Extractivism is the extraction of natural resources that are destined for export. It includes the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals, deforestation, agro-industry, and megadams. Historically extractivism has affected the Global South more, especially indigenous communities and impoverished women; and has benefited rich countries. Our materials seek to reveal that extractivism is part of the global dominant model of economic development.
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Over 220 organizations call on Colombian government of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez to withdraw international investment treaties that enable million-dollar corporate claims
“In Colombia, the defense of life, nature and territory has cost leaders and movements assassinations, threats and stigmatization, being the most dangerous country in the world for environment defenders. In this context, there is an urgent need to prevent the sabotage by this system of the tortuous search for justice over the abuses of multinational corporations, including socio-environmental and labor harms, paramilitary financing, threats and assassination of union leaders.”
- VIDEO: Forum - Extractivist colonialism, free looting treaties against Colombia
- Press release: Colombian courts must not be undermined by shadowy international tribunals, say campaigners
- Summary of Amicus Curiae to the Constitutional Court of Colombia urging implementation of decision in favour of the Wayúu Indigenous people affected by the Cerrejón coal mine
- Video No Reprieve – Resistance and the mining pandemic in Latin America
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Historically one of the strengths of the Democracy Center has been the development of advocacy and campaign strategies. However, we recognise that there are many different activist strategies, and we seek to deepen our analysis on those.
The impacts of climate change don't affect the global South and global North equally, and within those hemispheres not everyone is affected equally either. Climate impacts affect people according to their race, class and gender. Responses to climate change need to begin from this recognition.
Criminalization of Protest
Criminalization of protest is a corporate and state strategy to annihilate resistance against extractivism, against the dominant model of economic development, in defense of territories, water, the environment, and others. Criminalization can include persection in the courts, stigmatization, harrassment and even murder of social leaders.
International Climate Policy
Every year, representatives of the governments of the world meet at the UN conferences on climate change (COPs). There is a debate around the effectiveness of the COPs and international climate policy, given that these spaces are heavily influenced by transnational corporations.
Since colonization, Latin America has been a source of natural resources for the world. Today, extractivism driven by transnational corporations very much shapes realities in the region, as do the impacts of climate change. Both have provoked strong movements of resistance and struggle. The Democracy Center works on issues of regional significance in Latin America.
Here we want to show some examples of how activists and communities are organising themselves in ways that challenge the dominant structures that are driving climate change. These materials seek to highlight the role collectivity can play in constructing alternatives, acknowledging how conditions of race, class and gender can facilitate that construction, or not.
Movements are formed by grassroots resistances, for example against extractivism and climate change. However, movements and their dynamics are diverse - they can be built from specific struggles and then converge into broader and more organized spaces,and they can aim towards short-term clear objectives or more long-term systemic objectives. Yet within these dynamics of movement-building, the possible actions of their members are constrained by the place and context from which they come.
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Resistance to Extractivism
The people most affected by the impacts of extractive projects often find themselves with little choice but to resist them. Forms of resistance include land and territory struggles, struggles for water and the environment, and against corporate power and state extractivist policies. At the Center we seek to tell the stories and support the struggles of those who are most affected by extractivism.
Strategies of Corporate Power
For decades, corporations have designed and implemented strategies to increase their global power and guarantee their interests. These strategies range from the creation of global investment systems, influencing the creation of national public policy, the cooptation and manipulation of media and academia, to the criminalization of social protest and resistance in complicity with the state.
Toxic Investment Rules
There is a global system of rules, treaties and tribunals that regulate global investment - designed by and for the benefit of transnational corporations. This system violates countries' sovereignty and puts the interests of corporations above the environmental, economic and social interests of people.
Violence Against Women
Violence against women is often understood as domestic violence, but in reality it is a structural problem that affects women in all areas of life. ‘Structural violence against women’ means the systematic ways in which socio-economic structures harm women – even more so women of color, and impoverished and indigenous women.
Women often have no choice but to become environmental defenders when their communities have to stand up to extractivism and corporate power. Resistance to extractivism carries a set of specific dangers for women, particularly rape and sexual violence.