Less than a week ago it was reported that several gold miners in Brazil are now under investigation by federal prosecutors for the massacre of 10 people from an uncontacted indigenous community deep in the Amazon rainforest. The men reportedly bragged about having murdered them and cut up their bodies before disposing them in a nearby river, having stolen anything that seemed of value from their corpses. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurrence, and it is becoming more common with the growing conflict over land and natural resources by the neoliberal Temer government backed by amerikan foreign interests. As of the end of July, more than 50 people have been murdered in similar massacres carried out against indigenous peoples and environmental activists. This is in comparison to the 61 people who were killed in all of 2016; the increased genocidal violence is being driven by the rapidly accelerating privatization campaign led by the Temer.
Similar campaigns of mass slaughter are being felt throughout Latin Amerika, with paramilitaries in Columbia routinely carrying out the massacre of poor and indigenous peasants, struggling for the rights to their land against aggressive imperial monopolies. The motivation for these killings is the desire for dispossession by companies who want to expand their holdings into indigenous lands, especially in the Amazon rainforest. This is simply coming at the request of the Brazilian or Columbian bourgeoisie, but is being directed from the global centers of finance in the First World, driven by the rapid growth of the consumer economies amerikans and europeans. After all, it was the united $tates who endorsed the neoliberal coup of Temer in Brazil against the democratically elected Dilma Rousseff. Temer has since forced open areas previously protected for deforestation and mineral extraction by private companies tied to First World monopolies.
Additionally, it was the united $tates that fueled the decades-long civil war in Columbia, wherein right-wing paramilitaries, equipped by the amerikans, engaged in the genocidal massacres of indigenous activists protecting their land under the pretext of preventing the spread of communism. It was the FARC-EP and ELN that had historically kept these paramilitaries in check, but with the demobilization of the FARC-EP, it is clear the recent spike in the murder of indigenous peoples will go unchecked. The overwhelming pressure exerted, which has resulted in the brutal murder of 10 indigenous peoples just days ago, is coming from the imperialist core desperately attempting to maintain monopoly control over the natural resources of Latin Amerika. One may be tempted to explain these murders as local issues, caused by the the individual greed of miners and loggers. That, however, does not explain the international scale of these murders, which have been carried out all throughout Central and South Amerika, to devastating effect.
There must be a recognition of the causal effects of amerikan imperialism and the ecological war being waged in Latin Amerika. The ultimate responsibility for the genocide of indigenous communities and activists in Central and South Amerika belongs to the united $tates, and must be viewed as having an economic origin relevant to imperialism. The narrow explanation of faceless multinational companies, or local greed does not adequately explain the real social relations at work. Rather, it is the whole political-economic functioning of the First World that has created the demand for such genocidal development. It is not a side-effect of poor development choices, but the primary method through which the apparatuses of primary accumulation are expanded. The amerikan and european standard of living has demanded the expropriation of land, the murder of “human obstacles” and the destructive “development” of natural resources for the purposes of industry and export to the First World. In order to defeat the powerful forces that are now massacring—with impunity—the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, we must aim to bring about a holistic change to the world system. We must overthrow imperialism.
It may not seem initially necessary from the perspective of protecting the environment, after all sweeping protections were established decades ago for indigenous peoples and the rainforest at large. However, it is clear with Temer’s reversal of these decisions and commitment to the expansion of natural resource extraction, that such protections are meaningless so long as the governing principle of the world is that of First World accumulation. There is no other alternative, as even the democratically elected leaders are subject to the dictatorship of the First World over the Third, and are ousted by even higher governing bodies. The inhumanities of imperialism do not only demand the blood sacrifice of Third World countries in the form of overt war, but also in the form of silent genocide by displacement and dispossession. These conflicts will only intensify as imperialism claws at the last surviving forests and mineral deposits, and in the process erases countless of indigenous peoples and crushes the Third World proletariat. Rather than relying on piecemeal reforms by the liberal parties, we must seek to take the struggle for land, life and the environment to its ultimate conclusion.
While imperialism still lives, the forests and lands of the oppressed nations will never truly be safe, despite whatever “protections” exist in our bourgeois constitutions.
- “Region Silent as 156 Colombian Human Rights Activists Killed in Last 14 Months” (TeleSUR)
- “Brazil has opened a huge chunk of the Amazon to mining” (CNN)
- “‘Uncontacted’ Amazon Tribe Members Reported Killed in Brazil” (New York Times)
- “Stop the Murder of Environmental Defenders in Latin America” (Huffington Post)