TROUS DE MÉMOIRE
Trous de mémoire is a theatre-forum project about extractivism. What do we mean by this? It's the intensive extraction of natural resources, oil, minerals, gas... to be sold on markets, usually international ones. An economic topic, but these resources are found on territories that are home to living beings. Throughout the history of this territory called Quebec and on an international scale, major extractivist projects are constantly growing, in line with market prices..
The Trous de mémoire project is the result of an initiative by Projet accompagnement solidarité Colombie - PASC, Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert, professor of history at McGill University, and the McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America - MICLA.
The theatre-forum play Trous de mémoire was presented in 2014 and 2015 at several locations in the province of Quebec to communities affected by extractive projects or sensitive to the issue. Watch (in french) :
PASC was founded in 2003 to support Afrodescendant and mestizo communities in the department of Choco. In the early years, all of PASC's support was provided in the Humanitarian Zones of the Jiguamiando and Curvarado basins in Bajo Atrato. PASC's first campaign against agrofuels is directly linked to the history of these communities.
In 1997, under the pretext of the presence of FARC-EP guerrillas in the region, a vast military operation called "Operacion Génesis" was deployed in the department of Choco, under the command of General Rito Alejo del Rio Rojas of Brigade XVII of the National Army. The communities of the Jiguamiando, Curvarado and Cacarica rivers were among the hundreds of communities in Bajo Atrato who were forcibly displaced and had to flee their villages. From 1999 onwards, in various stages, the communities gradually returned to their ancestral lands and declared themselves as a civilian population in resistance, demanding their right to life, territory, self-determination, justice and dignity. They obtained recognition of their collective title to property in 2001, under Law 70 protecting the ancestral territories of Afro-Colombian communities. Since their return to the territory, they have organized themselves into Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones and have set up national and international support mechanisms.
In 2006, it was estimated that around 15,000 hectares of forest in the Jiguamiando and Curvarado basins had disappeared, making way for African palm monocultures. After some fifteen years of struggle, the civil resistance communities of the Jiguamiando and Curvarado basins obtained a ruling from the constitutional court ordering the restitution of their land illegally occupied by mega-plantations, but they are still fighting today to be able to recover all of their territory, since some of the palm monocultures seem to be here to stay. To find out more, click here.
The oil extracted from the fruit of the African palm is one of the most widely consumed oils in the world. It is widely used in the food industry because of its low cost and is found in many products on our grocery shelves. It is also used to make biofuels. Agrofuels are made from oilseed plants (such as African palm, canola or soya) or ethanol, from the fermentation of cellulose contained in plants (such as corn, sugar cane or wheat).
Biodiesel, biofuels, agrofuels... words that evoke ecological values linked to sustainable development. But nothing could be further from the truth. From an ecological point of view, biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, in addition to being developed by an agro-industry that favours intensive monocultures, which consume large quantities of chemicals and are responsible for soil impoverishment. Not to mention the fact that, in many cases, African palm plantations have been established following the deforestation of huge tracts of tropical rainforest, on land that has often been stolen from farmers and turned into farm laborers.
For these reasons, among others, this type of monoculture directly threatens food sovereignty, biodiversity and drinking water reserves - in short, it accelerates the ecological crisis and the destruction of small-scale farming. While this new rush for green gold allows the energy magnates to adorn their quest for profits with a few "ecological" and "sustainable" seals, their objective remains unchanged: to supply (over)consuming societies with the energy they need to continue the current frantic pace of production. According to the NGO GRAIN, “for businessmen and politicians alike, agrofuels certainly represent one of the most acceptable forms of 'renewable' energy, as they can easily be integrated in the already-existing oil-based economy”. The response to the energy crisis is to repeat the oil scenario: intensive exploitation, environmental destruction, colonization of peasant territories, even imperialist wars for control of strategic territories.