While there is a substantial amount of literature on land-grabbing and land inequality exacerbation under neoliberalism these works give almost no attention to the importance of violence as an enabler of land-acquisition. On the other hand, the problem of violence in Latin America is largely attributed by academics, policy makers and politicians alike, to organized crime and gangs and rarely linked to present-day processes of agrarian transformation.
This project focuses on a type of violence, carried out by state and non-state armed actors, which has enabled resource appropriation and rural proletarianization through land dispossession and repression of land-rights movements in the neoliberal era. In order to capture more broadly a type of violence that is functional to capital accumulation by securing resources and labour, Dr. Hristov introduces the concept of pro-capitalist violence, as part of an emergent theory of violence that seeks to explain the role of state and non-state armed actors in economic globalization. 3 One of the main types of non-state armed actors engaged in pro-capitalist violence have been paramilitary groups. The proliferation of paramilitary violence over the past 25 years is a very under-investigated and poorly understood phenomenon. It is defined here as violence exercised by non-state and/or state actors operating outside the boundaries of legality. Commonly employed by economically and politically powerful groups, paramilitary violence targets social movements, human rights activists, and others who challenge the established political-economic model. It has also been instrumental in displacing small-scale farmers from land of strategic economic importance.