One response to the economic crisis is a return to a competition for scarce resources – back to Africa for example where well endowed nations – and multinational organisations – grab land. Already struggling people are forced to compete for food while others secure their own wellbeing.
Already we have seen the European Union plundering fish stocks vital for the well being of poor African countries. The well-known philanthropist and Come Dancing hopeful, Peter Mandelson, secured deals to ensure starvation reminscent of colonialism in Ireland and India during the nineteenth century.
” ‘If this was a negotiation between equals, it could be a good thing. It could bring investment, stable prices and predictability to the market,’ said Duncan Green, Oxfam’s head of research. ‘But the problem is, [in] this scramble for soil I don’t see any place for the small farmers.’
Alex Evans, at the Centre on International Cooperation, at New York University, said: ‘The small farmers are losing out already. People without solid title are likely to be turfed off the land.’
Details of land deals have been kept secret so it is unknown whether they have built-in safeguards for local populations.” Source Guardian 22/11/2008)
The problem is by no means confined to Africa. Brazil has been using land in neighbouring Paraguay for growing crops to produce biofuels not only displacing people from their land. The use of pesticides has given rise to malformed children being born.
Latin American states are discussing ways in which co-operation in the region can offset pressures from powerful neighbours and climate change affect their development. African countries are also talking about collective action to strengthen negotiations. However investments from rich foreign nations are attractive to governments strapped for cash. Small holders have little power to resist. The development of socialism in a number of countries provides an alternative approach with hope to many formerly oppressed groups. Venezuela and Bolivia have made great strides in eliminating illiteracy empowering many with education to offset the rapacious appetites of the powerful elites supported by the U.S.