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Colombia’s environmental conflicts

By Joan Martinez-Alier.

Thanks to Mario A. Perez’s work on the EJOLT inventory of environmental conflicts supported by his research students at CINARA and the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia, supported also by environmental activists in CENSAT – Agua Viva and othaer groups, the EJOLT map has been top news in the country. The weekly Semana published a full report on March 29, 2014. The conservative newspaper El Tiempo interviewed Mario A.Perez, wondering why Colombia should appear in the EJOLT map ( in a top position, as the second country in the world by number of conflicts after India. Such rankings of countries are based on a misinterpretation. We have launched the Map with nearly one thousand cases, but we have advanced more rapidly with some countries and topics than with other countries and topics. In Latin America, Mexico and Brazil (particularly northern Brazil) will probably have in the EJOLT map (when we reach about 2000 cases by March 2015) more environmental conflict cases than Colombia.

However, it is true that Colombia suffers many environmental injustices and in reaction there are many environmental conflicts. They are largely caused  by the efforts to increase mining for exports, and there are also many biomass extraction conflicts on oil palm plantations, for instance.

The Colombian inventory of over 85 cases is analyzed by Mario A. Perez (in what we call a new statistical political ecology) in an academic article soon to be published. He classifies the conflicts by region and commodity, gives numbers of activists killed, of projects stopped, names the corporations involves, explains the type of actions carried out by environmental justice organizations or other groups.

Schermafbeelding 2014-04-02 om 12.25.21

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