Academic journal article Refuge

Borders of Solidarity: Life in Displacement in the Amazon Tri-Border Region

Academic journal article Refuge

Borders of Solidarity: Life in Displacement in the Amazon Tri-Border Region

Article excerpt


In 2004, the representatives of Latin American countries, gathered in Mexico City, devised a multilateral Plan of Action (MPA) in order to foster ah improvement on refugee protection mechanisms in the region. Among its many proposals, the document advanced the idea of borders of solidarity. The proposal calls attention to new forms of thinking about border zones and border lives and how different actors might dialogue to improve the reception, assistance, and protection of displaced groups in a region marked by deep social inequalities and political violence. This paper is an attempt to make sense of these assumed new modes of governance of borders, trying to elucidate multiple perspectives and mechanisms of dealing with life in displacement in border contexts. The paper follows the narratives stemming from national and international officials, NGO and assistance workers, and displaced families" associations, in the context of the Tri-Border area between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. The paper aims to unveil how each discourse deals with the (dis)connections between borders, displacement, and protection. I argue that perceptions of the role of borders, as both bridges and barriers, and as spaces of life, vary according to how each group appropriates and interferes in the political dialogue. Some focus on the management of mobility; others on the improvement of life conditions for marginal groups; still others try to interrupt the political processes that make such marginalization possible in the first place. I propose three varying understandings of solidarity that speak to each of these perspectives--managerial, faith-based, and autonomous--stressing the problems and also the positive aspects that might be learned from approaching borders through the lenses of solidarity.


En 2004, des representants des pays latino-americains, reunis a Mexico, ont elabore un plan d'action multilateral en vue de favoriser une amelioration des mecanismes de protection des refugies dans la region. Parmi ses nombreuses propositions, le document avance l'idee de frontieres de la solidarite. La proposition attire l'attention sur de nouvelles formes de reflexion sur les zones et vies frontalieres et comment les differents acteurs pourraient dialoguer afin d'ameliorer l'accueil, l'assistance et la protection des groupes de personnes deplacees dans une region ou regnent la violence politique et de profondes inegalites sociales. Le present article tente, en donnant un sens a ces supposes nouveaux modes de gouvernance des frontieres, d'eclaircir de multiples perspectives et mecanismes pour affronter la vie en deplacement dans des contextes frontaliers. L'auteure s'appuie sur les recits issus de hauts places nationaux et internationaux, des intervenants des ONG et de l'aide, et des associations de familles deplacees dans le contexte de la zone tri-frontaliere entre le Bresil, la Colombie et le Perou. L'auteure vise a devoiler la facon dont chaque discours prend en compte les (dis)jonctions entre frontieres, deplacement et protection. Elle soutient que la perception du role des frontieres, comme ponts et barrieres aussi bien que comme espaces de vie, varie en fonction de la facon dont chaque groupe s'approprie le dialogue politique et s'y immisce. Certains se concentrent sur la gestion de la mobilite, d'autres sur l'amelioration des conditions de vie des groupes marginaux, d'autres encore tentent d'interrompre les processus politiques qui rendent une telle marginalisation possible en premier lieu. L'auteure propose trois interpretations differentes de la solidarite qui approfondissent chacune de ces perspectives--manageriale, confessionnelle et autonome--en soulignant les aspects negatifs mais aussi positifs qui pourraient etre tires d'une approche des frontieres a travers le prisme de la solidarite.


There is a lot of pain and misunderstanding; the border remains an infected wound. …

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