to exploit the exploited. Overall, your post was very interesting and informative. It made me view the Sri Lanka article with a different perspective.

      1. Hey Fardad,

        You did a great job connecting the main ideas in the articles back to effect of globalization. It was interesting to read your thoughts on what you think should be the role of government and industries. Although this sounds naive in the current context of neoliberalism, I also think the role of government is to represent its citizens and their rights rather than trying to do businesses with industries for the sake of making more profit. Thanks for sharing your insight on the similarities you found between the Navajo case and Sri Lankan story.

  15. Whether it was the issue of uranium mining in Navajo country (United States) or post-tsunami relief and reconstruction in Colombo (Sri Lanka), both examples highlighted government and corporate irresponsibility – namely, greed and manipulation. Despite exhibiting a clear need for assistance, the Navajo and Sri Lankan people were exploited and unattended to, purposefully ignored in order to serve a more privileged population for the sake of reaping more economic benefits.
    In the case of Sri Lanka, there was a huge divide between the local community’s concerns and government’s actions. After experiencing a horrific tsunami in 2004 which killed over 35,000 Sri Lankans, there was a substantial international relief effort. A portion of this money was used to establish temporary camps for those displaced from their homes (small-boat fishermen consisted of 80% of the deceased population); food rations and relief allowances were distributed, but soon these camps became disease and filth-ridden, and patrolled by heavily armed soldiers. Yet, perhaps most infuriating was when it was discovered that $80 million of this aid money was used for the “Arugam Bay Resource Development Plan.” International bodies (USAID, the World Bank, and Asian Development Bank) were consulted to establish this blueprint whose end goal was to transform the former fishing community into a high-end “boutique tourism destination.” The government used this disaster to enforce a buffer zone and establish “new rules” which outlawed fishermen to live on the beach as they had traditionally done. Yet, there was a lot of hypocrisy, given the tourism industry – consisting of luxurious hotels and resorts – were located right on the beach, in the supposed “buffer zone.” Furthermore, this development plan was in the works for several years before the disaster. As one of the interviewed fishermen, Roger, expressed, the “mass eviction plan long predated the giant wave,” and was being harnessed to push through a deeply unpopular agenda by the people (but most certainly popular within the business and political world). This sentiment can be summarized in a comment that Guatemala’s foreign minister made in 1999: “Destruction carves with it an opportunity for foreign investment.” It was said that the tsunami was an answer to prayer by businessmen and politicians alike. All in all, this development plan was a deliberate destruction of Sri Lankan culture and way of life; it was essentially a theft of land – all conducted by the government, with the support of international bodies. This conflict ultimately stems from the perception that these fishermen are uncivilized and not as successful or valuable as a luxury hotel (which charges $500 a night).
    The concept of indigenous populations being exploited for the benefit of “others” (who are deemed more “civilized” and viewed as more successful) is highly relevant in the United States. As highlighted in various articles, the Navajo nation suffered immensely – in every aspect of life – as a result of the U.S. government’s nuclear buildup. Originating in the Cold War, the U.S. government had a large demand for uranium, which led to over 3.9 million tons of uranium ore being chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains of tribal homelands across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. This also led to the construction of thousands of mines and processing mills, which were simply abandoned after the Cold War diminished. While the establishment of these mines are exploitive in themselves, most irresponsible is the lack of proper clean-up. Companies simply left behind radioactive waste piles, with little federal inspection to inform the Navajo people of the dangers of certain areas or materials. Thus, the Navajo went from a nearly cancer-free society to one that was plagued with all sorts of cancer; generational health problems that led to other socioeconomic problems continue to persist. Despite a 5 year plan that the US EPA finally passed in the 21st century, one Navajo man notes that there are “still 520 abandoned uranium mines…they [the government] only cleaned up 1%.” It was also expressed that only government-to-government consultation was being conducted; the community’s voice was ignored. I find this highly problematic and symptomatic of most injustices: the input of those most directly affected by an issue are rarely taken into consideration.
    Both examples, again, highlight the failure on behalf of the government to ensure the people’s needs are met. It is one thing to believe in “small government” and advocating against any kind of welfare policies. However, both the Sri Lankan and Navajo cases highlight that the suffering derived from a systematic injustice: something that both respective populations had no control over and did not wish to happen. Thus, I believe a government must uphold integrity and ensure equal treatment of everyone, not prioritizing the needs of certain populations over others (i.e. Navajo were largely ignored for decades, yet when a nearby non-indigenous community complained to the government about contaminated water, federal action and response was swift). Additionally, industries – whether tourism-based or mining-based – must be held accountable for their actions, meaning they cannot continue to use loopholes to exploit people, land, and resources.

    1. I like how you make the distinction between believing in small government and allowing the kind of abuse that came to pass in regard to the Navajo. What happened to the Navajo is not a case that should be linked to the notion that less centrally administered welfare or less government regulation is better. It instead represents a failure by the government to make businesses account for the true costs of their activities, allowing the Navajos to suffer for it. Any government must meet the minimum requirement of protecting its citizens and administering justice even if its scope is small, and the government here does not do this despite having the means. To me that makes the government criminally negligent, as it purposefully does not care for a group of people as opposed to there being a problem of the scope of its programs.

    2. Hi Tabatha,

      Thanks for including specific examples and data to illustrate the government’s irresponsibility in both the Navajo and Sri Lanka’s cases. It helped me to see the cases in a new light when you said the issue lies in ” a systematic injustice: something that both respective populations had no control over and did not wish to happen”. I agree with you that the role government is to uphold integrity and ensure equal treatment of everyone, and keep industries accountable instead of helping them to exploit its people, land and resources.

  16. There are many connections that link these two major issues. In both instances, the government refused to help or turned a blind eye towards these troubling subjects of uranium mining in Navajo country and the post-tsunami “relief” and reconstruction in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the government was not helping the citizens of their country that were in dire need for assistance and were the most effected by the tsunami. Instead the government made way for corporations that intended to privatize and globalize Sri Lanka, specifically their coast. This is where many of the effected had lived for generations, only to be pushed out due to the promise of money in the form of aid to be flowed into the country. This is connected to the uranium mining in Navajo country because it also dealt with the issue of money and privatization. Corporations around the 1950s were mining uranium in the mountains of the reservation. These companies were supposed to clean up and seal these mines, but very few of them did. There were no final checks to ensure that this happened and what this caused was run off of this highly radioactive substance that grew into a major problem for the people that lived their after the mines closed. This radioactive substance was integrated into the people’s lives, giving them floors, breathing in the air and drinking the underground water lased with it, eating animals that were also exposed to it, and so much more. Over the many years of being exposed to this radioactive substance, cancer started to develop at an alarming rate. The government ignored the pressing evidence of a problem in this area. Once the government did show a tiny bit of interest, they brushed the issue off saying that the main issue was money. In Pasternak’s article, she quoted someone saying that if this problem were in the middle of L.A., then this problem would be fixed as soon as possible with no talk of the limited amount of money. In both instances of these issues, money was driving the governments to do nothing for these citizens but let the privatized corporations exploit the exploited. The governments promised to take care of their citizens and they are not fulfilling their duties of this but rather going towards where the money is coming from. There are many other connections that can be made between these two issues.
    There is a very big difference of what the role of the government and industry should be in these contexts and what they are. The role of the Sri Lankan government should have been to refuse the “aid relief” on terms as it was: the privatization of Sri Lanka from the no-so-subtle push from powerful globalized countries. This would have caused the attention of the world stage, that the relief money that everyone raised around the world to help these tsunami victims was not actually helping them, but rather displacing them as well as exploiting them. Both the government and industry should have helped with the displaced citizens by compromising or finding them a place to live and make a livelihood. In Navajo country, the government and the industry should have insured that the clean up from these mining companies actually took place. This would have been better for the people because their people are continuous dying of cancer, as well as the government and industry’s side so that there was less money that was needed but also to ensure the health of the people. A government’s main role should be to look their people but we see again and again that this is not the case. Sri Lanka would rather be in the global market and feed to tourism and big corporations, than actually help their people survive and thrive. The USA government would have people die from cancer because of this radioactive substance that they already knew was a major issue than spend the money to clean it up. The industry’s role should be making money but not at the expense of the local people. Overall, the role of protecting the citizens is what should be the main priority of the government and industry rather than what it currently is: money.

    1. Hi,
      I liked reading you post. I do agree that with the government is mostly concerned with themselves and that it only really does stuff to benefit themselves not the local communities.

    2. I like that you pointed out what the role of the government and industries should be versus what they are. People place their trust in these organizations because they believe they are helping those in need (ex Sri Lanka) yet we see in the aftermath that the real problem is not actually dealt with. It’s unfortunate how much money has played a role in decisions and actions even when the well-being of people is at stake.

  17. While it may seem that in both the case of uranium mining in Navajo and the disaster relief efforts in Sri Lanka, there is not much in common, after reading these articles it is evident that both cases serve as an example of how governments and private industries take control of situations and ignore the well-being and safety of thousands of local poor individuals who did not have enough power to stop them.

    In the Navajo case, the author explains the presence of uranium in what is now the Navajo region. During the Cold War, there were many uranium mines in this area used to produce deadly weapons. After the Cold War many of these mines were left as is thus causing local, residential areas to be contaminated. Eventually this caused an increase in negative and nearly fatal health risks. People were developing cancer and the worst part was that they were unaware that the land was still contaminated. When this issue was addressed, a viable situation wasn’t really agreed upon because it was too expensive to decontaminate the entire area.

    In the Sri Lanka tsunami case, thousands of people were left displaced after the natural disaster. Homes and infrastructure were destroyed and not effectively rebuilt. International relief funds that donated to the cause were not used for the people directly impacted by the storm. Instead, this money was given to the government who then used it to develop and rebuild the tourist industry. While this was used in order to generate revenue and bring in tourists, it did not consider the people who were severely impacted by the storm. The people affected were forced to start over instead of rebuilding the life they had prior to the storm.

    In both cases it is evident that the government has their own agenda, often disregarding the needs and impacts of the people directly involved. The government is unable to prioritize the issues at hand and it seems like they seek what is most profitable rather than what is needed for the people. Corporations and the government reap the benefits of decisions made as they are made in a capitalistic perspective. While some organizations like the EPA did want to help the people of the Navajo community and NGO’s that attempted to provide relief to Sri Lanka, the government is still calling the shots and the voice of corporations are being heard over the voice of the people.

    1. Hi!
      I find it sad that. that many people became homeless and the government used the money to rebuild. I believe that money should of gone back into the communities that were affected the worse.

    2. Hi Amneet,
      I agree that the government should help the local people in need, after all they have enough money to stabilize the traumatic environmental situation at hand and yet, I felt appalled to read that the US government is willingly not trying to make an effort to clean up the uranium deposits at Navajo reservation. And the same thing in tsunami, they rather have people homeless and living on streets than making their lives better or helping them in so they wouldn’t have to be homeless.

    3. Hi Amneet!

      I like your analysis. literally. it is devastating that still people are suffering and therefore, the government didn’t do anything to fix or at least to overcome these problems which is unbelievable!

  18. In 2004 a tsunami hit Sri Lanka killing thousands of people leaving many without homes. The shock Dr shows us how the government uses natural disasters to its advantage. Tourism began to pick back up in the country at a stable rate. People that did not have homes were living on the beach. They never recovered and the government did nothing to help these people. The hotels were upset because they had people living on the beaches and the fishermen were fishing on the beach. Foreign aid was given to the country. The government and high ranking officials chose not to give it back to the community to help with food, water, and shelter. Instead they used the money to reconstruct the country. Humans need certain essentials to be able to satisfy their needs. These essentials go more in depth than food, water, and shelter; they include physical needs, non-physical needs, development, and growth. The people never got their houses back and they were devastated.

    Navajos the companies were mining for uranium around the areas and did not take into consideration the people and the environment. The government was made aware of the problem but they did nothing about it because they were making money off of it. Uranium was used back in the day to make deadly weapons during the cold war. Once the war was over, the uranium was not used as much so they sold it to different smaller businesses. The people thought that the mines were safe and continued their normal daily lives and little did they know the mines were toxic and contaminated. The people started to develop cancers and soon died.

    In both articles, the government choose to do nothing because it did not directly hurt them. They were making money off the people and the products. They did not care or act because disasters are profitable to the capitalists. They make money off of the people that are going into shock after natural disasters. Neoliberalism refers to economic policies that are globalized and have been in effect for twenty-five years. Sadly, the effects of neoliberalism shows that the rich are continuing to become wealthier while the poor are continuing to get worse. With every environmental disaster that happens anywhere in the world comes great grief. The children are more vulnerable to the impact of the environmental disaster because they can lose their parents, have a place to call home, and no food. We could create business opportunities that would invite the international business community. This would benefit the Sri Lankans community and they would have jobs and could buy homes. The government would be happy because the people would be investing money into the country and then hopefully not be so corrupt. The government and small companies should be more careful with the uranium because they do not realize how it is directly affecting its people.

  19. The tsunami in Sri Lanka killed approximately thirty-five thousand Sri Lankans and displaced nearly a million in 2004. They lost their houses and jobs; they were in need of major help. Foreign aid was sent to help the people who were affected from this disaster. However, even though Sri Lankan government provided people their basic needs from the money that came from foreign aid but they also used most of the money for their own good. People who lived on the beaches were displaced in camps and the government decided to make the area as a touristic place. Since they wanted to make profit out of tourism and promote their tourism, which didn’t exist before, they used part of foreign aid to build hotels and houses along the beach coast to bring in tourists in the country. They basically used the foreign aid in favor of themselves and to make profits for themselves, the local people who got affected from the disaster did not get fully helped as a result of their losses. Of course, it helped the country economically and the government, but the people who got affected from the disaster did not get much of help.

    In the article about Navajo uranium mining, private companies that were mining for uranium in the area did not do anything about protecting the environment nor the people that were living in the area as a result of the mining. At the same time, even the government ignored this and did not do anything to resolve the possible threat on people’s lives. The citizens that were living in the area were not aware of the possible outcomes that the uranium mining would leave on them. They also did not know that these mines were contaminated. As a result, the cancer rates in the area increased immensely, and resulted in death eventually. The government acted very irresponsibly and this turned out to harm people who were living in the area.
    In both of the cases, the government prioritized their interests, increasing their profits. They do not consider the lives of the people in the country; their decisions are based on their benefits. In both of the cases, there were resources and ability to help for their country’s citizens, but the governments chose to pursue their interests and make profits for themselves.

    1. Hey Elif,
      I agree with your comment in the end, and I think the same that governments tend to prioritize large corporations, which would help them gain vast amount of profit by reconstruction. It is sad that they prefer to look out for their own benefits rather than helping their own people who are suffering and are in severe need of aid during such times as tsunami or in the Navajo reservations.

  20. Corporations in America and abroad primary motivation is money. This isn’t much of a surprise, it’s been this way since the beginning of currency. Exploited people such as the Navajo and Sri Lankans isn’t something that’s unusual in the world’s history. It’s sad to see such a mass population exploited by its government and companies for the sake of money. The big picture shows how a corporation with so much invested and so much overhead only wants to make a profit. It’s obvious to see that’s the sole motivator, but in the cases of the Navajo and Sri Lankans, it’s cruel. Klein says how the reconstruction post-tsunami was to help the people of the land regain what was lost. Not just property but peace of mind that everything could be restored, tourism included. Uranium in the Navajo country there were nothing but devastating effects in the environment and people. The loss of land and homes by the Sri Lankans isn’t something new we see in our history, larger powers always over take the smaller. Post tsunami the country was eager to find hope and help, what they got was an exploitation of the land and economy. The only thing restored was the joy and fulfillment of the tourists that came and inhabited the tsunami destroyed homes. Governments shouldn’t behave like businesses, this creates a huge disconnect between the population and the leaders. Navajo life was completely disregarded when the mines and land were contaminated with radiation, this led to horrible health complications and ultimately death. It’s sad to see how our nations tension with others and war can severely impact pockets of populations in our country. This doesn’t just affect their health, but lively hood. It’s these reasons why nuclear power is a sensitive subject in the world as more recognition of its side effects become popular. Not much different than what happened in Fukushima and the fall out of nuclear waste. Sri Lanka is just a different type of ‘nuclear disaster’, a tsunami deliver almost as a knockout punch as contamination from nuclear fallout. Those peoples lives will never be the same because the mismanagement of funds by the country. More money goes into restoring the tourist attractions and taking homes than restoring the many lives impacted by the disaster. It’s such a travesty to see how governments, typically a small number of folks, whose decisions can impact so many. A handful of individuals can destroy and misplace families and hurt the environment. Hopefully these countries as well as our own understand the long term effects of the decisions they make on our behalf.

  21. From the articles we have read for this week, there is a same concern about the failure of government responsibility in assisting its citizens. The article of uranium mining in Navajo is written in personal life stories with plenty of details, increasing the reality of those bad influences. During the Cold War, uranium mines left contaminated waste scattered around the Indians because of the demand of the government. However, when the government didn’t pay more attention to the Uranium, they left radiation and contaminated waste on the grounds of Navajo, becoming a big threat to the healthy issue of local people. Homes built with the material silently pulsed with radiation and People developed cancer with any realization. After some cases of death caused by cancer, it was confirmed that the houses, water, etc. had been contaminated with radiation. However, most sadly, the U.S. government chose to ignore the serious issue instead of helping the people. The reason why the government has lack of interest in giving aid is the money issue, since there would be no profits for government to acquire from that. With more and more voice have been heard from the public, Environmental Protection Agency’s five-year multi-agency plans to address the health and environmental impacts of uranium development on the Navajo Nation. However, NNEPA Director Stephen Etsitty said that “the real other interesting components are the questions after the machines have left.” It is obvious that human impacts will increase during the next five-year plan so that health studies need to be funded as well.

    The other article is about the 2004 tsunami claimed over 200,000 lives, and quickly garnered a large amount of international aid to help those affected by the tragedy. In fact, the billions were used for corporate interests instead of satisfying the interests of the citizens of Sri Lanka. For those big capitalist companies, their only motivation was driven by economic profits, so they naturally build their fancy resorts by using the money which should be aided to the affected citizens. The thousands of natives who depended on access to the ocean for their livelihood not only lost their home in the tsunami, but were barred from rebuilding what was once theirs. In addition, all of the economic activities were permitted by the government of Sri Lanka under the pressure by Washington. Therefore, the communities that lost everything were further hurt by the implementation of these neoliberal polices, which only seemed to serve corporate interests. It is obvious that the circumstance have brought many opportunities for the multitude of corporations but nothing for improving citizen’s daily life.

    In both cases, it is obvious that the government is always trying to find the way to earn more benefits based on the ideas of neoliberalism and capitalism. In the case of Navajo country, the people should not be second to profitable tourism at a time when the people need the most help and are most vulnerable. Meanwhile, in the case of the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the government’s actions were driven by the want to gain from a valuable sector of the economy rather than to rebuild with its people. From my perspective, the prior responsibility of the government and industry is building safe environment and ensuring people’s basic health. The “lack of funds” should not be regarded as an excuse to shift off its responsibility. Furthermore, I don’t think GDP should be the only requirement for judging the development of the country, the significance of GNH (Gross National Happiness) could never be ignored as well.

    1. Yang,

      I really enjoyed reading your posts! I like the fact that you talked about and pointed out how the governments use the idea of neoliberalism and capitalism to earn benefits.

  22. I observed several major connections between the case of uranium mining in Navajo country and the post-tsunami “relief” in Sri Lanka; (1) the use of crisis situations and disorganized people by business firms to get their foot in the door in places where they otherwise faced local resistance, (2) the prior knowledge by private entities of the harm their actions would cause, (3) the free reign of private corporations to conduct profit seeking activities at the expense of local populations, (4) the devaluing of human life in the face of financial considerations, (5) and incongruent benefits afforded those of lighter skin as compared to those of darker skin. The first point stems from the observation that the coastal people in Sri Lanka and the Navajos’ both were taken advantage of in the context of crisis and group disorganization. Sri Lankans faced the disaster of the tsunami which shattered their way of life and greatly decreased their ability to mobilize. They were also goaded, while in this chaotic period, into moving into interior settlements with promises of relief from international donors. The random occasion of crisis and group disorganization created a perfect storm for their subjugation through “Shock therapy.” The Navajo were approached by the U.S. government in the context of a war crisis in order to convince them to open their lands to mining. They too were disorganized in the sense that many lacked the education to inform themselves of the possible risks and thus did not mobilize in opposition, allowing the private firms to easily set up shop. Indeed, the Navajo also faced a kind of “Shock Therapy.” The second point is illustrated by the fact that in both cases, private firms knew the harm their activities would cause. The internationally backed planners of Sri Lanka’s transformation were aware that people would be permanently displaced and took actions such as setting up what were supposed to be temporary camps to become permanent slums. In the case of the Navajo, the risks of uranium mining were known by researchers, the U.S. government, and mining firms. Yet they were allowed to move ahead despite this pre-knowledge of harm. The third point, highly linked to the second point, involves the free ranging powers private firms were given to conduct their operations in spite of local harm. While resorts were occupying the beaches once inhabited by fisherman and raking in tourism profits, the former fisherman were facing famine and extreme poverty in interior refugee camps. Similarly, while mining firms were reaping profits by selling uranium to the U.S. government, workers were being exposed to the harmful radioactive materials that would soon permeate their lands due to negligence by the firms. In the midst of this, neither country had any kind of authorities reigning in the exploitation. The fourth point is conveyed by the fact that the organizations such as the World Bank devalued the livelihoods of fisherman in Sri Lanka, claiming that their sustenance way of living got in the way of national financial gains, as opposed to the view that these people had a right to their way of life, financial gains aside. This was similar to the response of the U.S. federal government to the Navajo uranium problem; despite clear indicators that radiation from mining was hurting people, the government stood aside due to lack of funds, and went with what made more financial sense as opposed to what might protect the quality of human life. The last point is illustrated by how in both cases people of color got the short end of the stick. In Sri Lanka the dark skinned native people lost their way of life in favor of white pleasure seeking. In the Navajo case whites affected received prompt assistance in uranium contamination issues while Navajos were left to languish in the radiation. From these points it is clear that these cases can be linked in a number of ways.
    I believe government and industry must assume similar roles in both of these contexts. Industry must be made responsible for the externalities of its actions, such as the displacement of fisherman in Sri Lanka or the effects of uranium contamination in Navajo territory. This means that they must be forced to account for the costs incurred by people due their activities, and pay the full market value of what they have taken in the case of Sri Lanka or what they have contaminated in the case of the Navajo. The government needs to be instrument for such regulations, forcing industries to face these full costs or face barriers to entry in the market as a consequence. If all businesses were made to account for these costs that they avoid through special interest then profit of their actions in the market would be far better distributed to all interested parties. However, this is rarely ever the case.

  23. In both cases, the government couldn’t care less about protecting the people whom they are supposed to protect. Neither government did their job. They only cared about increasing profits. In Sri Lanka, the government had a plan to get rid of the local fishing population in order to build hotels and increase eco-tourism. In the beginning of the natural disaster in Sri Lanka, foreign aid was being given and reaching its intended recipients. It was later discovered that the aid money was being used against the citizens. The funding was going towards building hotels. The government was making it difficult for aid workers to do their jobs. They set up roadblocks and buffer zones. The people who lost their way of life where just left to basically die in shanty towns. The people of Sri Lanka were just trying to find a way to survive and as the piece said “faced with.. crisis, even the … economic nationalists become flexible.” The Sri Lankan government gave free reign for industries to build along the coast, so long as it was in the name of reconstruction.

    Here in the US, the Navajo Indians were being poisoned by radiation and no one cared. Beginning in World War II, uranium mining began on Native American reservations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Private companies would come and dig up the land, only to leave open pits. The Navajo had very low rates of cancer prior to the mining. After the rates of cancer increased. This was due to all the radiation given off by the mines. There were no warnings by companies or the government. The Navajo used those radiated raw materials to build homes with. The government’s responsibility is to care for the Native Americans. The government and the Indian Health Service both brushed off their responsibilities. The Indian Health Service reasoned that it would cost too much to get involved. Charles Reaux of the Indian Health Service wrote that the true risks of the radiation problems would never been know due to the costs. The EPA and Navajo officials are staying away from the issue. The Navajo officials pulled Glenn Alsup, a specialist off of the case. They did not want to stir up trouble with the Natives, as there was no money to fix problems.

    After reading both of these pieces, the common factor is money; either the lack of or potential gain. There is no action being taken to help the Native Americans because the sheer cost to protect them would be too much. The damage inflicted upon them was due to a money grab for uranium. The Sri Lankans were pushed aside because there would be more financial incentives to build up the tourism industry than to let small family fisheries to go on.

  24. Besides the environmental factor, both cases of uranium mining in Navajo country and the post-tsunami “relief” and reconstruction in Sri Lanka share experiences of their governments and corporations’ neoliberal agendas. The difference would be in the case of Sri Lanka’s tsunami, government and corporations neoliberal agendas was a response to a natural disaster, while in the case of uranium mining in Navajo county, the government and corporations initiated the process. But in both cases, governments and corporations’ priorities was to make profit, even at the cost of exploiting its own people and resources. In Sri Lanka’s case, I see militarized gentrification where the government forced people who were living along the coast to relocate after the tsunami, “cleaning up” the area for the tourism industry. The Sri Lankan government valued how the tourism industry will benefit the Sri Lankan economy over local communities and their sustainable economies. The case of uranium mining in Navajo County illustrates U.S. government’s neocolonialism over the indigenous community. The government not only exploited uranium, it also exploited the livelihood of the Navajo community by destroying its environment and people’s health. The uranium mining did not benefit the Navajo people in anyway – economically or environmentally, and it’s being forced upon them under what U.S. government calls “patriotism”.

    As naïve as it sounds, the ideal role of government is to work for the best interest of its people and their livelihood. Meaning, it should represent the interest of its people and their communities like it promised, rather than chasing after profit and economic growth that only benefit large businesses. If the Sri Lankan case went as it should, the government should have spent all of its energy and resources to rebuild the communities that were destroyed by the tsunami, and support reconstruction of the local fishing industry. The government should have sought out the local community’s interest over tourism industry, as its commitment should always be their people first over businesses. In the case of Navajo County, the U.S. government should have stopped the uranium mining when environmental and health issues started to arise. It should not have let the uranium industry continue its business until there was proper compensations for the environmental and health damages on Navajo community. But in the case of Navajo Community, it’s really a question of whether the U.S. government sees the Navajo community as United States citizens who have right to their land or the remnants of the indigenous population it once colonized. The question of indigenous sovereignty makes the issue more complex than the Sri Lankan case. For United States government to represent the interest of Navajo community would mean for it to acknowledge (at least partially) their indigenous sovereignty. And looking at how United States established its state at the cost of so many indigenous people’s lives, it’s highly unlikely the U.S. government would be in total favor of the Navajo community over its business interest that benefits its “citizens”.

  25. Both articles on the uranium mining in Navajo country and the post-tsunami relief and reconstruction in Sri Lanka have an important element in common, the negligent role of government played in both disastrous situations. Firstly, The USEPA measures seem to be very minimal and ineffective in fully resolving the problem. In Bistol’s article, we read that a local Navajo resident complaining that the government was clearly not considerate of the public’s concern and that it was only a “government to government consultation”. The lack of interest shown by the government agency into really attacking the problem was clear to many residents. Same goes for the situation in Sri Lanka, whose citizens were not aware of the government agenda until after the reconstruction money started to pour into the tourism industry instead of rebuilding houses and whole villages and cities that were completely demolished by the tsunami. Both the government of Sri Lanka and tourism industry saw the “clean slate” opportunity and jumped right onto rebuilding beachfront resorts instead of re-establishing housing for the natives. It is really disappointing to see so called “democracy” to undermine its people and only cater to the economic benefits of a few.
    Both the uranium clean-up and rebuilding sees the convergence of government and industry interests. At this point in the course, it has become rather unsurprising to see governments caving into pressures from big corporations whether it be in case of a natural disaster response or deciding to go to war. I strongly believe that neoliberal economic policies have driven so many money-hungry industries to get through to governmental policies. For one, the industry’s role in both cases should cater to the government and not vice versa. The government needs to take on full responsibility and accountability for natural disasters and hazardous environmental clean-up. They should absolutely resist bending over backwards to let industries come and run their own economic agenda in such dire cases where people’s lives are at stake.

    1. Bharti,
      I agree. The role of government, especially in a democratic system, is to protect the people rather than supporting corporations/businesses to make more profit. Generally, it is very disappointing when the governments seek economic growth instead of health and safety for their people. However, it is even more upsetting when such a behavior from governments take place in the case of disasters that people need support from their governments more than any other time.

  26. The events that unfolded following the tsunami in Sri Lanka showcase a government capitalizing on tragic events. It is clear that the Sri Lankan government had intended to clear out the fishing people from the beaches long before the tsunami did this for them. But the treatment of its own people following this environmental catastrophe proves that the government will stop at nothing in order to expand its capital. Not only did the government use the money that was raised and allocated for the relief of people in order to build up cities and tourist attractions, but organizations such as USAID, WTO, and the IMF, also moved in to further the explosions. Even more shockingly President Chandrika Kumaratunga, cited that the tsunami was divine punishments of sorts, “We are a country blessed with so many natural resources, and we have not made use of them fully…So nature itself must have thought ‘enough is enough’ and whacked us from all sides and taught us a lesson to be together.” But if the less was ‘to be together’ it was certainly not learned, the clear lesson taken away was more ‘exploit the weak’. The end result was a country that had just barley touch upon peace going back on all ceasefire agreements and again thousands dead, because the government did not look out for their own people.
    The Navajo county mining’s in the U.S. are a similar story of a government that breaks down when it is time to help its own people. While it was gung-ho on going into the reservations while it had a need for uranium for war, once uranium was no longer needed the government deserted the mines and processing plants without a second thought. What ended up ensuing was innocent people falling victim to a government who made conscious decisions to benefit itself, yet did not take the responsibility to protect its people. Not only are those living around the mines and plants exposed to radiation, but because there wasn’t proper clean up or education about radiation, people ended up using building materials in their own homes that only furthered their exposure. It is important to note that not only was the U.S. government to blame here, but also Indian officials choose to hide the radiation from its people because they felt that it would cause unnecessary commotion that they could not fix. Now the government is moving towards a cleanup, but who only knows what the future for those who have already been exposed will be. Additionally, for those who have been exposed or lost loved ones to the radiation it’s hard to say that a simple clean up will be enough.
    All in all I feel that both cases highlight governments that ultimately failed their people. Whether it was lack of timely action and ownership of a problem they caused, or an outright choice to exploit a situation and people, both of these governments have made long –lasting and tragic mistakes.

    1. Hello Kseniya,

      I liked how you explained both of the cases and how governments have failed to serve their people. Governments just want to see their benefits and in this they do not care what happens to people. I enjoyed reading your post.

  27. Uranium mining in Navajo issue can be related to the post-tsunami conditions because of the exploitation of communities that is taking place in both of the areas. These communities are facing health and other basic living needs; however, their governments not being able to meet those need. They are providing them with things or facilities that they do not need at this time. In the case of “Relief” and reconstruction in Sri Lanka, the governments have removed the fishing people and are constructing buildings instead. At this crucial time, the community does not need buildings and infrastructure to support them. However, they need their homes, where they can rebuild their lives and bring themselves out of this difficult situation. In the same way when we look at mining in Navajo country’s situation, government’s efforts have been unsuccessful in providing full care to their citizens from the radiation of Uranium. Another thing that I found common between both of the cases is that their government and the authorized organization has not involved the community in their discussion for what is the next step that they are going to take for these communities. For example, in the case of mining in Navajo country, the government and the knowledgeable organizations did not inform all of their citizens because they thing that they do not have enough resources to fix this issue for everyone. People have used radioactive material to build slabs or floors of their houses which is dangerous for them; however, not many of them were aware that they will face such issue. Similarly, if we look at the post0 tsunami situation, people were not included in the decision making process about their displacement. If they had a chance, they might have chosen to stay at their home places and rebuild them. Furthermore, in both of the cases there is lack of interest of the Government for the communities. Instead, the only thing that Government cares about is the profit. We can see that both of the communities are being exploited by their government. However, there is not much power that they can use against their government’s decisions. Yet, they are becoming aware of situation they improving themselves.

    1. Lalah,
      In your post about the issues of uranium mining in Navajo country and the tsunami in Sri Lanka, you stated “These communities are facing health and other basic living needs; however, their governments not being able to meet those need.” I think it is not about their governments’ ability to address their people’s needs, but rather it is about their governments’ priorities. This is even more extreme in case of post-tsunami in Sri Lanka where the government spent the international relief funds to improve the tourism industry.

  28. “We do want, we do want.. Our land back!” – claimed fishermen and members of their families at a rally in Sri-Lanka, balancing on the verge of poverty and starvation (Klein, 2008, p. 389).
    “It’s an emergency that is not being treated as an emergency”, – said Navajo President Joe Shirly Jr. (Pasternak, 2006).
    Two different countries, different people, different ethnic groups and seems to be different problems, but all of them have something in common – they are victims of modern coalition of business and government.
    A superficial glance at the problems of Sri-Lankans and Navajo Indians could form an opinion that they have been victims of circumstances. For example, the fishermen of the Sri-Lanka Island suffered from a devastating tsunami that destroyed homes and disrupted their traditional way of living associated with fishing. And the Navajo Indians suffered from radiation due to the development of uranium mines on the territory of reservation.
    At the same time, more detailed analysis allows us to see the role of government and business in the deteriorating living conditions of these two groups.
    After the internal military conflict in Sri-Lanka the government attempted to obtain the coastal territory for the development of tourist industry. The local fishermen who owned the land were not needed, because they hindered the business development. Therefore, the tsunami, that became a disaster for fishermen, turned into a convenient tool for government and business to implement a plan of transforming fishing areas into the resort. “Unnecessary” people were sent to areas where they would not disturb tourists. The problem was that the territory allocated by the government did not give an opportunity for residents to be engaged in their ordinary occupation – fishing. It is important to note that their land was taken off by using governmental (police) and industry (private security) power resources – Naomi Klein calls this process “militarized gentrification” (Klein, 2008, p. 402). In this case, the government supports interests of Western investors (World Bank), focused on neo-colonial policy.
    Navajo were not lucky, because on the territory of reservation has been discovered uranium that is a valuable resource for military-industrial complex, used in the arms race during the Cold War. Entrusting the governmental patriotic rhetoric and business assurances about the contribution to the community development (job creation, infrastructure development) Navajo leaders approved the initiation of uranium mining on their land. However, the government and business were not interested in economic growth and development of Navajo community, so received the necessary natural resources, they have left radioactive waste that caused cancer within local residents. The cleansing of the Navajo territories of radioactive waste is still not completed. How Teddy Nez critical noted: “All they had to do is tell us… We had five years where we could have done something” (Bistoi, 2011).
    Analysis of these cases shows the strategy of governmental and business coalition, aimed at getting the maximum economic revenues through land alienation that is a violation of indigenous sovereignty. In both situations we have the land as a capital. In these cases, the territories are inhabited by people whose economic contribution to the global objectives of business and government is minor. These people became an obstacle for land using, which is successfully eliminated by government and business. This situation is possible in the conditions of high level of social inequality, where are groups that are unable to resist the combined forces of business and government. Situations faced by Navajo Indians and residents of Sri-Lanka can repeat if the “unnecessary” people don’t organize unions, don’t acquire necessary law competences and understand risks of mining operations (e.g. The Uranium and Radiation Education Outreach program) and don’t actively use the mass media for communication with the outside world.

    1. Hello Dua,

      I like how you started with the quotes from people that need help and want their situation to be considered as an emergency. Furthermore, I like how you connected both of the cases. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Hi Dua,

    what a way to capture a readers attention! :) I love the fact that you started your post with a quote! also, I like how detailed your post was to support the analysis!

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