Third Conference of PGA in Cochabamba, Bolivia
16-24 September 2001
More than 150 delegates from organisations of all the continents met in Cochabamba, invited by the Seis Federaciones del Tropico (organisation of the " cocalero " peasant federation) and the Federacion National de Trabajadoras del Hogar (National Federation of Domestic Workers).
Political tension, immediately after the September 11th attacks in NY, was high. Bolivian immigration declared all visas for PGA delegates invalid and the host organisations and the Bolivian human rights organisations had to put round the clock pressure on the government to make the conference happen.Delegates were turned back at the frontier. Twenty people on the caravan from Colombia and Ecuador never made it in and had to organise a parallel discussions in Peru. Others were arrested and threatened with expulsion. The governor of Cochabamba declared that all the PGA people were " suspected of terrorism ". Evo Morales, leader of the Seis Federaciones, was publicly and personnally threatened by the US ambassador for having condemned both the attack in NY and US state terrorism. (See Declaration of Cochabamba) A good setting for our discussions...
The first two days of the meeting were devoted to informal round tables on gender (Declaracion de las mujeres), land, water (with a presentation of the incredible Cochabamba Coordinadora del Agua's uprising and the collective alternative to privatisation that they have won), on regional capitalist initiatives in the Americas (Plan Colombia, Puebla-Panama, FTAA) and on the anticapitalist movement, the mobilization against the Quebec Summit of the Americas and the popular consulta in Spain.
The official conference (September 19th - 24th) consisted in a series of workshops (including ongoing gender and indigenous peoples working groups) and plenaries (ending with a fantastic sprint until 2 AM on the last night !), deciding on the following themes :
- Sustained campaigns concerning :
- Campaign against state militarism, paramilitarism and terrorism
Plan Colombia, Plan Dignidad and other plans of military intervention of the USA and other imperialist countries; palestinian situation; the war and terrorism propaganda orchestrated by the USA and allies after the September 11th 2001 events; etc.
- Campaign for the defense and recognition of self-determination and land sovereignty of all people
- Campaign against all privatizations
Amongst them, against privatizations of all common goods and services, natural and biogenetic resources, human and collective rights of the people; etc.
- Campaign for the construction of alternative models to the capitalist system
Long term caravans; popular education and workshops; initiatives such as the " consulta popular " organized in Spain; etc.
Sustained Campaigns Lists
On September 22nd, we traveled down to the Chapare region, where 20,000 cocaleros had gathered to welcome us and listen to delegates from each continent !
- Hallmark n.1, changed to make very clear that PGA opposes capitalism - not just neoliberalism and free trade - becomes:
" A very clear rejection of feudalism, capitalism and imperialism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote a destructive globalisation."
- Hallmark n.4, changed to avoid the simplifications and ambiguities of the term "non-violence" in different political cultures becomes :
" A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximise respect for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as to the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism."
The entire manifesto was reworked to integrate the gender perspective throughout (manifesto)
Addition on Climate change
- Section Onslaught on Nature and Agriculture of the manifesto :
In this section of the manifest, first paragraph, 6th line, was changed from "have facilitated manoeuvrings to appropriate the environment" to "have facilitated manoeuvrings to appropriate the global commons. This now includes the atmosphere." The following paragraph was added:
" Climate change is a result of capitalist resource exploitation. It reinforces existing global inequalities initiated by colonialism. As the climate warms, essential resources will further become the privilege of the elite, who will use increasingly military force to acquire them.
Also, the very problem of climate change is being seen as a profit-making opportunity. Market-based "solutions" include carbon trading (in which governments and transnationals buy and sell their "rights" to pollute) and carbon sinks (e.g. appropriated forest areas or genetically modified plantations which will theoretically absorb the carbon pollution) to avoid reducing their own emissions."
- The Role of the State in the Capitalist System:
This proposition was not accepted formulated as it is by the plenary but we agreed that it was an important matter that needs more reflection and that should be treated at the next global conference to include a paragraph in the manifesto. This is how it was formulated, it is meant as "food for thought" so people come up with clear propositions for the next conference.
" The globalisation process is often marked by corporate control, transnational companies influence nations states to change their policies in favor of profit. However, it is the governments who send their representatives to trade negotiations or decide policies to comply with structural adjustments and other neoliberal agendas.
The main task of the nation state in the capitalist model is to secure the best possible conditions for increasing profit by all means, including repression against any kind of opposition. The northern nation state is based upon exclusion and concentration of power. It defines who belongs to the nation and whose rights are denied.
An emancipatory anti-capitalist perspective struggles for self determination and opposes the concept of the corporate nation state. "
Discussion of Organisational Principles
Regarding the organisational principles, here are the main ideas that we agreed upon in the plenaries:
- That we would emphasize autonomy and decentralization in each region. Therefore, each region will decide how they want to organize between the participating movements and organisations (one main convenor, different co-convenors, collective participants,...). Nevertheless, we agreed that it is necessary to have one point of contact and co-ordination for every region, known to all the participating movements and organisations;
- All proposals for actions, themes and issues discussed at the international conference will come from the regional conferences. We will have international conferences when necessary;
- There will be an equal participation of men and women in the international and regional conferences. The gender issue will be discussed at all of the PGA conferences, both at the international and regional levels;
- We will reinforce exchanges and debates at the regional level through caravans, exchange of people, products and experiences to initiate discussions at the local level and share the result of these debates on the global network;
- Reinforce technical support at the regional level by augmenting the number of people involved and giving them clear mandates and functions;
- Add an appendix 5 to the organisational principles to clarify the first steps of each international conference;
- Add the struggles of the indigenous people to principle 1.3 (wording accepted by the plenary);
- Change principle 7 concerning information, basically opening up PGA bulletins and Webpage to work in a decentralised way (with in particular web pages on the model of Indymedia pages).
New Organisational Principles
(Changes are outlined in black, things written between parentheses are only explanations). Please refer to old organisational principles to compare to how they read before. The principles not mentioned stay as they are. )
- The PGA is an instrument for co-ordination, not an organisation. Its main objectives are:
- Inspiring the greatest possible number of persons and organisations to act against corporate domination through civil disobedience (non-violent to be taken out) and people-oriented constructive actions.
- Offering an instrument for co-ordination and mutual support at global level for those resisting corporate rule and the capitalist development paradigm.
- Giving more international projection to the struggles against economic liberalisation and global capitalism, as well as to the struggles of indigenous people and original cultures.
- The organisational philosophy of the PGA is based on decentralization and autonomy. Hence, central structures are minimal. Following the same idea, each region's participating organisations and movements will decide on how to organize locally. Nevertheless, there needs to be a point of contact and coordination for each of these regions, decided at regional level and known to all the participating organisations and movements of the network.
- 5) There will be conferences of the PGA whenever judged necessary by the participating organisations and movements. (Next sentence linking conferences to the dates of WTO ministerial conferences is removed.)
The functions of these conferences will be:
- Updating the manifesto (if necessary)
- Advancing in the process of co-ordination at global level of the resistance against "free" trade
- Co-ordinating decentralised actions according to the global days of action and the sustained campaigns of the PGA.
There will be an equal participation of men and women in the international and regional conferences. The gender issue will be discussed at all of the PGA's conferences, both at the international and regional levels.
- 6) The conferences of the PGA will be convened by a committee conformed by representative organisations and movements of each region, including the points of contact named for each of these regions. The composition of this committee must show a regional balance, and a balance regarding the areas of work of the organisations and movements that conform it. The local organisers will be part of the committee.
This committee will fulfil the following tasks:
- Coordinating the programme of the conference according to the proposals for themes, actions and issues emerging from the regional conferences
- Coordinating the selection of the delegates, in respect with the principle of decentralization and autonomy of each region as well as in accordance with the decisions taken on this matter at the regional conferences
- Deciding about the use of resources; especially, deciding which organisations will receive help to pay the travel expenses to attend the conference
- Advising the local organisers in technical and organisational questions
- Interpreting the manifesto if this would be necessary (the whole part on publications and info is removed.)
The committee, just like any other participating organisation or movement, cannot speak in the name of the PGA.
Each conference of the PGA will be coordinated by a committee conformed of different organisations and movements. Also, the points of contact named for each region will change in each regional conference (used to be in each international conference but it is now a problem to leave it like that if we're going to have international conferences only when judged necessary...). The old committee will choose a small group that will act as advisers of the new committee. It will also provide technical support at the regional level. This advisory group will not have decision-making power.
- 7) In keeping with PGA's philosophy, all communication processes will be diverse, decentralised and coordinated. There will be at least one point of contact in each region to be decided at regional level.
Whilst recognising there are limits to the internet, the PGA website will comprise of PGA documents including conference notes and contact lists. All documents will be translated into as many diverse languages as possible. For all this communication to work effectively, responsibility must be taken at the regional level by as many groups as possible.
- 8) The PGA will not have any resources. The funds needed to pay the conferences and the information tools will have to be raised in a decentralised way. All the funds raised for the conference will be administered by the committee. The publications will have to be self-financed. (part on the bulletin removed)
- 9) The PGA has a rotating secretariat, which changes every year. Each committee, during it's term, will decide where the secretariats will be.
- 11) The PGA hopes that it will inspire the creation of different platforms (both regional and issue-based) against "free" trade and the different institutions that promote it. There will not be, however, an organisational relationship between these platforms and the PGA. The platforms will hence be completely autonomous.
The PGA also aims to initiate discussions at the regional level through various means, emphasizing the organisation of caravans, as well as the exchange of people, products and experiences between regions. The results of these debates will then be shared at the global level with the whole network.
- Annex 5:
It was accepted to add an appendix 5 to the organisational principles to clarify and explain what the structure of the international conferences should be. The mains ideas of this proposal were accepted by the plenary and the exact wording was made by a delegate from Canada. This is not available just yet but should be sometime within the next two weeks.
Global days of action
- Call for a global day of action on November 9th to protest against the WTO conference in Qatar, whether the meeting actually happens or not
- Call for global days of action in March 2002 during:
Other activities and workgroups
- Next international conference :
- People from Russia and South Africa manifested their interest to hold the next conference in their regions.
- The visa and border problems we had for the meetings in Cochabamba and Bangalore before that, and budget deficits as a result, provoked discussions at the conference on PGA's strategies and structures. It emerged from these discussions that:
- because of the rising repression against our movements, it might be better to stop having international meetings every two years before the WTO conference and to have one whenever judged necessary by the participating groups;
- considering the changes made to the organizational principles in Cochabamba and emphasis put on decentralization, it is probably more strategic to concentrate on regional networking and on other types of projects such as caravans, with good communications at the global level.
- It was also decided to support the organisation of a First and Indigenous Peoples' International Conference.
- And have links with the Coordinadora regional de maquiladoras del Caribe, Centro America, Mexico
Work groups were set up on the following themes:
- Data base on different actions and campaigns
- Web site
- Technical support to certain movements and organisations
- Reinforce the PGA's internal and external communications
- Caravans, sharing of experiences
- Documents on legislative reforms that promote neoliberalism in each country
- Devolution of the cultural patrimony of the South
- Declaration on territory, sovereignty and autonomy of the people, following the spirit of the Cochabamba declaration
- Expansion and PGA contacts :
- Help and support for the organisation of a First and Indigenous Peoples' International Conference
- Contact with the Coordinadora regional de maquiladoras del Caribe, Centro America, Mexico
- Work discrimination
- Masculine domination in organisational and decisional spaces
- Land and territories for women
- Financial support for southern social movements and delegitimization of paternalist NGOs
PGA Conference | Results | Information