Open veins bleed and hit us

Image: Mood Valley


The fight against extractivism represents a permanent fight against this form of destruction on the planet


The manifestation of the indigenous populations in the National Congress against bill 490 that changes the way of demarcating land does not seem to affect us. It appears as a one-off issue. And, that only affects these populations. However, much more than that, it is also part of the open veins that bleed and that touch all of us in the country, as well as the planet, using Galeano's terms, who already in the 1970s drew attention to the issue. These are lands that are being expropriated, despite what the Constitution guarantees to increase areas to be looted for extractivism. And, these extractive activities being considered “legal”, not to mention, increasing the number of open veins in the country

However, we witness this conflict as the great daily violence experienced by indigenous populations in their task of resistance to protect the Earth. We write Earth in capital letters because it is not just the earth as an object and simple soil as the subject of rights that make up a quantity and variety of living beings, that is, of all species, that inhabit it and that produces the human and their livelihood capacity. We watched the scenes like all the previous ones like a television program, as being only a question of indigenous populations, and not of all the spaces that we classify as biomes and forests.

This is a scenario that shows how society is facing risks and dangers without understanding what is at stake.

Extractivism as a source of the greatest war against humans

Extractivism, as it occurs in the country as in other Latin American countries, is the greatest source of war. These are lands that are expropriated for exploration, theft of minerals, wood and other products that interest large corporations. Svampa (2012) has been insisting for more than a decade on the risk of extractivism with new actors on the Latin American scene both in land expropriation and in the use of water. The entry of the Chinese market intensified these risks and dangers, with the importation notably of ores, soybeans, meat and other animal protein derivatives from Latin American countries. In the case of minerals, there is also direct purchase of land and purchase of products from illegal theft of wood, copper and other mineral products, as well as direct participation in the implementation of companies for the expropriation of minerals.

Extractivism, as Araoz (2021) analyzes, repeating Galeano (1978), is the biggest hole opened in Latin American life for more than five centuries. And, which emerges together with the elaborate conception of division between what is human and what is nature. It is unknown where the human comes from and where it originates. And that culture of millions of years for the care and symbiosis with what is called nature.

Far beyond a simple environmental problem, extractivism presents itself within a profound separation between the land and the human. By this conception, it is no longer understood what the human is about and, therefore, the risks and dangers of this division are not understood. It was within this fracture that the colonization of America began more than five centuries ago. And that represented and still represents the geological and anthropological appropriation and destiny of the Latin American peoples. And more than that, in the process of colonization that continues until the present day, they appropriated the condition of life on earth. Native and traditional peoples were delegitimized, considering their speeches and their cultures as backward, “non-modern”, justifying the usurpation and terror installed over them. Currently, new terms are also used, such as sustainability, green economy and others to justify this process of usurpation and theft by large corporations.

Since the colonization process, the looting of lands and minerals with the genocide of peoples represents this war, which is perpetual, which does not consider the earth as the mother and generator of the life production process. It is a war against the world, especially with women who are the representatives of care for the land, water and seeds. They are the ones most involved in conflicts due to their fights for the survival of Latin American land.

Humanity is at a very advanced risk of extinction. There is a violent manipulation of the “considered civilizing process” that can be considered much more as barbarism, as analyzed by Castoriadis (2005). This is a civilization that has no future to offer for this and future generations. This civilization is incapable of understanding and explaining what is happening. The principle of subjectivation is in course, an activity of violation by different social forms, by the geometabolism of barbarism, by the usurpation of the mine and the plantation that violate all the principles of the production of life.

It is the modern world that was created on the principle of violence, of a world war over the planet. And extractivism represents the limit of exploitation and depredation as a way of life. It is the principle of a productive economy based on the manipulation of populations and the expropriation of territories with the destruction of vital diversity. It is genocide associated with terricide, with the destruction of living beings, of peoples.

From the pedagogy of the earth to that of submission

We are witnessing forms of submission by our society, increasingly colonized, in the face of a pedagogy of terror, which is the form of destruction of what is sacred and human. Faced with America looted with devastated soil of soy and animal protein creation for others, it is not the destruction of the biosphere, but there is a destruction of the human.

The pedagogy of terror that is installed is that of rape, which has been present in Latin American territories since the conquerors committed the greatest genocide in human history, in the Potosi mine, with millions of miners dead (Galeano, 1971), inaugurating modernity. in the 16th century. And the conqueror under the name of capital is enshrined as success and as the form of modern man. Violations are serious, both anthropologically, ontologically and politically, because through this pedagogy of terror we constitute ourselves, as moderns, as a violent and dangerous species, insensitive to the suffering of life (Araoz, 2021).

For the installation of modernity, the scientific spirit was used as a rational basis, but as a science that emerges as an instrument of State power and economic-financial instrument of private corporations. This scientific spirit also expropriated women from their care role (Federici, 2019) by delegitimizing those who held the knowledge for the cure.

Nature was expropriated from the people and divided into denominations only as resources. It was a process of biopolitical extinction that removed humans from nature, removed humans from the possibility of cultivating the land. Water, for example, called water resources. The ores, lithium, copper, petroleum and other minerals as mineral resources. There is no denomination for the land, and it started to be disputed by the world as just a resource.

The denaturalization of the notion of nature also dehumanized the human. The process of usurpation of nature through language, as an instrument of domination of human subjectivity (Araoz, 2019) since the Modern Age. A rationalization process in which the human condition ceased to have Nature became just an “environmental problem” and now involves climate change. The speeches do not question life on the planet, all the peoples that inhabit it in the entire process of production of life that is in the relationship of peoples with other living beings and their care for the earth for subsistence. Through the language elaborated by Eurocentric theories since Modernity, it took from human beings their own ways of producing life. The death of nature was decreed and it became an object of conquest, of permanent war through violence against peoples who struggle for survival.

Final considerations

Liberating the land first of all means liberating the human condition The fight against extractivism represents a permanent struggle against this form of destruction on the planet. And, moreover, it represents the struggle to recover what is human, to find ways to humanize and reappropriate the future. This is the current main fight.

* Clarisse Castilhos, in economics from the Université de Paris X Nanterre, she is a researcher in health and the environment at the Foundation for Economics and Statistics (FEE).

*Alice Itani, PhD in sociology from the École des Hautes Études in Sciences Sociales, she is a professor at Unesp.


Araoz, HM The pains of Nuestra America y la condicion neocolonial. Extractivism and the Biopolitics of Expropriation. Social Observatory of Latin America, v. 13, no. 32, 2012.

Araoz, HM Naturaleza, discourses and languages ​​of valuation. Magazine Heterotopias of the field of critical studies of FFyH's discourse. v. 2, no. 4. 2019.

Araoz, HM War of the worlds and extractive fractures in Latin America. Online debate, June 2021.

Castoriadis, C. Join a derivative company. Paris: Seuil, 2005.

Federici. S. Caliban and the Witch. São Paulo: Elephant, 2019.

Galeano, E. The open veins of Latin America. Rio de Janeiro: Peace and Land, 1971/1978.

Svampa, M. Consensus of commodities, gyroecoterritorial and critical thinking in Latin America. Social Observatory of Latin America, v. 13, no. 32, 2012


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