Landgrabbing, memory and resistance
It is undeniable that there is direct relationship between the loss of lands on one hand and the advance of megamining projects, oil and natural gas extraction, and monoculture agriculture on the other. An enormous amount of research remains to be done in order to uncover the true extent of the extractivist projects and the fragmentation, dismantling and loss of indigenous and peasant held territories and lands. As a minimum we can say that in Mexico alone 26% of the national territory is in the hands of mining concessions, and in Colombia the figure is 40%. Mining in Colombia goes hand in hand with rights abuses; “80% of the violations of human rights which have occurred over the last 10 years occured in mining-energy regions, and 87% of all displaced peoples from this period originated in these areas”.
If we run through country by country – a study which should be undertaken in a systematic way – we would encounter similar situations, including the extreme case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where percentages of lands handed over no longer serve as a measure, but the number of dead in conflicts over minerals, diamonds, coltan and gold: more than 7 million have died violently in the last 15 years.
Conflicts over water are also recurrent. “In Africa for example, one in three people suffer from scarcity of water and climate change is worsening the situation”. The development in Africa of highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help to alleviate this crisis, but these same systems are those being destroyed by land grabbing – in the midst of claims that water in Africa is abundant, underused and is ready to be utilised for agro-export agriculture” as we affirm in one of GRAIN’s reports. Of course, this is not only a phenomenon in Africa.
Beyond the causes, which go from the monoculture fields of the industrial agricultural system to the most severe and polluting forms of extractivism, passing oil wells, electricity generation centres, biosphere reserves, REDD projects, megatourism, real estate developments, motorway routes, mega-dams, multi-modal corridors, narcotraffiking and cultivations, the reality is that there is a real attack underway against our territorial memory, our memory of place – the lands which are our vital surroundings, our common environment we need to recreate and transform our existence: the spaces we give meaning to with our shared wisdom and knowledge, with our common history.
To provoke scarcity and economic dependence, the international and multilateral transnational systems have promoted the disabling of the capacity of communities to feed themselves, or provide healthcare education and other needs. The effect of this imposed precarity is the expulsion of populations and the jeopardising of their futures.
For these reasons Food Sovereignty remains deeply pertinent and a source of profound hope as a tool to rebuild autonomy and the defence of our territories, as it represents a living manifestation of our memories. The production of food from the smallest community level upwards is a vital proposal – and examples exist that show it is possible to reverse the damage that has been done.