One of the central economic motives for war is exploiting natural resources. It is also a central feature of post-war "reconstruction". It is explicit in the strategies of alliances such as NATO or the European Union - although they are more likely to say "guaranteeing security of supplies". It is also a major factor in the forced displacement of poor and indigenous communities in many parts of the world, often carried out with brutality.

At WRI when we look at war profiteering we also highlight the role of corporations which are exploiting natural resources, which too often provoke forced displacement, fuel local conflicts, contribute to the militarisation of communities and as Felix Padel's article on India says, then in many cases the recipient of these resources - especially when they are minerals - is the arms industry.

This form of war profiteering is a worldwide phenomenon, where the impact is felt in the north, south, east and west. This said, still the most violent expression of this form of war profiteering is felt in the so called "Global South" and in particular in resource rich countries.

South America is a resource rich regions, something which many observers have commented is both a blessing and a curse. Resource rich means "worth exploiting". The economies of most South American countries continue to depend heavily on the extraction of natural resources. Even in countries with so-called "progressive" governments, they continue to develop economic policies strongly dependent in extraction and consequently on foreign corporations, as the article by El Laboratorio de Paz in Venezuela argues.

This industry impacts the livelihood of communities, depriving them of their own resources, militarising their communities, seeking to divide communities by bribing local leaders, and displacing their people. This is what has happened in Huancabamba, Peru, where the mining corporation Monterrico obtained concessions from the Peruvian government to start exploration and development work for the huge open cast copper mine called Rio Blanco. As this industry touches the very basic needs of communities, it also means that in most cases the industry is not allowed to proceed without struggle. This was also the case in Huancambamba, as the story in this newsletter presents.

Resistance to corporations exploiting natural resources offer some of the most important examples of resistance in today's world, and provide an important link between groups campaigning against the economic side of war and the resistance of local communities.

WRI's commitment to support nonviolent livelihood struggle and against all forms of war profiteering, means that the resistance to this industry is very close and important to WRI's principles. This featured strongly at our last international conference in India as it will in our next international conference in 2014 in South Africa.

Javier Gárate

Programmes & Projects

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