Multinational Corporations in Colombia: Land Grab!

Nazih Richani 6/5/2011

In 2009 the foreign direct investment (FDI) in Colombia amounted to $7.2 billion, which was a significant increase from the $2.4 billion recorded in 2000. The FDI is expected to reach $45 billion by 2015. Close to 75% of these investments are in the oil, gas and mineral sectors. The increasing flow of capital investment is causing havoc in the economy, affecting almost all exports including cut flowers and manufacturing, and disrupting food production. This is in addition to the environmental and social degradation that these unfettered investments are causing.

Most of the country’s land is literally up for grabs, including natural reserves and ancestral lands of indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups, threatening their livelihood and cultures. The most striking feature about this surge in FDI is that it is forging partnerships among multinational corporations, national capital, and the state. These partnerships are becoming emblematic to the globalization of capital in its current phase of development. In this realignment states are facilitators and active participants in the plunder of natural resources.

In this context, the task to resist these land encroachments has become even more daunting, but not impossible. In the Colombian departments of Chocó and Cauca, indigenous movements and afro-descendents alongside other social groups are building resistance networks similar to those in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. The future of the environment and rural economy depends largely on the outcome of this resistance. Consequently, the stakes are extremely high and no less than the future is in the balance.

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