Proudhon: Your employer is your enemy.

“The civilised labourer who bakes a loaf that he may eat a slice of bread, who builds a palace that he may sleep in a stable, who weaves rich fabrics that he may dress in rags, who produces every thing that he may dispense with every thing, — is not free. His employer, not becoming his associate in the exchange of salaries or services which takes place between them, is his enemy.”

— Pierre Joseph Proudhon

How Capitalists Use Racism (Lorenzo Komboa Ervin)

‘ […] The fate of the white working class has always been bound with the condition of Black workers. Going as far back as the American colonial period when Black labour was first imported into America, Black slaves and indentured servants have been oppressed right along with whites of the lower classes. But when European indentured servants joined with Blacks to rebel against their lot in the late 1600s, the propertied class decided to “free” them by giving them a special status as “whites” and thus a stake in the system of oppression.

Material incentives, as well as the newly elevated social status were used to ensure these lower classes’ allegiance. This invention of the “white race” and racial slavery of the Africans went hand-in-glove, and is how the upper classes maintained order during the period of slavery. Even poor whites had aspirations of doing better, since their social mobility was ensured by the new system. This social mobility, however, was on the backs of the African slaves, who were super-exploited.

But the die had been cast for the dual-tier form of labour, which exploited the African, but also trapped white labour. When they sought to organise unions or for higher wages in the North or South, white labourers were slapped down by the rich, who used enslaved Black labour as their primary mode of production. The so-called “free” labour of the white worker did not stand a chance.

Although the Capitalists used the system of white skin privilege to great effect to divide the working class, the truth is that the Capitalists only favoured white workers to use them against their own interests, not because there was true “white” class unity. The Capitalists didn’t want white labour united with Blacks against their rule and the system of exploitation of labour. The invention of the “white race” was a scam to facilitate this exploitation. White workers were bought off to allow their own wage slavery and the African’s super-exploitation; they struck a deal with the devil, which has hampered all efforts at class unity for the last four centuries.

The continual subjugation of the masses depends on competition and internal disunity. As long as discrimination exists, and racial or ethnic minorities are oppressed, the entire working class is oppressed and weakened. This is so because the Capitalist class is able to use racism to drive down the wages of individual segments of the working class by inciting racial antagonism and forcing a fight for jobs and services. This division is a development that ultimately undercuts the living standards of all workers. Moreover, by pitting whites against Blacks and other oppressed nationalities, the Capitalist class is able to prevent workers from uniting against their common class enemy. As long as workers are fighting each other, Capitalist class rule is secure.

If an effective resistance is to be mounted against the current racist offensive of the Capitalist class, the utmost solidarity between workers of all races is essential The way to defeat the Capitalist strategy is for white workers to defend the democratic rights won by Blacks and other oppressed peoples after decades of hard struggle, and to fight to dismantle the system of white skin privilege. White workers should support and adopt the concrete demands of the Black movement, and should work to abolish the white identity entirely. These white workers should strive for multicultural unity, and should work with Black activists to build an anti-racist movement to challenge white supremacy. However, it is also very important to recognise the right of the Black movement to take an independent road in its own interests. That is what self-determination means. […] ‘


Excerpt from “How the Capitalists Use Racism”, from the book “Anarchism and the Black Revolution” by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin

John Curl: Work as employee vs. as a free laborer

“The vast majority of working Americans today are employees, and most spend their entire occupational lives as one. Yet, only 200 years ago, just a tiny percentage of the workforce were employees, and the vast majority of free working people were self-employed farmers, artisans, and merchants […] Being an employee was considered a form of bondage, only a step above indentured servitude. One submitted to it due to economic hardship for as short a time as possible, then became free once more, independent, one’s own boss. As the country industrialized during the 19th century, the transformation from a nation of self-employed “free” people to a nation of employees took place relentlessly, and continued through the 20th century. In 1800, there were few wage earners in America; in 1870, shortly after the Civil War, over half the workforce consisted of employees; in 1940, about 80 percent; in 2007, 92 percent of the American workforce was employees and the number of self-employed was under 9 percent.”

–John Curl, For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America

Santa’s real workshop: the town in China that makes the world’s Christmas decorations

(via The Guardian)

Inside the ‘Christmas village’ of Yiwu, there’s no snow and no elves, just 600 factories that produce 60% of all the decorations in the world …

Christmas decorations being made at a factory in Yiwu city, Zhejiang province, China - 15 Dec 2014

[…] Christened “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home to 600 factories that collectively churn out over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” that staff these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month – and it turns out they’re not entirely sure what Christmas is.

“Maybe it’s like [Chinese] New Year for foreigners,” says 19-year-old Wei, a worker who came to Yiwu from rural Guizhou province this year, speaking to Chinese news agency Sina. Together with his father, he works long days in the red-splattered lair, taking polystyrene snowflakes, dipping them in a bath of glue, then putting them in a powder-coating machine until they turn red – and making 5,000 of the things every day.

In the process, the two of them end up dusted from head to toe in fine crimson powder. His dad wears a Santa hat (not for the festive spirit, he says, but to stop his hair from turning red) and they both get through at least 10 face masks a day, trying not to breathe in the dust. It’s a tiring job and they probably won’t do it again next year: once they’ve earned enough money for Wei to get married, they plan on returning home to Guizhou and hopefully never seeing a vat of red powder again.

Chinese factory worker in Yiwu christmas decoration sweatshop covered in red paint

Packaged up in plastic bags, their gleaming red snowflakes hang alongside a wealth of other festive paraphernalia across town in the Yiwu International Trade Market, aka China Commodity City, a 4m sq m wonder-world of plastic tat. It is a pound shop paradise, a sprawling trade show of everything in the world that you don’t need and yet may, at some irrational moment, feel compelled to buy. There are whole streets in the labyrinthine complex devoted to artificial flowers and inflatable toys, then come umbrellas and anoraks, plastic buckets and clocks. It is a heaving multistorey monument to global consumption, as if the contents of all the world’s landfill sites had been dug-up, re-formed and meticulously catalogued back into 62,000 booths. […]

Chinese factory worker in Yiwu christmas decoration sweatshop next to shelves of manufactured junk

(Source: Wainwright, Oliver. “Santa’s real workshop: the town in China that makes the world’s Christmas decorations”. The Guardian. 19 December 2014.)


Classical capitalist economists on the role of the state

“Laws and government may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence.”

–Adam Smith (Lectures on Jurisprudence, 208, 1762)


“The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.”

–John Locke (Second Treatise, § 124.)


See also: Whose Constitution?

Raising Hope Across the Borders: Transnational Social Movements and Power

Q: Gerardo, when you said “raise peoples’ hopes,” what did you mean by that?

I meant to really believe that transformation is possible. We are in a very tight spot – we’re screwed, you could say. There’s a great deal of poverty, a lot of exclusion, a lot of violence, a lot of injustice in our countries. Working people and our natural resources are being terribly exploited. We’re up against a huge monster, an economic, political machine of monstrous proportions. It would be very easy for us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up the struggle entirely and say “To hell with it. There’s no way we can overcome these massive forces, so let’s just go about our lives and forget about it.”

But we know that if we’re here today, it’s because our grandparents, our ancestors, didn’t give up the fight. They raised our hopes.

And we know that, sooner or later, things will start to change. Not just for us, but for humanity as a whole. This system that we all live in may continue to dominate us for a couple more centuries – who knows how long – but we believe in the transformative power that humans possess. Things weren’t always how they are today and things won’t always be this way in the future. Things change, they transform. Empires are born and they eventually die. Political and economic systems eventually fade away.

For now, we’re the ones in the thick of it. But then it will be up to our children, including those who aren’t born yet, to continue in the struggle. And if we don’t raise their hopes, give them hope, then what will happen in the future? Are we all just going to give up this struggle? No, we have to keep fighting, even if we aren’t the ones who are able to see the dawn break through the darkness. Economic systems take a lot longer to be transformed [than our lifespans]. It might be our children’s children who see it come about – who knows? But it will happen. We have to keep struggling and wait.

Q: But the powers that be, like the United States, are enormous. Why do you believe that people with no money, without institutionalized power of any sort, can change all of this?

First, like any other empire, the US is going to disappear because that’s just how history works. Sooner or later, all of the contradictions that exist in this economic-political system will cause it to fall. In the past, there were enormous empires that looked like they would last for all eternity. And all of them – all of them, with no exceptions – were transformed. Their economic and political foundations were transformed, their demographics were transformed. It’s just a matter of time.

A sector of people in the US are dyed-in-the-wool imperialists and capitalists, yes. But there is also a huge group of people there who are humanitarians, who are generous, good people, and full of love. You, for instance: you are from the US, and you are a person who has a different way of living, of thinking and feeling. The system wasn’t strong enough to overtake you. I’m sure there are many others in the US who are critical thinkers, who understand that there’s something wrong with the state of things in our world.

People in the US are victims of that same system that’s oppressing us here. It’s just that the way it oppresses us is different. I feel even more compassion for the people living in the US, because they’re even worse off than we are. They don’t have a lot of things that we have here, like our sense of community and our ancestral culture. We have a lot of things that they’ve already forgotten.

And it hurts me to see all those people working ridiculous hours to pay their grocery bills, to pay their rent. They don’t have access to good education, and they don’t have health insurance, if they get sick they don’t have access to health care, or they have to sell their house and lose all their savings and lose their dignity. And they want to tell me that this is the best possible system on earth?

So-called powerless people have the ability to make our bodies visible, so others will see what we stand for. I say so-called because all of us have power. If we decide to take over a highway in protest, for instance, we have the power of our speech.

We have achieved a lot. Working from the bottom up, the poor of this earth have brought about great change. And they didn’t have money, they didn’t have machinery or property or finances, and so on.

The powerless of the world have always been the ones to change it. The powerful of the world don’t change a single thing.

The [economic] system we’re living in right now has only been around for 300 or 400 years, whereas our species has been around for longer than 300,000 years. So we shouldn’t believe that this tiny 300-year stint we’re living in right now represents what humanity is really all about, that it represents our future. That’s a way of thinking that lacks historical perspective. We have to look behind us and ahead of us to not lose hope, to not lose perspective. And that’s the perspective we’re creating our movement from.

Excerpt from an interview with Gerardo Cerdas, a coordinator of the Latin American- and Caribbean-wide social movement Grito de los Excluidos (“Cry of the Excluded”) … You can read the full interview at here: Raising Hope Across the Borders: Transnational Social Movements and Power

For Our Nations to Live, Capitalism Must Die

Via Indigenous Nationhood Movement:

Decolonize - drilling tower“There is a significant and to my mind problematic limitation that is increasingly being placed on Indigenous efforts to defend our rights and our lands. This constraint involves the type of tactics that are being represented as morally legitimate in our efforts to defend our land and rights as Indigenous peoples on the one hand, and those which are viewed at as morally illegitimate because of their disruptive and extra-legal character on the other.

With respect to those approaches deemed ‘legitimate’ in defending our rights, emphasis is often placed on formal ‘negotiations’ – usually carried out between ‘official’ Aboriginal leadership (usually men) and representatives of the Crown (also usually men) – and if need be coupled with largely symbolic acts of peaceful, non-disruptive protest that must abide by Canada’s ‘rule of law.’

Then there are those approaches increasingly deemed ‘illegitimate.’ These include but are not limited to forms of protest and direct action that seek to influence power through less mediated and sometimes more disruptive measures, like the slowing of traffic for the purpose of leafleting and solidarity-building, temporarily blocking access to Indigenous territories with the aim of impeding the exploitation of First Nations’ land and resources, or in rarer cases still, the re-occupation of a portion of Indigenous land (rural or urban) through the establishment of reclamation sites that also serve to disrupt, if not entirely block, access to Indigenous territories by state and capital for prolonged periods of time.

Regardless of their diversity and specificity, however, most of these activities tend to get branded in the media in a wholly negative manner: as reactionary, threatening, and disruptive.

Umatilla halt tarsands megaload -- December 2013
Umatilla halt tarsands megaload, December 2013

What the recent actions of the Mi’kmaq land and water defenders at Elsipogtog demonstrate is that direct actions in the form of Indigenous blockades are both a negation and an affirmation. They are a crucial act of negation insofar as they seek to impede or block the flow of resources currently being transported from oil and gas fields, refineries, lumber mills, mining operations, and hydro-electric facilities located on the dispossessed lands of Indigenous nations to international markets. These forms of direct action, in other words, seek to negatively impact the economic infrastructure that is core to the colonial accumulation of capital in settler political economies like Canada’s. Blocking access to this critical infrastructure has historically been quite effective in forging short-term gains for Indigenous communities. Over the last couple of decades, however, state and corporate powers have also become quite skilled at recuperating the losses incurred as a result of Indigenous peoples’ resistance by drawing our leaders off the land and into negotiations where the terms are always set by and in the interests of settler capital.

What tends to get ignored by many self-styled pundits is that these actions are also an affirmative gesture of Indigenous resurgence insofar as they embody an enactment of Indigenous law and the obligations such laws place on Indigenous peoples to uphold the relations of reciprocity that shape our engagements with the human and non-human world – the land. The question I want to explore here, albeit very briefly, is this: how might we begin to scale-up these often localized, resurgent land-based direct actions to produce a transformation in the colonial economy more generally? Said slightly differently, how might we move beyond a resurgent Indigenous politics that seeks to inhibit the destructive effects of capital to one that strives to create Indigenous alternatives to it?

In her recent interview with Naomi Klein, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson hints at what such an alternative or alternatives might entail for Indigenous nations. ‘People within the Idle No More movement who are talking about Indigenous nationhood are talking about a massive transformation, a massive decolonization’; they are calling for a ‘resurgence of Indigenous political thought’ that is ‘land-based and very much tied to that intimate and close relationship to the land, which to me means a revitalization of sustainable local Indigenous economies.’

Without such a massive transformation in the political economy of contemporary settler-colonialism, any efforts to rebuild our nations will remain parasitic on capitalism, and thus on the perpetual exploitation of our lands and labour. Consider, for example, an approach to resurgence that would see Indigenous people begin to reconnect with their lands and land-based practices on either an individual or small-scale collective basis. This could take the form of ‘walking the land’ in an effort to re-familiarize ourselves with the landscapes and places that give our histories, languages, and cultures shape and content; to revitalizing and engaging in land-based harvesting practices like hunting, fishing, and gathering, and/or cultural production activities like hide-tanning and carving, all of which also serve to assert our sovereign presence on our territories in ways that can be profoundly educational and empowering; to the re-occupation of sacred places for the purposes of relearning and practicing our ceremonial activities.

Although all of these place-based practices are crucial to our well-being and offer profound insights into life-ways that provide frameworks for thinking about alternatives to an economy predicated on the perpetual exploitation of the human and non-human world, at the micro-political level that these practices tend to operate they still require that we have access to a mode of subsistence detached from the practices themselves. In other words, they require that we have access to a very specific form of work – which, in our present economy depends on the expropriation of our labour and the theft of our time for the profit of others – in order to generate the cash required to spend this regenerative time on the land.

A similar problem informs self-determination efforts that seek to ameliorate our poverty and economic dependency through resource revenue sharing, more comprehensive impact benefit agreements, and affirmative action employment strategies negotiated through the state and with industries tearing-up Indigenous territories. Even though the capital generated by such an approach could, in theory, be spent subsidizing the revitalization of certain cultural traditions and practices, in the end they would still remain dependent on a predatory economy that is entirely at odds with the deep reciprocity that forms the cultural core of many Indigenous peoples’ relationships with land. […]”


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Peru: Andean Self-determination Struggles against Extractive Capitalism

Via Upside Down World:

conga4The region of Cajamarca, in the northern highlands of Peru, is no stranger to foreign invaders exploiting their natural resources. In the year 1533 when the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro captured Atahualpa – the last Inca, his people surrendered a room full of gold and two of silver in the hope of securing his release. Pizarro received the treasure, but executed the Inca regardless. Five hundred years later the invaders are back and demanding their gold and silver, and much more besides.

The financial crises that swept Latin America in the late 1980s-early 1990s left many economies in ruin. International financial institutions, led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fell over themselves to lend money to the flailing governments. Peru, under the leadership of the authoritarian Alberto Fujimori, eagerly accepted. As is the custom with IMF agreements, the money came with a stack of economic conditions–conditions which included deregulation, privatization, and opening domestic industries to transnational corporations.

In Cajamarca, one of the first corporations to arrive on the doorstep was the mega mining company Yanacocha – majority owned by US-based Newmont Mining Corporation and part owned by Peruvian Buenaventura (a company owned by one of the richest families in Peru), with 5 percent financing by the IFC of the World Bank. Yanacocha is actually a native Quechua word meaning ‘Black Lagoon’ – and was a lagoon until Yanacocha (the company) set its sights on it – now it’s an open pit so huge it can be seen from space.

Yanacocha’s replacement for this lagoon that gave water freely to the surrounding communities was an artificial reservoir, a tactic they repeated for other lagoons they would come to destroy. These reservoirs are now dry – serving no-one, and the mainly agricultural communities below now experience severe water shortage. What water does flow from descending rivers is contaminated; the source of the Rio Grande, one of the largest rivers feeding Cajamarca, is now three huge tubes spewing waste water from the mine. As a result of this contamination, local farmers have reported high levels of animal deformities and death; there are numerous instances of trout deaths in the tens of thousands because of the presence of heavy metals, arsenic, and high levels of acidity in the water. The population in general have reported unusually high rates of cancer, skin diseases, and birth deformities.

conga1In one small town called Choropampa, 1,200 inhabitants suffered the effects of mercury poisoning due to a mercury spill at the fault of Yanacocha in 2000. The effects are still being felt to this day as mothers pass the heavy metal to their babies through their blood. Tests have also shown that many Yanacocha workers have dangerously high levels of mercury in their blood. However, once they are unable to work they are abandoned by the company.

Yanacocha itself admits its appalling record, “We are not proud of the current state of our relationship with the people of Cajamarca.” This admission came after a ‘Listening Study’ commissioned by Yanacocha, and showed the dismal state of public opinion about the company who, the study states, “suffers from an inability to listen effectively to the community.” However, the company continues to press ahead with wringing the earth dry despite an obvious lack of social license. Having extended into various satellites, and exhausting them, Yanacocha had planned to move swiftly into the neighbouring province of Celendin to execute a project that would dwarf all that it had done before – Minas Conga.

The Minas Conga project, projected to be three times the size of Yanacocha and the largest mega mining project Peru has ever seen, plans to consume 3,069 hectares of land. It would drain and exploit two mountain lakes to extract the gold and copper that lies beneath. The material extracted would be dumped on top of two other lakes – effectively beheading a complex hydrological system and the source of five rivers. Whatever water sources that would remain would most likely be polluted with heavy metals – as they plan to produce an average of 90,000 tons of toxic waste tailings per day, every day for 17 years. […]

At various stages, affected groups realized the extent of what had been planned for Celendin. Teachers, students, workers in the municipality, left-leaning political groups, and the Rondas Campesinas united to form a platform of civil society organizations (known as the Plataforma Interinstitucional Celendina) from which they would organize a campaign against the project. Resistance also formed in Bambamarca/Hualgayoc – a province affected by 200 years of mining and whose only remaining source of uncontaminated water is threatened by Minas Conga. On November 24, 2011 the campaign was officially launched with a mass mobilization at the mountain lakes where all groups involved pledged to protect their water source.

However, this day also marked the beginning of the repression of the protesters. The national government, desperate for a project that would generate $300 million from taxes, royalties and fees to move forward (8), sent in the national police to suppress the gathered masses. They fired live ammunition into the crowds leaving 19 protesters injured. One man was left paralyzed, another lost part of his leg, and another his sight.

As the protests continued over the next year so did the police aggression. On July 3 and 4, 2012 five protesters were shot dead by the state security forces. One of the deceased, Cesar Medina Aguilar, a 16-year-old boy and local youth leader, died from a direct shot to the head. The other four men died from shots to the head, throat and chest, while some shots were fired from army helicopters. To enshrine this state of war that the government had declared on its people, it enforced a state of emergency – suspending civil liberties and subjecting the three provinces of Celendin, Cajamarca and Hualgayoc to intense militarization for a total of 8 months.

Leading human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the National Coordinator of Human Rights in Peru (CNDDHH) have all made statements on numerous occasions calling for an end to the excessive use of force by the state during the protests and have called for investigations into the deaths, injuries and allegations of torture of protesters. To date no such investigation has taken place.

Meanwhile the intimidation continues; community leaders are harassed by a barrage of legal allegations– an example of such a charge being “psychological damage to the mining company.” Human rights defenders are terrorized and beaten; such as when an ex-priest and environmentalist, Marco Arana, was arrested and badly beaten in police custody on July 4, 2012. When two lawyers went to visit him in prison they were also assaulted. Reporters are also targeted; most recently, on July 26, 2013 César Estrada, a local reporter, was visiting the mountain lakes when the police, after receiving a call from mine workers, came and verbally and physically assaulted him, confiscating his equipment.

One family who lives on land Yanacocha wants, but who have refused to sell it to them, have faced two years of violent intimidation. On two occasions the company entered the Chaupe family’s land with over a hundred heavily armed police in riot gear. They beat the mother and daughter unconscious, killed numerous animals, destroyed their house, and put their son in hospital for 3 months. When the violence didn’t work the mining company brought the family to court claiming the land was theirs. Without even looking at the document from the family demonstrating their rightful ownership the judge ruled in favour of Yanacocha – ordering the family off their land with a suspended jail sentence and damages to pay to the mining company. Due to a huge national and international outcry, and with the help of the local NGO GRUFIDES, this initial ruling was annulled on appeal. However Yanacocha plans to continue with this attack and so the investigation process will begin anew.

Yanacocha uses the argument that they will build reservoirs to replace the four mountain lakes they plan to destroy. They claim that the water in the lakes is unfit for human consumption and that they only provide water to the communities during the rainy season. Their reservoirs, they claim, will increase water supply to the communities all year round and the water will be artificially treated.

However, the company seems blind to the fact that the mountain lakes have been serving the local communities for centuries – for agricultural use, cattle rearing and human consumption. The mere presence of these communities contradicts the claim the water does not sustain life. Numerous animal life forms have also been documented surviving within and from the water of the lagoons. The water that reaches the rivers below also passes through a complex underground hydraulic system, thus when the water reaches the communities below it is considered amongst the purest in the region. This is unlike the water coming from the reservoirs which would need constant treatment, and the reservoirs themselves would need constant maintenance. Yanacocha proposes to carry out this function for 50 years; and the communities rightly ask `and then what?`

With regards to water supply, it is true that the area already has water shortage at certain times of the year – it is an area vulnerable to climate change, and has seen more dry periods in recent years. However, the answer is not to tear up the head of the water basin to destroy the remaining water supply. What is needed is more investment in agriculture and ways to mitigate the effects of the change.

Despite these objections, Yanacocha is due to finish its second reservoir by the end of this year. Once this happens they plan to drain the first mountain lake – El Perol. If this is allowed to pass, it will pave the way for the realization of the entire project. Similarly, the realization of the project will open the gates for mass exploitation of the entire region of Cajamarca; Conga is one mega mining project, the largest and most well-known, but there are others waiting on the sideline. According to a study by Yanacocha’s Andes Association Forum (ALAC) in 2006, 79 percent of the proven and probable gold within Peru is located in the provinces of Cajamarca and Celendin, as well as 30 percent of the copper reserves of the country.

This has resulted in an avalanche of mining concessions – 69.95 percent of the province of Cajamarca and 58.80 percent of Celendín is under concession to mining companies. Neighbouring Hualgayoc is 91 percent concessioned. Yanacocha has almost finished exploiting its primary and satellite projects, and after Minas Conga it has three other projects in the region at the exploration stage. A Chinese company, Lumina Copper SAC – part-owned by the Chinese government – is waiting to realize its 2,500 million copper project Galeno. British Anglo American are at the exploration stage of their Michiquillay project, La Granja project belongs to British/Australian Rio Tinto, and Canadian Sulliden Mining Corporation is hoping to progress with its copper and gold Shahuindo project. There are several other smaller projects also at the exploration stage. If all of these projects were realized Cajamarca would effectively be transformed into one of the largest mining districts in the world.

Apart from huge amounts of water and land, what these mega projects need is energy. Eva Arias, president of the National Mining Society in Peru (SNMPE) has stated that Peru needs to increase its energy supply by 40 percent if it is to meet its mining needs. To serve this demand, in June 2010, three months before leaving office, Peruvian president Alan Garcia signed the Peru-Brazil hydropower agreement with then-Brazilian president Inácio Lula da Silva. This laid the grounds for 20 mega hydroelectric projects to be realized along the Rio Marañon – one of the main rivers flowing into the Amazon. For Brazil, this meant construction contracts for the building of these projects, and the promise that a large portion of this energy would go to meet this emerging power’s own energy demands. The Peruvian government didn’t have the money to invest in these projects, so Brazil offered loans to its poorer neighbor through the Brazilian Development Bank. So a good deal for Brazil, and also a way to ease the energy worries of the mega mining sector as what is not sold to Brazil would be sold to the high-consuming mining projects.

For Celendin, to complement the would-be mega mining district dominated by Yanacocha, the Brazilian company Odebrecht has the rights to build the hydroelectric project Chadin II (Odebrecht coincidently has also been awarded the construction contract for the first stage of the Conga mining project – a contract worth more than 500 million dollars). Chadin II would affect over 1000 people living along the river valley; many would be displaced due to flooding, others would lose their livelihood as the river level rise would significantly alter the micro-climate of the area, making current forms of agriculture unsustainable. Engineers and environmental experts have also documented the rich biodiversity that exists in the region – many species are unique to the area, some are endangered – all of which will be negatively affected by the realization of this project. Once again, this is the first in a long line of mega hydroelectric projects waiting to be realized.

This capitalist dream of a mega mining district with energy on tap has been interrupted by desire of the local population to protect their livelihoods and their lives. Adding to that though, further obstacles have actually come from the capitalist system itself. Due to the economic crisis that shook the western world in 2008 people are now consuming less – either from a lack of buying power or from a deliberate effort to extract their power from the unrepentant machine that wreaked havoc on their lives. With people buying less the factory of the consumerist world – China, is finally showing signs of slowing.

From 1978 until 2011 the Chinese economy had maintained a rapid annual growth rate of 9.5 percent on average. Last year its GDP grew by only 7.8 percent, the slowest pace in 13 years. As many of the European countries remain in recession it is likely that Chinese growth will continue to slow. A direct result of this is that the Chinese industry does not need as much raw materials. China is the main buyer of Peruvian copper – counting for 41.5 percent of its sales, therefore a drop in Chinese demand means a drop in Peruvian sales. Gold sales have also dropped as a large percentage of the gold extracted ends up as jewelry in Western shop windows – the sale of which has taken a hit in the recession.

As a consequence of this falling demand, the price of metals on the international market has also fallen. In the last 6 months the price of gold fell by 29 percent, copper by 40 percent. All of this means that the extractors are not getting as much for their spoils and are struggling to keep their investors happy.

However what the elite is hoping for is for the people in the traditionally rich West to forget the day when the system’s belt broke and left it exposed. They’re hoping the years of indoctrination – propaganda permeating feelings of inadequacy and the need to fill the hole with things, will win over the desire for change – and that the people will return to borrowing more and spending more to fuel the earth-destroying machine.

Meanwhile, in Cajamarca, Yanacocha is eagerly awaiting this recovery of consumption. They’re not waiting idle however – they’re building their roads and reservoirs, and they’re doing their best to break the resistance through misinformation and repression. Roque Benavides, owner of Buenaventura and one of the main stakeholders in Yanacocha, recently stated ‘Neither Newmont nor Buenaventura are disposed to losing money’, but neither are the people of Cajamarca disposed to losing their water. So they will keep on resisting, and fighting for their right to determine their own future.

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