Cnel. Miguel Di Pascuo 2936, Bo. Grand Bourg (4400) – Salta, Argentina
The Instituto de Investigaciones en Energía No Convencional (INENCO) is carrying out a broadcasting campaign of its research activities from the Latin American focal point of Land Matrix. This outreach cycle started in April and will continue for the next three months. So far, we have visited FM «La Plaza» twice.
In our first visit, we provided general information about the initiative and what we do in particular from INENCO. On the second visit, we provided specific information about the current status of large land transactions in the Chaco Salteño and about the mining concessions for lithium in the Puna Argentina. During that visit, the potential impacts of these transactions and the importance of proper and fair planning were discussed.
Importantly, the outreach campaign aims to inform the community about the research we carry out at INENCO and its relevance to the region. We also want to raise awareness about the importance of proper and fair planning in the use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.
We will continue to visit different media and public spaces to disseminate our research and raise awareness about the importance of responsible management of natural resources in Latin America.
The Yucatan Peninsula is made up of the Mexican states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Campeche. It has a great diversity of ecosystems ranging from tropical jungles to coral reefs, including petenes, mangroves, dunes, cenotes, freshwater lakes, coastal lagoons, and more.
Given the existing environmental, cultural, and archaeological richness, for the past two decades, the Yucatan Peninsula has become an attractive location for tourist investments that have caused changes in land use and processes of ejidal land privatization. Between 1994 and 2018, a total area of 355,304 hectares of common use land in the Yucatan Peninsula was individually parcelled and titled, and in the same period, 190,780 hectares were converted to full ownership (Torres-Mazuela, 2021).
The expansion of hotel infrastructure on the peninsula since 1992 corresponds particularly to the state of Quintana Roo, where the number of hotels multiplied by 19 between 1992 and 2017; in Campeche and Yucatan, it multiplied by 14 and 3.5, respectively. With more than 100,000 available rooms at the end of 2017, Quintana Roo concentrated 12.7% of all hotel rooms in the country: 1 out of every 8 (GeoComunes, CMSS, 2019).
This tourism infrastructure development on the peninsula, besides being massive and concentrated in the coastal areas, particularly in Quintana Roo, has specialized in luxury tourism. By the end of 2017, there were 311 five-star hotels on the peninsula, 227 of which were in the coastal zone of Quintana Roo, representing 35% of the available rooms in the country for this hotel category. 62% of existing hotels in Quintana Roo correspond to 3-star categories and above (GeoComunes, CMSS, 2019). This form of mass and luxury tourism is largely explained by the role of Quintana Roo as the main point of international tourism reception (GeoComunes, CMSS, 2019).
This rate of tourism growth is directly linked to urban growth and expansion and the need for transport infrastructure, services, and facilities, which means that this development model requires the incorporation (without sustainable urban planning schemes) of new lands (land grabbing of ejidal lands) and therefore also involves the indiscriminate use of water resources, having a direct impact on traditional ways of life and the natural and cultural richness of the Yucatan Peninsula.
In Brazil, the energy transition to mitigate the effects of climate change has resulted in the grabbing of land and wind with a gradual increase in projects for wind power generation. Land grabbing is a centuries-old process, but wind grabbing is a recent process of territorial control of this natural resource. Wind grabbing can be understood through the multidimensionality of the relational space in the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the delineated territories (Santos, 1996; Fernandes, 2008).
According to data from the National Electric Energy Agency’s Generation Information System (ANEEL), there are currently 1,491 wind farms approved by the agency, totaling 49,399,490 kW of granted power. A decade ago, there were only 316 approved projects in the country. Wind grabbing is an inseparable process of land and wind appropriation. To generate electricity from the kinetic energy of wind, wind turbines need to be located on the land. Thus, wind appropriation necessarily translates into land appropriation.
Land appropriation is the horizontality of grabbing for wind power generation, which is the verticality of grabbing. Certain companies appropriate land and wind through mechanisms that impact the territorial rights of communities territorialized in areas with wind potential. The justification for these actions has an environmental bias, which although the academy has called this process green grabbing (Fairhead, Leach & Scoones, 2012). This is a predatory grabbing similar to other types of grabbing.
Grabbing land and wind means appropriating territories that are collective commons and pre-existing objects of work (Marx, 2013). Capitalist agents with access to highly qualified technology appropriate these territories with wind potential through lease agreements, mostly with insignificant values.
By transforming wind potential into electrical energy, capitalist agents obtain territorial rent from a good whose appropriation should be collective because wind is a common good. At the same time, the landowner does not have access to land rent because the values paid by the leaseholders are very low and do not relate to the gains obtained from the commercialization of the energy, which is obtained through wind grabbing. It is worth noting that lease agreements are often denounced for their abusive clauses, especially regarding land enclosure, automatic renewal, and confidentiality of the process. In that sense, it is essential to address the advancement of wind projects in Brazil through the double grabbing of land and wind. The grabbing of land and wind has resulted in the violation of rights conquered through social struggles, which can lead to the de-territorialization of subjects and communities.
Since 2020, the research group Conflict, Region and Rural Societies and the Observatory of Ethnic and Peasant Territories at Javeriana University, as part of the Governance Table of the Land Matrix Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean, have initiated a process of political incidence in Colombia to resume public debate on land grabbing and its impacts on rural areas in the country.
In this incidence work, we have articulated some initiatives with Senator Wilson Arias and his Legislative Work Unit, as well as with other civil society organizations and NGOs in Colombia. As a result, a first virtual meeting on agribusiness in Colombia was held in 2020 with the participation of Senator Wilson Arias.
Starting last year with Senator Wilson Arias, we began a cycle of academic-political forums. The first one took place in October 2022, in which academics from Javeriana University, public officials from national entities such as the Prosecutor’s Office and the General Comptroller’s Office of the Nation, the National Land Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as civil society organizations such as the Claretian Corporation Norman Perez Bello, participated with the aim of analyzing and discussing the change in the rural development model and, as part of it, the decisions to prevent the improper accumulation of public lands, land grabbing, and foreign ownership of land in Colombia.
This year 2023, we continue with the activities of political incidence as part of a regional incidence process in Latin America driven by Land Matrix-LAC. For this reason, we are organizing the 2nd academic-political forum with the office of Senator Wilson Arias and other allied organizations for July, with the aim of taking stock of some of the measures taken and the direction that land policy is taking almost a year after Gustavo Petro was elected President of the Republic. The focus will be on the dynamics of land grabbing and foreign ownership of land, and access to land for farmers, both from the implementation of the peace agreement and the agricultural reform policy proposed by the national government simultaneously.
Contribute to the database on land transactions!
This is an invitation to organizations working on land issues, academic institutions, researchers, grassroots organizations, government offices, and committed individuals, who are interested in sharing any kind of information on large land acquisitions in Latin America.
If you want to contribute with this initiative, you can file a report on a large-scale land acquisition by filling in a form available here.
Documents and reports produced by the Latin America Focal Point, including an update of large-scale land acquisitions in the region, available here.