Monday, November 29, 2010

Energy and Conflicts: A Growing Concern in Latin America

Energy and Conflicts: A Growing Concern in Latin America” is a working paper by Patricia I. Vasquez, that has been published by the Inter-American Dialogue Energy Policy Working Group.

The author sustains that persistent social and economic differences are at the heart of the energy-related conflicts that have emerged in Latin America in the last decade and groups energy conflicts into three geographical categories: those with a regional scope, those that expand nationally, and those that grow locally.

“Regional-level conflicts may be Geopolitical conflicts linked to the use of energy, particularly oil, as a tool for building political alliances across borders, or they may be Border conflicts. Nationally, the obstacles stem from Revenue Conflicts, or clashes over the distribution of natural resource revenues among different ethnic or economic groups.

Local conflicts, meanwhile, emerge from disputes within the boundaries of the oil, gas, and/or hydroelectricity developments. They are frequently located in territories inhabited by indigenous peoples or in farming communities. Although local conflicts unfold in the geographic areas where the energy projects are being developed, they may have national consequences if not properly addressed.”

Very recently indigenous peoples from across Latin America have issued a unified declaration - the Lima Declaration - demanding an end to large-scale surface mining by transnational companies on indigenous peoples' lands. The Lima Declaration calls for governments to revoke mining titles and concessions granted without proper consultation of Indigenous Peoples. "This is a significant step forward in the process of building proposals from Indigenous Peoples and social movements against mining impacts, extraction by transnational companies, and the climate crisis," said indigenous leader Miguel Palacin Quispe, general coordinator of the Andean Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations.

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