The Tensions between the Struggles against Inequality and the Defense of the Rights of Mother Earth in South America

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 2:00 PM
Room: 503
Oral Presentation
Edgardo LANDER , Universidad Central de Venezuela, Venezuela
In the last decade and a half the struggles of South American popular movements and organizations against the military governments, free trade agreements and neoliberal economic adjustment policies crystallized in the election of many left or "progressive" governments. In these struggles and the constitutional processes that occurred in some countries, there are two central threads of struggles will be explored:  first, the popular demand for the "return of the state" and social policies aimed toward social inclusion, access to education, health, food, social security ... and a reduction of the profound  inequalities that have historically characterized the continent. The other

axis refers to the relationship of humans with their natural surroundings, the struggles of indigenous peoples and peasants for their territories and rights of Mother Earth. This implies a profound critique of the very idea of development and the search for options to a civilization in crisis that has to confront the fact it we have reached the physical limits of the planet.  This also relates to a critique of the monocultural character of liberal-colonial South American states in profoundly pluricultural societies. The attempt to achieve these two sets of goals simultaneously has generated deep contradictions. In response to widespread social demands of the most excluded sectors of society and looking to reassert their political and electoral legitimacy, all these governments have prioritized economic growth based on extractive neo-developmentalism (economic model based on an increased dependency on the export of non-processed primary goods) in a context of a significant hike in the demand and price of commodities in the world market. The purpose of this presentation is the analysis of some of the socio-environmental impacts of these governmental options and the main social and political conflicts that these have generated.