Greenpeace in Peru


This is Greenpeace’s apology on Facebook to the people of Peru for accessing the Nazca site without permission.

I have a lot of problems with it. I have a lot problems with the activity anyway but ultimately as an apology, this is disappointing. If you walk up to a restricted and highly fragile site with a view to using it as an advertising platform, that’s wrong. I’m not interested in Greenpeace apologising for offending people. I’d rather see them apologising for the activity of laying a [message of hope] up there. They should not have done it. The issue is not that the people of Peru got offended; it is that Greenpeace plonked an advertising hoarding up there. Sure it was temporary but also, it was grotesque. They would be the first to savage a commercial company who did the same thing, I feel.

When you are an activist organisation, you cannot afford to be hypocritical. The area where the Nazca lines lie is fragile. Land access is justifiably restricted and subject to certain organisational requirements. Greenpeace have been told by officials in the area that they have caused permanent damage; Greenpeace appear not to want to accept this.

A statement on the group’s Facebook page earlier in the week insisted that “absolutely NO damage was done” by the stunt, and that “no trace was left behind.” The activists laid out yellow cloth lettering next to the hummingbird with the group’s logo and the message: “Time for Change! The Future is Renewable.”

However, if Greenpeace were even remotely qualified to comment on this, they wouldn’t have sent people up there to do it in the first place.

And it is not a message of hope. It is a message of hectoring. It is an advertisement for Greenpeace. The fact that that Greenpeace are an NGO does not remove the commercial aspect of what they did there when they leave their trademark/brand behind them.

It seems to me, from the apology above, that Greenpeace aren’t really all that sorry about this. The actual act of plonking their advertisement up there is what is wrong and that is what Greenpeace should be apologising. Personally, I see something like this as an act of vandalism and Greenpeace’s apology should be reading:

“We are sorry we damaged a fragile landscape in our ill-educated bid to force people to think like we do. Being an environmental organisation, at least one of us should have considered that damaging a fragile environment is a bad thing to do, particularly when that environment houses a piece of humanity’s heritage which is unique in the world. It is obvious that we need to reassess our own values and stop using gesture politics to draw attention to humanity’s need to pay greater attention to environmental concerns. We are ashamed that none amongst us considered the counterproductive nature of striving for improved environmental care by damaging a fragile desert environment. Our campaign director X who was responsible for this has resigned”

Instead, we get “Sorry you were offended, Peru”.