Blog Entry

Book Review: The Profits of Extermination: How U.S. Corporate Power is Destroying Colombia by Francisco Ramírez Cuellar

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

Translated and with an introduction by Aviva Chomsky. (Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine. 2005. Paperback, 92 pages plus appendices. US$14.95.)

The Profits of Extermination looks at the links between foreign corporations and human rights violations in Colombia. Where corporations have sought access to Colombia's resources - oil, coal, gold, emeralds - they have used paramilitary violence, forced displacement, massacres, and disappearance as tactics to remove populations and secure their investments.

This book puts horrible abuses - massacres, assassinations, torture, and forced relocation - into context, presenting a substantial body of documentation to name the perpetrators. The real root of the violence is the conflict over natural resources, pitting Colombia's peasants and indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations against powerful transnational mining and petroleum interests. The title points at US corporations, but Canada does not come out looking good. Not only have Canadian mining companies been behind some of the most gruesome abuses, but the Canadian government has tried to help the Colombian government remove legal protection for peasants, small-scale miners, and mineworkers. In the late 1990s, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), helped the Colombian government develop a new mining code that allowed foreign investors to take over small-scale miners' claims while also abolishing the state mining company Minercol and its union, Sintraminercol.

Francisco Ramírez Cuellar is president of Sintraminercol, the Union of Colombian Mining Workers; Aviva Chomsky is Professor of Latin American History at Salem State College and active in Colombia solidarity work.

To order call 800-497-3207 or order from Common Courage Press, 121 Red Barn Road, Monroe, ME 04951 USA.