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Corporate Power

Photo by Justin Norman

Corporate control over resources – enacted through extractivism – produces vast inequalities, violence and degradation as it dispossesses indigenous and rural communities in Latin America and drives climate and ecological breakdown. The fundamental message that underpins such asymmetry is clear: the dominant logic of racialized capitalism values the profit-making and conspicuous consumption of some people over the very lives of others (including non-human life).

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New forms of colonialism

The multinationals of today have replaced the colonial regimes of the past. The same logic of greed, exploitation and material accumulation that underpinned colonialism and slavery persist in the competition over the Earth’s remaining natural resources by transnational corporations and a global elite whose vast economic resources allow them to maintain hegemonic power. Bolstered by a network of regional development banks; international financial institutions and government agencies among other economic actors, these corporations and investors continue to benefit globally from an ongoing shift in power to their favour. Together, they shore up an architecture of impunity that pits binding international trade treaties or punitive mechanisms such as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) against toothless voluntary principles, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ or aspirational – but unenforceable – human rights declarations.

Corporations present themselves as the engines of development and progress. Through corporate capture of the state and national and international institutions, powerful business lobbies apply pressure at every level to secure contracts, manipulate regulatory processes and avoid oversight. They use their vast resources and influence to, on the one hand, co-opt the public imagination through sponsorship of academia, the arts and culture and, on the other, lobby for the repealing of regulations and rights that impede profit-making. They claim to always act within the law – while using their power to consistently bend laws and regulations to their will – or indeed pay for police forces in the countries where they operate to protect their interests against those of local people.

Defending Defenders, Rejecting Criminalisation

Across Latin America and other regions of the global South, communities are organising in resistance to extractivism and the devastating impacts it has on their lives and livelihoods. Often this is met with further violence, legal repression and criminalisation, or even murder. Accompanying and working to defend those who put their bodies on the line to protect their territories, communities and environment is an urgent responsibility.

Our anti-corporate work involves building effective relationships with frontline communities in Latin America in order to understand their needs and priorities, and promote regional dialogue and exchange. We combine this accompaniment with research and international solidarity campaigning with others in the global North to target centres of power and hold extractive corporations accountable.

There can be no ‘clean’ energy infrastructure that does not address the social injustice, power relations and violence at the heart of our global economy. Understanding and challenging the role of corporations is essential to doing this. For these reasons, TerraJusta stands with Global South communities, workers and other impacted peoples around the world for a Just Transition.

Please find out more on our Cases & Campaigns page.

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