Coffee, like gold, sugar and oil, has long been one of Latin America’s major exports, sustaining everyone from independent farmers in mountain regions to corporate bankers in capital cities. Over the last decade, changing climate patterns have intensified droughts and plagues in the region, creating conditions less suitable for coffee production and wreaking havoc on the industry that came to define, even shape, many hillsides in rural Central and South America.
Governments have been busy criminalizing Indigenous claims to consultation that challenge extractive models of development. Indigenous opposition to extractivism ultimately promotes self-determination rights, questioning the states’ authority over land by placing its sovereignty into historical context. In that sense, Indigeneity is a valuable approach to understanding world politics.
Goldcorp’s San Martin gold mine in Honduras is one of five emblematic cases in the spotlight at the Permanent People’s Tribunal, celebrating its 40th session in Montreal from May 29 to June 1. Goldcorp’s mine is also one of the case studies examined in a new report on Canadian mining in Latin America. Produced by a working group of Latin American organizations, the report draws on 22 case studies spanning nine Latin American countries to document a litany of harms, ranging from environmental and health impacts to forced displacement and criminalization.
Gold mining has become a scourge that afflicts most Latin American countries. In some places, a few giant transnational corporations operate. In others, hundreds or even thousands of people crowd into jungle rivers or the guts of mountains for a few grams of gold.
Although it might not seem to be, Latin America is the most active region in the world when it comes to the defense of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. “The most progressive and interesting proposals are emerging in the Americas,” said Mexican activist Gloria Careaga during the sixth Regional Conference of the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People for Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC).
On the conflicts between the politics of extraction of natural resources among countries led by leftist governments in Latin America, and the politics of Pachamama (Mother Earth), and how indigenous movements have resisted extractivism in defense of their rights, land and the environment.
I remember jolting awake at 6 AM. Still dark. Someone was banging on my neighbors’ door. I could hear whispering, then screaming. When I opened my eyes, just like that, I made out two, three, four distinct voices. Months later, my neighbor, who I’ll call Beto, told me there must have been 10 to 12 police officers at his door that morning. They were definitely police and not Immigration.
Maybe the real alternative is not financing development and redistributing income, but the very idea of development. What Latin Americans desire at this point in time is not development but escaping from it. The development model is more an ideological construct for the region’s elites and middle classes rather than for the peoples who are suffering it. It is a pretext to take control of natural resources at the commodities feast.
The results of the Feb. 2 elections in Costa Rica fell like a bucket of cold water on the left in the Central American nation. Confident of achieving at least a second-place finish that would carry them to a run-off in April, instead the candidate of the left-of-center Broad Front, José Maria Villalta, came in third, leaving him out of the running. According to the final tally, Villalta received only 17.3% of the vote, compared to 29.7% for the official candidate, Johnny Araya of the National Liberation Party (PLN) and a surprising 30.6% for the candidate of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), Luis Guillermo Solís.