Thousands Suffer After Africa Land Grabs.

by Jerry Alatalo

ocean44Alphabet Executive Director of the Oakland Institute Anuradha Mittal and her team have worked for years on land, food and environment issues in regions around the Earth. Oakland Institute recently joined the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in exposing World Bank actions involving land grabs/acquisitions by foreign investors in Ethiopia which have resulted in tens of thousands of small farmers becoming forcibly evicted from their land.

Ms. Mittal describes the situation with regard to land grabs in Ethiopia as “dire”, with evicted farmers and their families facing persecution, intimidation, and arrest if refusing to leave the land which has sustained them for generations or by protesting. While many around the world are under the impression that colonialism in Africa is long-over and a thing of the past, what the Oakland Institute has discovered is a type of “re-colonization” of the African continent has occurred in recent years through land grabs/giveaways to investors looking to extract natural resources.

The Oakland Institute has become an organization that people in African nations and other regions on Earth go to when such deceptive transactions reach the point where bulldozers begin leveling homes of people who’ve farmed and worked the land to make a living for, as mentioned, generations. Despite a common absence of government transparency making it difficult to produce financial and land area statistics, Ms. Mittal was able to share that in the year 2011 – globally, 56 million hectares (a hectare is the size of a football field), roughly the size of France, became transferred from small-scale subsistence farmers/land owners to international investors.

In the last decade, the amount of land transferred to corporate and individual investors globally was 200 million hectares, of which 70% was on the African continent.  Whether investors were looking for profits from large agribusiness operations, mining, or other types of business opportunities, too often large numbers of small-scale farmers have become displaced. While financial institutions like the World Bank, prospective corporations/investors, along with corrupt government officials in the various nations explain their actions as “economic development, job creation, poverty reduction, food security for the people of Africa” etc., in Ms. Mittal’s view people’s land is being stolen.

So, Oakland Institute’s researchers have exposed the false argument that foreign investors and the World Bank are only interested in “socially responsible, benevolent  investment, meant only for carrying out altruistic goals like improving the people’s quality of life”. Ms. Mittal may uncover the true motives of foreign investors in African nations by pointing out that African lands are being sold at $.50-($7-9) per hectare compared to $7-8,000 per hectare in Malaysia/Indonesia, $26,000 per hectare in the United Kingdom, and $14-17,000 per hectare in the midwest United States  for the same quality land.

Oakland Institute Director Anuradha Mittal believes the land is being stolen and not being paid for, that the practice of land grabs shows the absence in nations of rule of law, and that wealthy corporations/investors are taking the opportunity to re-colonize Africa and get away it.

She points out that the World Bank’s recent creation of “ease of doing business rankings” for developing nations has resulted in a “race to the bottom”, where the less environment, labor, tax, and legal constraints a nation has for investors the better the country’s ranking. This race to the bottom trend has negative consequences for men, women and children living in the various developing nations as related to democracy and governing for the health and well-being of citizens. Combine this with the near unanimous participation of corporations and wealthy individuals in the global tax haven/evasion industry and developing nations are essentially being plundered.

The Oakland Institute has earned much credit for bringing these corrupt practices to the awareness of the world’s people, and has because of their actions – combined with the group’s global recognition and solid reputation for anti-corruption efforts and reasearch – successfully prevented or reversed large-scale land transactions which otherwise would have harmed a great number of people.

Please disseminate The Oakland Institute and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ extremely valuable, important work to honorable leaders everywhere on Earth – and to the attention of contacts/friends you know in developing countries, especially nations on the continent of Africa. It will truly make all the difference in the world.

****

The Oakland Institute: www.oaklandinstitute.org

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: www.icij.org

—-

(Thank you to SaharaTV at YouTube)

World Bank Challenged By International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists.

by Jerry Alatalo

whitekeys4-1Alphabet Thus far, more than 50 journalists around the Earth have signed on and are participating in an investigation of the World Bank, sponsored by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The name of the international project is “Evicted and Abandoned: The World Bank’s Broken Promise to the Poor”.

Upon hearing word of this important and revealing global effort by ICIJ, one immediately wondered if the effort will be enough to break the historical chain of events starting 500 years ago in North and South America, when genocide of indigenous people of unimaginable proportions was undertaken for wealth acquisition.

Since 2004 World Bank actions have led to displacement of 3.4 million mostly poor people. How many of those people, forced to flee from the land of their ancestors by violence, hunger, and/or extreme poverty, have become the subject of greater numbers of refugee/migrant media reports – in particular about hundreds perishing while trying to cross the Mediterrean?

Structural adjustment (austerity) programs pushed for decades by the World Bank and other giant, privately owned international financial organizations has resulted in nations of the global south collectively losing 500 billion dollars per year during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Trillions of dollars over the years have become transferred out of poor, developing nations to investors and stockholders outside those nations, mainly through the World Bank’s facilitation of extractive industries, combined with the aforementioned “structural adjustment” programs.

Mr. Alnoor Ladha told the host of the Real News Network during his interview that the World Bank has been “…highly successful at trickle-up economics, not a conspiracy theory because the track record speaks for itself”.

Americans won’t learn from standard school history texts about the genocide of Native Americans – posited by many as the most horrific genocide in human history. “Sanitized” versions of history do not give American high school history students the truth, and they will only find the truth in books by historians who possess(ed) a conscience, such as “People’s History of the United States” by the late Howard Zinn. The men and women journalists collaborating on ICIJ’s “Evicted and Abandoned” project are essentially doing the same work that Mr. Zinn undertook, the only difference being that their intent is bringing the truth about this generation to millions around the world.

Will ICIJ’s noble and moral efforts be enough to stop centuries-old/historical exploitation of human beings by other human beings?

President Barack Obama explained his administration’s decision to improve relations with Cuba – whether one believes in the benevolence of the action or not – by saying “after something hasn’t worked for 50 years, it’s time for a change”.  What over 50 international journalists, well-known media groups, and independent citizen journalists/volunteers working with ICIJ are saying is something close to Mr. Obama, but much more significant and universal: “after something hasn’t worked for 500 years, it’s time for change”.

Instances of genocide since 500 years ago have decreased in direct inverse proportion to humanity’s advancements in the ability to communicate over longer and longer distances at continuously increasing speed. Those generational, ever-present individuals who have shared the same insatiable desire for riches at the expense of others – from genocide, illegal wars, secretive financial dealings, bribery, corruption, manipulations for profit, to massive frauds –  are today finding it much more difficult to operate with malevolent intentions because of nearly instantaneous communication by people the world over on the internet and honorable journalists/media groups like those coordinating with ICIJ.

Humanity’s ability to communicate faster may have reached its zenith. Today’s technology, as it relates to speed and talking to people on the other side of Earth, quite possibly is as good as it’s going to get. So, humanity probably now has achieved the greatest ability to communicate in history, thus enabling the best opportunity ever for ending exploitation of our fellow human beings.

The sole remaining question for consideration is how well men and women the world over are going to exercise that immense ability.

****

(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

—-

(Thank you to ICIJ at YouTube)

For more information on ICIJ’s ongoing, superb global investigation of the World Bank and its track record of actions negatively affecting the lives of poor people around the Earth, please visit:

http://www.icij.org/project/world-bank

Please share the link widely. Thank you.

**********