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The Archipelago of Chiloé and the Uncertain Contours of its Future: Coloniality, New Extractivism and Political-Social Re-vindication of Existence

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Green Criminology book series (PSGC)

Abstract

The recent history of the Archipelago of Chiloé is one of violent exploitation that has affected its place and space, as well as the existential meanings of its community, yet expressions of protest and resistance have been silenced. This was a complex political, institutional and ideological process, combined with a colonial history of extraction that includes both “non-renewable resources” (classic extractivism) and “renewable natural resources” (new extractivism), guided by a logic of exploitation or privatization of these. This chapter will focus on a description and analysis of the process of plunder of nature in Chiloé as part of a “new extractivism” that includes not only aquaculture, forestry and mining projects, but also “luxury conservationist” mega-projects and wind power. Following this, the processes of identity re-definition and re-construction that have allowed a political and social re-vindication of opposition to such a scenario will be addressed. Before proceeding, however, a brief overview of the Archipelago of Chiloé is necessary.

Keywords

  • Classical Extraction
  • Chilotes
  • Salmon Industry
  • Neoliberal Economic Model
  • Monoculture Tree Plantations

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This chapter has been translated from Spanish by Marcela Ramos.

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Fig. 3.1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Piuchén is the name of the northern section of the Costa mountain range in Chiloé. In the mythology of the archipelago, the Piuchén is a monster that gathers “treats” of many different creatures (fish, snake, cattle, even bushes). The Piuchén, which is said to live deep in the rivers, lakes and dumps of the region, is considered punishment for an improperly performed act of magic many years ago (Saavedra 2014).

  2. 2.

    Rodolfo Urbina Burgos (2002) describes the use of the derogatory term “Chiloense”; an explanation can be found in the book of Francisco Cavada (1914).

  3. 3.

    Sixty-five percent of Chiloé’s inhabitants consider themselves as a part, or descendants, of the indigenous people of the archipelago: the Mapuche-Williche (Centro de Estudios Sociales de Chiloé 2015).

  4. 4.

    Quijano (2006) explains that the term “Eurocentrism” is used here not in its physical-geographic sense, but as a reference to white social groups that have control over world power wherever their respective countries are now located, due to the fact that the geography of power is still an expression of colonial power and modernity.

  5. 5.

    As an example, even in the twenty-first century, this wide and populated territory does not have a university or a comprehensive hospital with specialized physicians.

  6. 6.

    In Central American countries, North American multinationals were able to control the agricultural sector (specifically, the banana industry through the United Fruit Company), distribution channels and investments. This resulted in few benefits for local entrepreneurs and, above all, did not change the economic circumstances of the population. State investment did not improve the quality of life of residents and served only to allow the development of infrastructure and services required by foreign companies. Monopolies were created in mining, banana plantations, raw material industries, transportation, public services and banking. As production was shaped by external commerce and international investment, consumerist values, ideas and goals transformed steadily the social, political and cultural organization of these republics (Elías-Caro and Vidal Ortega 2013, p. 45).

  7. 7.

    It is important to note that the expansion of the salmon industry has relied, since its inception, on a wide array of environmental, social and sanitary subsidies. For example, through Decree 889, the Chilean State gives 13 % of the workers’ income to the salmon industry, disregarding the fact that these companies have a sales profit of over five billion dollars. Likewise, during the ISA virus crisis in 2007, the State quickly gave more than 450 million dollars to these companies to help face the sanitary crisis. Sixty percent of the financial rescue funds came from state-supported banks, meaning that these loans were backed with taxpayers’ money (Cárdenas 2014).

  8. 8.

    This sum is equivalent to 1500 million Chilean pesos, using exchange rates on November 19, 2015.

  9. 9.

    Equivalent to 67 million Chilean pesos, using the exchange rate on the same date.

  10. 10.

    As Dowie (2006) points out, international conservation used to be funded by a handful of individual or family foundations. Since the early 2000s, the number and range of funders has increased and expanded and now includes large foundations (such as the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), as well as the World Bank and USAID. The Nature Conservancy boasts of having received contributions from almost 2000 companies, while Conservation International has received almost 9 million US dollars from various commercial “partners.” With this kind of financial and political leverage, organizations such as Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund have been able to push for more so-called “protected areas,” wildlife sanctuaries and green corridors—even when this has entailed disrupting the lives of local communities.

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Mondaca, E. (2017). The Archipelago of Chiloé and the Uncertain Contours of its Future: Coloniality, New Extractivism and Political-Social Re-vindication of Existence. In: Rodríguez Goyes, D., Mol, H., Brisman, A., South, N. (eds) Environmental Crime in Latin America. Palgrave Studies in Green Criminology. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-55705-6_3

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