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Impunity Inc.

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Impunity Inc.
Reflections on the “super-rights” and “super-powers” of corporate capital

Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalitzación (ODG) & Transnational Institute (TNI)

Forty years after Salvador Allende denounced corporate power at the United Nations General Assembly (December 1972), millions of people all over the world are involved in struggles against the social and environmental injustice generated by transnational corporations. Working together or in parallel, in multiple ways, and in all sectors of the economy, people are defending their territories, seeds, water, forests, food, biodiversity, health, culture, etc., from the aggressive actions of the transnational corporations, which expand their power in a system of “accumulation by dispossession.”

Impunity Inc. is a report produced as part of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity. Through three case studies, it aims to provide inputs for reflection on the “super-rights” and “super-powers” of transnational corporations.

The report describes the abuses and violations of fundamental labour rights taking place on a day-to-day basis in the export-oriented garment factories in Morocco, highlighting the responsibility of the Spanish transnational Inditex. It outlines a similar situation in Nicaragua, focusing on the role of Pescanova. In both cases, it explains how all this occurs in the framework of the Association Agreements imposed by the European Union (EU), in a context where Lex Mercatoria and the protection of corporate interests continue to take priority over the basic needs of human beings. The report also looks at Europe’s social metabolism, examining the consequences of the EU’s substantial dependence on the increasingly strategic raw materials that it imports from impoverished countries. The cases of zinc mining in Bolivia, coal mining in Colombia and cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, together with soya and sugar cane production in Argentina and Brazil, are used to illustrate the harmful impact of Glencore’s operations, analysing the extent to which trade agreements ensure the impunity of the large corporations. Glencore’s involvement in financial speculation on commodities is also described. Impunity Inc. then goes on to look at the physical scaffolding of free trade, focusing on the roll-out of the infrastructure mega-projects in South America (IIRSA-COSIPLAN), and highlighting the European Investment Bank (EIB) involvement, as well as European capital’s responsibility in these infrastructure projects and their financialisation. A separate section is devoted to the case of the mega-dams being built on the River Madeira in the Amazon, with the participation of Banco Santander, GDF-Suez, Abengoa, Voith, Siemens and other European companies…

ONLINE MAP: The digital version of this report includes a maps section, with links to online maps showing the location of the case studies analysed.

Published by: Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización (ODG) & Transnational Institute (TNI)

Available in English and Spanish

Download Impunity Inc.: Full report (pdf)

Download Impunity Inc. By Chapters:

Executive Summary


Chapter 1: Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and workers’ Rights (Inditex in Morocco and Pescanova in Nicaragua)

Chapter 2: European capital’s dealings in commodities from South America and Africa: the case of Glencore

Glencore in the financial casino

Chapter 3: IIRSA-COSIPLAN and European capital’s responsibility

The case of the dams on the Madeira River


Annex I. Exports from South America and Africa to the EU

Annex II. The EU’s mineral dependence on Latin America and Africa

Annex III. Europe’s commodities business

Annex IV. Diagram of the inter-corporate relationships between Katanga and its subsidiaries

Annex V. Glencore and Credit Suisse: the perfect marriage

Annex VI. Financial information on the IIRSA mega-projects

Annex VII. COSIPLAN priority projects

Annex VIII. EIB loans for infrastructure projects in South America (2005 – 2012)

Annex IX. European private equity funds (or funds that include European capital) active in Latin American infrastructure projects

Annex X. Hydroelectric dams (Jirau and Santo Antonio) on the Madeira River and indigenous peoples (Brazil)


Coordinators: Mónica Vargas (ODG) and Brid Brennan (Economic Justice Programme - TNI)
Contributors: Jesús Carrión, Olivier Chantry, Fernando Fernández, Delphine Ortega, Albert Sales and Mónica Vargas
Online maps*: Delphine Ortega, Alfons Pérez and Raül Sánchez
General review: Nick Buxton and Lyda Fernanda Forero (Transnational Institute – TNI)
Review of Chapter 1: Maria Mestre and Miquel Ortega (Fundació ENT)
English translation: Sara Shields
Design: Toni Sánchez Poy ([email protected])

80 pages (pdf, 5 MB)

 source: ODG