“Seguimos en la Lucha” Resilience(-Building) Resources of Environmental Defenders in the Dispute for Water against Sugarcane Industrial Agriculture in Costa Sur, Guatemala

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Environmental conflicts are on the rise whilst the world is becoming aware of the environmental, but also social, impacts of extractive industries. In Costa Sur Guatemala the sugarcane industry has overruled the locals’ access to water. In this research many other environmental and social impacts from the sugarcane industry have been identified: the communities of campesinos and indigenous from Costa Sur have become dispossessed from access to land and water, live in an environment poisoned by pesticides and other chemicals, ruled by the biodiversity loss and deforestation, and they have been threatened and criminalized. As a result, they are left to live in an even more impoverished environment. However, these communities have been fighting to (re)gain the access to water and denounce the unpunished impacts caused by the industrial agriculture. Through contestation and community-building practices they have attempted to bring justice and make visible the conflict in Costa Sur. The conclusions reached on the basis of this qualitative multiple embedded case study, are twofold: the contestation and community-building practices are forms of resilience towards the oppressing conflict with the sugarcane industry and this conflict is a (g)local ecological distribution conflict. The exploitative and accumulative behaviour of capitalist-based industries, such as the sugarcane industry has caused a unequal distribution of burdens; to which the communities have been protesting. The dispute for water is merely the top of the iceberg.
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