The project has now concluded. Over one hundred interviews and focus-groups were carried out in Honduras and Mexico with members of peasant organizations, journalists, students, academics, NGO personnel as well as some representatives from the private sector. Fieldwork in Guatemala has been postponed due to Covid-19. The findings have been published in several book chapters and journal articles (see further below under Outcomes). The following are some highlights of the key findings:
- Not all collective violence in Honduras and Mexico is a product of organized crime and gang activity. There is a type of political violence employed on behalf of those with economic and/or political power against social movements, organizations and individuals that challenge/oppose large-scale capital-intense projects in mining, agribusiness, and hydroelectricity. The concept of pro-capitalist violence has been developed to capture this form of violence (See below Hristov, J. 2020. Pro-Capitalist Violence and Globalization).
- There is a very high correspondence between: (a) sites of land conflicts or disputes between private companies and/or local governments on one hand and peasant /indigenous organizations and affected communities on the other and (b) cases of human and civil rights violations including murder, murder attempts, kidnappings, torture, sexual violence, intimidation, arbitrary detention, destruction of crops and homes, beatings, and death threats.
- The economic sectors that exhibit very high levels of land-related violence include agribusiness, particularly oil palm plantations, mining, and hydroelectricity.
- Pro-capitalist violence targeting land rights and environmental defenders is carried out by both state and non-state actors including private security guards, former police and military officials, gang members, sicarios (hired gunmen) and emerging paramilitary groups (see below Hristov, J. 2021. Pro-Capitalist Violence and the Great Wave of Dispossession).
- Favorable conditions that occur parallel to and highly facilitate this type of violence include processes militarization and criminalization.
- Pro-capitalist violence works in tandem with certain types of (a) security legislation (particularly laws and other measures that enhance the powers of the police and the military while broadening the definition of charges of terrorism and usurpation that serve to criminalize members of community organizations protecting their land and environment) and (b) economic legislation (laws and policies that dispossess people from their land through economic coercion, special economic zones, FDI incentives, and the conversion of land as social property into transferable commodity) (See below Hristov, J. 2021)
- These and other findings from our project have implications and significance that transcend the fields of agrarian studies, international development, and social movements. Key insights point to the need to rethink the nature of the nation-state under globalization and its willingness to share its monopoly of violence as well as to consider the importance of paramilitary forces as a useful weapon wielded by the dominant forces of neoliberal globalization to accumulate wealth and power, or to buttress institutions facing instability or crises (see forthcoming volume Paramilitary groups and the State under Globalization: Political Violence, Elites, and Security).
PUBLICACIONES EN ESPAÑOL:
Hristov, J. y Spring, Karen. (2021 enero 11). Entre palma, plomo y policías: paramilitarismo el brazo armado del desarrollo. Avispamidia.
Después de más de 10 años de estudiar grupos paramilitares y su relación con el estado en Colombia, Jasmin Hristov expandió sus investigaciones sobre el tema de violencia paramilitar a la región de Centroamérica y México. Como producto del proyecto Violencia y Despojo de la Tierra donde se realizaron mas de 100 entrevistas con campesinos, defensores de derechos humanos, ambientalistas, estudiantes, y periodistas, Jasmin demuestra en el siguiente articulo como la violencia paramilitar ha sido instrumental para la expansión y consolidación de operaciones capitalistas a gran escala en los sectores de la agroindustria, el turismo, la minería y la energía, así como la imposición de reformas neoliberales en la gestión territorial, la educación y los sectores de la salud. En “Hristov, J. y Spring, Karen. (2021 enero 11). Entre palma, plomo y policías: paramilitarismo el brazo armado del desarrollo. Avispamidia.” “Entre palma, plomo y policias,” con la colaboración de Karen Spring, Jasmin argumenta que la violencia paramilitar al servicio de corporaciones locales y extranjeras casi siempre ha tenido lugar en un entorno altamente militarizado, caracterizado por la violencia estatal, la represión y la criminalización de los movimientos sociales, donde colaboran actores estatales y no estatales directamente o al menos facilitan las operaciones.
Jimenez Argumosa, P. and Hristov, J. (2021). La Violencia Política, Paramilitar y Pro-Capitalista Asola a Honduras https://www.elsaltodiario.com/mapas/la-violencia-politica-paramilitar-y-pro-capitalista-asola-a-honduras.
Un análisis mas largo en ingles estaría disponible en el libro Grupos Paramilitares y el Estado bajo la Globalización: Violencia Política, Elites y Seguridad que presenta una colección de capítulos sobre fuerzas paramilitares en diferentes partes del mundo. El libro va a ser publicado con la editorial de Routledge.
Hristov, J. (2021). Pro-Capitalist Violence and the Great Wave of Dispossession: Armed Actors and Agrarian Conflicts in Colombia, Mexico, and Honduras. Sociology of Development 7(2), 129-158. https://doi.org/10.1525/sod.2021.7.2.129
Hristov, J. (2020). The Capital-State Nexus and its War on Women. In Caliskan, G. (Ed.). Gendering Globalization, Globalizing Gender. Toronto: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/gendering-globalization-globalizing-gender-9780199030729?lang=en&cc=ma#
Hristov, J. (2020). Globalization, Militarization, and Violence in Latin America. In Caliskan, G. (Ed.). Gendering Globalization, Globalizing Gender. Toronto: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/gendering-globalization-globalizing-gender-9780199030729?lang=en&cc=ma#
Hristov, J. (2020). Pro-Capitalist Violence and Globalization: Lessons from Latin America. In Hosseini, S.A.H., Goodman, J., Motta, S.C., & Gills, B.K. (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Transformative Global Studies. London: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Transformative-Global-Studies-1st-Edition/Hosseini-Goodman-Motta-Gills/p/book/9781138601123
Hristov, J., Sprague, J. and Tauss, A. (Eds). Paramilitary groups and the State under Globalization: Political Violence, Elites, and Security. [forthcoming Routledge Jan 2022].
Hristov, J. and Bushra, L. (2022). Theorizing Non-State Armed Actors in the Era of Economic Globalization: Beyond the Criminal and the Terrorist. In Hristov, J., Sprague, J. and Tauss, A. (Eds.), Paramilitary groups and the State under Globalization: Political Violence, Elites, and Security. [forthcoming Routledge Jan 2022].
Hristov, J. and Spring, K. Paramilitarism in Progress: the Low-Intensity War against Popular Mobilizations Honduras. In Hristov, J., Sprague, J., and Tauss, A. (Eds.), Paramilitary groups and the State under Globalization: Political Violence, Elites, and Security. [forthcoming Routledge Jan 2022].
1.What is the nature, prevalence and core patterns in the relationship between land dispossession and paramilitary and/or state violence in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala?
2.What is the role and various alliances of state and non-state armed actors in processes of resource appropriation, dispossession as well as repression and disarticulation of movements of resistance?
ENGAGEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE SECTOR
In addition to scholarly contributions, the intended outcomes of the project “Violence and Land Dispossession in Central America and Mexico” include:
1) informing policy-makers, governments and the private sector in Canada and the countries under investigation; and
2) proposing policies and possible kinds of economic linkages with these countries that can contribute to reducing violence.
PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES
The project “Violence and Land Dispossession in Central America and Mexico” adopts a participatory methodology model which takes as a starting point the needs of communities affected by violence and tries to address these at every stage of the knowledge creation process including, research design, fieldwork, data analysis, and knowledge dissemination while promoting a horizontal relationship between academics and participants.
To this end, one of the intended outcomes of the project is the production of a documentary entitled “Land Wars, Dispossession and Resistance in Latin America”. Furthermore, the project has been used as a platform for facilitating a South-South solidarity by creating an opportunity for communication and exchange between two land-rights movements – from the Aguan region of Honduras and Chiapas, Mexico, whose members have been facing violence related to land disputes, land occupations, forced evictions, and abuses by state and non-state forces in their respective countries.