Corporate voracity over dependent nations with corrupt governments.
“You do what you want with the waters of my rivers, with the landscape of my land, with the air I breathe, with the health of my compatriots, with the honour of my homeland”.
This message is implicit in the ceremony of signing concessions for extractive and resource exploitation projects in the countries of the fifth world – to which we belong in this punished container – by establishing bribery and preventing, with just a presidential order, the opinion of experts in environmental impact, the protests of the affected communities or the claims of civil society. It is the precise moment when the limits of sovereignty and humanitarian sense are broken.
The bane of underdeveloped countries – because to speak of developing countries is another big lie – is corruption. Decision-making based on personal convenience, the calculation of commissions, the self-enrichment of officials and the companies involved, lead a nation to exhaust its resources irrationally, without any consideration of a social nature, let alone long-term development planning. It is the here and now, but above all it is the “for me”.
No matter the number of documents revealing pollution, destruction of the environment or ridiculous royalties obtained from large corporations that take over rivers, minerals or agro-industrial mega-projects that kill fauna and flora, but also opportunities for development. In the cynicism of the rulers in trying to justify ecocide, we can see the extent to which the authorities give in to pressure from companies backed by first world governments to finally hand over everything in exchange for nothing.
When the scandals of these negotiations are uncovered, the entities involved try to cover up their crimes by promising to review contracts and increase royalties, but the door is never opened to civil society participation in decision-making, as if the country were a no man’s land. On the contrary, community leaders are persecuted, kidnapped and murdered for simply defending their environment and livelihoods. Popular consultation, which should be an unbreakable rule of local politics, is criminalised.
Mining is an attractive source of foreign investment. But it is much more costly than profitable because of the very serious damage in terms of loss of social and environmental integrity caused to the territory where mining is carried out. It is not only about environmental pollution, but also about the degradation caused by the divisive strategies of the companies, by creating a protective shield by introducing elements of discord among the affected inhabitants and armouring themselves by means of real independent armies with the purpose of keeping visitors away from their installations, even those with official investiture.
Operations of this kind are carried out in liberated territories. Sovereignty is transferred to a foreign company that can do as it wishes, exempt from the control of the population and protected by the state. The issue, controversial as everything to do with money, is of vital importance for the future of our nations. It is time to choose better those who represent us.
Territorial integrity is essential in a true democracy.