Resisting poverty : perspectives on participation and social development. The case of CRIC and the eastern rural region of Cauca in Colombia

Abstract: With the reproduction of severe deprivation among the campesinado in Latin America as a starting-point,the report explores the mechanisms of impoverishment in the eastern rural region of the department of Cauca in Colombia and the forms of resistance initiated by the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC). It is postulated that the continued existence of poverty derives its root-causes not from lacking integration of the traditional sector of the national economy into the modern sector, but from the processes through which the poor indigenous staple-food producer and agricultural worker by way of his actual participation within the capitalistic system is continously deprived of his energy and capacity by the power elite as he himself lacks the means to realize his own developmental power' Sham-participation, refering to the dysfunctionality of systemic participation performed by the poor who lack access to the bases for accumulating social power, is a concept applied to understand these mechanisms. Participation per se does not necessarily correspond to influence and power. Rather, systemic political participation can give legitimacy to the very system and to those structural conditions oppressing the indigenous small-holders and workers and consequently contributes to the consolidation of the transfer-process of power and thereby the reproduction of deprivation. Thus the poor indigenous population in Cauca cannot expect to be given access to the fundaments of social power. Thus the elements of real participation and the conditions for resisting deprivation are less likely to be obtained only through the creation of new institutions and channels for popular participation# In the case of the indigenous movement in Colombia, the problem is rather to revoke the repression of the indigenous organizations which have emerged from below and instead promote their spontaneous mobilization.