The next meeting of the IRN will take place on Wednesday March 21st from 5:00-6:30pm in rm 302 at the Munk School (1 Devonshire Pl). Pascal Lupien, Adjunct Professor at the University of Guelph and Research Fellow at Balsillie School of International Affairs will be presenting his current work.
Indigenous Civil Society, Security and ICTs in Latin America: Challenges and Prospects
The wave of democratization that swept Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s provided new political opportunities and groups representing Indigenous communities have engaged in diverse forms of collective action with varying degrees of success. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the impact of technology on the capacity of Indigenous civil society to advance collective goals and to how states are using ICTs to disrupt or control these efforts. Indigenous peoples are characterized by above average rates of poverty and geographical isolation, meaning that they often lack infrastructure, Internet access and IT-related skills. More so than any other group in their respective societies, Indigenous social movements have challenged key state interests with respect to extractive activities. This has caused conflict between Indigenous communities and states that rely heavily on natural resources for revenue. In response, state actors and extractive industries in Latin America have borrowed from the national security discourse of their counterparts in the Global North, often labelling these groups as security threats. They have utilized a complex and growing set of information control mechanisms to enforce their agenda.
This talk will present an analysis of the evolving cyberpolitics landscape in Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Venezuela and Mexico from the perspective of the region’s Indigenous civil society organizations. While lack of infrastructure, resources and IT skills pose significant challenges, information security issues also pose a threat to the ability of Indigenous organizations to pursue their interests. Weak and outdated surveillance legislation, combined with an increased government interest in intrusive technologies, create more barriers. Organizations representing marginalized communities are in a weak position to detect and combat surveillance and cyberattacks, and to demand enforcement of whatever privacy legislation does exist. Given Latin American states’ reliance on natural resources, lack of infrastructure and training in rural areas, and the current political climate that favours a security discourse in the face or real or imagined threats, it appears that ICTs are shifting the balance of power away from the Hemisphere’s most marginalized actors.