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22 March 2010

Land grabbing in Latin America

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Right now communities in Latin America, as around the world, are suffering a new kind of invasion of their territories. These invaders are not the descendants of the European conquistadores, who appropriated land, gathered slaves and plundered their colonial domains.

Nor are they the big finqueros (estate owners) of the 19th and 20th centuries, who expanded their properties by carving up the territories of indigenous peoples and creating vast plantations for the production and export of commodities such as sugar cane, coffee, cacao, banana, henequen, gum, rubber and hardwoods, and who relied on what has been called “indebted servitude”, forced labour under slave-like conditions. The new landowners are not those who brought industrial agriculture into Latin America either, who exploited local people’s ancestral knowledge in order to adapt their methods to the new environment and climate.

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