Published February 22, 2018 | Version v1
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Mega-mining, valuation languages and collective action. Socio-environmental conflicts to defend water in violent contexts (in Spanish)

  • 1. Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico


In this chapter I analyze the socio-environmental conflicts generated by the mobilization in defense of water in Colombia. I argue that, as a country with a long history of civil war, contentious social mobilizations have been banned and stigmatized by tagging them as linked to the “insurgency”. These emotions linked to war, used as a dispositive in the valuation languages expressed in the socio-environmental conflict, seek to generate rejection towards the members of the social groups mobilized, to delegitimize their resistance, making them appear undesirable for socio-political stability and economic development. However, the social groups in defense of water have managed to generate solidarity and the expansion of collective action, through the demand for mechanisms of direct democracy, specifically popular consultations at the local level, which have become a fundamental pillar of succesful struggles throughout the country.


This article has been published as part of Volume 4, Number 4 of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Working Papers (

This is the first issue developed by members of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network’s Thematic Area 10, Water and Violence ( It is based on papers first presented at the session “Water and violence: scenarios and manifestations in Latin America”, during the Network’s VIII International Meeting, that took place in San Jose, Costa Rica, on 3-7 April 2017 ( The papers are the result of ongoing research covering cases from Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, which exemplify the wide range of forms of violence being exercised against local communities, mainly related to the rapid expansion of extractivist activities including large-scale open cast mining, building of large dams for hydroelectricity or the territorial spread of hydrocarbon production through new technological developments, among other. The papers provide supporting evidence for the increasing claims made in the relevant literature showing that violence is too often the result of a connivance between governments, extractivist industries and organized criminal gangs, which account for the considerable number of people being tortured, disappeared or even murdered in Latin America for defending their territories, natural resources, and living conditions. The authors also address successful cases of community resistance against the violent expropriation of their territories and living conditions, which are imposed on them by aggressive neoliberal reforms that are highly undemocratic and regressive in socio-economic and political terms.



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