- Extractivism and Life in the Americas
There may be those who upon hearing the theme title for this special issue of Diálogo volume 22 will ask what it means. May I point out though, that if the terms "transnational" and "neoliberalism" are readily familiar to readers—because we have accepted these in our globalized society as part and parcel of contemporary life—then we should be as aware of the term extractivism and the impact of extraction on communities. The analysis provided and questions raised through the articles in this issue can help guide us to better understanding.
The very action of asking about extractivism demonstrates why the subject needs to be addressed. Extraction of natural resources is modern technology, right? And the liquids, minerals, and gases being removed from the interior of the earth are worthwhile for our (mostly first-world) consumption needs, right? That idea has impeded our ability to respond seriously to the crisis of climate change, and it is increasingly evident that our societies are blind to the impact of extraction on those whose livelihood depends on the regions where huge projects of extraction occur. The perspective of those who are local to these communities is the reason for this special theme.
We seldom pause to consider the longstanding philosophy and observations on natural resources of those who have resided in these regions for generations, the perspective of Native, original peoples, populations invisible to mainstream politics and histories. The dynamic guest thematic editors for this issue—Drs. Juan Sánchez, Andrea Echeverría, and Ulíses Zevallos—created an important focus with insights from a variety of regions in Latin America, resulting in an extraordinary collection of research and heartfelt portraits drawn through their design and selection of articles and creative work.
Because important questions on livelihood, accessibility, and survival have needed addressing, and because the governments and multinational corporations involved in extractivism in Latin America do not consider or even wish to include residents in their decisions and partnered arrangements, it is important to pursue this topic. The articles and creative work in these contents represent a response from many communities granted neither voice nor vote. The perspective, philosophy, and analysis of those who are dismissed by governments and multinational corporations are revealed here, crossing humanities and social sciences disciplines.
While the following is not discussed in the articles here, I would like to share a few incidents that demonstrate the dire need for this conversation. Many residents who protest violence and forced removal, who have tried to have voice about loss of home and livelihood, have been killed. People in the US are somewhat aware of the case of Berta Cáceres in Honduras, murdered in her home in 2016. But many other murders of Indigenous and local community members receive no attention.
In early October of 2017, Ezquivel Manyoma, an important community leader of the Embera Dómida people in the Chocó region of Colombia, was kidnapped, taken by force in front of other community members, his lifeless body dumped into the village the next day. He had been organizing his small farming community of 63 families, trying to resist removal from their long-term land of residence. After his murder the fearful community retreated to join the Black communities in the nearby Querá region. Later, 400 Indigenous and Black families were forcibly removed from the region of San Juan del Litoral (at the base of the mountains and on the Pacific Coast). They lost their recently planted crops and small homes. The region has been targeted for "development," a small airport expanded in 2017, and a shipping port has now been constructed to serve projects for mining and logging, due to arrangements with China.
In Mexico the Wixárica (also known as Huichol) Indigenous community leader Margarito Díaz González was murdered in the first week of September 2018, shot in the face when he responded to a knock at his front door. He had a small farm and served [End Page 1] as religious/holy man for several communities; he was in the process of trying to fence in a three-hectare plot for spiritual...