The fourth invasion : development, Ixil-Maya resistance, and the struggle against megaprojects in Guatemala
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With an increasing global demand for natural resources and the predominance of neoliberalism in Latin America, there has been a growing presence of foreign companies, mainly from North America and Europe, who have engaged in energy production and extractivist industries such as building hydroelectric dams, mining, logging, and petroleum extraction. State officials, the private sector and other supporters of these projects have argued that these initiatives foster national and local development, create employment and enhance social living conditions, especially in impoverished communities, as well as contribute to creating clean, alternative and renewable sources of energy (in the case of dams). Yet, many indigenous communities, human rights organizations, and opponents claim that these industries do not produce development, and instead are responsible for causing communal divisions, environmental degradation, human rights violations, and militarization. In Cotzal, the arrival of these megaprojects in Guatemala has been referred to as the new or fourth invasion, with three previous invasions consisted of Spanish Colonization, the creation of plantations at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, and the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996). My dissertation presents a historical account of these Four Invasions with an emphasis on a conflict surrounding the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Cotzal. In addition, it examines the recent creation of Ixil-Maya based organizations and movements in the Ixil Region, which are striving to recover tichajil (el buen vivir/the good life) to challenge global western capitalistic forms of development, and achieve and/or reaffirm various intersecting forms of autonomy (political, educational and cultural). My research project argues that the arrival of extractivist industries is a continuation of a colonial logic of extraction based on genocidal racist institutions. In return, these extractivist enterprises in every historical invasion is met by Ixil resistance manifested in multiple forms involving open revolts, everyday forms of resistance, the use of the legal system, among others.