NACLA Update 09/03/09 - New NACLA Report: Political Environments

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September/October 2009:
Political Environments: Development, Dissent, and the New Extraction

Conflicts over natural resources are on the rise in Latin America. Even with a global downturn in foreign investing, capital has been flowing steadily into the region's growing mining and hydrocarbon sectors, as governments push the extraction agenda. Indeed, the presidential decrees that touched off violence in Bagua, Peru, in June were "only the most brazen" expression of a new continent-wide push to open up frontiers to various extractive industries, as noted in this Report. The articles in this issue make clear that conflicts in the region over natural resources occur in a variety of "political environments"—from neoliberal Peru to anti-neoliberal Bolivia. The aim of this Report is thus to showcase examples of natural resource conflicts in which development projects and environmentalism collide, in the context of the region's "new extraction."
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New on

Playing the 'Anti-Semitism' Card Against Venezuela
by Eric Wingerter and Justin Delacour

The U.S. press tends to portray left-leaning Latin American governments as hotbeds of anti-Semitism. In the case of Venezuela, this storyline has been promoted in three key ways: (1) attributing anti-Semitic acts or statements by private citizens to the government, (2) conflating legitimate criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Semitism, and (3) relying on press statements by U.S.-based Jewish organizations at the expense of Venezuelan Jewish organizations.
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Guatemala: A Traditional Community Fights for Its Land
by Susan Fitzpatrick Behrens

The members of Centro Campesino, a cooperative in Guatemala's Petén region, are fighting to recover their land. Their displacement, their struggle, and their inability to protect their community, Yaxchilan, reveal the surprising ways that both export-led development plans and conservation programs can disregard the interests of indigenous and traditional communities. For conservation groups, this oversight can lead to a failure to ally with the only communities that may effectively stop mining, petroleum exploration, hydroelectric dams, and monoculture crops that destroy the environment.
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