More than 15,000 Indigenous people at risk of being forcibly removed from their lands to make way for the construction of the Inambari Hydroelectric Center in Peru, a series of six dams in the Peruvian Amazon that will cost $15 billion dollars and, when ready, send approximately 80% of its energy to support large industries in neighboring Brazil.
Hundreds of families in fishing communities losing their livelihoods and facing forced evictions from their homes due to the expansion of the mining conglomerate TKCSA and the construction of industrial-scale port infrastructure in the Baía de Sepetiba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In a video produced by Brazilian NGO Políticas Alternativas para o Cone Sul, the fishermen and women ask: Is this progress — or regress? Development for what? For whom? At what price?
In stories like these (and many others), development-induced displacement came alive and proved a pressing, cross-cutting theme at the IV Americas Social Forum last month in Asunción, Paraguay, where thousands of activists representing 800 organizations from the Americas gathered for four intense days of workshops, debates, and cultural activities.
I was in Paraguay to meet with key allies for our work on development-induced displacement and also to conduct a workshop focusing on the use of video advocacy in campaigns fighting forced evictions.
The workshop brought together about 25 people from different countries and backgrounds. Together, we looked at some of the strategies, tactics, and advantages/disadvantages of the use of video in three distinct cases:
- the Endorois community’s use of video as evidence in their 37-year battle for their lands against the Kenyan government
- the work of LICADHO in Cambodia, helping communities at risk of eviction use video to defend their rights
- and the story of how communities in Guerrero state, Mexico, used video to mobilize and organize their resistance to the La Parota dam (our friend Lorena Zárate from Habitat International Coalition – Americas joined us to present this case study)
After two hours examining the theory of video advocacy together, we turned to a bit of practice. As a first step, participants received a 1-minute flash training on how to use Flip cameras. Then, they interviewed each other in a practical exercise that invited a reflection on the power of imagery in their own human rights experiences, motivations, and campaigns. Here’s a glimpse of that activity:
The day after our workshop, the Forum came to a close with speeches from three Latin American presidents and a declaration of solidarity among social movements that called, among other things, for action against the model of “exclusionary and predatory development” that uproots local populations from their lands and increases migration due to lost livelihoods.
In the coming months, we’ll continue this discussion and also begin to profile more examples of how video is being used in advocacy around development-induced displacement. Do you know of good video examples? If so, please share them in the comments below!