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Different Motivations in the Latin American Movement: Rafa's anarchist perspective

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Rafael Uzcategui is a Venezuelan conscientious objector, author, and human rights activist who has been active with War Resisters' International, and in antimilitarism more generally, for many years. Here, he summarises the main tendencies of the Latin American conscientious objection movement, and details how his own nonviolent anarchist position fits into this picture.

During the eighties, many Latin American countries were living under military dictatorships or suffering the consequences of civil war. These were also the days of the Cold War, during which the US considered Latin America one of its 'zones of influence': almost like a back garden. The traumatic and progressive democratisation process meant that broad swathes of the continent's youth developed an antimilitarist sentiment, which began to take on an organised and political dimension. As an adolescent at the beginning of the nineties in Barquisimeto, a town 5 hours away from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, my peers and I had to hide ourselves twice a year for fifteen days, to avoid compulsory military service. Otherwise they would seize us on the streets and, without wasting words, force us into a truck, with others just as terrified, and from there take us to the barracks. For many of us, these forced recruitment raids or 'press gangs' were the starting point for our rejection of authority and of the military uniform.

Industrie minière, militarisation et criminalisation de la protestation sociale en Amérique latine.

Cesar Padilla, Observatoire des Conflits Miniers d'Amérique latine, OCMAL

Cela n'est pas une nouveauté: l'extractivisme en Amérique latine ne cesse d'imposer un modèle d'extraction et d'exportation toujours plus fort. La majorité des pays de la région est touchée par une course aux investissements dans le secteur minier, pétrolier, forestier ou maritime.

Toutefois, l'extractivisme est de plus en plus contesté de parts et d'autres de la société – notamment par l'académie et les mouvements sociaux.

The Yasuní in Ecuador: A model for nonviolent resistance

By Xavier León Vega

In Ecuador, antimilitarist and environmental activists are currently working together in a way that allows us to imagine a post-extraction society. Since the 1970s, the country has been heavily dependent on petroleum extraction in order to finance its budget and achieve sought-after 'development', as defined by the Western world view.

This has led to Ecuador depending on petroleum for almost 35% of its income. (El Telégrafo, 2012) This model based on extraction has not taken into consideration the environmental and social costs in some areas of the country, displacing and contaminating indigenous and rural communities in the areas where petroleum is extracted.

Ecuador and Military Power

Many of us have seen or heard about the events on 30 September in Ecuador, a day where, quite simply, the world was turned on its head. Police officers burning tyres and throwing stones, taking over the hospital where the President had been allegedly “sequestered”.

What happened that day?

"Clean Up Ecuador"

About the campaign

Chevron, the US Oil company, is embroiled in a lawsuit in the Ecuadorian Amazon, the roots of which date back over 40 years to Texaco's oil operations in the region. The suit alleges, in essence, that Texaco (now owned by Chevron), which produced oil in Ecuador from 1964 to 1990, caused the largest oil-related environmental catastrophe in the world. The region's soil and water are contaminated with toxic chemicals due to Texaco's completely inadequate waste management practices, implemented to save money and with the expectation that the company would never be taken to task for them.

Ecuador – series of protests against large-scale mining

During January (2009), Ecuador was the scene of protests against a new mining law that allows and promotes large-scale mining and open pit mining - carried out by big multinationals. This mining will cause great damage to the life of the indigenous Amazonians, affecting access to water and generally degrading the environment.

Ibero-American Convention on Young People's Rights recognises right to conscientious objection

The Ibero-American Convention on Young People's Rights, which entered into force on 1 March 2008, explicitly recognises the right to conscientious objection. Article 12 of the Convention reads: "Young people have the right to form a conscientious objection against compulsory military service." It also includes a commitment of states to create legal instruments to safeguard this right, and to progressively end compulsory military service.

Une guerre de plus est inutile

Communiqué des antimilitaristEs Latin-américainEs

Multinationales & Militarstion en Équateur

Depuis les dernières semaines de novembre et pendant tout décembre 2007, l'état d'urgence, avec militarisation de la zone, a été décrété à Orellana, région amazonienne d'Équateur. Les raisons en sont principalement les actions des habitants de la colonie de Dayuma qui protestent de l'abandon dans lequel les laissent le gouvernement équatorien.

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