Aid and Land Grabbing: Taking it Between the Balance Sheets

24 Feb

While the English queen is undoubtedly one of the most successful land-grabbers in history, with vastly more grabbed land than all the others in the top five added together, there are many others trying to catch up with her. It’s convenient to blame the Chinese for land-grabbing (and using ‘development’ to boost trade, grab resources, carry out spying activities and whatever else other donors have been up to for decades). But several countries that love to trumpet their levels of democracy and freedom are also at or near the top of the list of grabbers, the US, the UK and good ‘friends’ of theirs, such as Israel.

Unfortunately, it can be easier to identify the victims (mainly African countries, some in Asia and Latin America) than the perpetrators, perhaps because several of the reports on land-grabbing are produced by parties who are up to their necks in the business.

But one source lists a few firms involved, such as multinational bankers Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, some extremely well-endowed universities and a bunch of biofuel speculators from several wealthy countries who also send a lot of aid money to the same countries where land is being grabbed. No conflict of interest there, then.

Even if you avoid # degrees of separation and such parlor games, it’s hard not to be intrigued about who endows these huge universities and how those endowers made their money, in turn. It’s as if large scale corporate barebacking is OK as long as you leave your receptive partner a tip.

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