By: Raúl Zibechi
They are multiple and simultaneous. They are environmental, military, political, paramilitary, economic and femicidal storms. It’s drug trafficking as an instrument of the states and the powerful. It’s a policy of accumulation of capital and of power, predatory of everything it finds in its way. Violence has been converted into the principal rationale of the ruling classes.
There’s not enough space to name them, but they are summed up in death and destruction. That is the truly prevailing capitalism that in Latin America does not cease to advance on corpses, human and non-human, living beings, rivers, hills and prairies.
In recent weeks governments and ruling classes have deployed a variety of modes of attack on the peoples, which reveal how power tightens with its claws. The autonomous community of Temucuicui, a Mapuche village in southern Chile, was attacked by carabineros (Chilean national police) with the result of one seriously injured and the burning of the wheat crop.
It’s not the first time that community has suffered repression, nor will it be the last. But burning food is something extremely serious. On February 10, they seized 80 tons of wheat and last week they burned 50 hectares of the community without harvesting. “Carabineros violently repressed the harvest work, there were twenty people injured with steel pellets” and left the community member Hugo Queipul in serious condition (https://bit.ly/3J4UFTQ).
The autonomous community’s communiqué adds that: “This act is simply a repeat of the terrorist Chilean State’s treatment of the Mapuche people, which during the 19th century used to burn the ruka [casas] and the crops, as well as stealing the cattle in order to deliver them to them to expat colonists who fled poverty in Europe.” (https://bit.ly/41PM8MR).
Journalism is being criminalized and persecuted in Guatemala. A judge opened an investigation into a group of journalists of El lPeriódico because of “obstruction of justice.” With good reason, justice fears journalistic investigations because they expose the misery of the the system.
“The final goal is to destroy independent journalism as a democratic space par excellence, or contaminate it enough that the most distrustful voices are silenced, self-censorship is applied and they renounce confronting power,” says La Prensa Gráfica (https://bit.ly/3ZvdpCJ).
In an attitude reminiscent of the Daniel Ortega dictatorship, the judge is also obstructing the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples1 so that it cannot present candidates. But the candidacy of Zury Ríos, daughter of the dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, expressly prohibited by the Constitution. International bodies tried and convicted Ríos Montt of corruption (https://bit.ly/3mxIgQC)is authorized.
It is assured that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala (in addition to Nicaragua), are no longer democracies. Were they ever ? What democracy can be built on the poverty of 70 percent of the population, marginalization and violence?
We end this brief tour with Argentina. UNICEF says that 66 percent of children are poor and that 87 percent of families in popular neighborhoods have complications accessing food. The journalist Darío Aranda argues that “like for 200 years, the main idea of local rulers is to be a supplier of raw materials, which is precisely one of the main causes of poverty and dependence” (https://bit.ly/3mAzocJ).
He adds: “His proposals to get out of the crisis were the same as in 2022: more mega-mining, more agribusiness, more oil and lithium exploitation.” They do not want to go further than to repeat again and again the same thing that has already failed, and that is at the basis of the current problems. Alberto Fernández, the Argentine president, seems to be copying AMLO, in the sense of solving violence with more guns on the street. Faced with the narco offensive in Rosario, their response is to send police and military (https://bit.ly/3T2Zrpd).
In the aformentioned countries there are governments of the right as well as the left, conservatives and progressives. But all of them do exactly the same thing. Some with better manners. Others are cruder. What is not in question is the model of accumulation by dispossession. 2The only debate that really exists is how to manage a model that neither right nor left discuss: a reality impossible to hide with elections and with “rights.”
They preach rights to us when extractivism systematically violates them. They use the commons to pay the foreign debt, please the multinationals and the ruling groups. That’s why Aranda concludes: “Governments don’t think about the next generation, but about the next election.” But in the areas devastated by the model, there is already talk of a “mining dictatorship.”
The model is not defeated from within institutions, but with direct action from below. We can learn from indigenous peoples and women who struggle: Extractivism is not stopped with decrees and laws, but rather with organized rebellion.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, March 10, 2023, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2023/03/10/opinion/017a1pol English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee. Reposted by Schools for Chiapas.
- The Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples is a Guatemalan political party, anti-systemic and left, which seeks a multi-cultural state, in which indigenous peoples are equally represented. It received official party status in 2018.
- Marxist Professor David Harvey explains accumulation by dispossession here.