Civil Society Comes Together in Latin America to Challenge the World Bank’s Annual Meetings

October 6, 2015


Civil society organisations, Indigenous communities, and social movements come together to challenge the World Bank’s neoliberal agenda, which has caused massive environmental destruction and social distress on the Latin American continent.

The International Monetary Fund–World Bank Annual Meetings will take place in Lima, Peru this year from October 9 to 11. This is the first time these meetings are happening in Latin America in over 40 years. Peru is the poster child for the World Bank claiming “success” from its neoliberal policies and reforms, which the Bank is promoting to the rest of the world.

Ranking 35th in the Bank’s Doing Business survey, Peru scored the second highest position in Latin America in 2015. This, according to the World Bank, means that Peru has created a regulatory environment “conducive to business.” The Peruvian development model, based on extractive industries and exports of raw materials, however, has concentrated the country’s natural resources and wealth in the hands of few private corporations at a high cost for the Peruvian population.

During the 2014 Annual Meetings, Our Land Our Business, a multi-continental campaign of over 270 civil society groups, organized a twelve-city simultaneous demonstration to protest the negative effects of the Bank’s neoliberal policies and Doing Business rankings. This year, this broad coalition reiterates its rejection of the World Bank’s failed development model.

A civil society event is organised on October 7, 8 and 9 under the coordination of the Alternative Platform. The event is a space for civil society and social movements to challenge the Bank’s policies. César Gamboa, Executive Director of Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), one of the groups organising the event, said, “It is important for the world to know that the people of Peru oppose the World Bank’s influence on our country. We hope others around the world will stand with us because we all have been lied to, that somehow poverty will end thanks to the economic growth resulting from foreign direct investment, deregulation, and a ‘business friendly climate’. We are told that for development to come we must liquidate our natural resources, give up workers’ rights and destroy Indigenous Peoples’ livelihoods.”

In the 1990s, the World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programs embraced by President Alberto Fujimori’s government initiated three decades of deregulation and privatization aimed at making the country more attractive to foreign investors. While the World Bank’s loans to Peru increased significantly as a result, channeling over $7 billion to the country between 1990 and 2015, the country’s environment and social standards eroded. New research by the independent think tank, the Oakland Institute, highlights that the World Bank Group has played a key role in the development of mining, hydrocarbon, and agribusiness sectors in Peru, especially through the Bank’s private sector arms–the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, said “Despite its mandate to fight poverty, the World Bank’s involvement in Peru has meant a war on the poor. The Bank supports projects that have had devastating social and environmental consequences and very little benefits for the Peruvians. Its influence on the country has led to violent social clashes, an increase in unchecked corporate power, and undermined Indigenous Peoples’ access to land and natural resources.”

In recent years, the number of conflicts involving social or environmental issues in Peru skyrocketed from 76 conflicts identified in 2006 to 251 by 2011. In 2014, the country experienced on average 200 social conflicts every month, largely resulting from mining activities.

Peru has become the fourth most dangerous nation for environment and land activists with at least 57 people killed between 2002 and 2014, mostly due to people’s opposition to land grabs, mining, and logging. In most cases, murders are attributed to the police, military, or private security guards. Both the central government and international financial institutions have failed to address this violence. Instead, Peru has pursued the same agenda, guided by the World Bank’s experts to improve its “business climate.”

Furthermore, Peru’s economic success is a short-term achievement: the country’s growth rates dropped from an average of 6.4 percent in the 2000s to only 2.4 percent in 2014. Given its high social and environmental costs, the faded economic growth has left the country with deep inequality, degraded water sources, lands, forests, and the toxic legacy of extractive industries.

Alnoor Ladha from The Rules said: “Peru is the World Bank’s poster child for neoliberal development. Their bankrupt model is based on the quick sand of fossil fuels and human misery. Citizens in every nation, including the rich, have to resist the old paradigm of international development if we want to live on a habitable planet. We have to establish strong local economies that regenerate our ecosystems and our communities. This will require facing the Bank and their anti-life allies head on.”


To read the report, Peru, the Poster Child for the World Bank in Latin America, please visit:

Be the first to add your opinion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Login / Create account

Trump: Join us in connecting the dots

The election of Donald Trump has left millions, maybe even billions of us in shock. Although we may be looking with bewilderment at the US today, we should remember that he is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a symptom of a sickness that is raging all around the world. People are hurting, disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at a neoliberal economic system that is destroying lives and the planet with increasing ferocity. And in their desperation they are willing to consider extreme measures to make themselves heard.

Demagogues thrive amid fear and insecurity, which is why they paint the world in such dark terms. It’s a strategy that has put right-wing populist leaders in power in an Axis of Egos: from Brazil to Turkey, the Philippines to Russia, authoritarian strongmen like Trump are on the rise. Meanwhile, many centrist liberals, like the Democratic Party in the US, have been so intent on rejecting left-wing populist solutions, and so sure of their ability to beat anyone running on a white supremacy platform with its misogyny and homophobia, that they opened the door for Mr. Trump to walk straight through. Their preference is always to maintain the status quo that has served them so well.

As dangerous as the election of Trump is for the world, we can also see in this moment the truth that we simply cannot rely on the electoral political system to save us, because it is designed to prevent the fundamental change we need. Its own survival is at stake and it will marshal all its champions and resources to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. But when we work, or continue working for change from the ground up; when we build or keep on building new ways of living and being with each other where we live; when we construct or keep constructing the future we know is possible with our own hands, rather than hoping distant leaders will build it for us, we find our true power. Finally, when we combine that with the unbending hope that has powered change through the ages, we know our power has meaning.

A 400-year-old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. Change on this scale is not going to be smooth or easy. We should not be surprised, then, that moments like this — where the establishment is dealt a body blow — become more and more common. We can despair when that blow comes in the form of right-wing extremists, or we can step-up. We are the ones we are looking for, who can and must grasp the opportunities in these crises that are undoubtedly there.

So it’s time to come together, taking time to remember the earth. Remember all the successful struggles for justice that came before us, and imagine all those to come. Remember that social movements are growing all over the world and realising the common struggle. Remember life. Then, organise. Find each other and help midwife the inevitable transition that brings forth from the ashes of neoliberal capitalism a system that works for the good of all life on Mother Earth. This is not just activism; this is our responsibility as human beings alive as this all unfolds.

This is why we are here.