One of the most tragic examples of how neocolonialism is still pretty much alive is land grabbing in less developed countries. The food crisis, caused partly by climate change, water depletion, soil erosion and the biofuel craze, has made things worse, as companies and even countries buy up cheap land where it is cheapest to plant food. Oxfam estimates that 227 million hectares have been sold, leased or licensed in large-scale land deals since 2001, leaving behind a trace of evicted communities (Telegraph).
Two cases of major land grabbing were exposed recently by NGOs:
- In Ethiopia, after a drought that left millions starving, tribal people from the Omo Valley risk being evicted from their lands and losing the right to use water to pave the way for dams. Those who try to resist are tortured and imprisoned, as the government decides to turn self-sufficient farmers and herders into cheap labor for big plantations, Survival International reports (link).
- In Uganda, about 20,000 people were evicted from their lands so that they could be delivered to the UK-based New Forests Company, which is planting trees to sell carbon credits and timber. Despite being labeled as “encroachers”, these people had been given deeds by the government and were struggling for their rights in court when they were evicted and their communities shattered, Oxfam reports (Climate Connections).
The expressions “colonialism” and “accumulation by dispossession” are usually taught in school (if they’re taught at all) as denoting past regimes of exploitation. But this is the present, not the past.