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Gold, Oil, And Avocados


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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: Itaituba, the Battle for the Future

Part I: Extraction
Chapter 1: Iron (Minas Gerais, Brazil) The Brutal Iron Force
Chapter 2: Niobium (Brazil) The Fetish of Jair Bolsonaro
Chapter 3: Coltan (Gran Savana, Venezuela) The Mines of Nicolas Maduro
Chapter 4: Gold (Colombia; Central America; Utah; Nevada) El Dorado in Salt Lake City
Chapter 5: Diamonds and Emeralds (Diamantina, Brazil) The Other Side of Paradise

Part II: Conquest
Chapter 6: Banana (Honduras) Banana Republic, 21st Century
Chapter 7: Potato (Puno, Peru) From Chuno to the Potato Chip
Chapter 8: Copper (Apurimac, Peru; Atacama, Chile) Two Press Conferences and a Revolution
Chapter 9: Lithium (Potosi, Bolivia) Coup on the Salt Flat
Chapter 10: Quinoa (Uyuni, Bolvia) The Rise and Fall of the Miracle Grain
Chapter 11: Silver (San Luis Potosi, Mexico) "Racers" and the Fourth Transformation

Part III: Depletion
Chapter 12: Avocado (Michoacan, Mexico) Hot Dog with Guacamole
Chapter 13: Soy (Para, Brazil; Bahia, Brazil) Cargill and the War of the End of the Planet
Chapter 14: Beef (Para, Brazil) The Capital of the Ox
Chapter 15: Oil (Venezuela; Brazil; Mexico) Petro Socialism and Counter Attack
Chapter 16: Hydro (Para, Brasil) The Maps of the Munduruku

About the Author

ANDY ROBINSON is a roving reporter for the Barcelona daily, La Vanguardia. A graduate of the London School of Economics, he moved to Spain in the eighties where he wrote for The Guardian, The New Statesman, City Limits, Ajoblanco, El Mon, and others. He is a regular contributor to The Nation and has published two previous Spanish-language books, Un reportero en la montana magica (Ariel, 2013) and Off the road, miedo, asco y esperanza en America (Ariel, 2016).


"Andy Robinson's new book, Gold, Oil and Avocados, urges us to look at [Eduardo Galeano's] Open Veins again. Travelling by plane, bus and riverboat across a region still pitted by mines, plantations, failed hydroelectric projects and cattle ranches, he finds deep resonances with Galeano's thesis in today's Latin America...In prose reminiscent of Claude Levi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques ... Robinson covers much ground in this restless expose of wrongdoing." -The Times Literary Supplement

"Excellent . . . We strongly recommend this book" -CounterPunch

"A work of excellent on-the-ground reportage...Readers see the devastation firsthand as the author leads us to obscure, hard-to-reach mines and farming backwaters.... [Robinson] lays out the situation in stark, penetrating detail." -Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Drawing inspiration from Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, Robinson sketches the rise and fall of progressive governments across the region over the past two decades... a sobering and well-documented picture, shot through with Robinson's caustic wit (avocados, he writes, are a "tasteless alternative to butter spread on trillions of slices of students' toast"). This sweeping survey packs a punch."
-Publishers Weekly

"Inspired by Eduardo Galeano, with a touch of Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries and a nod to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Andy Robinson takes us on a troubling journey through the extractivist landscape of Latin America. In a series of vignettes, from the avocado killing fields of Western Mexico, through the corporate plundering of the Amazonian soy plantations to the lithium-powered developmental ambitions of Evo Morale's Bolivia, Robinson reminds us just how closely our daily lives are caught up with the economic aspirations, ecological damage and political machinations of distant commodity producers. A vivid travelogue with a serious message." -Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

"Who knew that gold, oil and avocados were three of a kind, much less that they could shed light on the major political upheavals affecting Latin America in the last 15 years? The region's fortunes have always turned on what economists dub 'the commodity lottery.' Andy Robinson shows that the lottery lives on, and is widely played, in the 21st century." -Barry Eichengreen, author of Exorbitant Privilege

"This is a beautifully written book, which describes an ugly reality. Andy Robinson is a committed reporter with a keen eye." - Luis Salas, former economic advisor to Hugo Chavez

"This is an essential guide to understanding the complex and changing politics of Latin America. In clear, unsparing prose, Robinson lays bare the material underpinnings and imperialist involvement in supposedly national political processes: it's all about the resources, stupid!" -Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

"[Gold, Oil, and Avocados] shows to what extent the struggles for land and raw materials-in which governments, local mafias and multinational corporations are active-explain the recent coups, civil revolts and the environmental crisis in Latin America. [...] Who will pocket the lion's share of the business in these consumer goods? Galeano asked this question fifty years ago. Robinson's new book answers: Corporations based in New York, Zurich or Shenzhen. The veins remain open." -Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"A chilling book in which Robinson details the new treasures of Latin America and how they help explain the latest coups d'etat, citizens rebellions and environmental crises" -Irene Hernandez Velasco, BBC Mundo

"Robinson's travels reveal the 'new open veins' described by Eduardo Gaelano now in the language of narrative journalism." -Newsweek Mexico

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