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  • The Camisea gas project operated by Spain's Repsol is just one of many corporate projects guilty of violating the rights of local communities.

    The Camisea gas project operated by Spain's Repsol is just one of many corporate projects guilty of violating the rights of local communities. | Photo: Survival

Published 9 February 2018

In its introduction of systematic violations of human rights in Indigenous and campesino communities, the report cites that 300 human rights defenders were murdered last year.

Spanish transnational corporations are generating social conflicts, violating human rights and deepening gender inequality throughout Latin America, warns a new report by environmentalists and women's rights groups.

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The report entitled "IBEX35: At War With Life" was compiled by Environmentalists in Action; the Observatory of Multinationals in Latin America, and the Calala Women's Fund. In its introduction of systematic violations of human rights in Indigenous and campesino communities, the report cites that last year 300 human rights defenders were murdered.

Of that number, more than 60 percent occurred in Latin America: 70 percent of victims were targeted for protecting land, and 40 percent were Indigenous. The report calls for corporate accountability, pointing out that major firms represent 69 of the 100 most powerful economic entities, overshadowing state governments.    

Spanish corporations such as Repsol, ACS, Iberdrola, Gas Natural Fenosa, Acciona and Renovalia were found to be involved threats, harassment, detention, physical aggression and legal intimidation against Indigenous and campesino populations in areas designated for mega-development projects.

One of the case studies presented is the Camisea gas project operated by Spanish oil company Repsol on the territories of seven Indigenous nationalities in the Peruvian Amazon, of which three are in voluntary isolation. The case reveals the complicity of state governments in predatory corporate behaviour.

In Camisea between 2004 and 2012 there were six natural gas spills which polluted land and water bodies, destroying the main sources of food for Indigenous communities. This in turn hampers people's self-sufficiency, forcing dependent relations with extractive corporations.

The report also raises alarm over the vulnerability of people living in voluntary isolation, especially due to their lack of immunity to many infectious diseases. As an example, the report cites a case from the 1980s when over half of the Nahua population died after contact with loggers.        

Another case is the construction of the Renace hydroelectric project by Grupo ACS in Guatemala, which affected over 29,000 people who now have poor access to water and restricted access to land.

Also cited is the construction of a wind power corridor near the city of Oaxaca in Mexico by Spanish companies Iberdrola, Gas Natural Fenosa, Acciona and Renovalia, accused of land grabbing, discrimination, and dumping massive amounts of oils and other waste leading to loss of biodiversity and arable land.   

In every case, local populations faced the loss of food sovereignty and autonomy over their resources, and witnessed an aggressive shift in their economic and social structures.

The report concludes such factors disproportionately affect women, who are excluded from decision making, worsening their economic situation as they become dependent on wage labor that largely excludes them. Women also experience more violence due to militarization, the influx of foreign men and rising domestic abuse.

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