by Claude Auroi
In the first paper, Negociating rural development: the role of poor people in the Honduran Poverty Reduction Strategy, Sandra Contzen (University of Zurich) argued that participation of the civil society in general and of poor people in specific was a major concern of the Honduran Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). While research has been done on the participation possibilities during the formulation of the RPS, an in-depth analysis of the local level policy space opened to poor people during its implementation is lacking.
The aim of this presentation was to shed light on this aspect by drawing on ethnographic data. The analysis suggests that the PRS contributed to expand policy space where some space already had existed. However, whether or not the process was successful in expanding policy space, civil society actors actively involved in this process were local leaders, i.e. people that in most cases are better-off. Poor people largely remain the spectators of these processes and thus were excluded from negotiating rural development.
Honduras followed inevitably the mainstream approach in order to benefit from the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative: From January 2000 until August 2001 members of different ministries of the Honduran government and various stakeholders elaborated a PRS Paper (PRSP) that largely adopted the buzzwords and key concepts of the international discourse. Hence, the Honduran PRS highlighted poor people as new actors in political processes to promote economic growth and poverty reduction.
Hence, in this paper the focus is on the institutional channels or policy space offered to or claimed by the population in the frame of the PRS and especially the fondo descentralizado.
The analysis is based on information from an ethnographic study carried out between 2008 and 2010 in two municipalities, Candelaria and Las Flores, in the department Lempira. Lempira is amongst the most remote and mountainous regions in Honduras and rural poverty, reaching up to ninety-five percent of the population of Lempira, is the highest at national level. Lempira, located in western Honduras, was for a long time neglected by national development efforts and billed by inhabitants ‘the forgotten department’. Under the PRS, Lempira received more attention and it was the first department in presenting the locally developed projects to be financed by the fondo descentralizado.
Against the background of the opposed ‘political culture’ at municipal level in Las Flores and Candelaria, the author assumed that participation at community level would differ too. In fact, the author did observe differences in the development processes; the main difference being the role the patronato plays in the communities. This can be linked to the ‘political culture’ which is more open in Las Flores As the mayor of Las Flores decentralizes to a certain degree decision and financial power to the communities (within the margins set by the Ley de Municipalidades) and applies participatory planning, the community leaders assume a crucial role in identifying needs and setting off projects. In the communities of Candelaria, the patronatos assumed a different role. They are receivers of projects. The community leaders told the author that the funds that reach the municipality are set aside for a specific project (vienen destinados) that had already been planned (vienen planificados) ‘over there’ (allá). ‘Over there’ was indicated as Tegucigalpa, i.e. the central government, or the municipal centre, i.e. the mayor. If the patronato is lucky as in the case of the community Mozote, the mayor assigns a project, disregarding the desires of the community: “here people asked for a hen house project (…) but Mozote got a family garden project” (Don Danilo). When Don Danilo receives a project, he asks around in the community organizations such as the ‘junta de agua’ (communal water council), among his neighbours and relatives or among people accidentally crossing his way, who would like to participate.
Conclusion: Use of policy space as a means for poverty reduction?
The PRS had raised high expectations among different national actors as well as actors of the international community about the opening or expanding of policy space. According to this analysis, the success of the PRS in expanding political participation at municipal level was dependent on the local ‘political culture’. In the case of Las Flores, apart from openness to participatory processes and support given to new actors such as the CCT, two additional features might have been crucial that political space was expanded: Negation to ‘sectarismo político’ and political stability, both, allowing civil society to develop political practices, including awareness of rights and regulations and capacities to use them. Opposed to this is the ‘political culture’ of Candelaria, one of ‘sectarismo político’ and a clientelistic and paternalistic way of doing development. Here, the fact that every four years another local government assumes office, does limit the possibilities of creating social and political practices of poor people and the population in general and thus the chances are reduced that they would claim for political participation when a mayor closes the doors. Hence, where new participatory practices are pulled top-down on opposing local cultural contexts, their chances to evolve are limited.
In the discussion that followed, it has come forth that the concept of « clientelismo » could have been used in both cases, showing maybe that even in Las Flores where openness was more accentuated, clientelismo might take different shapes, and therefore manipulation of social funds remains a constant feature of elite-poor people relationship in Honduras.
Second Presenter: De Paula, Gabriel ; Recce. Juan., CAEI, Centro argentino de estudios internacionales, Buenos Aires. Rethinking natural resources conflict and social change from a social plasticity paradigm
This presentation tackled a number of wordwide changes in concepts, policies and economic phenomena and is impossible to summarise in a few lines. The present dichotomy between old and new trends was shown in the case of the oil peak theory, the ecological and political situation in Bolivia and other areas of the world. Here a few paragraphs in Spanish taken from the authors’ paper.
Repensar el desarrollo implica reconocer que varios de los principios del paradigma económico y social vigente deben revisarse. Este paradigma, tutor del modelo de crecimiento y desarrollo actual, ha configurado una matriz de relaciones políticas y económicas articulada por dos fuerzas antagónicas, ambas caras de una misma dinámica de equilibrio artificial: una fuerza centrífuga que expulsa del sistema actores económico-políticos (consumidores – ciudadanos), y una fuerza centrípeta que concentra los activos estratégicos en los conductores del modelo, elites. Mientras para unos el equilibrio redunda en una negación de sus derechos básicos, para los otros representa una vía de preservación de sus prebendas políticas y beneficios económicos.
En el presente, el acrecentamiento de los antagonismos creados por tales fuerzas y la artificialidad del equilibrio resultante, ponen de manifiesto los conflictos profundos existentes en la región, preludiando el fracaso del paradigma vigente. Aunque múltiples son los emergentes sistémicos que dan cuenta de estos sucesos (hechos que denotan una situación de cambio estructural) todos ellos pueden ser agrupados en dos grandes categorías, los reactivos y los transformadores. Los primeros son las clásicas protestas populares de gran escala, la violencia social sostenida, la apatía política y la marginalidad conflictiva que reaccionan a la continuidad de las estructuras que los expulsa del sistema y concentran el poder en las manos tradicionales. Los otros, por su parte, dan cuenta de los primeros esbozos de cambio estructural, tal como el arribo de líderes sociales y de sectores políticos marginales a los niveles más altos de la conducción política.
Podemos afirmar que el escenario estratégico se compone del tándem geopolítica – mercado, a partir del cual nos encontramos con elementos que dan cuenta de la dinámica de la oferta y la demanda, y que impactan en los mercados financieros internacionales, sustentando el ciclo de económico de definición de precios y creación de valor. Estos son:
1. Concentración en la producción: la ubicación de los recursos se encuentra en países que en los últimos años han mostrado elevada inseguridad jurídica e imprevisibilidad política y regulatoria3. Este elemento guarda relación, por ejemplo, con el “nacionalismo energético”4, que es intervención del Estado en el sector energético, consecuencia de la percepción en los países en cuestión de que las reformas liberales no han funcionando desde el fin de la Guerra Fría, y del objetivo del Estado de aprovechar los altos precios del petróleo para financiar y lograr metas sociales y geopolíticas.
2. Concentración y crecimiento de la demanda en los países desarrollados y particularmente de las economías emergentes de China e India en el sector energético: según los expertos en la materia, “con la progresiva apertura y liberalización de sus economías, estos dos países han entrado en la economía mundial y han entrado en la senda de un elevado crecimiento sostenido y una creciente demanda energética. Casi de golpe, en el breve paso de unos pocos años, la economía mundial ya tiene más de 2 mil millones de nuevos consumidores de energía moderna –particularmente de petróleo y carbón, pero también de gas”5, a esto hay que sumar la demanda sobre minerales necesarios para la industria, tanto la pesada como la de alta tecnología.
3. Especulación financiera e incertidumbre: estos son dos componentes que impulsan flujos de capital especulativo sobre el valor de los recursos en productos financieros, muchos de corto plazo. Para Fatih Birol, economista jefe de la Agencia Internacional de la Energía (AIE), “el principal motivo de los precios elevados es la creciente percepción en los mercados de que, en el futuro, la oferta quizá no será suficiente para satisfacer la demanda. Esa incertidumbre es terreno abonado para los especuladores, que sirven de detonantes en ese aumento”6.
4. Conflictos relacionados al control de los recursos y al control de los flujos de la producción como política de poder y seguridad: los conflictos son la
última fase que materializa la relación de fuerzas en oposición. Los ejemplos de conflictos por el control de los recursos son varios, como las campañas en Afganistán e Irak, siendo el primero territorio por el cual pasan importantes gasoductos y el segundo un productor de petróleo significativo, o los enfrentamientos entre la población y el Gobierno local por la privatización del agua en Cochabamba, Boliva, o los conflictos en Bagua, Perú en el marco de la explotación minera en tierras indígenas.
As a few other papers presented focused on the Bolivian sitiuation, this country was mainly scrutinized.
Third Presenter: Deborah Delgado, Catholic University of Louvain-Le-Neuve, Belgium. Deforestation and forest degradation in the Amazon :Roads and REDD in Bolivia.
Bolivia has built up one of the most noted and debated alternative paradigms of
development to come from a non-western society: El buen vivir (‘to live well’), which, instead of pursuing continual growth, seeks to achieve a system in equilibrium, committed to a new approach to nature. Another recent Bolivian distinctive is that, while many strategies for global environmental governance are calling for business participation in forest stewardship, Bolivia strongly opposes the involvement of capital markets, and especially the creation of carbon trading markets and offsetting mechanisms. Under this argument Bolivia was the only nation to resist the inclusion of the REDD (Reducing emissions from forest deforestation and forest degradation) in the last round of UNFCCC climate talks on December 2010.
In point of fact, during the last five years the Bolivian government has built an international leadership role in promoting climate justice, advocating for indigenous peoples’ rights and what they call ‘the rights of Mother Earth’. On the other hand, in order to meet the infrastructure needs of new economic investment and to advance regional integration, Bolivia is planning an ambitious highway network that endangers both fragile Amazonian ecosystems and constitutionally recognized indigenous rights. The finance came from the Brazilian Development Bank during Lula Da Silva’s progressive government, and it is part of the IIRSA (Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America). Highway construction engineers have started to cut
through the El Beni forest in 2011 and are now facing a huge protest mouvement throughout Bolivia after a demondtration has been violently turned down. The case study of the ‘Isiboro-SecurÈ Protected Area and Indigenous Territory’. TIPNIS has been analysed by the author and illustrates some of the opportunities for forest management but also of its political limitation.
The contradiction between Bolivian discourse against REDD (which refuses the intervention of financial markets and the ‘commodification of nature’, starting with forests) and their alliance with extractive industries as venture partners (who want to exploit natural resources situated in protected areas) is now more and more discussed openly.
The discussion that follows strengthened the fact that Evo Morales’s governement had highly neglected the Amazonian Indians, and the consultation process with natives in the affected areas have not been legally and throughly applied. The discrepancy in discourse between a philosophical and political stand in favour of a paradigm change at the international level and the application of road building practical policy through biodiversiyt and protected territories in Bolivia denotes a deficit of political governance capacify at the highest government level.
Fourth Presenter: Julian Quan, University of Greenwich . Territorial dynamics and rural governance in Latin America : the role of social coalitions, actor networks and state polics in North East Brazil.
The presentator discussed the influence of new coalitions and networks of actors on local politics and the governance of rural development processes in Northeast Brazil.
Emerging results of an ongoing Latin American programme of research and policy advice on Rural Territorial Dynamics suggest that the presence of new configurations, coalitions and networks of social actors capable of stimulating institutional change are amongst the key factors which enable certain rural areas to achieve development outcomes which combine economic growth, poverty reduction and social inclusion. These emerging coalitions and partnerships can also influence the environmental sustainability of development trajectories.
The discussion focuses on the findings of research in one specific area of Northeast Brazil, in Bahia State, where social movements involving rural workers and farmers unions, linked to other actors, have achieved significant influence over municipal and broader politics. In addition Federal and State Governments are now pursuing territorial development policies seeking to pass growing responsibilities for development planning to collegiate bodies made up of representatives of civil society, local government, and state agencies engaged in both rural and urban development in geographical assemblages of municipalities, known as Territorios de Cidadania or Territorios de Identidade (Citizenship or Identity Territories)
In the paper presented the role and impact of social movements and emerging networks and coalitions of actors in transforming the development dynamics of rural areas is analysed, in the context of policy innovations towards more participatory democracy. It does this through the lens of research undertaken in a relatively discrete area - the Jiquiriçá valley in Bahia, Northeast Brazil as part of an ongoing research programme on rural territorial dynamics in Latin America (Rimisp 2007) - and offers some reflections on the implications for rural development policy and practice more broadly.
The diversity of dynamics encountered in the Jiquiriçá Valley suggests that greater attention is needed to interrelated processes which occur at different scales. There is no single territorial field, in the sense developed by Bourdieu, or by French and Brazilian social geography but rather a number of territorial network organisations with selective membership which are at once collective actors active in political and regional political and economic fields and also emergent institutions in their own right. The formal institutions of local government in Brazil are Municipal, and although these do not correspond with the broader territorial scales at which development and change take place, to a large extent they constitute the politico-administrative fields within which social movements and other actors must operate in order to advance their interests.
The absolute coincidence of administrative territories with those based on social identity in discretely discernible fields is probably neither feasible nor desirable. However, the continuing centralisation of sector policies and inconsistency of parallel and overlapping geographies of public agencies and territorial initiatives as observed in Bahia is inefficient and inhibits the emergence and effective operation of collaborative and collegiate territorial institutions. Despite the relevance and impact of the local rural social movements and its political alignment with government, its capacity to achieve inclusive development on a broader scale is limited. It is therefore incumbent on the state to look to the real world geography of social and economic change and to bring greater convergence and consistency in territorial policy and planning, across different sectors, and amongst different decentralized collaborative initiatives. Until this begins to occur, democratic territorial development will remain an illusory goal of rhetorical policy.
In the discussion ot has been clarified that the region survives due to the various state support schemes for small agriculture, impeding a still greater outfleow of population.
Note : these summaries have partially drawn on the abstracts and the papers themselves of the authiors. Some words have been changed in order to adapt to the discourse. The content has of course not been altered. (C.A.)
Report by Claude AUROI
Institut des hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID).