The South American Integrated Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA) project is an ambitious plan to integrate the continent through new transportation, energy, and communications infrastructure. When completed, IIRSA will directly connect South America’s natural resource zones to metropolitan areas and foreign markets.

  1. Launched during a presidential summit in Brasilia in 2000, IIRSA is moving forward as the subprojects secure the necessary financing and approval by involved nations.
  2. IIRSA will reorganize the continent’s landscape based on development of infrastructure of land, aerial, and river transport; oil and gas pipelines; waterways; maritime and river ports; and power lines and fiber optic cables, and other continent-wide megaprojects.
  3. The infrastructure projects are organized in 12 integration and development axes—corridors where investments can be concentrated to increase trade and create chains of production connected to global markets.
  4. An underlying project objective is to increase access to South America’s natural resources and put them at the disposal of foreign markets.
  5. Total projected IIRSA investment will be $37 billion, with financing coming from the InterAmerican Development Bank and various subregional banks, including the Brazilian Development Bank and the Andean Promotional Corporation.
  6. IIRSA planners regard South America as an archipelago of five separate "islands"—the Caribbean Plate, the Andean Mountains, the Atlantic Plate, and the Central and Southern Amazon Enclaves. The integration and development axes aim to unify these islands by breaking down what is called in technocratic language, natural "barriers."
  7. To overcome legal and statutory barriers, IIRSA planners urge deregulation and homogenization of the rules to adapt national legislation to the needs of global trade. This leads to a loss of national and regional autonomy in policymaking and strengthens control by multinationals and the governments of developed countries.
  8. IIRSA projects will disproportionately benefit multinational corporations that "develop" the continent’s resources while causing irreversible social and environmental damages.
  9. IIRSA will increase the power of Brazil and other large nations while further weakening the autonomy of Bolivia and other marginalized states.
  10. IIRSA is designed to provide the infrastructure needed for corporate-led trade and investment.
  11. By facilitating access to the region’s dwindling natural resources, IIRSA will further resource overexploitation and lead to the rapid exhaustion of oil and natural gas reserves in the absence of regional and national development plans that allow South America to truly benefit from its energy.
  12. IIRSA is advancing silently without public debate—no participation of civil society or social movements and without the release of information by governments.
  13. If allowed to proceed as planned, IIRSA will constitute a massive, continent-wide remodeling project that will benefit regional elites and multinational corporations but leave the poor majority out of the development picture.