Jeff Webber speaks on “Blood of Extraction”

Author Jeff Webber speaks about his book, Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America, to an audience at TRU on Feb. 2. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America was written by Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber. Published in October 2016, this book proves to be an informative piece on Canadian mining companies in Latin America. The contents of this book detail the environmental and human rights abuses that have taken place.

Gordon and Webber follow the trail of money to take a deeper look at Canadian-based corporations that are backed by the government. The growth of these companies has resulted in two decades worth of economic interest in Latin American resources.

Over the course of making this book, Webber and his co-author Gordon interviewed trade experts, environmentalists, various activist groups, journalists and human rights lawyers.

The process of writing the book took Webber to Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Webber added that they had to file various freedom of information requests to different agencies within the Canadian government. They did this in order to get a better sense of what was really going on.

“We got some sense of how they were prioritising resource extraction in Latin America and the diplomatic support that they were lending to that,” Webber said.

The book sets out to understand how Canadian mining companies were affecting the people of Latin America and their environment. They looked at not only what the result of these resource extractions was, but why they were happening.

“The main question was, how and why [we] saw a tremendous increase in foreign direct investment, particularly in the resource sector beginning in the ‘90s by Canadian multinational corporations,” Webber said.

Webber says that both Liberal and Conservative governments have lent their support to Canadian mining activities in Latin America, despite knowing environmental harm and human rights abuse.

“The real effort of our book, is to try to raise the issue of accountability for Canadian corporations when they act abroad,” Webber said.

Canadians who follow the news regularly may have bits and pieces of the story, but Webber says this book is the first to give the whole story.

“It gives the total picture, a sense of the scale of this activity and just how the presence of Canadian mining companies is in Latin America. [It shows] the extent of which different agencies of the Canadian state are supporting this activity, despite the devastation and human rights consequences,” Webber said.