A new study from RRI documents the multidimensional impacts and multiplier effects of collective rights violations by extractive industries and infrastructure development in Latin America. The study tracks 102 cases involving Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, and local communities.
The study maps territorial disputes between communities and extractive industries in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico between 2017 and 2019. The georeferenced analysis quantified the scope of rights violations by distinguishing the several types of rights violated in particular cases. It examined a total of 102 cases of private company projects linked to the violation of collective rights, where 1,164 communities were impacted, and 295 individuals suffered attacks or direct criminalization. Infrastructure projects were responsable for the majority (68.6 percent) of cases, affecting at least 1052 communities across the 6 countries.
However, there were significant differences in the geographic distribution of cases by sector: in South America, extractive industries and agroindustry were responsible for 72.5 percent of documented cases, although infrastructure projects impacted a greater number of communities.
The study takes an integrated approach to analyzing collective rights violations and concludes that when collective territories are affected, there are social, cultural, territorial, economic, and environmental impacts on the communities that inhabit that territory. In addition, multiplying effects of violating numerous rights simultaneously extend to adjacent communities and populations, with cumulative effects in the short and long term. In particular, the study identifies the violation of 13 rights. Violations of 3 of these rights were found in all countries and also top the list of most frequent violations: the right to a healthy environment; the right to free, prior and informed consent; and the right to collective control over territory. Violations of the right to physical and moral integrity, the right to life, the right to defense of ancestral land, the right to water, and the right to participate in public life were also observed documented across the region.
The study also analyzed financial links to these conflicts and found that foreign companies, mainly from the United States, Canada, China, Norway, Spain and Switzerland, are in conflict with 668 communities. China stands out as the country of origin of investments affecting the largest number of communities (440). While foreign-based companies were in charge of 36% of legally implemented industrial projects, most of the companies involved in conflicts were domestically based.