Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Life & Debt in Jamaica
W. michael byrd and linda a. Clayton
Law & Order
Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism
Native Challenges to Mining and â€¦
Iraqi Sanctions: Myth and Fact
Nuggets From A Nuthouse
Race and Class
You Can Beat the Privatizers
Consequences Of Empire
An Interview With Miriam Ching â€¦
The War In Afghanistan: 40 â€¦
Stephen R. Shalom
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations
South End Press, 2001, 241 pages.
Review by Janet Lloyd
Resource Rebels is a detailed and informative account of modern day genocide that reveals the dark side of the global economic system. By exposing the continuing genocide of indigenous peoples throughout the world, Gedicks reveals the hidden cost of western “progress.” Uncovering the connections between genocide in remote corners of the globe and western demand for natural resources, Resource Rebels makes a compelling argument that the price of our oil is not paid at the pump but with the lives of indigenous people.
Sitting on top of coveted natural resources, indigenous people find themselves on the frontline of the global economic war for energy supplies. Yet, they are fighting back. Al Gedicks relates how indigenous organizations opposing oil and mining on their ancestral lands are not only multiplying, but also reaching out from far-flung regions to forge political alliances with western sympathizers. Resource Rebels charts the emergence of a transnational movement of environmentalists, human rights workers, lawyers and indigenous organizations, rallying in opposition to corporate abuses. A detailed account is given of the networks of international supporters working to defend indigenous rights. The greater international recognition now granted to indigenous rights issues has allowed indigenous organizations to gain legitimacy in their own countries.
The book's forte is its fascinating study of the global systems of power driving the genocide of indigenous peoples. Resource Rebels documents the networks of multinational companies, international financiers, government officials, and international trade institutions that come together to profit from development. Gedicks relates how demand for fossil fuels and minerals has subjected indigenous communities to a new style of predatory global economics that breathes new life into historical structures of colonial oppression.
The book explores how the global elite sanction environmental racism with the belief that indigenous cultures are “an obstacle to progress” that must be assimilated into the “modern world.” Gedicks investigates the legal mechanisms—domestic laws, mining codes, environmental regulations—that are used and abused in the interests of politicians and corporations. He masterfully describes how the collusion between corporate and political interests breeds corruption and repression. Insight is given into how the lack of accountability and transparency in the activities of corporations and politicians eats away at the democratic foundations of society.
In one of the strongest chapters of the book, Gedicks reveals that the arms industry is a primary consumer of minerals. To feed the need for arms, corporations drive deeper into resource frontiers to seek raw materials. Gedicks makes the observation that the fragile ecosystems of the resource frontiers will collapse long before their mineral wealth is exhausted. When the environmental impacts of mineral extraction are added to pollution caused by weapons production, a vicious cycle of environmental destruction emerges. Indigenous people sit in the eye of this storm.
Resource Rebels details the consequences for indigenous people of large-scale natural resource extraction projects: forced resettlement, toxic pollution, disease, loss of food and water supplies and the collapse of traditional ways of life. The “divide and conquer” tactics employed by corporations to break indigenous opposition are laid bare. Gedicks recounts how intimate connections between oil, mining, and militarization result in a familiar pattern of violent conflict in indigenous ancestral lands. Plentiful evidence is given of the involvement of corporations in human rights abuses, from oil companies in Nigeria to mining companies in West Papua.
Given the odds facing indigenous communities in the path of large-scale development projects, Al Gedicks reasons that the presence of transnational supporters is vital to the continuation of indigenous resistance. Excluded from decision-making procedures, the key challenge facing indigenous peoples is to make their voice heard. Allies in Europe and the United States can speak out about human rights abuses against indigenous peoples without fear of retaliation. Gedicks states that the strategic use of information by transnational allies can expose the otherwise hidden activities of governments and corporations in remote areas. A key role for international allies lies in questioning current western energy consumption. Gedicks makes a series of recommendations for more efficient energy use.
Broad in its geographical scope, Resource Rebels tells of resource battles in Colombia, Ecuador, Nigeria, West Papua, the United States, and Canada. Different battles take different forms. In Ecuador alone indigenous organizations and international allies have produced remarkable results using various tactics—massive civil disobedience, international legal action, constitutional reform and international campaigns. The wealth of detail provided on key case studies makes Resource Rebels a valuable tool for international and indigenous activists. Readable and engrossing, this book will engage a wide public.
Al Gedicks concludes that indigenous people are the modern world's equivalent of the miner's canary. Their David and Goliath struggle against corporate power contains a warning to the world. Our unsustainable natural resource consumption habits are not only a threat to the lives of indigenous peoples. They are threat to the planet's future. Z