Paper / 2022-11-28
SOCIO-ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICTS IN THE OIL PALM SECTOR, VIOLENCE AND LAND GRABBING OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The global social metabolism encourages the shift of energy from fossil fuels to energy from biomass. Oil palm is characterized by being relatively easy to grow and has expanded in tropical areas, affecting the environment and being cheap in labor. This crop expanded in Colombia – today the fourth largest producer in the world – in conditions that are not always very clear of land grabbing and especially often with violence during the era of armed violence; Later during the peace process the expansion of cultivation continued thanks to different government incentives. Peru, still a small producer of oil palm, follows in Colombia's footsteps in land invasions and deforestation in forested areas of the Amazon. In both cases, environmental conflicts against indigenous groups of people occurred and continue to occur – despite different accusations. Deforestation occurs in both cases, today more so in Peru, although oil palm associations claim otherwise. The indigenous peoples of the two countries suffer discrimination and physical and cultural violence to varying degrees, with the consequent loss of territory and therefore of their culture affecting their existence as indigenous people. Although there are initiatives to try to integrate some peoples into the oil palm cultivation circuit, this is done for commercial purposes guided by large global food and fuel production companies. Activity change and dependence on it make indigenous peoples even more vulnerable. This research questions whether the use and expansion of oil palm as a fuel and additive in the food and cosmetics industry is necessary to the detriment of the existence of indigenous peoples, the violent grabbing of their lands and often their extinction.