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Articles : Bagua massacre

Massacre in the Amazon: The U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement Sparks a Battle Over Land and Resources by Raúl Zibechi

Free Trade Agreement and U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement

El síndrome del perro del hortelano, por Alan García Pérez. Presidente de la República

Peru: Massive protests against García government over Amazon massacre by Luis Arce One Year since the Bagua Massacre: New Actors Facing a State in Crisis by Raúl Zibechi

Massacre at Bagua by Hugo Blanco

Awajun indigenous protesters in Bagua. Photograph by Thomas Quirynen

The Ecological Native: Indigenous Peoples’ Movements and Eco-Governmentality in Colombia by Astrid Ulloa (Routledge, 2005) FINAL REMARKS: INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ POLITICS, NEW RECOGNITION? p.51-54 Indigenous peoples’ movements have consolidated new ways of doing politics and have proposed their knowledge as an alternative for managing natural resources. However, ever since the colonial period such equality has not arisen simply from the recognition of difference. Indigenous peoples are still without clear access to many social and political rights. Similarly, indigenous peoples are still displaced from their territories because of violence, drug traffickers, paramilitaries and guerrillas. Moreover, poverty still is one of the most important problems that they face. In addition, indigenous leaders have been persecuted violently by large landowners (Avirama and Marquez 1994). Furthermore, there are many internal divisions within indigenous organizations that have led to political competition for national and international financial resources. Thus indigenous movements are still struggling for participation in political affairs as part of their effort to gain recognition of their difference and for their proposals for social, environmental and economic development. In the last decades, some states have recognized multiculturalism or special rights for ethnic groups, which seem to indicate that multiculturalism and the recognition of difference can be seen as a result of the novel emergence of collective identitarian actions. However, some scholars claim that multiculturalism is not a new element in the process of constructing nationalism. They argue that diversity has been part of the idea of nation at different historical moments (Bhabha 1994, Wade, 1997). Bhabha (1994) describes how different narratives can coexist within the nation: “ the people are not simply historical events or parts of a patriotic body politic. They are also a complex rhetoric strategy of social reference: their claim to be representative provokes a crisis within the process of signification and discursive address” (145). Moreover, minorities and their political struggles and resistances to the western conception of the nation have always been part of the complexity of that conception of the nation, and they are necessary for the constitution of the western nation as an ethnic Other that is necessary to distinguish the nation’s own identity and that forms the measure of its continuity and change. In this way, the modern nation not only constrains diversity but also produces and maintains it, sometimes, changes in response to it. According to Collier, Maurer and Suarez-Navaz (1995), this recognition of difference is part of the “bourgeois law,” which “has the major role in producing such differences.” They consider that “bourgeois law” produces differences in two ways.” First, by declaring everyone equal before the law, it constructs a realm outside the law where inequality flourishes. The ideal of equal treatment before the law not only makes it difficult for law to address, and thus redress, the differences in power and privilege that law defines as occurring outside of or before it, but legal processes actually enforce and confirm inequalities among people in the process. Second, bourgeois law demands difference even as it disclaims it, both soliciting expressions of difference and enforcing the right of people to express their differences even as law requires people to stress their similarities in order to enjoy inequalities” (2). Other scholars claim that the inclusion of minorities is only a new way of controlling people who could not otherwise be integrated into the nation-state. Consequently, they argue that these changes seem to continue

the unique vision of liberal law. Wade (1997) note that strategies of recognition “often seem to obey motives of political control, and this indicates that these new trends still subject to the play of power and resources” (1997:105). According to Hernandez and Ortiz (1994), when the legal system recognizes the indigenous, it does so because the political struggles of indigenous movements confirm its own power and help it create new forms of control. Other scholars argue that when the state is defined as multicultural and multiethnic, the state may be considered a “ part of an increasingly global discourse of cultural identities and the particular position of the nation-state in the larger political economy of such discourse” (Motzafi-Haller 1995) does not necessarily operate only to confirm its own power. Gros (1998:32) analyzing Colombia claims that the state constructs different identities because it “ needs ethnic actors, well-defined, recognized and legitimate, in order to negotiate its own intervention.” This, when the state creates a general idea of “collective identity”- the other as indigenous- it often does so with the goal of identifying the individuals under that identity as people of special interest to the state insofar as they pose “problems” to its norms and functions. Moreover, the state gives them the basic conditions for their organization (legal recognition, economic resources, just to name a few) in order to “mediate with all its power but with a new language, [in order] to pervade the communities with its rationality and instrumental modernity.” As noted before, Hale (2002) states that the rise of multiculturalism is also related to neoliberal policies that embrace the right of ethnic recognition. “ The state does not merely ‘recognize’ community, civil society, indigenous culture and the like, but actively, re-constitutes them in its own image, sheering them of radical excess, inciting them to do the work of subject-formation that otherwise would fall to the state itself” (496) Other scholars (Sierra 1990, Hernandez and Ortiz 1994, Ortiz and Hernandez 1996, Nelson 1999) note that indigenous rights and the conformation of pan-indigenous identity have also generated conflicts within indigenous and peasant communities. Ortiz and Hernandez (1996) point out how, in Mexico, indigenous and mestizo women have contested generic notions of indigenous rights because this pan-ethnic identities do not consider, for example, particular conceptions and situations of women within indigenous communities. In a similar way, indigenous women criticize ethnic cultural revivals that give indigenous traditions a status of moral superiority by questioning the inequalities that mark their daily lives within those cultures. Eddelman (2001) also calls attention to the problems of identity-based mobilizations, nothing that they constitute opportunities to gain political participation while, at the same time, they also pose risks of political fragmentation for emerging social groups. He states that “claims of difference fortify demands or new rights, but they can imply an abdication of rights as well” (299). Finally, Edelman following Klein (1999:115), calls attention to the effects of defining identity in the context of how corporations and states promoted “diversity” as the ‘mantra of global capital,’ and used it to absorb identity imagery of all kinds in order to peddle ‘mono-multiculturalism’ across myriad differentiated markets” (300). Within the social-movements theories there is also the recognition of the indigenous peoples’ autonomy as one of the successes of indigenous movements and their particular identities, and some scholars argue that this recognition is new. However as Colchester states: Some of the jurisprudency that underpins the contemporary recognition of indigenous peoples is as old as the history of conquest. Conquering powers since the Romans have recognized that native peoples should enjoy some measure of self-governance and their rights to exercise their customary laws. Policies of ‘indirect rule’ were also widely favored by the British and the Dutch in their colonies. It seems likely that such policies were adopted not so much out of respect for cultural differences, but rather as the least contentious and cheapest way of maintaining imperial control [...]. Nonetheless colonial laws, to a surprising extent, affirmed the principles that native peoples have the right to apply customary law and represent themselves through their own institutions. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the colonial powers did not hesitate to deal with native peoples as ‘nations’ and to sign treaties with them- often with the aim of cheating them out their sovereignty and lands is true. But these

legal precedents have provided the basis for the emergence of new jurisprudence, which establishes current notions of ‘aboriginal rights’ and doctrines of legal pluralism (Colchester 2002:02). In the last decades, the indigenous peoples’ identity construction process has become linked to western ecological ideas, and indigenous peoples have become participants in a national and transnational dialogue that employs discourses that address environmental changes primarily in western terms. This latest phase of indigenous identity construction is clearly related to the rise of environmental awareness in the West of the differing ecological practices around the world. Accordingly, the indigenous peoples’ practices, conceptions and knowledge about humans and nonhumans, nature and culture, have influenced western thinking at the national and international levels. In particular, non-indigenous national and international NGOs have promoted the recognition of the indigenous peoples’ conceptions of nature. In this way, an ecological identity has been conferred on indigenous peoples who, at the same time, have contributed to the existence of that identity by reaffirming their identity, practices and conceptions in its terms. In this sense they have contributed to their own status as “green bodies” within the western ecological imaginary.


The Cochabamba protests of 2000

Cochabamba's 'Water War', Six Years On, by Franz Chávez


 Bolivia: Amazon Road Plan Has Native People on the March Again by Franz Chávez


Indigenous peoples' movements Bolivia.  

The ongoing project AULA INTERGALACTICA presents three performative lectures based on research on three different historical events, the pro...

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