BOGOT, COLOMBIA (21 March 2013)A new study reveals that governments in Latin America have returned to natural resources extraction to fuel developmentwhile paying scant attention to the impact mining, oil exploration and other activities have on the environment or on the people who own the land. The study, which reported on both domestic and international investments, was released at the 14th Rights and Resources Initiative Dialogue on Forests, Governance, and Climate Change bringing stakeholders and indigenous, Afro-descendant and rural community leaders from 13 nations to Bogot this week.
"We seem to have returned to an almost colonial mentality," said Margarita Florez, Executive Director, Asociacin Ambiente y Sociedad, whose study reviewed the recent activities impacts of extractive activities on lands owned by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants and other forest communities in Colombia, Panama and Guatemala. "Our governments are being shortsighted. They are undervaluing renewable resources such as forests and water, and are putting the rights of foreign investors before those who have lived and worked the land for generations."
Florez's study strengthens reports of a growing trend in the region of increased dependence on the export of non-renewable resources, including gold, silver, oil and natural gas. Foreign direct Investment (FDI) in Colombia, for example, has increased more than 500% between 2000 and 2010, and most of the funds are going into mining and related activities. In Peru, mining now ranks fourth in importance among industries that contribute to the gross domestic product.
In all four countries Florez found repeated instances of forced displacement of local peoples, the presence of non-state security forces, large-scale deforestation, damage to local sources of water in terms of both quantity and quality, loss of access to food sources, illegal land acquisition, the weakening of the social fabric of communiti
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