“The Dispossession Has Just Begun and Will Last for a Long Time” -Raúl Zibechi

Uruguayan thinker, writer activist, Raúl Zibechi. Photo:La Tinta

Sare Frabes

The war of dispossession experienced by the peoples of the world has just begun and will last for a long time. The warning was launched by the Uruguayan writer and activist, dedicated to working with social movements in Latin America, Raúl Zibechi, during the International Meeting The South Resists, at the Indigenous Center for Integral Training (Cideci), in Chiapas. “No matter how much progress (capital) has made, there is still a lot of land that it does not control, that is why I say that dispossession is going to continue for a long time.”

In countries where studies have been made on land ownership, he says, it has been revealed that 40%, that is, 4 out of every 10 hectares, is still not in the hands of the oligarchy, nor of the corporations, nor of big capital.

Brazil is a case in point. There are quite rigorous analyses, he says, which reveal that 40% of the land in the country is agrarian reform land, land belonging to black and indigenous peoples, land reserved by the State as natural parks or conservation reserves, land belonging to small peasants, as well as land belonging to traditional fishermen.

There are countries that exceed 40%. One example is Colombia. “The indigenous peoples have a third of the lands recognized by the Constitution, in addition to the lands where the black peoples are, the natural reserves. In Colombia it is probably more than 50%,” he analyzes.

Wars of dispossession are structural to capitalism. “Today capitalism cannot live without these wars. Today capitalism cannot act without violence against the peoples. It is necessary to dispossess, it is necessary to kill, it is necessary to assassinate; and, therefore, militarism is here to stay.”

On the left “we had always distrusted the military, but now the progressives of Latin America defend the armed forces.” Mexico is the most brutal paradigm of militarization, he says, when it gives the armed forces the construction of major works.

And that is happening in Argentina as well. “The Armed Forces could not go out in public because they committed genocide during the dictatorship, and now the progressive Argentine government is decreeing that eight large extractive ventures be militarized, something that no government, not even the right wing, has been able to do.”

In Colombia, where there is a new progressivism with the government of Gustavo Petro, an alliance has already been made with the US Armed Forces to “defend” the Amazon.

Drug trafficking today is also systemic, he analyzes. “We are facing a period in which there is an intertwining between drug trafficking and capital. The narco and the State. Drugs and the Armed Forces. To such an extent that it would be very difficult to establish a line, to draw a border and say this is narco, this is bourgeoisie.”

Then the diagnosis of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) of the Fourth World War, which has been made more than two decades ago, “seems to us to be totally accurate and totally correct; there is a war of dispossession against the peoples to ‘clear’ the territory, and remodel it in the image and likeness of the interests of capital”.

Support for the Struggle

Zibechi has understood throughout his life that the basis of the autonomy of the peoples was the common lands. “And, of course, communal lands are very important, they are fundamental so that there can be peoples in resistance,” he says.

But today he understands, he says, that the basis of communal land and autonomies is the spirituality of the peoples. “Spirituality is what allows us to sustain ourselves over a long period of time; the main victory is that we have been there for 500 years. And it is possible that we will have to go on for another 500 more”.

There is a story written by Subcomandante Marcos, a dialogue with old Antonio, who says that the struggle is like a circle. “It begins in one place but never ends. And what does this have to do with spirituality? If the struggle never ends, it means that there is no final objective, the taking of the palace. There is no final victory. There is no final triumph.

The idea of final triumph, he points out, is a very Catholic, very Christian idea, incorporated into the social struggle. “If the struggle is a circle that never ends, spirituality is what sustains us in this long time.”

The Communist International speaks of the final struggle. “The final struggle is to enter the palace, to take power. And it is considered that taking power is synonymous with making the revolution. Thanks to the originary peoples and thanks to the contributions of the comrades of the EZLN today we know that there is no final struggle, but a circle.”

The writer maintains that it is necessary to overcome the idea of cost-benefit political calculation, political pragmatism. “Because otherwise we are always going to be returning to this capitalist ideology, to these capitalist values, which are central to domination.”

Zibechi cites the wars in Guatemala and El Salvador as examples. “We see how the struggle of the native peoples was mounted on top of a vanguard apparatus and this vanguard apparatus – of white, academic males – acted in a way that was, as we usually say, pragmatic. At a certain moment, they made a cost-benefit calculation, as capitalism does. And they did it and they negotiated, in a deplorable situation, because nothing changed.”

To overcome the logic of pragmatism, the spirituality of the peoples is central, he defends. “If we want to be truly rebellious, to fight for fundamental changes, we have to overcome this logic of calculation, which is always individual.” He continues: “Spirituality places us in another, non-material, profoundly human place to be able to go beyond material contradictions”.

All that “we see today is that an enormous storm is coming, that it is already underway, an infernal earthquake upon us. We cannot build material barriers against it (…) we can unite and give our arms and give ourselves to life and to mother earth, with the hope that she will show us the way”.

Original article in Avispa Midia on May 31, 2023. https://avispa.org/el-despojo-recien-empieza-y-va-a-durar-mucho-tiempo-raul-zibechi/
English Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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