South American commodity boom drives deforestation and land conflicts

by Nick Miroff

Peruvian National Police burn an illegal gold mining camp in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon. After years of turning a blind eye to nearly 40,000 illegal miners in the Madre de Dios region, officials are moving to halt environmental damage. Photo: Dominic Bracco II/Prime for The Washington Post

BOGOTA, Colombia — A commodity boom has helped pull millions out of poverty across South America over the past decade. It has also unleashed a new scramble for oil, minerals and cropland that is accelerating deforestation and fueling a new wave of land conflicts from Colombia to Chile.