Social movements and natural resources

Social movements and natural resources

By José Seoane

This article wants to serve as an introduction to the reading of the chronologies of the social conflict that occurred during the second quarter of 2005, it tries to present an overview of these experiences in the recent period.

Social Movements and Natural Resources in Latin America:
Resistance to Neoliberalism, Configuration of Alternatives [1]

The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean inhabit a territory in which 25% of the forests and 40% of the world's biodiversity grow. Almost a third of the world's copper, bauxite and silver reserves are part of its wealth, and it holds 27% of the coal, 24% of the oil, 8% of the gas and 5% of the uranium. And its watersheds contain 35% of the world's hydropower power. The spread of neoliberal counter-reforms to the entire region during the 1990s, the most recent waves of free trade (with accompanying initiatives of military control and systemic governance) and the increase in world market demand during the last The year they made the exploitation of these natural resources (intensive, export-oriented and, to a large extent, under the control of transnational capital) one of the central forces in the recovery of regional economic growth, affirming this societal model. On the other hand, in the face of its devastating consequences on the environment and the habitat of entire peoples and communities, and the private appropriation of these riches and the benefits resulting from their exploitation, countless social movements, coordination, conflicts and resistance are They have deployed in recent years throughout the region, building alternatives and promoting emancipatory horizons (see Enrique Leff's article in this issue).

This article, which –as usual– wants to serve as an introduction to reading the chronologies of the social conflict that occurred during the second quarter of 2005, attempts to present an overview of these experiences in the recent period. It begins with an analysis of the characteristics of social conflict in that period, to then refer to the main conflicts, subjects and organizations, their particularities and the political and regional context where they are inscribed.

The map of social conflict in Latin America

These processes that mark the second quarter of 2005 occur in a context of relative growth of social conflict. In relation to the conflict events registered for the first four months of the year, it increased by 8% (2,302 protests), reaching values ​​similar to those obtained for the May-August 2004 period. The analysis of the regional distribution of These conflicts show their growth for the second consecutive four-month period in the area comprised by the Andean countries, as this area concentrates - as has been the case in the last two years - the highest proportion of the protests surveyed (40%). In this case, the increase in social conflict particularly expresses the significant increase in Venezuela and Bolivia, while it decreases in Ecuador (-20%), Peru (-13%) and Colombia (-8%).

However, the most relevant changes at this level of analysis appear in the South and North regions. In the first case, after three consecutive four-month periods of decline, social conflict registered an important growth (30%) between the months of May and August 2005, as a result of the processes of social conflicts in Uruguay, Argentina and, to a lesser extent, , Chile; that compensates for the decrease registered in Paraguay. In the case of the North region, the protests recorded by OSAL for this period show a drop (-8.7%) with respect to the significant growth that had characterized the sociopolitical reality of this region during the first four months of the year. This point, however, covers dissimilar situations. While the decrease in conflict in the inter-quarterly comparison (I and II of 2005) is significant in four countries (El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua), it grows significantly in Panama and, to a lesser extent, in Costa Rica and Honduras ; remaining relatively stable in the rest.

Finally, in relation to the subjects who are the protagonists of these conflicts, it is important to point out that with respect to the first four months of 2005, in this case, those promoted by employed urban wage earners (30%), both with regard to the workers of the public sector (29%, particularly the series of protests by teachers) and the private sector of the economy (37%, especially those employed in industry). The set of these conflicts represents approximately a quarter of the total registered for the present period, a percentage that rises to a third if we also consider those that result from the action of unemployed workers. In the same sense, it is necessary to consider the growth of multisectoral protests and those carried out by transport owners (small and medium-sized, related to increases in fuel prices) and students.

Hydrocarbons, social conflict and societal alternatives in the Andean region

The social conflict over natural resources, particularly centered around hydrocarbons, will have to assume a growing national political projection in the experience of the Andean region in recent years. In more ways than one, the recent Venezuelan experience is an example of this. On previous occasions, the pages of this magazine have analyzed the cycle of mobilizations, coup d'état and lockout of the bosses that confronted, among other issues, the oil policy and the reform of the state-owned company promoted by the government of President Chávez in Venezuela, as well as the role that the public appropriation of oil revenues plays in the development of social policy (particularly the so-called “missions”) of said government.

Within the framework of the growth of social conflict throughout the second four-month period and the electoral campaign motivated by the renewal of the municipal authorities, the street actions of the opposition and the ruling party will have to increase, and the result of said elections will grant again a significant victory for the Bolivarian forces, which will obtain approximately 75% of the positions in dispute. However, in this case –prolonging a trend of the last period–, the increase in conflict particularly expresses a diverse set of actions that, for the most part, tend to reflect in social terms the matrix of political polarization referred to above.

On the one hand, the agrarian reform process promoted by the government –which begins the expropriation and delivery of land– has its counterpart in the mobilizations and initiatives undertaken by peasant organizations and the responses of landowners and landowners. On the other hand, there are also a scattered and localized but numerous series of protests by residents of popular neighborhoods (particularly roadblocks) in different cities of the country demanding the improvement of electricity, sewers and streets; actions promoted by health workers and public employees and by students; the series of conflicts and prison riots (demanding better conditions and rights), as well as various protests against the application of the SISDEM (System for the Democratization of Employment) in the state oil company (PDVSA).

In the case of Bolivia, from the “Water War” (Cochabamba, 2000) to the “Gas War” (2003), the social dispute over the ownership and distribution of the benefits obtained from the exploitation of hydrocarbon wealth has been also transformed and increasingly in the center of the political struggle, articulating around it the different forces and social coalitions. In this case, as a result of the intensification of the process of social confrontations that had been unfolding in the previous months, during May a growing polarization and social mobilization will take place in this country around the sanction of the new hydrocarbons law that will convene both a wide range of social movements - in pursuit of the nationalization of said resource and a greater taxation on its exploitation - such as the elites and the Civic Committees of the oil departments, who will fight for the challenge of said legislation and the claim for autonomy policy for their regions.

The deepening of this confrontation will thus trigger the resignation of President Carlos Mesa (6/6) and finally the installation (9/6) of a transitional government in charge of the President of the Supreme Court of Justice Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé (on this process, the articles by Carlos Vacaflores and Pilar Lizárraga, and Luis Tapia, can be consulted in this issue of the OSAL). It is this period of little more than a month that comprises 58% of the conflicts registered by the OSAL for the second four-month period of 2005. From there the horizon of the presidential and parliamentary elections planned, in principle, for next December will go absorbing the energy of social movements, political representations and elites; projecting the confrontation to the electoral scene.

Also in relation to oil, during the month of August, Ecuador was traversed by a process of conflicts driven by the populations of the Amazonian oil provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana that, although of less intensity and significance than that which occurred in Bolivia, due to the The political-social context in which it originates and develops allows us to glimpse similarities and differences.

The fight against pollution and abuses by oil companies and the claim for the appropriation of the benefits - or part of these - that they obtain (see the article by Pablo Ortiz-T. In this issue) motivated in the past various and recurrent protests of the communities of these regions that also manifested between the months of May and June [2].

Throughout these months the oil issue also had to become one of the issues in the Ecuadorian political debate around the reform of the FEIREP (Stabilization Fund, Social and Productive Investment and Reduction of Public Debt) promoted by the Minister of Economy Rafael Correa - a member of the Alfredo Palacio government that succeeded the fall of Gutiérrez in April 2005 - and who aspired to increase the proportion of fiscal resources allocated to social policy obtained from oil activities, to the detriment of those directed to the payment of the external debt.

The resignation of Minister Correa at the beginning of August, in the framework of negotiations with the IMF and after the World Bank's decision to suspend a loan, will motivate a new protest by the so-called “outlaws” –mainly in the city of Quito– who, however, it will appear not to alter the trend of government changes. Far from the urban centers of Quito and Guayaquil, in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana - where oil activity is combined with tensions and operations around the border with Colombia - the resignation of the aforementioned minister and the request for the expiration of the contract of The Western North American oil company (OXY) formulated by the president of Petroecuador, before he also resigned, will precipitate the resumption of the protest of the Amazonian populations. The call for the regional strike by the Biprovincial Assembly started on August 14, which will involve the deployment of a diverse set of actions (occupation of the airport and oil wells, cutting off the main highways) and the government response to militarize the region and arrest the authorities and leaders of the conflict will intensify it until the suspension of the strike (8/20) and the signing of an agreement (8/25 and 30) that provides for the construction of roads and the provincial collection of part of the taxes paid by the oil companies (see Esperanza Martínez's article in this issue).

Regional integration and free trade agreements in the Andean Area

During this period, the Venezuelan government deploys a particular energy in relation to the realization of integration projects with different countries and regions of Latin America, particularly in the oil sector, inspired by the so-called Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). In this sense, the I Energy Summit of the Caribbean (Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, June) advances in preferential oil exchange agreements and will result in the creation and start-up of the regional company Petrocaribe in the following months; later, in the framework of the XVI Summit of Presidents of the Andean Community (Lima, Peru, 7/18), the Venezuelan government will promote in the final declaration the proposal to advance in the formation of Petroandina; and finally –after two supply and investment agreements in the oil sector signed in August with Argentina and Uruguay– within the framework of the II Summit of Presidents of the South American Community of Nations (Brazil, September), different agreements will have to be signed between the oil companies of Venezuela (PDVSA) and Brazil (PETROBRAS), all in the direction of advancing in the start-up of Petrosur.

This intense initiative of the Bolivarian government in relation to sectoral regional integration projects - which in this case deserved the heading of "oil diplomacy" - is far from being limited to agreements around hydrocarbons. It is worth noting as an example that from mid-July the regional television venture Telesur will begin its broadcasts.

Simultaneously, the governments of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador (with Bolivia as an observer) advance in the elaboration of the Free Trade Agreement with the US In the period under study there are two rounds of negotiations (X, during the June, in Guayaquil; and XI, in July, in Miami). Out of all the protests and mobilizations against these agreements, those driven by the agricultural sector stand out.

In Peru there will be a national agricultural strike of 48 hours (May) of the CONVEAGRO (National Convention of Peruvian Agro) and a strike of all agrarian and peasant organizations (July); and in Colombia, the National Association for Agricultural Salvation will hold a popular consultation against the FTA (July) that rejects the inclusion of this crop in the negotiations.

As a result of these protests, the agrarian question motivates different bilateral meetings that, after their failure, seem to postpone this issue towards the final stage of the negotiation. On the other hand, the North American refusal to agree to the minimum requirements set by the Andean governments will cause the resignation of the Colombian negotiating team from the Ministry of Social Protection and the prolongation of the negotiations in anticipation of a final round in November. Even in this context, Presidents Uribe (Colombia) and Toledo (Peru) ratify their will and decision to complete the FTA negotiation as quickly as possible. In this process, different North American authorities visit these countries; Among them, the US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, meets with the President of Peru (at a time when the coca-growing conflict is developing in different regions of the country), and the head of the Southern Command makes two trips to Ecuador (June and August) promoting the resolution of disputes that have recently arisen in relation to the fumigation with glyphosate and the coordinated control of the border between both countries, initiatives of the so-called Andean Plan. In the case of Colombia, the approval of the bill called "justice and peace", which provides a legal framework for negotiations between the government and the paramilitaries and protects them from subsequent trials, arouses widespread criticism at the national and international level. .

In the same period, the North American approval of the foreign aid package authorizes new financing for the Colombian government, and the certification of "good conduct" in the field of human rights allows the release of assistance to the armed forces within the framework of a reorganization of the military commands. As we have already pointed out, in the period analyzed, social conflict in Colombia decreases; However, the protests and mobilizations of the public health sector - against the closure of hospitals and health centers and due to salary increases - as well as the educational community in defense of public education and against its privatization are significant. [3].

Social conflicts and mining exploitation

Throughout the 1990s, and within the framework of deregulation, privatization and increased foreign investment policies, mining activity in Peru –oriented to exports– increased significantly, reaching six times the area allocated to these ventures. The burdensome consequences (contamination of rivers and land, displacement) that said activity unloaded on rural and urban communities and their impoverishment - in contrast to the growth of business profits - marked the persistent emergence of protests and conflicts that led to the creation of the Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI, 1999 and 2003 [4]) that groups more than 1,500 rural and urban communities from 18 regions of Peru. According to CONACAMI records, there are currently 42 conflicts in Peru around mining operations, 7 of which can be considered critical (see in this regard the CONACAMI statement of 7/25, included in the Documents section of this issue).

Of those that take place throughout this second four-month period of 2005 (among them in the provinces of El Espinar, Tambobamba and the Cajamarca region) stands out the one led by communities from the provinces of Ayabaca and Huancabamba (Piura) against the project Río Blanco of the Majaz mining company owned by the English company Monterrico Metal. This project, aimed at the extraction of copper and other minerals, affects the hydrographic basins of the region, threatening the life and agricultural activity of peasant communities.

Towards the end of July, community members from these provinces and from Jaén and San Ignacio (Cajamarca) began a massive march towards the Majaz mining camp demanding the withdrawal of the company and being included in the technical dialogue table convened by the government. Attempts to establish a dialogue frustrated due to the lack of government will, the arrival of the march near the mining camp faces a violent police repression that on August 1 tragically claimed hundreds of wounded and at least one community member died. Conflicts take place in the area, with community members coming to arrest mine workers to prevent its operation. Despite this and the interregional strike in the provinces of Huancabamba, Jaén and Ayabaca (8/18), the activity of the Majaz company continues.

Even in a context of relative decline in social conflict (-13%), there are also protests, mobilizations and land strikes in Peru promoted by movements of peasant coca growers (or “cocaleros”). Among these, although in a framework of divisions within the movement, it is worth noting the territorial strike that between the end of June and the beginning of July, thousands of producers from the valleys of the central jungle carry out against the policies of eradication of the crop and the treaty of free trade with the US, and the series of conflicts led by the Monzón Valley coca-growing movement (Huamalíes province, Huanuco department). As a result of these protests, different regional governments (Huanuco and Cusco) dictate different measures that legalize coca cultivation in some regions, as well as others (Ucayali) decide to withdraw from the crop eradication agreement promoted by DEVIDA (National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs) with the sponsorship of the North American agency AID (Agency for International Development) [5].

Conflicts over mining ventures have also been significant in recent years in Mesoamerica, particularly in Guatemala. In this case, and within the framework of different local conflicts against the delivery of mining licenses, the one in Sipacapa stands out, where the communities at the same time demand the holding of a plebiscite on mining exploitation in the area and hold a popular consultation ( 18/6) that mostly rejects it. Different calls and the constitution of coordinations against mining exploitation also take place in the west of the country (for example, in Sololá and Huehuetenango, districts where there were recent important protests). Similar conflicts spread through the entire belt of Latin American sierras and mountains and are present in Chile (in June there will be a national day against environmental destruction and social injustice) and in Argentina (see article by María Celia Cotarelo in this issue ), which highlights the holding, in August, in Andalgalá, Catamarca province, of the III Meeting of Communities Affected by Mining in Argentina (see statement in the Documents section of this OSAL).

Free trade, privatization and natural resources in Mesoamerica

The North American initiative to consolidate and deepen the subordinate integration of the Mesoamerican region through free trade agreements bears fruit, in this period, in the progress made in relation to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and DR-CAFTA (Free Trade Agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic). In the first case, new agreements on trade, highways and cross-border crossings are signed in the framework of the Alliance for Security and Prosperity of North America (Ottawa, Canada, June) known under the name of NAFTA Plus. On the other hand, after a long lobbying effort, the US government obtained the ratification of DR-CAFTA in the Senate (54 to 45 votes, 30/6) and, in a tighter vote, in the House of Representatives (217 to 215 votes, 7/27), promulgating the respective law in early August.

The parliamentary endorsement of this agreement by the United States - with only similar ratification remaining in three of the signatory countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic [6]- It will also be expressed in the dynamics acquired by integration initiatives in the field of infrastructure (Plan Puebla Panama-PPP) and the security forces. Thus, within the framework of the VII Summit of Presidents of Central America, Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, it is agreed to allocate greater funds for the PPP, and different types of loans are granted by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and different agencies of the US government to some of the isthmus governments. In relation to the police and military forces, the XXVI Ordinary Assembly of the Central American Integration System (Honduras, June) formulates agreements for the creation of a regional force against terrorism and the rapid delivery of criminals (only Costa Rica abstains from signing the same) and Guatemala and Honduras coincide in the creation of a binational security force. Progress in the order of consolidating the coordination of the security forces, under a North American initiative, will also have to be expressed in the attempts to deepen repressive diagrams within these countries.

In this sense, it is worth highlighting the complaints made by the Human Rights Commission and the Honduran Human Rights Ombudsman regarding the implementation of the second phase of the so-called "Super Mano Dura Plan" which, justified in the persecution of known youth gangs as gangs, it is pointed out as restricting democratic freedoms and as a setback with respect to constitutional guarantees. In a similar vein, successive attacks on locals and activists of social organizations take place in Guatemala.

The social resistance deployed in the face of free trade agreements, the PPP and regional militarization are also prolonged in the conflicts and coordination of social movements that awaken the business initiatives that these agreements promote and legalize. We have previously referred to the conflicts and experiences forged by social movements in the face of the consequences of mining expansion in this region.

Different reforms to the legislation on the water service aimed at its privatization are also promoted in different Mesoamerican countries (see the article by Gustavo Castro Soto in this issue); Faced with this, an important mobilization takes place in Guatemala against the General Water Law and Concession Law projects that threaten the privatization of water and natural resources. Likewise, in this country, the Guatemalan National Front Against Dams was formed in June (see manifesto in the Documents section of this OSAL). Also in Nicaragua, social organizations are mobilizing against the draft General Water Law, in this case within the framework of the dispute between the Executive and the parliamentary majority made up of the PLC (Liberal Constitutionalist Party) and Sandinismo.

In the context of these regional struggles, the Central American Water Forum will meet in June which, speaking out against the privatization of the resource, will promote the coordination of national demonstrations against these legal reforms as well as the boycott of the 4th World Water Forum to be held. in Mexico (2006), where different protests also take place on the issue of water and against the construction of dams.

The proposals for reforms to the legislation on water services and the management of water resources also extend to the rest of Latin America, becoming one of the central elements of what came to be called in the discourse of international organizations the "Second generation reforms". In this case, in Peru, the National Commission in Defense of Water and Life (CONAGUAVIDA) promotes a national mobilization in rejection of the water bill approved by a parliamentary commission, which provides for the privatization of the service and legitimizes pollution. On the other hand, in Uruguay, the protests promoted by the National Commission in Defense of Water and Life (CNDAV) and the Federation of State Sanitary Works Officials (FFOSE) against the sanction of the presidential decree (5/20) stand out. which ratifies the private concessions for water supply and sanitation, contradicting the spirit of the last referendum (10/31/04) where the majority of the population demonstrated against their privatization.

The processes of social conflict that we describe in Central America and Mexico, as we pointed out in the first part of this article, occur in the context of a marked decrease in social conflict. Three countries are exempt from this trend: Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama. In the first of these, the general strike and mobilizations against the parliamentary ratification of DR-CAFTA stand out, and the one that - promoted by the business chambers - demands its approval. In the case of Honduras, prolonging a process that began last four months, an intense and extended series of student conflicts unfolds (a long strike, mobilizations and roadblocks) that temporarily concludes with the obtaining of the payment of a transportation voucher ( before the increase in the same, as a result of the increase in oil prices), scholarships and bonuses for graduation expenses. But it is certainly Panama where, to a greater extent, the growth of social unrest that has been deployed since the last four months stands out, compared to the reform proposal of the Social Security Fund promoted by the new government of Martín Torrijos (the description and analysis This process can be consulted in the article by Marco A. Gandásegui (h.) that we include in this issue).

Social conflicts, governance and the imperial project in the Southern Cone

We previously pointed out the growth that the social conflict in the Southern Cone region experienced throughout this second four-month period (particularly the result of the protests that took place in Uruguay and Argentina) after a prolonged period of decline (May 2004-April 2005) . This process is largely the reason for the regional increase in actions promoted by employed and unemployed workers that we presented at the beginning of this contribution, and of these, almost a third corresponds to the countries of the South of the continent.

In the case of Uruguay, the significant increase in conflict events registered by OSAL for the period under study (May-August 2005) interrupts a downward trend that began at the beginning of 2004, standing in this case at similar values to those registered for the second quarter of last year. These protests basically unfold from the end of May, after the municipal elections (8/5) in which EP-FA-NM [7] triumphs in 8 districts. Entre ellas se destaca una serie de ocupaciones de fábricas y empresas –particularmente por reincorporación de delegados y trabajadores, pago de haberes o aumento salarial– que, al obtener conquistas en algunos casos, estimulan esta modalidad de lucha [8]. La misma se ampara en la reciente derogación del decreto que permitía a las fuerzas policiales intervenir en este tipo de conflictos, lo que despierta la crítica de las cámaras empresariales. Asimismo, a partir de junio, tienen lugar numerosas protestas (cortes de calle) de vecinos de barriadas populares en reclamo de su inclusión en el recientemente creado Plan Nacional de Emergencia Social (PANES).

Como hemos mencionado anteriormente, también se realizan distintas movilizaciones impulsadas por la Comisión Nacional en Defensa del Agua y de la Vida y el sindicato del sector ante la decisión del gobierno de prorrogar, hasta el vencimiento de sus contratos, las concesiones privadas del servicio de aguas y saneamiento a pesar del resultado del referéndum de fines del pasado año.

El crecimiento del conflicto social en Argentina, en un contexto de crecimiento económico e inflación y en los inicios de la campaña electoral por la renovación de los parlamentos nacional y provinciales, resulta particularmente de las acciones de los trabajadores en demanda de aumento salarial, que comprenden aproximadamente el 45% de las protestas registradas.

La mayoría de las mismas (62%) corresponden a empleados del sector público nacional y provincial (donde se destacan las de los trabajadores administrativos del estado y los maestros de distintas provincias); pero es importante el peso de los conflictos protagonizados por los trabajadores del sector privado (38%, dos quintos de ellos resultan en la industria). Más prolongadas e intensas en el sector público, la mayoría de estas protestas obtiene un incremento salarial que, en los mejores casos, permite recuperar el poder adquisitivo erosionado por la inflación. Por otro lado, se incrementan también las acciones promovidas por los trabajadores desocupados (piqueteros) que, si bien recorren todo el cuatrimestre, se intensifican desde mediados de julio cuando la mayoría de las organizaciones piqueteras llevan adelante un plan de lucha nacional en demanda de la universalización del subsidio de desempleo y su aumento a 350 pesos (que lo situaría alrededor de la línea de indigencia).

Frente a las jornadas nacionales de cortes de ruta, movilizaciones y acampe en la Plaza de Mayo, y en un clima mediático de criminalización de las protestas, hacia fines de agosto el gobierno nacional moviliza las fuerzas de seguridad para impedir las acciones de estos movimientos [9]. Se destacan también en Argentina los paros y movilizaciones de los docentes y estudiantes universitarios por mayor presupuesto y la derogación de la Ley de Educación Superior sancionada durante el gobierno de Menem (1995), y las intensas y reiteradas movilizaciones (que en repetidas oportunidades cortan el puente internacional) de los pobladores de la ciudad de Gualeguaychú (provincia de Entre Ríos) contra la instalación de dos empresas papeleras transnacionales sobre la ribera uruguaya (Fray Bentos) del río Uruguay que, con menor intensidad, también tienen lugar en el país oriental.

Finalmente, en el caso de Chile, el rechazo a la Ley de Financiamiento de la Educación Superior –que habilita al privado a intervenir en el otorgamiento de préstamos para el pago de aranceles– motivará diferentes protestas y movilizaciones de los estudiantes universitarios [10], así como también se registran acciones impulsadas por mapuches por posesión de tierras.

En un contexto de disminución del conflicto en Paraguay, luego de las importantes protestas campesinas por entrega de tierras que recorren el pasado año y que fueron acalladas por una significativa represión estatal, en este cuatrimestre se destacan las movilizaciones impulsadas por la coordinadora Frente de Defensa de los Bienes Públicos y el Patrimonio Nacional contra la propuesta de ley de privatizaciones que finalmente es dejada de lado, por lo menos hasta el momento. En este caso, y en su estrategia continental, uno de los más importantes logros obtenidos por el gobierno norteamericano en la región ha sido, sin dudas, la aprobación parlamentaria en Paraguay (5/5) de inmunidad (estatus diplomático) para su personal militar y de un intenso calendario de intercambio militar, ingreso de efectivos y operativos conjuntos (sobre sus características e implicancias geopolíticas ver el artículo de Ana Esther Ceceña y Carlos Ernesto Motto en este número). Si sumamos a ello las declaraciones del vicepresidente paraguayo, luego desmentidas, en relación con la voluntad de negociar un TLC con EE.UU., y las tratativas, actualmente postergadas, sobre un tratado de protección mutua de inversiones entre Uruguay y el país del Norte, pueden visualizarse algunas líneas de la estrategia estadounidense en el Sur del continente en el marco de las divergencias y dificultades que parecen atravesar al MERCOSUR (bloque que, junto a la negativa venezolana, se constituyó en uno de los obstáculos al desarrollo del proyecto norteamericano del Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas, ALCA).

En este sentido, vale considerar también la crisis que afecta al gobierno del presidente Lula en Brasil, tras el escándalo del manejo ilegal de fondos que compromete a dicho gobierno, cuyas primeras denuncias aparecen a mediados de mayo para intensificarse a lo largo del cuatrimestre y conllevan, entre otras, la renuncia (16/6) del jefe de la Casa Civil de la Presidencia, José Dirceu, y del presidente y secretario del Partido de los Trabajadores, PT (9/7) (para una cronología y análisis de lo sucedido ver el artículo de Roberto Leher en este número).

Estos hechos han vuelto público que la dominancia de la política económica ortodoxa y de las reformas neoliberales (Frigotto, 2004) que signó la gestión del gobierno de Lula en estos años –manifestada ya en la elaboración, bajo la presión de los “mercados”, de la “Carta a los Brasileros” en 2002 (Leher, 2003)– parece expresarse también en la continuidad de las formas de la gobernabilidad política tradicionales en Brasil. En este contexto, la conflictividad social se mantiene en similares valores al cuatrimestre pasado; siendo que en mayo se destaca el fin de la movilización nacional promovida por el MST (Movimiento de Trabajadores Rurales Sin Tierra) en reclamo del efectivo cumplimiento de los compromisos gubernamentales en relación a la entrega de tierras y la reforma agraria (sobre el MST y la lucha contra el agrobusiness ver el artículo de Héctor Alimonda en este número); para luego incrementarse las protestas de los trabajadores ocupados, particularmente del sector público, en demanda de recomposición salarial.

A dos meses de la realización de la IV Cumbre de Presidentes de las Américas (Mar del Plata, Argentina) –en el año en que el proyecto estadounidense del ALCA preveía ponerse en marcha–, la dinámica y límites de la ola de libre comercio (y los procesos de militarización social que la acompañan), las nuevas formas que adopta la gobernabilidad neoliberal, así como la persistencia de las resistencias y configuración de alternativas ante estos proyectos, entretejen los desafíos presentes y futuros de las sociedades latinoamericanas y caribeñas.

Frigotto, Gaudêncio 2004 “Brasil e a política econômico-social: entre o medo e a esperança” en OSAL (Buenos Aires: CLACSO) Nº 14, mayo-agosto.
Leher, Roberto 2003 “O governo Lula e os conflitos sociais no Brasil” en OSAL (Buenos Aires: CLACSO) N° 10, enero-abril.

[1] Este artículo es fruto de un trabajo colectivo desarrollado en el marco del Observatorio Social de América Latina (OSAL-CLACSO). Para la elaboración del mismo se han utilizado las cronologías del conflicto social –resultado de una tarea coordinada por el OSAL desde el año 2000 y que abarca el esfuerzo de diferentes investigadores y centros de investigación de la región– y los informes cuatrimestrales respectivos preparados por el equipo del OSAL (Juan Chaves, María Chaves, Sol Denot, Mariana Fassi, Martín Fernández, María José Nacci, Marcelo Perera y Magdalena Rauch). A todos ellos mis agradecimientos y especialmente a Emilio Taddei y Clara Algranati por sus comentarios y sugerencias y a Mariana Fassi por la revisión del texto. Las referencias a los datos cuantitativos sobre las características de la conflictividad social del período resultan del análisis de los resultados de la base de datos elaborada por el OSAL en función de la información suministrada por las referidas cronologías.
[2] En este caso, entre otros conflictos, los pobladores de Orellana realizan durante el mes de mayo un paro provincial y ocupan pozos petroleros exigiendo obras de infraestructura, en salud y educación, y en junio, ante el incumplimiento de las promesas oficiales, las autoridades de ambas provincias amenazan con un paro regional. Asimismo, comunidades campesinas e indígenas se manifiestan reclamando la caducidad del contrato de la empresa petrolera Occidental (OXY).
[3] Entre las protestas del sector privado se destaca una prolongada huelga –que se extiende por casi dos meses– realizada por los trabajadores de 7 ingenios azucareros en rechazo a los bajos salarios, la precariedad laboral y la falta de seguridad social.
[4] En 1999 tiene lugar el I Congreso Nacional con la participación de 13 departamentos, fundándose la Coordinadora Nacional de Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería. En octubre de 2003 se desarrolló el II Congreso donde se aprobó la constitución de la Confederación de Comunidades Afectadas por la Minería.
[5] En relación a ello vale señalar que, frente a estas medidas, el recurso judicial interpuesto por el gobierno del presidente Toledo ante el Tribunal Constitucional obtuvo una resolución favorable por parte de este a fines de septiembre.
[6] Fuera del período que consideramos, el Parlamento nicaragüense ratificó dicho tratado.
[7] Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio-Nueva Mayoría.
[8] La ocupación de la sede administrativa de la empresa de gas (Gaseba) por trabajadores de la Unión Autónoma de Obreros y Empleados de la Compañía del Gas (UAOEGAS) a comienzos de mayo en reclamo de la reincorporación de 7 dirigentes gremiales despedidos en 1996, entre otras reivindicaciones, logra un acuerdo favorable una semana después. La resolución del conflicto es considerada por las organizaciones sindicales como un triunfo histórico para el movimiento obrero uruguayo.
[9] En relación con la represión de los conflictos, vale señalar el violento desalojo y detención (20/7) de los trabajadores desocupados que habían tomado la planta petrolera de la empresa Repsol-YPF en Cañadón Seco (provincia de Santa Cruz) en reclamo de los puestos de trabajo comprometidos por dicha empresa en un conflicto anterior, que cobra decenas de heridos y detenidos.
[10] Vale mencionar que en el período se sanciona la Ley de Control de Armas que, entre otras cosas, habilita a los carabineros a ingresar a las universidades en búsqueda de estudiantes, así como tienen lugar diferentes detenciones de activistas indígenas en el Sur. En el mismo período se reforma la estructura parlamentaria heredada de la dictadura pinochetista derogando, entre otras cuestiones, la figura de los senadores vitalicios y facultades de las FF.AA.

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