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Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras

The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy
in Northern Honduras
Tanya M. Kerssen
“With this chilling description of the impacts in Honduras of the new
scramble towards land and resources, Tanya Kerssen gives faces, and voices,
to what is all too often described through statistics and trends… This is
required reading for those who wish to understand land grabbing from
the point of view of the victims.
Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
Right to Food
“Through meticulous research, unapologetic attention to history, and
crackling critique, Grabbing Power lays bare the truth: land grabbing is
not just a new colonialism. It is a natural offshoot of 90s-style, triumphal
neoliberalism. This book reminds us not just why, but what we fight.
Naomi Klein (author, The Shock Doctrine) and Avi Lewis
(director, The Take)
“This comprehensive and incisive work uncovers the power dynamics and
history of the war over land in Honduras… and the vision of the social
movements fighting for a radical transformation of society.
Benjamin Dangl, author, Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements
and States in Latin America
“Grabbing Power provides a concise and impassioned analysis of the most
acute agrarian crisis in Central America in the past fifteen years.
Marc Edelman, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,
City University of New York
Tanya Kerssen is a researcher at Food First/Institute for Food and
Development Policy.
Cover photo: A 13-year-old girl takes a break
from clearing the underbrush on an occupied
oil palm plantation in the Aguán Valley, land
recovered from one of Honduras’ richest men.
(AP Photo/Rodr igo Abd)
Food First/Institute for Food &
Development Policy
398 60th St., Oakland, CA 94618
Land & Sovereignty SerieS
“If you want a deeper understanding of the global land grab emergency,
you can’t do better than this book. Through meticulous research, un-
apologetic attention to history, and crackling critique, it lays bare the
truth: land grabbing is not just a new colonialism. It is a natural offshoot
of 90s-style, triumphal neoliberalism. This book reminds us not just why,
but what we fight.
Naomi Klein (author, The Shock Doctrine) and Avi Lewis (director,
The Take)
“Tanya Kerssen’s book on Honduras provides a concise and impassioned
analysis of the most acute agrarian crisis in Central America in the past
fifteen years. Grabbing Power exposes the linkages between a corrupt and
authoritarian political regime, an undemocratic agricultural and food
system, the criminalization of subsistence activities and social move-
ments and deeply troubling processes of environmental destruction.
Marc Edelman, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City
University of New York
“Grabbing Power represents a timely and inspiring challenge to the swell-
ing ‘land grab’ literature. Tanya Kerssen situates the current land grab
in Honduras as more than a momentary putsch—rather a power play
against a land and democracy movement generated by previous neolib-
eral land grabs in the 1990s. The story is one thing, and it is powerful; the
challenge is another, namely, that land grab analyses need to take account
of the full range and genealogy of political forces at work.
—Philip McMichael, Cornell University
“Grabbing Power by Tanya Kerssen is a small book on a huge topic: con-
temporary global land grabbing, in the specific context of Honduras. It
challenges many aspects of the conventional understanding of this trend,
and provokes critical thinking on what is to be done.
Jun Borras, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague
“This comprehensive and incisive work uncovers the power dynamics
and history of the war over land in Honduras, shedding light on the root
causes of the conflict, and the vision of the social movements fighting
not just for land and dignity, but for a radical transformation of society.
Benjamin Dangl, author, Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and
States in Latin America
“With this chilling description of the impacts in Honduras of the new
scramble towards land and resources, Tanya Kerssen gives faces, and voices,
to what is all too often described through statistics and trends — an ano-
nymization that is also a silencing. This is required reading for those who
wish to understand land grabbing from the point of view of the victims.
Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
Right to Food
Land & Sovereignty SerieS
The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy
in Northern Honduras
Tanya M. Kerssen
Oakland, CA
Journalist Manuel Torres Calderón (2002) calls Honduras
the “unknown country,” the least known and the least
understood country in Central America—primarily thought of
as a “banana republic” and a US base for counter-insurgency in
the 1980s. Indeed, compared to most Latin American countries,
there are few English-language books about Honduras written
for a popular audience. Even after the June 2009 coup that ousted
president Manuel Zelaya and the massive popular movement that
followed, Honduras languished in mainstream media obscurity,
overshadowed by celebratory coverage of the Arab Spring.
When the media did report on Honduras (or Central America
in general) it generally portrayed the region as a hopeless “basket
case” beset by gangs, crime and a tragically unwinnable War on
Drugs. These portrayals tell us little about the structural (political
and economic) causes of poverty and violence. Nor do they show
us how fiercely Hondurans are fighting to take back control of
their local economies, protect their families from violence, and
build democracy from the ground up.
While Honduran cities are growing rapidly, marked by
highly precarious working and living conditions, the majority
(74 percent) of the poor are rural: they are peasants (campesi-
nos), landless workers, indigenous and Afro-indigenous peoples
(USAID 2011b, 4). As throughout Latin America, both rural and
urban poverty are closely linked to the unequal distribution of
land—with enormous landholdings (known as latifundios) on one
hand and smallholdings (minifundios) on the other. In Honduras,
approximately 70 percent of the farmers hold 10 percent of the
land in minifundios while 1 percent of the farmers hold 25 per-
cent of the land in massive estates (ibid.).
Over the last three decades, the poverty generated by Honduras’
unequal land distribution has been magnified by climate change
and natural disasters, rising food prices and land grabs for cor-
porate agribusiness and tourism development. While deepen-
ing both urban and rural vulnerability, these events also sparked
new forms of grassroots organizing and political consciousness.
This book explores the dramatic expansion of agro-industrial
development in northern Honduras in the neoliberal era, its rela-
tionship to strengthening elite power and the seeds of popular
resistance it has paradoxically sown. Honduras is not a hopeless
basket case. It is, like many countries in the Global South, a place
where hunger, poverty and violence are rooted in a lack of genu-
ine democracy (and not, as some would have it, a lack of foreign
aid or economic growth). And that is precisely what Honduran
peasant movements are fighting for: the democratization of land,
food and political power.
Situating Honduras in the Global Land Grab
In the wake of the 2007-2008 global food, fuel and financial cri-
ses, observers have called attention to a growing trend in large-
scale farmland investments, particularly in poor countries of the
Global South. While reliable figures are hard to come by, esti-
mates range from around 56.6 million to 227 million hectares of
grabbed land globally (Cotula 2012). These land grabs erode local
control, often re-orienting production from meeting local needs
to meeting global market demands for food, feed and fuel. The
impact on land-based livelihoods—those of peasants and indig-
enous peoples whose survival hinges directly on access to land
and nature—has been deeply devastating. The term “land grab”
has now become a media buzzword, a catchall phrase for the new
global wave of peasant dispossession. Numerous scholars, activists
and organizations1 have been analyzing the phenomenon to
understand the forces behind it, while also working to stop it (or
curb its impacts) through campaigns and solidarity efforts.
New players have been identified (e.g. financial companies,
pension funds, sovereign wealth funds) as the buyers of huge
tracts of land. Compared to previous instances of land grabbing
by colonial powers or agribusiness firms, these investors tend to
be much more interested in the financial value of land (and of
the resources on, under or near it) than the value of its produc-
tion. Pension funds, for instance—which have quickly become
one of the largest institutional investors in land—“see long-term
pay-offs from the rising value of farmland and the cash flow
that will in the meantime come from crop sales, dairy herds or
meat production” (GRAIN 2011a). The speculative nature of
land acquisitions by a new set of global actors—in the context
of the food, fuel and financial crisis—is a defining feature of the
new land grabs (McMichael 2012).
As Borras et al. (2012) point out, however, prevailing
approaches to the land grabbing question have tended to high-
light certain regions and dimensions to the neglect of others. For
instance, studies generally focus on the role of foreign companies
and foreign governments (primarily China, India, South Korea
and the Gulf States) in the global land rush. This approach tends
to miss or marginalize land grabs carried out by domestic and
intra-regional capital, as well as the role of local elites and the
state itself (857). Analyses also tend to focus on “mega” deals,
measured in terms of numbers of hectares grabbed, generally defin-
ing a land grab as an acquisition (lease or purchase) greater than
1,000 hectares (850). In a recent presentation, GRAIN (2011b)
identifies land grabs as acquisitions of 10,000 hectares or more.
From the point of view of rural people facing eviction and
loss of livelihood, it matters little whether the deals in question
are for 10,000 hectares or ten. The experience of displacement—
whether gradual or sudden, small or large—is one of physical
and structural violence, and the end result is community frag-
mentation and even cultural obliteration. As the agrarian scholar
Samir Amin (2011) puts it, “we have reached a point at which, in
order to open up a new area for capital expansion, it is necessary
to destroy entire societies” (xiii).
Along with an emphasis on foreign-led mega-deals, the pre-
vailing approach to land grabs has been Africa-centric. With
cases like Ethiopia, where over 1 million hectares of Anuak
indigenous lands have been leased to foreign investors (primarily
Indian and Saudi), this regional focus clearly is not unwarranted
(GRAIN 2010; 2012). But in looking at Latin America, where
a different set of dynamics appears to be at work, there is evi-
dence that land grabbing is occurring “to an extent wider than
previously assumed” (Borras et al. 2012, 846). The case of the
Aguán Valley in northern Honduras, for instance, has been iden-
tified in a number of media articles and reports (Oxfam 2011;
DanChurchAid 2011) as an emblematic case of land grabbing.
And yet, it fits poorly within the model of land grabs outlined
above for a number of reasons.
First, the main instance of land grabbing in the Aguán occurred
nearly two decades ago, between 1990 and 1994, before the
Aguán peasant stands in front of his destroyed home after an eviction by police,
June 2011 (photo by Roger Harris)
recent food, fuel and financial crises that is widely viewed as trig-
gering the new rush on land. Neoliberal land legislation in 1992
facilitated the process, reversing earlier agrarian reforms and
unleashing new investment dynamics that were highly unfavor-
able to peasant farmers. In a short period, a few wealthy investors
seized more than 21,000 hectares (over 70 percent) of peasant
lands in the Lower Aguán Valley.
Second, while this would seem to meet the condition of a
large-scale land grab, it was not a single transaction, but rather
hundreds of small deals, in some cases for less than three hect-
ares. Cumulatively, this flurry of land deals generated widespread
peasant dispossession, and concentrated some of the country’s
best farmland and water resources into a few hands.
Third, the primary actors in the case of the Aguán were
not foreign investment firms or transnational agribusiness, but
Honduran elites. The biggest investor was Honduran business-
man Miguel Facussé Barjum—known as the “richest man in
Honduras”—who now controls most of the valley for corpo-
rate palm oil production. As part of the “ten families” (as they
are commonly known) who now control the country’s wealth,
Facussé amassed his fortunes with the help of economic policies
that liberalized trade and investments—first in manufacturing,
and then in agriculture. These policies led to the consolidation
of a globally oriented agro-industrial bourgeoisie (see below).
This re-configuration of class power set the stage for a new,
intensified phase of agro-industrial expansion beginning in
2009. This phase began with the most all-encompassing and
arguably the crudest “grab” of all: the grabbing of state power.
The coup that overthrew president Manual Zelaya on June 28,
2009 can be read as the expression of a class process set into
motion by neoliberal restructuring. The “new” land grabs in
Honduras then, look more like a deepening and intensification
of a process already well underway. Put another way, the grab-
bing of state power is, at least in part, the political consequence of
an earlier wave of land grabs.2 Thus, following the work of eco-
nomic geographer David Harvey (2005), this book argues that
neoliberal policies in Honduras should be viewed as a “political
project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation
and to restore the power of economic elites” (19).
Seen in this light, the Honduran case might help us to under-
stand the potential future ramifications of current land grabbing
Neoliberalism and Class Power
Throughout the 20th century, Honduras was known as the
quintessential “banana republic” dominated by US agribusiness
(e.g. United Fruit) and US military and geopolitical objectives.
As historian Walter LaFeber (1984) puts it:
North American power had become so encompassing
that US military forces and United Fruit could struggle
against each other to see who was to control the
Honduran government, then have the argument settled
by the US Department of State. (62)
US capital thus dominated Honduran politics, as well as the most
fertile soils and the most lucrative export markets. Comparatively,
the Honduran landed elite—which derived its power primar-
ily from enormous ranches and cotton plantations in the South
and West—had much less influence. They were, in fact, “the
economically poorest and politically weakest rural oligarchy in
Central America” (Ruhl 1984, 37).3
As Honduran historian Darío Euraque (1996) points out, how-
ever, the dominance of US capital in the North did not mean
the complete absence of Honduran elites. After World War II,
an incipient homegrown bourgeoisie, composed largely of Arab
Palestinian immigrants, developed around the northern city of
San Pedro Sula, in the heart of the banana-growing Sula Valley.
The ethnic composition of this elite class—with Arab surnames
like Kattán, Canahuati, Facussé, Násser, Kafati and Larach—was
the result of government policies in the early 20th century that
promoted foreign immigration as a means to social, cultural and
economic progress (González 1992; Foroohar 2011). With the
Ottoman Empire in decline, many Palestinian Arabs immigrated
to Central America, concentrating in Honduras. While the gov-
ernment hoped these newcomers would develop agriculture,
first generation Palestinian immigrants (who intended eventu-
ally to return home) rejected the government’s land grants and
instead gravitated towards commerce, quickly establishing them-
selves as a powerful merchant class and eventually investing in
industry. By the late 1950s, wealthy Palestinian families—often
referred to as “Turks” (los turcos)—already controlled 75 percent
of investments in the import-export sector and about 50 percent
of investments in manufacturing (Foroohar 2011).
This “emerging new class of wealth,” however, tended to
be excluded from political activity partly by their own choice
and partly as a result of the unwelcoming attitudes of native
Hondurans (Euraque 1996, 35). Structural adjustment poli-
cies of the 1990s, however, sparked a massive transfer of state
resources to the Honduran private sector, granting north coast-
based elites unprecedented access to global markets, investment
capital and political power. They expanded their power primarily
through two boom sectors of the neoliberal period: manufactur-
ing (maquilas) located in over a dozen Export Processing Zones
(EPZs) and palm oil based in the Lower Aguán River Valley. A
third elite-controlled sector, coastal tourism, flourished in the
late 1990s as part of the effort to restructure northern Honduras
along investment-friendly lines.
In addition, US-backed militarization in Central America,
increasing sharply during the counter-insurgency wars of the
1980s, promoted elite interests by repressing labor unions and
peasants associated with the “communist threat.” Honduran busi-
ness and military interests became increasingly intertwined—with
one another and with the US—in the 1980s. The anti-communist
Association for the Progress of Honduras (APROH) was founded
in 1983, with membership comprising all of the country’s major
businessmen, to promote deregulation, trade liberalization and a
military approach to suppressing popular resistance movements
(Envío 1984).4 Notably, APROH’s president was General Gustavo
Álvarez Martínez—commander of the armed forces, linked to
widespread political assassinations and torture—and its vice-presi-
dent was businessman Miguel Facussé.
Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has become increasingly
militarized. The human rights organization Committee for
Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras
(COFADEH) identifies the current trend as a powerful resur-
gence of APROH-style authoritarianism: a blend of right-wing
extremism, neoliberalism and militarism (Rodríguez 2010). US
military aid, ramped up in the name of the War on Drugs, has
added fuel to the fire. Efforts have targeted the northern coast
and the northeast Moskitia region, areas identified as a “strategic
drug trafficking corridor. But the north is also a major area of
agribusiness, manufacturing and commercial tourism expansion.
US-assisted militarization—combined with the private security
forces of large landowners—has been tantamount to an all-out
war on peasants, facilitating the expansion of these elite-con-
trolled sectors.
The agro-industrial oligarchy is heavily oriented towards
the United States—for trade, investment and cultural cues for
looking and acting like a global business elite5—and supportive
of the US political and economic agenda in Central America.
Correspondingly, the US has been instrumental in the making
of these elites through bilateral and multilateral aid (USAID,
IDB) and the policy prescriptions of Washington-based financial
institutions (World Bank, IMF). A key moment for the consoli-
dation of the neoliberal model promoted by these institutions
was also Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Post-Mitch crisis conditions
provided cover for fast-tracking the neoliberal development
agenda—focused on the maquila, agroindustry and tourism sec-
tors—newly branded as a plan for “reconstruction” (Boyer and
Pell 1999; Jeffrey 1999; Klein 2005; Stonich 2008).
Global market mechanisms, such as those generated by the
new “green capitalism,” also play a part. Markets for “green”
commodities such as crop-based fuel (agrofuels) and carbon
credits not only encourage “new” land grabbing, but also add
value to previously grabbed lands and a sheen of environmental
legitimacy. The carbon credits allotted to Miguel Facussé for the
greening of palm oil processing, for example, reinforce his own-
ership claim on highly contested lands in the Aguán.6 Thus, to
say that the 2009 coup and expansion of agro-industrial capital is
the result of a “class process” is by no means to dismiss the role of
US/Northern imperialism or global capital. Indeed, these forces
tend to transform or reinforce local class dynamics in important
and historically specific ways.
Grabbing Power (Back)
The land grabs of the 1990s generated a powerful counter-
movement for the recovery of peasant lands in the Aguán Valley.
Dozens of peasant organizations emerged, such as the Peasant
Movement of Aguán (MCA) formed in 1999, followed by the
Unified Movement of Aguán Peasants (MUCA) in 2001. In
most cases, the movements began by pursuing legal strategies—
filing requests for the nullification of purchase agreements and
demanding investigations of fraudulent deals. When politically
influential landowners repeatedly obstructed these approaches,
the movements began occupying the oil palm plantations
claimed by Facussé and other large landowners. What emerged
over a decade of organizing in the Aguán is a mass “grab land
back” movement.7
This movement made headway under the Zelaya administra-
tion (2006-2009), which found itself in an increasingly tense
predicament. On one hand was the powerful agro-oligarchy, jeal-
ously protecting its newly acquired power and access to foreign
investment. On the other hand were 375,000 landless Honduran
families, an increasingly militant peasant movement, and steeply
rising food prices (Vía Campesina et al. 2011). Faced with these
conditions, Zelaya chose to make concessions to social move-
ments, raising the monthly minimum wage and enacting agrar-
ian reform legislation. These policies were met with a growing
hostility that foreshadowed the 2009 coup.
Pro-peasant legislation passed by Zelaya was overturned after
the coup while the militarization of the countryside further
reinforced the power of the agro-oligarchy. US military and
development aid quickly resumed, and by November 2010 post-
coup president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo was able to sign agree-
ments with the IMF, IDB and World Bank for $322.5 million
to restore the country’s economic stability and promote eco-
nomic growth (Meyer 2010). The Aguán suffered immediate and
relentless state-sponsored repression. Between September 2009
and August 2012, there have been 53 recorded cases of peasant
murders in the context of the Aguán agrarian conflict—with
many more injuries, kidnappings, illegal detentions, forced evic-
tions and cases of torture and sexual assault (FIAN 2012; FIDH
2011; IACHR 2012). Many Aguán peasants and activists now
place the death toll at over 60 (Bird 2012).
Paradoxically, the coup inspired a far-reaching political “awak-
ening, as Hondurans often call it. Students, teachers, trade unions,
human rights organizations, indigenous peoples, peasants, femi-
nists, LGBT communities, artists, and faith-based groups were
galvanized by the coup and the repression that followed, coming
Assembly of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), February 2011
(photo by Felipe Canova/Creative Commons)
together as the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup
(now the National Front of Popular Resistance, or FNRP). In
the Aguán Valley, struggles for agrarian reform—a project long
tied to the good will of the state—turned into a much more
radical struggle to transform state power. The comments of a
peasant leader from MUCA in early 2010 are emblematic:
The people we’re fighting against in the Aguán
Valley, these are the men who generated poverty for
Honduran society and wealth for themselves. And
they’re the ones who manipulate information, who tell
the government what to do and what not to do. They
can put a government in power or remove it. So the
struggle to liberate the Aguán Valley is a difficult fight,
because it’s against the entire Honduran oligarchy and
also the Honduran government... (Emanuelsson 2010)
Inspired by the struggles of Aguán peasants and the Honduran
resistance movement, this book begins from the (perhaps rather
obvious) proposition that land grabs are a question of power. Thus,
in order to understand why they are happening, we must under-
stand 1) how power is historically constituted, and 2) how land
grabs further consolidate power in particular ways. Grounded
in the historically specific determinants of class, power and land
use in northern Honduras, I hope this book contributes to an
understanding of the complex forces driving land grabs, particu-
larly in the Americas. Much more ambitiously (and also more
urgently) I hope it inspires solidarity and informs strategies to
stop them.
This book is the result of over a year and a half of in-depth
research—including two fact-finding and solidarity trips to
northern Honduras in June 2011 and January 2012—to under-
stand and contextualize the land conflicts in the Aguán. It is based
on interviews with peasant and Afro-indigenous community
leaders, resistance activists and NGO allies. Because of the lack
of available empirical and official data, and the unreliability of
prominent media outlets, I relied heavily on first-hand accounts
and reports from people on the ground, including interviews,
social movement blogs, independent media reports and human
rights delegation reports. As much as possible, I confirmed the
information contained in this book through more than one
The challenge of obtaining and confirming information,
however, points to the need for further research, especially from
activist researchers willing to assist communities in document-
ing their own struggles; and from committed journalists will-
ing to highlight the voices and realities of affected communities.
For Hondurans, this is a dangerous undertaking indeed: since
the coup, at least 22 Honduran media workers have been mur-
dered for daring to break the silence of elite-managed censorship
(UNESCO 2012). While this violence is chilling, it shows that
even an authoritarian state depends on a modicum of legitimacy,
which it can only ensure by suppressing the right to free expres-
sion. The role of the US government in funding this repression
with taxpayer dollars confers upon US citizens a special respon-
sibility and capacity to act. While this book aims to contribute
to the body of scholarship on Honduras and agrarian struggles,
it is also a call for international solidarity with the Honduran
resistance and the peasants of the Aguán.
... In addition, in Central America, self-provisioning was sought to be suppressed in the interests of controlling labour, forcing labourers to sell their ability to work at the lowest possible price and often under serf-like conditions (Grandia, 2012). And in many cases the violence of the state has met the resistance of small landowners determined to hold onto their lands and water resources, seeing their relationships to the land as vital to their biological, social, and cultural reproduction (Grandia, 2012;Kerssen 2013;Shah, 2010;Whitehead, 2010). Despite linguistic/cultural differences across the continents, the influence of monopoly finance capital on state policies produces remarkably similar trajectories of dispossession of "the Indigenous" across the globe. ...
... The current president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has close links to the Honduran oligarchy, and his brother was recently tried and convicted in the United States on drug-trafficking charges. Kerssen (2013) has documented the ways that the Honduran state's land titling program of collective peasant lands opened the pathway for Honduras' oligarchy to snap up large land areas for profitable cash crops, particularly oil palm. This process was most acute in the lower Aguan Valley, where 21,000 hectares, over 70% of peasant land in the region, were seized by wealthy investors between 1992 and 1999. ...
... These organizations made progress during the early 2000s in nullifying some sales, and re-occupying some lands, despite strong opposition from large landowners. Their progress was facilitated by the policies of Zelaya, who chose to make concessions to the social movements, raised the minimum wage, enacted agrarian reform legislation forbidding the sale of cooperatives' remaining land, and agreeing to grant land titles to farmers who had peacefully occupied and produced on their lands for 10 or more years (Kerssen, 2013). However, these titles were not implemented by the time the coup occurred in June 2009. ...
... and 1980s (Posas, 1981a;Ruhl, 1984;Meza et al., 2014). At first glance the conflict seems to be a clash between subsistence-oriented peasants and transnationally oriented landowners interested in expanding the production of palm oil, one of the quintessential 'flex crops', with end uses that include edible oil, agro fuel and cosmetics, as well as additional benefits, in some cases, in the form of tradable carbon emission reduction credits under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (Borras et al., 2012;Kerssen, 2013;Wong, 2013). In May 1954, a general strike broke out involving 35,000 workers in the nearby North ...
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Sand mining in Madhya Pradesh, one of the biggest states in Central India, is rampant. Over the years, unsustainable sand mining has caused great damage to the Narmada River and its tributaries. The Ken, Betwa, Sindh, Chambal and Son rivers which join Yamuna and Ganga Rivers have also been facing severe threats from ongoing illegal sand extraction. Sand is used as an abrasive or in concrete, extracted mainly through an open pit, but sometimes mined from beaches and inland dunes or dredged from ocean and river beds. Sand mining is a direct cause of erosion, and impacts the local aquatic wildlife. Various animals depend on sandy beaches for nesting, and mining has led to a decrease in their population. The government is taking steps to control mining activities in this region, particularly in protected areas like the National Chambal Sanctuary. Yet, intervention by concerned local authorities, including police and forest officials, and environmental defenders have resulted in retaliatory actions by the mining mafias.
... In developing countries, where globalisation has been strongly influencing changes in formal land tenure systems, neoliberal policies have been implemented in the last decades, often with disastrous results for large groups of people (Crewe and Axelby, 2013: 161;Zoomers, 2013: 68;Dehaibi, 2015: 1). Under neoliberal policies, economic growth becomes the main role of land that states care about, and concentration of wealth in elites is a consequenceif not an understated objective-of neoliberalism (Borras Jr., 2006: 116;Hall et al., 2011: 11;Peluso and Lund, 2011: 672;Kerssen, 2013). For instance, the transfer of control over extensive parcels of land to large corporations, especially in Africa and Asia, justified by neoliberal views of the role of land, has been quite harmful to the livelihoods of local populations and has exacerbated other fragilities of these countries, such as corruption and weak institutions (Borras Jr. et al., 2011;Cotula, 2013;Hall, 2013;Hall, 2013a;Wolford et al., 2013). ...
Land registration has a magnetic appeal to politicians, state officials, and practitioners. The objective of this paper is, in dialogue with the other papers of this special volume, to highlight some of the main assumptions and misconceptions on which land registration programs are often developed, the problems that they cause if not carefully implemented, and the conditions in which they can actually improve people’s lives. This paper, based on my doctoral research (2020), does not aim to be a comprehensive literature review on existing knowledge regarding land registration nor an analysis of land registration in Timor-Leste, but aims instead to highlight a number of key authors and ideas on land registration that can contribute to the dialogue about this topic in Timor-Leste.
... En el medio rural, otras configuraciones productivas y territoriales se relacionan con el fenómeno de la marginalización, de la exclusión y de la migración. Si bien la problemática del despojo, del acaparamiento y de los conflictos vinculados con los cultivos de palma africana o la instalación de megaproyectos turísticos de la costa norte es notoria (Iborra, 2019;Jung, 2011;Kerssen, 2013;León, 2019), ningún migrante entrevistado se refirió a estas situaciones particulares. Sin embargo, las entrevistas enfocadas a la descripción de los paisajes productivos de las regiones de origen permitieron subrayar el tema de la expansión de los monocultivos y de la integración subordinada en las cadenas de valor de la agricultura global, como factores de pobreza y desintegración de las estructuras productivas familiares (Reichman, 2011). ...
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El artículo busca analizar las diferentes formas de violencia que llevan a los migrantes a huir de su país. Se enfoca en comprender el fenómeno de la expulsión migratoria desde una perspectiva estructural que dirige la atención hacia las relaciones de poder, las desigualdades y las fracturas socioespaciales. La contribución no ignora la violencia relacionada con las pandillas, pero se dedica a visibilizar las otras dimensiones de la violencia que impregnan la realidad migratoria contemporánea. En la primera parte, se presenta una revisión conceptual sobre violencia y migración. En segunda, el artículo propone escuchar la migración hondureña, dando ampliamente la palabra a los propios migrantes, para profundizar en la comprensión de las violencias en origen de tres ámbitos: el íntimo/ familiar, el laboral/productivo, el ciudadano/político.
This article examines more deeply the lives and livelihoods of people migrating from Central America to the United States in the past three years. It shows that primitive accumulation is a major factor in their migration, as land titling programmes sponsored by the World Bank have resulted in large-scale takeover of former cooperatives in Honduras and partially common property land in Guatemala and Honduras. The violence the co-operative holders flee is mainly a product of primitive accumulation, rather than the drug trade. It also examines alternatives to primitive accumulation. It concludes with reflections on why new relations to land, labour, and water are necessary to avoid future ethnic cleansing and climate catastrophes.
Classified as one of the countries with the highest incidence of homicide and femicide in the world, Honduras has been revealed as a flashpoint for violence perpetrated by the drug cartels and gangs. However, to reduce the problem of violence to simply «criminality» is inexact because it focuses upon the symptoms, to the detriment of the core causes, and which drives increasing involvement in the Armed Forces and the Police, bodies that are responsible for grave violations of human rights. At its core lies a foundation of political violence —that is, the violence and repression against the defenders of the earth, environment, and human rights— those who search for alternatives to agro-industrial, mining and infrastructure projects. Over the past decade, state and non-state actors, such as paramilitaries, have perpetrated violence in the service of capital. Paramilitary violence is functional for the large-scale accumulation of capital in agro-industry, tourism, mining and energy; it also drives the imposition of neoliberal reforms in land management, education and health. Paramilitary violence in the service of local and international corporations has occurred within a militarized context that extends state violence to repress and criminalize social movements. Honduras stands out as one of the four countries in Latin America with the highest levels of violence and criminalization, interrelated phenomena.
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Land registration has a magnetic appeal to politicians, state officials, and practitioners. The objective of this paper is, in dialogue with the other papers of this special volume, to highlight some of the main assumptions and misconceptions on which land registration programs are often developed, the problems that they cause if not carefully implemented, and the conditions in which they can actually improve people’s lives. This paper, based on my doctoral research (2020), does not aim to be a comprehensive literature review on existing knowledge regarding land registration nor an analysis of land registration in Timor-Leste, but aims instead to highlight a number of key authors and ideas on land registration that can contribute to the dialogue about this topic in Timor-Leste.
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Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions extends the original conception of the food regime, formulated by Harriet Friedmann and Philip McMichael, detailing new dimensions of the succession of imperial, intensive and corporate food regimes. Developing the methodological contributions of food regime analysis, McMichael re-examines the agrarian question historically and its present-day implications. He introduces regional interpretations of the food regime, incorporating gender, labour, financial, ecological and nutritional dimensions into his analysis. Finally, McMichael explores the relationships between contemporary food, energy, climate and financial crises and food regime restructuring, which includes such topics as agrofuels, land grabbing, the bioeconomy, agro-security mercantilism and the food sovereignty movement. Armed with the skills of a historian, geographer, economist and sociologist, McMichael packs this conspectus with global context and cutting edge research.... this book is vital for anyone wanting to deepen their knowledge about how to think about today’s world food system, and how to go about changing it. -- Raj Patel, University of Texas at Austin McMichael provides a compelling narrative that allows us to see the big picture: the geopolitical and political economy dimensions of what we eat....understanding how today’s dominant food regime emerged, putting the agro-food systems in the service of finance and transnational circuits of commodities, is an indispensable first step towards reform. — Olivier De Schutter, University of Louvain
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Resumen Para abordar la problemática del acaparamiento de tierras, presentamos los principales rasgos que presenta el fenómeno en América Latina, aunque los aspectos identificados no sean exclusivos de esta región. Al destacarlos, por ejemplo planteando que un aspecto distintivo en América Latina es el acaparamiento intrarregional en manos de empresas (trans)latinoamericanas, esperamos incentivar el desarrollo de análisis comparativos interregionales, que permitan comprender la dinámica de los procesos de apropiación de tierras a nivel global. Tomar como espacio de análisis América Latina pone en cuestión algunas generalizaciones problemáticas que pueden encontrarse en la literatura especializada, como las que identifican la ocurrencia de estos fenómenos principalmente en el contexto de estados frágiles. En ese sentido, nos interrogamos acerca de la relación entre acaparamiento de tierras y la narrativa “extranjerizante” y planteamos la necesidad de revisar la más amplia cuestión de la concentración de la tierra. Para ello, recuperaremos la bibliografía que considera las cuestiones del acaparamiento y concentración de tierras en el marco de la economía política del capitalismo global. Palabras clave: acaparamiento de tierras; concentración; extranjerización; América Latina.
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