Sunday, May 19, 2024

Conclusion: An end to business as usual

Chapter 8

An end to business as usual 

‘Since the 1990s, in line with the recommendations of the Washington Consensus, Latin American governments have … reinforced and expanded an economic model based on the extraction of primary commodities for export. Mining, of course, is only one part of a much bigger picture. During this period, hydrocarbon extraction, agribusiness, electricity generation (including renewables, such as hydroelectric plants and windfarms), major works of infrastructure, and tourist developments, have all brought about extraordinary and unprecedented changes in the geography of Latin America. The most alarming consequence of this is the ongoing and accelerating destruction of the Amazon, a ten-million-year-old forest of which, in little over half a century, nearly a fifth has been destroyed.’

‘They [the industry] themselves recognize that one of their biggest problems is obtaining this social licence; it’s becoming increasingly difficult. As mining expands, so does conflict, and so does rejection of the industry. And we believe this trend is only going to increase in the coming years.’

– Cesar Padilla, of the Latin American Observatory of Mining Conflicts (OCMAL)

‘I think the rights of nature have enormous potential. Enormous and completely transformative for our societies … Especially in the context of climate change, biodiversity loss, and elimination of ecosystems in which we find ourselves, understanding the rights of nature as a limit on human societies is hugely important.’

– David Fajardo Torres, Ecuadorian law student and environmental activist with the groups Yasunidos and the People’s Council for the Water of Cuenca

Protestors stand together at the Rio Jáchal, San Juan, Argentina / © Oscar Martinez 2019

Related articles

Moira Millán: urgent situation of Indigenous people in Patagonia

Moira and Vilma had travelled from southern Patagonia to Europe to spread awareness of the urgent situation for Indigenous peoples in the south of Argentina, and to strengthen bonds of international solidarity. 

El Salvador: state of deception

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, warns that governemnt attacks on water defenders and others likely herald a return to metal mining, banned in the country since 2017. The IPS report also examines the increasing authoritarianism of the Bukele government and the new cllimate of fear it is inducing.

Mexico: life and death fight with a mining company

Members of Ejido El Bajío, in the Gran Desierto de Altar, Sonora, have been fighting for almost 20 years against a gold mining company that is destroying the fauna and flora of their beautiful but delicate surroundings.

COP28: protest against Brazilian miner Vale’s ‘demagogy’

Black and Indigenous Brazilian protestors halted a joint panel at the COP28 climate conference, where the mining company Vale and government representatives were talking complacently about 'energy transition'.

Colombia: open-pit mine threatens municipalities near Bogotá

In August this year, the owners of two fincas in the Gualivá province of Cundinamarca, just outside of Bogota, were sent expropriation orders by...

Ecuador: community vs the gold miners

Indigenous communities in Azuay, Ecuador, are fighting Canadian gold mining company Dundee Precious Metals, whose Loma Larga mine threatens to pollute the Kimsakocha moorlands and its rivers.


Achtenberg, E. (2015) ‘What’s Behind the Bolivian Government’s Attack on NGOs?’. NACLA. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Acosta, A. (2022) ‘Chile reconoce los derechos de la Naturaleza’. Clarín. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Bebbington, A. and Bury, J. (2013) ‘Political ecologies of the subsoil’. In: A. Bebbington and J. Bury, eds., Subterranean Struggles. New dynamics of mining, oil, and gas in Latin America. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, pp. 1–26.

Boudewijn, I.A.M. (2020) ‘Whose Development? How Women Living Near the Yanacocha Mine, Peru, Envision Potential Futures’. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 40(2), pp. 188–203.

Constante, S. (2013) ‘Ecuador cierra una ONG que respaldaba la lucha antipetrolera en el Amazonas’. [online] El País. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Convención Constitucional (2022) Borrador Nueva Constitución. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Harmony with Nature – United Nations (n.d.) ‘Rights of Nature Law and Policy’. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Machado Aráoz, H. (2012) ‘Minería transnacional, conflictos socioterritoriales y nuevas dinámicas expropiatorias: el caso de Minera Alumbrera’. In: M. Svampa and M. Antonelli, eds., Minería transnacional, narrativas del desarrollo y resistencias sociales, 1st ed. Buenos Aires: Biblos, pp. 181–204. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2022].

McNeish, J. (2018) ‘Resource Extraction and Conflict in Latin America’. Colombia Internacional, (93), pp. 3–16.

Sandy, M. (n.d.) ‘The Amazon Rain Forest Is Nearly Gone. We Went to the Front Lines to See If It Could Be Saved’. Time. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Solón, P. (2022) ‘Chile aprueba los derechos de la Naturaleza’. Fundación Solón. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].

Yu, A., Sappor, J., Nickels, L. and Cecil, R. (2021) ‘Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on industrial metals markets – one year on’. [online] S&P Global Market Intelligence. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2022].