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Biofuels Land Grab: Guatemala's Farmers Lose Plots and Prosperity to "Energy Independence" [Slide Show]

Across the globe, local farmers are being displaced to make way for energy crop plantations

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MIGRATION:

Failing rural policies and land expropriation have led to growing shanty towns on the periphery of large cities, such as this one on the outskirts of Guatemala City occupied in part by trash-pickers.....[ More ]

PROPERTY RIGHTS:

Amalia Luc is a proud Q'eqchi' farmer and exhibits the title to her property. She works her land in a traditional diversified way to feed her family, selling excess produce on the local market.....[ More ]

WATER RIGHTS:

In Playitas, Alta Verapaz, land grabbing is also an opportunity for water grabbing. In this area large palm plantations will soon expand to the edge of this river, which is the only source of water for the area's rural Mayan communities.....[ More ]

FIREWOOD:

In a final opportunity to collect firewood, local people collect debris from a field that was recently burned by agribusiness to prepare it for palm tree cultivation.....[ More ]

FOOD POVERTY:

After losing their land, rural populations quickly fall into extreme poverty. Here a child collects residual pieces of corn to eat. In Guatemala 15 percent of the population suffers from malnutrition.....[ More ]

EVICTED PEASANTS:

After a March raid, this young couple and their infant son take refuge in a maize field under a piece of fabric, subsisting on gourd seeds. During the raids in Polochic Valley several farmers were wounded or killed.....[ More ]

POLOCHIC VALLEY:

Violent and brutal forced evictions are one of the primary methods of land grabbing. Pictured here are Q'eqchi' Mayan farmers standing in front of burned huts in their destroyed village. Under the authority of a judge and with police support, armed militias working for agro-industrial company Chabil Utzah evicted 13 Maya communities this past March from the land they had occupied and worked.....[ More ]

WORKER'S RIGHTS:

After losing their land, farmers have little choice but to work for large landowners and agro-industrial companies. Paid $8 per day to labor under a blazing sun in high heat, they are back to being mozos —farmhands.....[ More ]

PALM OR MAIZE:

Palm trees produce no oil in their first years following planting, so agro-industrial companies rent the strips of land between the trees to workers who grow corn there now that there is a shortage of land elsewhere.....[ More ]

PALM PLANTATION:

Intensive monoculture of palm and sugarcane is expanding as production of crops for biofuels is expected to quadruple within the next decade. These large investments also came with promises of employment, infrastructure development and technological transfer, very few of which have been kept.....[ More ]

NURSERY:

Breeding grounds of African palms in Polochic Valley, northern Guatemala. As in many countries in the developing world, powerful agro-industrial companies and landowners take control of land to grow sugarcane or palm oil for biofuels at the expense of food for local consumption as well as for sale in regional and world markets.....[ More ]

FOOD CRISIS:

"Don't gamble with our food," a protest sign reads at a demonstration during the G20 meeting in Paris this past June. Green organizations protested primarily against the use of land in developing countries for biofuels instead of food production.....[ More ]

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