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Poverty, Injustic, and the Ecological Crisis. Ecological Crisis. Grounded in a particular model of capitalist development that has been promoted by the US for the last 4 decades. Central America has become highly dependent on the markets of the first world for it’s own prosperity

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Poverty, Injustic, and the Ecological Crisis


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    1. Poverty, Injustic, and the Ecological Crisis

    2. Ecological Crisis • Grounded in a particular model of capitalist development that has been promoted by the US for the last 4 decades. • Central America has become highly dependent on the markets of the first world for it’s own prosperity • 1954 only 2 crops dominated regions exports • Coffee and bananas • 1950s the US took a more active role in expanding ‘dependent’ capitalist development in Cen Am

    3. Then… • The US governments role was expanded with the creation of the Alliance for Progress in 1961 • Response to Cuban Revolution to promote social and economic stability • Expanded capitalist export agriculture and industry

    4. Impact • In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua the traditional oligarchies used the US economic and military assistance to promote the development of large-scale agriculture

    5. Which lead to… • Forests, wildlife habitat, and peasant communities being cleared away for nontraditional export crops • Coffee, cotton, sugar, bananas, and cattle • In Honduras and Costa Rica this foreign capital was used to expand small scale coffee farms and cattle holdings

    6. And… • The Pacific coastal plain with its ‘majestic volcanoes’ • Fertile lowlands • Perfect for two new export commodities • Sugar and cotton

    7. Oh NO! • From the 1950s-1970s pretty much all forests were destroyed along with savannas, evergreen forests, and mangroves. • Habitat for howler monkeys, anteaters, and white-lipped peccaries were gone

    8. Also… • Peasants were evicted from their land • Often with brute force • By the late 1970s 10,000 farms had been carved out • Only 2 percent of the original costal forests remained

    9. Beef Cattle! • Beef would be raised where ever pasture would grow • Funded by US grants and loans and World Bank • World Bank spent 154 million dollars or about 56 percent of total ag funds

    10. WHAT?? • People in Nicaragua and Guatemala who resistend eviction were killed in US SUPPORTED counterinsurgency operations

    11. So obviously… • The expansion of the cattle ranching quickly became and ecological and social DISASTER

    12. The region had become… • Socially disarticulated • It posses little consumption capacity for commodities produced by the capatlist export sector. • The peasant and the poor are not primary sources of consumer demand. • This means that the regions economy is extremely vulnerable to world markets

    13. No ONLY the US's fault • Germany • Coffee • Japan • Hand picked cotton • Contractions and expansions of the supply in Cen Am had little impact on the world prices for commodities

    14. Pollution Pollution… • Many industries externalized the social and ecological costs of the capitalist production • Didn’t pay for pollution control equipment

    15. So… • Polluted water • Only 1 in 10 Salvadorans has access to safe drinking water • The worst is coffee processing plants which discharge high levels of boron, chloride, and arsenic-laden wastewater • Costa Rican coffee processing plants produce 66% of water contaminants • In some places the cattle down stream form these plants have died due to drinking the water

    16. The US… • Dumped large amounts of mercury into Lake Managua until in 1980 • 37% of people working at a plant were suffering form mercury poisoning • US dumped over 40 tons of mercury into this lake

    17. FUN facts… • ONLY 10-15% of Costa Rican field workers have necessary protective clothing • Appox. 1,000 banana workers have been rendered infertile through DBCP and 4-5,000 more are at risk • Estimated 73,000 pesticide poisonings have occurred in the 1970s • Honduras and Nicaraguans were world leaders in per capital illness and deaths from pesticides • Today, Nic and Guat have more DDT in body fat that any other pop in the world

    18. What's happening? • Central American capitalists keeping peasant subsistence sector severely impoverished and unable to escape wage slavery

    19. Functional Dualism • Overdevelopment of export sector and underdevelopment of of the subsistence sector • Social and ecological impoverishment of the peasantry • Mainly controlled by land tenure

    20. So… • Central America’s rapidly growing population of poor lost much of it’s land • Small/medium farmers declined 20-38 % in Nic from 1952 to 1964 • By early 1960s, 6% of Central America’s farms controlled 72% of the farm land and employed 28% of rural labor force

    21. Silly Cattle… • Cattle ranches expanded • Beef exports jumped 9$ million to 290$ million in 17 years • But decline in beef consumption per capita in region of production and falling income and food production • The human impoverishment in the area was directly related to the cattle boom

    22. Which lead to… • Farmers finding obscure places to farm • And ruining the Choluteca Valley • AND even MORE extensive deforestation

    23. Hmmm… • Subsistence based farming methods are terrible for the land even if the land is ag-frindly • USAID

    24. Health effects… • Are too extensive to describe. • Migratory families suffer malnutrition, parasite infection, disease, and work injuries • And the average wage is 1.25$ - 1.50$ A DAY

    25. By late 1970s… • 60% of Guat’s economic active pop worked for capitalist export sector

    26. Wow… • Capitalist development does not only produce severe ecological exploitation but depends on it for semi proletarian labor • Same with the labor force • Symptoms • Declining fallow cycle, soil erosion, declining food production, watershed destruction, loss of wildlife, growing problems

    27. Most destructive • The over exploitation of soil • Costa Rica • Over 17% severely eroded • 24% moderately eroded • 3% extremely eroded

    28. Which leads to… • Magnified water crisis • Falling water tables lead to bigger harships

    29. MORE fun facts… • 18% of rural pop has safe drinking water • Life expectancy in Guat is 44 years (or 60 years if your not an Indian) • El Sal more than 95% of of original tropical forest is destroyed • Massive soil erosion and soil fertility loss (more that 77% of El Sal)

    30. Also… • Protein malnutrition is a serious problem for Cen Am • This is due to destruction of localized fish and wildlife populations • ‘No hope of meaningful recovery’ USAID • CODDEFFEGULF to appose the mass destruction of mangroves SPONSERED by the USAID (WHAT??) for shrimp export projects

    31. Repression… • Guat military has systematically murdered civilians and eliminated entire villages • Considered ‘low-intensity conflict’ but has killed more than 45,000 people

    32. People need place to live… • Monte Bello • Unsuitable for living but people need a place to live • More than 1,000 people dies in avalanche at the base of Monte Bello • Massive erosion is not good for flash flooding

    33. Searching for balance in society • Burden falls on women • Have to do all of regular duties plus work full time with the men • Children are ‘production agents’ • Needed to support family • More children are had so that the family can make more money • Also high infant mortality

    34. Today… • Central America’s population is over 25 million people • 44% are under 15 years of age • Most rapid growth is in the poorest of poor

    35. The fourteen families • Compromise less than 2 percent of population but own more than 60% of the arable land in El Salvador • The country’s best farmland is guarded by military power of the oligarchy.

    36. Damage to capital • All the bad practices going on are beginning to hurt the capital’s profit rates • Looking forward to a sustainable future? • Agrarian reform • Ag-policy