Issue number 4, October 1999
1. Report of the second conference of Peoples' Global Action (23-27 August 1999)
2. N30: Global Day of Action November 30, 1999
3. Actions against the WTO Ministerial in Seattle (29 Nov - 3 Dec 1999)
4. Other news
1. Report of the second conference of Peoples' Global Action
The second conference of Peoples' Global Action against 'Free' Trade and the WTO (PGA) took place in Karnataka (India) from the 23rd to the 27th of August 1999, hosted by the Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS).
Representatives from farmers' movements, indigenous peoples' organisations, fisherfolk movements, trade unions, afro-american communities, anti-dam movements, domestic worker solidarity fronts, landless peasant co-operatives, environmental organisations, solidarity committees, alternative media, unRepresentatives from autonomous groups, feminists, squatters, street reclaimers, gentech-field destroyers and activists of all sorts came together in the Karnataka Folklore Centre, near the city of Bangalore, to evaluate the development of the PGA network in its first 18 months, discuss its future and coordinate actions. Many people could not come due to visa-related problems [as we discovered much too late, if you apply for an Indian visa saying that you want to attend a conference your application has to be approved by 3 different ministries before you get it - about one month later!] and other last-minute troubles. For instance, the whole delegations of Africa and Central and Eastern Europe / CIS had to remain home due to those reasons. But despite these unfortunate absences, the conference was fruitful.
After a day of discussion in small groups, the plenary took the collective challenge of broadening the function of PGA: it was agreed by consensus that the network should in the future work as a tool for communication and coordination for all the struggles against the effects of the global capitalist regime, not only against the institutions and agreements that regulate it. This means that the efforts of communication and coordination will in the future be extended to all the topics related to capitalist exploitation, as well as its relation with patriarchy, racism, violence, environmental destruction etc. and the different forms of struggle to eliminate these forms of oppression. The expectation is that the PGA as a process will eventually reach a stage in which it is able to articulate grassroots resistance at global level, working as a global movement, rooted in the basis of peoples' movements all over the planet, and playing a direct political role from below (despite not being constituted as organisation).
This change in the definition of PGA was a continuation of a general wish that was already evident at the first conference (Geneva, February 1998), when the first draft of the manifesto, consisting of one and a half pages focused on the WTO and other trade and investment agreements, grew through a participatory process to an eight-page text on the impacts of capitalism on different social groups, the environment, etc. This wish also was apparent in the projects supported by PGA. For instance, the global day of action on June 18th was a carnival against capitalism, and the Inter-Continental Caravan for Solidarity and Resistance had among its 5 main topics of struggle issues such as biotechnology and the nuclear industry.
Another important decision taken by consensus was to include the following text as a new PGA hallmark, one of the basic points of consensus which will not be discussed since they are the fundaments on which the network is built: 'We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.' [This has become the second PGA hallmark, and previous hallmarks 2, 3 and 4 now become hallmarks 3, 4 and 5 respectively.] This hallmark was introduced due to the fact that the denunciation of 'free' trade without an analysis on patriarchy, racism and processes of homogenisation is a basic element of the discourse of the (extreme) right, and perfectly compatible with simplistic explanations of complex realities and with the personification of the effects of capitalism (such as conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, etc) that inevitably lead to fascism, witch-hunting and oppressive chauvinist traditionalism. With this new hallmark, PGA repudiates all reactionary forms of resistance to capitalism.
The manifesto will be reviewed in order to bring it up to date with these changes, introduce the gender perspective throughout the text and include a number of statements on issues such as the universalisation of primary education, the rejection of anti-Semitism, etc.
The conference also took a number of decisions relating to actions. The call for a global day of action in November 30th 1999 was endorsed by the whole network, as well as a number of protest programmes against the Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Seattle, such as an international anti-WTO caravan in the USA and another one in Canada, the Resist WTO Roadshow being planned by Art & Revolution, a tribunal judging corporations and the WTO for crimes against humanity planned by the Council on International and Public Affairs, etc. Another programme endorsed by the plenary as a PGA activity was an international conference on training for movements engaged in civil disobedience which the Collective for autonomous non-violent actions (CANEVAS) and Operation SalAMI! will organise next year in Canada. Finally, the initiative 'A "Humanitarian Intervention" in the USA is Necessary!' was also endorsed by the plenary. [For more information, see below.]
The election of the new convenors' committee was left to a great extent in the hands of upcoming regional meetings, to take place early next year. Only one of the two Asia convenors and the Western European convenor were elected. These were the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform from Sri Lanka, <email@example.com> and the Italian Ya Basta! network, <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>, respectively. The interim convenor for North America (until the North American regional conference) is the Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network, <MWMorrill@aol.com> .The delay in the election of most new convenors was agreed in order to let more movements to participate in, as well as initiate, regional processes within the PGA, with the ultimate goal of developing a number of interconnected decentralised networks.
The global PGA secretariat for the next year will be based at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), 377 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA. The email address of the secretariat remains <agpweb (AT) lists.riseup.net>. The temporary regional technical secretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean will be based at Güises Montaña Experimental (GME), Rio San Juan, Nicaragua, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>, but only until the regional conference of Latin America and the Caribbean takes place in March 2000. This regional conference will also decide where in Latin America the next world-wide PGA conference will take place.
Finally, the tools for communication of PGA (the web page, bulletin and other publications) were discussed and working groups were formed with people who volunteered to produce them, translate them etc. If you want to join any of these groups, please contact the secretariat (see contact details above).
A number of visits to different peoples' movements (Adivasis, fisherfolk, farmers, anti-dam, etc) took place in Kerala and Karnataka just before and after the conference. Finally, a large group of the participants went North to the Narmada valley at the end of the second visit in order to show solidarity with the intense non-violent struggle against destructive development that has been fought there for over a decade.
The PGA, at its second world conference in Bangalore, India, called for November 30 to be an Global Day of Action. Organisations and movements from dozens of countries enthusiastically endorsed this decentralised action and pledged to organise local events in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, U.K., Germany, Argentina, Switzerland, Spain, Colombia, etc.
Although most of the actions are being planned for that date, there are also groups that are responding to the call but staging their N30 actions in other dates. For instance, in India the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements has given a call for actions spread over a longer period, from November 21st (international day of action of fisherfolk) to December 3rd (anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal). These actions - mass protests, educative programmes, delegations to the authorities, etc. -will focus attention on the impacts of globalisation, including the WTO, its policies and agreements, on various sectors of the population (fisherfolk, forest produce gatherers and other tribals, women, farmers, industrial and agricultural labour, etc.), reflected through the struggles such as opposition to Narmada dams, the struggle against foreign fishing vessels, displacement due to infrastructure development and mega-cities, and others. (Contact Mahendra at <email@example.com>, tel +91-22-557 4895 for more information).
Similarly, there will be a big demonstration in Geneva (where the headquarters of the WTO are based) on the 27th, since this date, being a Saturday, is more appropriate for the large number of organisations which are calling it (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
Below you find an edited summary of the call for action prepared by the November 30 Global Day of Action Collective.
LET OUR RESISTANCE BE AS TRANSNATIONAL AS CAPITAL!
A Global Day of Action, Resistance and Carnival Against the Global Capitalist System
Laugh in the Face of the Global Economy!!
Activists from diverse groups and movements around the world are discussing, networking and organising for an INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION on November 30th. On this day, ministers of 134 governments will be in Seattle for the 3rd conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), at which they will decide on new policies that will further escalate the exploitation of our planet and its people by the global capitalist system. The 'key players' (the Northern governments, especially those of the USA and the European Union) want to push through a new version of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), expand the agreements that grant agrochemical and biotechnological TNCs new domination rights over the agriculture and the food systems of the whole world, strengthen intellectual property rights and patents on life, and further capitalist globalisation through a new round of free trade talks.
A coalition of radical activists has formed in Seattle to stage actions against the conference, and activist groups around the world are planning to converge on the city. Also, the international network Peoples' Global Action against 'Free' Trade and the WTO (PGA) and the IWW (International Workers of the World) are planning ACTIONS around the world. Various grassroots groups prepare to take action in their own parts of the world in recognition that the CAPITALIST SYSTEM, based on the exploitation of people, societies and the environment for the profit of a few, is the PRIME CAUSE of present SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL TROUBLES.
In view of these developments, we now call for SYMPATHETIC COMMUNITIES, GRASSROOTS GROUPS, AND INDIVIDUALS around the world to organise their OWN AUTONOMOUS ACTIONS, protests, and carnivals in solidarity against the capitalist system on November 30th. Our simultaneous TRANSFORMATION OF THE CAPITALIST SOCIAL ORDER around the world - in the streets, neighbourhoods, fields, factories, offices, commercial centres, financial districts, and so on - will contribute to the process of bringing separate struggles together based on co-operation, ecological sustainability, and grassroots democracy.
This call is made in the spirit of continuing the process of building a strong, bold and CREATIVE GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT against the economic and political institutions of capitalism. For as we realise that no issue is isolated, be it the exploitation of workers, the bankruptcy of peasant farmers, the displacement of indigenous peoples by "development" programmes or the destruction of our environment, we also realise that we must act together and UNITE OUR STRUGGLES AGAINST the social, political, and economic institutions of THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM. Only a strong and united movement of grassroots groups based on mutual respect and solidarity, who struggle independent of these institutions and seek to effect change directly through their own autonomous action can dissolve their power and BUILD A BETTER SOCIAL ORDER based on grassroots organisation.
The actions on the 30 of November will BRING DIFFERENT MOVEMENTS TOGETHER in solidarity with one another and strengthen the mutual bonds of otherwise disparate groups - workers, the unemployed, students, trade unionists, peasants, the landless, fishers, women's groups, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, peace activists, environmental activists, ecologists, and others. This process will be continued through FURTHER GLOBAL DAYS OF ACTION IN THE FUTURE - MAYDAY 2000, for instance, has been pointed out as a perfect symbolic and real opportunity to escalate our resistance.
The PRESENT PROPOSAL of a November 30th global day of action FOLLOWS from the success of the co-ordinated global day of action on JUNE 18TH this year, and is intended to expand on it in the same spirit. On that day, separate grassroots movements in over 30 countries on all continents worked together and JOINED FORCES AGAINST THE GLOBAL CAPITALIST SYSTEM. The day saw for instance marches by workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan; a fake trade fair by Uruguayan activists; thousands of people in a carnival in London's financial district; occupations and street parties in Spain, Italy, USA, and Canada; ten thousand people in Nigeria protesting the oil industry and imperialism; and, in Melbourne, a prominent politician hit with a cream pie and a logging multinational blockaded with dead wombats. (For more information, see http://www.j18.org)
The November 30th global day of action would be organised in a non-hierarchical way, as a DECENTRALISED AND INFORMAL NETWORK of autonomous groups that struggle in solidarity and co-operation employing non-authoritarian, grassroots democratic forms of organisation.
Your INITIATIVE AND PARTICIPATION, no matter how small, are crucial to the success of the November 30th day of action in your location. If your group or organisation plans an action on November 30th, please let others know as soon as possible, to FACILITATE NETWORKING and communication, as well as International media efforts. Please send your contact information to: email@example.com to be included in an international contacts list. The more detailed information you send (land address, phone number, fax number, email) the better, but, for your own security, do not include any contact information that you prefer not to be made public.
We expect to COMMUNICATE INTERNATIONALLY PRIMARILY BY EMAIL, and so encourage all groups and individuals who plan to take action to subscribe to suitable mailing lists, and in general make efforts to STAY IN TOUCH through this and other means. There is a list of available mailing lists in the appendix below.
Please FORWARD THIS PROPOSAL to appropriate lists and to people who will be interested, reproduce it and circulate, put it on a web site, and most importantly, ACT.
NOVEMBER 30 GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION COLLECTIVE
N30 c/o IWW, 5215 Ballard NW, Seattle, WA. 98107, (+1 - 206) 706-6250, http://go.to/n30
I. Mailing lists
THE NOVEMBER 30 DISCUSSION LIST: This list allows for participants around the globe to co-ordinate and discuss the November 30th global day of action. Subscribers will receive information and updates about the N30 preparations around the world. To subscribe, go to: http://n30.listbot.com
THE NO2WTO DISCUSSION LIST: This discussion list has been set up to generate and co-ordinate networking among people interested in radical mobilisation in Seattle for WTO (as in contrast to the generally reformist tendencies of the general Seattle coalition). Subscribe and unsubscribe directly from: http://no2wto.listbot.com/
NOVEMBER 30 DAY OF ACTION WEB SITE The November 30th website will contain information and updates about the November 30th preparations around the world, a regularly updated list of participating groups around the world, announcements of language specific mailing lists, WTO info, etc: http://go.to/n30
N30 Website http://flag.blackened.net/~global
N30 call by IWW http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/lobby/8771/iwwwto.html
N30 Seattle Walkout http://walkout.listbot.com
N30 Seattle Direct Action Network http://www.agitprop.org/artandrevolution/wto
JUNE 18th global day of action: http://www.j18.org/ and http://www.infoshop.org/june18.html
Peoples Global Action against 'Free' Trade and the WTO (PGA): <agpweb (AT) lists.riseup.net>, http://www.agp.org
3. Actions against the WTO Ministerial in Seattle
The following projects and events against the Seattle WTO Ministerial were endorsed by PGA at the Bangalore conference:
You will find more information about these programmes below. Though it is not related to the PGA, we also include at the end information about live broadcasts that will be available from Seattle.
3.1. Festival of Resistance * Nonviolent Direct Action * Street Theater
Come to Seattle Nov. 29 - Dec. 3, 1999
Increasing poverty and cuts in social services while the rich get richer; low wages, sweatshops, meaningless jobs, and more prisons; deforestation, gridlocked cities and global warming; genetic engineering, gentrification and war: Despite the apparent diversity of these social and ecological troubles, their roots are the same — a global economic system based on the exploitation of people and the planet.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 in Seattle, WA, thousands leaders of transnational corporations, governments officials and an army of bureaucrats will come to the World Trade Organisation's Summit to further their drive for profits, and their control over our political, economic and cultural life, along with the environment. Their new strategy to concentrate power and wealth, while neutralising people's resistance, is called "economic globalisation" and "free trade." But these words just disguise the poverty, misery and ecological destruction of this system.
Tens of thousands of people will converge on Seattle and transform it into a festival of resistance: mass nonviolent direct action; reclaim the streets with giant street theatre, puppets, celebration, music, street parties and pleasure; vibrant sounds of community, creativity and resistance and glimpses of life as it could be in the face of hundreds of deadening businessman, bureaucrats and politicians. A new world is possible and a global movement of resistance is rising to make it happen. Imagine replacing the existing social order with a just, free and ecological order based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation. Join us. Come to Seattle.
Here is some of what is planned and what you need to know to come to Seattle:
RESIST THE WTO: ROADSHOW
Art and Revolution Street Theatre Troupe will join a multi-media, giant puppet and dance performance, teach-in tour of the Western U.S. and Canada from September 28 to October 18 (in Seattle October 5) to educate, agitate and organise against the World Trade Organisation Summit. Cosponsored by Global Exchange.
ACTION/STREET THEATER CAMP NOV. 20-28
We are planning for nine days of street theatre, giant puppet, dance and music making / skillsharing / performing, nonviolent direct action trainings and affinity(action) group formations, community building fun, meetings to coordinate it all and prepare ourselves for the WTO, outreach and performance around Seattle, and more. Come early and help organise and prepare. Contact us or check the website for more details.
NOV 30 SHUT DOWN THE WTO - MASS NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION INFO
We are planning a large scale, well organised, high visibility action to SHUT DOWN the World Trade Organisation on Tuesday November 30. The World Trade Organisation has no right to make undemocratic, unaccountable destructive decisions about our lives, our communities and the earth. We will non-violently and creatively block them from meeting. Hundreds of people will risk arrest, reflecting the diversity of groups and communities impacted by the WTO and corporate globalisation. We envision colourful and festive actions with large scale street theatre as a major element. We will make space and encourage mutual respect for a variety of non-violent action styles reflecting our different groups and communities. The WTO Summit offers a historic opportunity to halt capitalist globalisation and to help catalyse a widespread mass movement in North America. Cosponsored by the Direct Action Network (Against Corporate Globalisation), Earth First!(Seattle), Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network.
ACTION GUIDELINES: All participants in this action are asked to agree to these action guidelines. Having this basic agreement will allow people from many backgrounds, movements and beliefs to work together for this action. They are not philosophical or political requirements placed upon you or judgements about the validity of some tactics over others. These guidelines are basic agreements that create a basis for trust, so we can work together for this action and know what to expect from each other.
1) We will use no violence, physical or verbal towards any person
2) We will carry no weapons
3) We will not bring or use any alcohol or illegal drugs
4) We will not destroy property
JAIL/COURT SOLIDARITY: We will encourage and facilitate jail and court solidarity for the mass action. This includes: distributing information about and giving training on jail solidarity (check the web site, or contact us for solidarity info); setting up spokescouncil meetings to plan solidarity; providing a legal support team who understands and will help negotiate solidarity demands. Through jail solidarity we can take power in a situation designed to make us powerless. We do this by making our decisions as a group, by acting in harmony with each other, and by committing ourselves to safeguard each other's well being. Every time there is a choice in the legal process, activists can either cooperate or make things more difficult for the authorities. Solidarity tactics mean that people noncooperate as a group unless the authorities agree to our demands. An overcrowded, expensive jail and legal system creates additional pressure. This can give us some control over the legal consequences and expedite them, while protecting the authorities from singling individuals out for harsher treatment, resisting fines and probation, and extending the action to the prison and legal system with the strength of a group, instead of as individuals. We encourage action participants who are able, to clear their calendar in advance for several days or a week or so after the action should it become necessary to use a fill-the-jails tactic to win our demands. It is likely that those who want or need to leave will be able to do so.
LEGAL: We will have legal support for those arrested at the mass action through arraignment: this includes legal and solidarity briefings, a staffed legal support office, an experienced legal coordinator and lawyers who can make jail visits.
AFFINITY GROUPS: Everyone participating in the action is asked to form or join an affinity group (a self reliant action group of 5-20 people, which includes some support people who do not risk arrest and are committed to do support before during and after arrest). Affinity groups are the basic planning and decision making bodies for the mass action. Form an affinity group with your friends, people from your town, neighbourhood or workplace, from your organisation or community, with people you share some other affinity, interest or identity. Two or more affinity groups that have something in common, or want to do similar actions should work together as a "cluster" of affinity groups.
Action Spokescouncil: Leading up to the action participants will coordinate the action and jail/court solidarity through an Action Spokescouncil, with spokespeople chosen by each affinity group responsible for carrying their groups plans, opinions and decisions to the spokescouncil and carrying information and decisions back to their group. Agenda items and proposal will be available before each spokescouncil so affinity groups can discuss them. We encourage mass action participants to try arrive by Sunday November 28, or as early as they can on Monday November 29 to get briefed and to coordinate.
NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION TRAINING: All action participants will be encouraged to take a nonviolent direct action training to prepare themselves for both the action and for jail and court solidarity to deal with the legal system. Trainings are already being set up in many local communities and will be available in Seattle during the week leading up to and the day and evening before the action.
HOUSING: If you have any connections in or near Seattle where you can stay, please pursue them. People for Fair Trade have said they will try to provide some housing at 1-877-STOPWTO. The Direct Action Network expects to have some limited housing or camping options during the Action/Street Theatre Camp and possibly during the WTO, but call write first to check and confirm space- priority will be given to folks who confirm well in advance.
DIRECT ACTION NETWORK (AGAINST CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION)
The Direct Action Network is a network of local grassroots groups and street theatre groups across the Western United States and Canada who are mobilising our communities to creatively resist the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and corporate globalisation. We are organising and coordinating mass nonviolent direct action and large scale street theatre — giant puppets, dance, drums, music, spoken word, and graffiti art at the WTO Summit in Seattle, November 29 to December 3. Our current social and ecological troubles are rooted in an economic and political system that is going global. Imagine replacing the current social order with a just, free and ecological society based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation. A NEW WORLD IS POSSIBLE and we are part of a global movement that is rising up to make it happen. Join us!
c/o CAN, PO Box 98113, Seattle, WA 98145 USA. Real address: 4554 12th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. Tel (+1-206) 632-1656 <firstname.lastname@example.org> www.agitprop.org/artandrevolution
San Francisco (+1-415) 339-7801/ (1-510) 464-5921. Vancouver, Canada (1-604) 254-3145 <email@example.com>
3.2. Shut Down the WTO Caravan
International Activists Tour U.S. to Counter the World Trade Organisation
Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Environmentalists, Fisherfolk and Labour Organisers
will Expose the Horrors of Corporate Globalization
A caravan of two dozen international activists will be crossing the United States to spread the message that "free trade," or corporate globalisation, is at the heart of many of the world's ills. Representing every continent, the activists contend that the upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Seattle could sow the seeds for further erosion of human rights, food security, environmental protections and health standards.
The caravan, dubbed "The Road to Seattle: An Educational Road Show on Corporate Globalisation," includes men and women from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, the United States and West Papua. The participants are people who have been directly impacted by corporate globalisation, and represent environmental, human rights, workers, fisherfolk and farmers' movements. They represent movements fighting sweatshops in New York, corporate takeover of family farming in India, the destruction of indigenous communities in West Papua, the rape of the land by oil companies in Nigeria, etc.
The caravan will be stopping in about 20 communities, including large cities, small towns, and Native American reservations. It will start in New York on October 28 and arrive in Seattle on November 24, in time for the WTO ministerium and the No2WTO actions. In each community the activists will participate in community education activities, including teach-ins at colleges, houses of worship and union halls. They will also hold local news conferences and appear on radio and television talk shows. The international activists will join local activists in direct action demonstrations at sites where there are examples of egregious corporate misbehaviour. Caravan organisers hope that the activists will have direct contact with thousands of Americans along the route, dispelling the American media's perception of opposition to "free" trade as being isolationist and protectionist and exposing how capitalist globalisation is killing people, eliminating human rights and destroying the environment all over the world.
The focus of the caravan, and its ultimate destination, is the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle. Among the plans which the caravan participants oppose include new rules which will limit the scope of government in areas such as food security and safety, workers' rights, health standards and environmental laws. Caravan participants and organisers unanimously oppose these measures. They agree that the WTO is fundamentally flawed, beyond reform and must be abolished.
The caravan is organised by the Pennsylvania Consumer Education Project (PCEP) and the Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network. (PCAN). Together, these grassroots organisations work to educate and mobilise people to take back our democracy from moneyed special interests. The caravan is a project of Peoples' Global Action (PGA), a gathering of peoples' movements fighting corporate globalisation.
The caravan is organised under the principles outlined in the PGA hallmarks:
1) A very clear rejection of the WTO and other trade liberalisation agreements (like APEC, the EU, NAFTA, etc.) as active promoters of a socially and environmentally destructive globalisation;
2) Rejection of all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings;
3) A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy maker;
4) A call to non-violent civil disobedience and the construction of local alternatives by local people, as answers to the action of governments and corporations;
5) An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.
The caravan Itinerary (subject to change) is: October 28 New York City / Oct 29-30 Boston / Oct 31 Western Massachusetts / November 1 Ithaca / Nov 3 Pittsburgh / Nov 4 Oberlin / Nov 5 Columbus / Nov 6 Indianapolis / Nov 7 St. Louis / Nov 10 Oklahoma City / Nov 12 Albuquerque / Nov 14 Phoenix / Nov 17 San Diego / Nov 18 Los Angeles / Nov 19 San Francisco / Nov 22 Eugene / Nov 23 Portland / Nov 24 arrival to Seattle.
For more information, or to schedule interviews with participants or organisers, please contact PCAN at 1-610-478-7888, <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>.
If you can, please send contributions to: PA Consumer Education Project, 529 Court St., # 509, Reading, PA 19601, USA
3.3. Canadian Caravan against the WTO
A caravan will also take place in Canada, in the same style as the US caravan. It will start in Toronto at the first of November and take part in the protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Trade Ministers meeting, including the day of action in solidarity with the Zapatistas (see sections 4.6 and 4.7). It will wind through rural Canada and hold public meetings and press conferences around the WTO form the perspective of workers, students, farmers, etc. We will discuss issues such as biodiversity, water, trees, health, education, etc in order to expose the link between global agreements and neighbourhood problems. Several organisations and unions are involved in the organisation - for instance, the student union are sponsoring a caravan student representative from the autonomous university in Mexico where an intense struggle against neoliberal policies is currently being fought.
The Canadian and the US caravans will come together in Seattle for the No2WTO protests, where they will be joined by large numbers of protesters from all over Canada. The Union of Postal Workers will be bussing into Seattle. The Hospital Employees Union is said to be sending as many as ten buses!
Along with the caravan and the mobilisation towards Seattle, actions are being planned in diverse Canadian cities for November 30 - confirmed actions include Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg. They involve a whole range of activities from street theatre and teach-ins to direct action and demonstrations.
For more information, contact David Bleakney, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, 377 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1Y3 Canada. Phone: 1-613-236-7230 ext 7953, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
3.4. Global People's Tribunal on Corporate Crimes Against Humanity
Seattle, Washington, USA, November 27-29, 1999 (Preliminary Announcement)
Plans are now being made to hold a Global People's Tribunal on Corporate Crimes Against Humanity at the time of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting. The Tribunal will hear testimony and receive other forms of evidence of crimes against humanity by global corporations as defined under international and Canadian law on Saturday and Sunday, November 27 and 28. A decision on whether this evidence is sufficient to sustain charges of crimes against humanity will be rendered on Monday, November 29, the opening day of the WTO Ministerial.
The organisers believe that it will be possible to present to the Seattle Tribunal sufficient evidence to sustain an indictment of those corporations being examined by the Tribunal for "crimes against humanity." Such crimes have been defined under Canadian Law C-71 as meaning "... murder, extermination, deportation, persecution, or any other inhumane act or ommission that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable persons ... and that ... constitutes a contravention of customary international law or conventional international law or is criminal according to the general principles of law recognised by the Community of Nations". This definition is drawn from the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg as subsequently reaffirmed and extended to acts committed at any time (not just wartime) by the UN General Assembly. And the UN's International Law Commission has asserted that "inhumane acts" become crimes against humanity when they are "committed in a systematic way or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organisation or group" which clearly includes non-state actors such as giant global corporations.
This Tribunal will function like a grand jury, considering whether or not there is sufficient evidence to sustain charges of "crimes against humanity" on a limited number of global corporations. If the jury decides that there is enough evidence, the actual trial will take place in other forums in the future with timely notice to the accused parties which will be given ample opportunity to present evidence in their defense under generally accepted conditions of due process.
Between 6 and 12 global corporations will be selected for investigation, based in part on the ready availability of evidence of "inhumane acts or omissions". Among those already suggested are Union Carbide Corporation (perpetrator of the world's worst industrial disaster at Bhopal, India), Dow Chemical (which gave us Agent Orange and is about to acquire Union Carbide), Monsanto, Bayer, Unocal, Shell, Rio Tinto, Cargill, and GAP. Additional suggestions are welcomed. The types of evidence will be written, oral, and video taped. We will also examine critically corporate counterclaims to have benefited humanity.
Organisers: Endorsed by People's Global Action at its recent conference in Bangalore, the Tribunal is being organised by a small group of human rights, consumer, and trade union activists in the USA and Canada. For further information, contact the Tribunal Coordinator, Ward Morehouse, Council on International and Public Affairs, 777 United Nations Plaza, Suite 3C, New York, NY 10017, Tel. 212 972 9877 or 914 271 6590; fax 914 271 6590; e-mail: <email@example.com>
3.5. A 'Humanitarian Intervention' in the USA is Necessary!
A Modest Proposal to contribute towards the Organisation among the Poor in the USA,
and to Fuel the U.S. Caravan Against the WTO Summit in Seattle
Much has been said about the eyes of the child victims of the Balkan war, but little about the eyes of U.S. children.
Some figures about poverty in the USA :
This is the model the USA wants to export, with the support of the so called left-wing politicians of Europe and of many governments in the countries of the South of the world, in order to expand its policies.
This initiative will give us the chance to explain to people what WTO is, what neoliberalism is and how it is impoverishing the lives of people all over the planet. At the same time, it offers the opportunity for people around the world to share information about the political initiatives they are carrying out in their own countries.
This "MODEST PROPOSAL" is a sort of provocation, a challenge, by which poor persons from all over the world (both North and South) send $1 each to the USA Superpower.
Those who want to participate in this initiative should start soon with a campaign "SUPPORT THE POOR OF THE USA AND FUEL THE ANTI WTO CARAVAN", perhaps by:
Each country or region of course will have its own initiative!
We suggest to collect a symbolic figure of $1 per person, association, school, social centre, university, union, political party (though if they want they can also donate other amounts). The money will serve partly to support the grassroots organisational work of the poor of the USA and partly to support the USA Caravan against the WTO. We might ask contributors to sign a declaration stating: 'I/We want to contribute to build global solidarity by making a payment to support the global caravan of peoples' movements representatives against the WTO and the work to organise the poor in the USA being done by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. They payment will be done directly to the "Pennsylvania Consumer Education Project", who will forward part of it to the "Kensington Welfare Rights Union"', or something similar. Please use this method or any other to keep lists of the organisations that participate in to the campaign and also keep track of the amount of persons that contributed, so that at the end of the campaign (during the WTO Ministerial) we can make public the number of persons and the list of organisations that participated in each country.
For those wanting to contribute by check, it should be made out to: Pennsylvania Consumer Education Project, 529 Court St #509, Reading, PA 19601 - USA
The bank details are: Bank: AllFirst / Routing number: 052000113 / Bank Address: P.O. Box 17039, Baltimore, MD 21297-1039 USA / Bank phone: 1-800-533-4630 / Account holder: Pennsylvania Consumer Education Project (PCEP) / Account number: 00982-6013-8 / Address of PCEP: 223 N. Brobst St., Shillington, PA 19607-1914 USA / Phone of PCEP: 1-610-478-7888
For more information about this initiative please contact: YA BASTA! ASSOCIATION - LOMBARDY, ITALY - For the dignity of all people, against neoliberism. Leoncavallo Social Centre, Via Watteau 7,Milano,Italy. Tel: +39 02 6705185, Fax: +39 02 6705621, e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>
3.6. Live Radio Broadcasts from the World Trade Summit
135 governments make up the World Trade Organisation, yet transnational corporations increasingly influence and benefit from international trade policy. People from around the world are responding. Critics of the WTO will be conducting teach-ins, strategy sessions, and massive demonstrations. This unprecedented gathering will bring together farmers from India, trade activists from Ghana, peasants from Chiapas, labour organisers, environmentalists, and social justice advocates from across the US and around the world. World Trade Watch will air the voices that Corporate owned media will not.
Be part of the campaign to spread information about the World Trade Organisation and people's resistance to it. Help get the "WORLD TRADE WATCH" radio series on your local radio station (micro, macro, or shortwave.) Let people know it can also be heard on the internet and tape recorded off of the internet. Contact us to find out how: (510) 251-1077, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Listen to a demo tape at websites below. Programs are suitable for immediate broadcast or tape delay, and are free to non-commercial stations.
Co-Produced by the National Radio Project http://www.radioproject.org , Transnational Resource and Action Center/Corporate Watch http://www.corpwatch.org , and the Institute for Public Accuracy http://www.accuracy.org
There are several ways to get the series:
SATELLITE: Live uplink from KUOW Seattle, A67.7 on the public radio satellite, 13:00-13:59 ET
INTERNET BROADCAST QUALITY: Go to www.radioproject.org. There's a downloadable version of the programs in MPEG format. See the site for software and instructions. Winamp is necessary for playback. In order to take full advantage of MPEG quality a professional sound card is required. This is great for stations who don't have a sat. downlink. If you're not already geared up to take broadcast quality sound off the internet, it's not that hard — call us.
INTERNET FOR PERSONAL LISTENING: You can get the WTO series audio in RealAudio format (not broadcast quality) at the Transnational Resource and Action Center/Corporate Watch website www.corpwatch.org, or the National Radio Project web site, www.radioproject.org. RealPlayer is required for playback. Visit the sites for software and instructions.
Contact us (510) 251-1077, email <email@example.com>, http://www.radioproject.org
4.1. U'wa Defense Working Group Action Alert!
COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES OIL DRILLING ON U'WA LAND!
U'WA THREATEN MASS SUICIDE RATHER THAN SEE MOTHER EARTH DESECRATED
"We are seeking an explanation for this 'progress' that goes against life. We are demanding that this kind of progress stop, that oil exploitation in the heart of the Earth is halted, that the deliberate bleeding of the Earth stop...we ask that our brothers and sisters from other races and cultures unite in the struggle that we are undertaking...we believe that this struggle has to become a global crusade to defend life."
- Statement of the U'wa people, August, 1998
On September 21st Colombia's Environment Minister Juan Mayr announced he was granting a permit for Los Angeles based Occidental Petroleum to begin exploratory drilling on the U'wa ancestral homelands. The U'wa have denounced the government's decision as cultural and environmental genocide. This permit removes the final legal obstacle to Occidental's plans to drill and pushes the U'wa one step closer to their last resort pledge of committing mass suicide.
For several years now the U'wa have been an inspiring symbol of ecological sanity and indigenous resistance to the oil industry's relentless invasion of the final remote corners of the planet. The U'wa have maintained their stand despite harassment, intimidation, a brutal assault on their spokesperson and the murder of three of their supporters. A worldwide solidarity movement forced Royal Dutch Shell to withdraw from the project and has stalled the efforts of LA-based Occidental Petroleum to begin drilling. Until now. With approval from the Colombian government drilling on U'wa land is imminent. A global solidarity movement is needed to pressure the Colombian government and Occidental to cancel the project.
In Colombia where a 30 year civil war has claimed the lives of 25,000 people this decade alone, oil and violence spread hand in hand. Oil installations are popular targets for the guerillas and as such bring de facto military occupations along with the inevitable ecological devastation from ongoing bombing. For the U'wa oil is the blood of Mother Earth and therefore to drill is the ultimate desecration of their ancient traditions of living in peaceful balance with the Earth.
The U'wa remain strong in their determination to protect their culture and sacred homelands but they need your help. It is our hope that activists around the world will answer this emergency call to resist the new colonialism of multinational corporations by taking action on behalf of the U'wa.
In an amazing show of solidarity events were held in 20 cities in 10 countries around the world on October 12 (Day of Indigenous Peoples) to demand that the Colombian government and Occidental Petroleum cancel their plans - a very respectable number taking into account the fact that the actions took place only 20 days after Occidental Petroleum got green light from the Colombian government to drill for oil on the sacred ancestral homelands of the U'wa people. Events ranged from activists scaling buildings to drop banners, demonstrations, guerilla theater, delegations meeting with Colombian officials, letters of protest being delivered, teach-ins, a 24 hour vigil and a statement of solidarity from the communities of the Narmada Valley in India who are fighting to protect their land from being flooded by a mega-dam. More details and pictures can be found on the RAN website - www.ran.org.
CONTACT OCCIDENTAL AND THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT (Sample letters can be obtained from <firstname.lastname@example.org>):
Dr. Ray R. Irani, President and CEO, Occidental Petroleum; 10889 Wilshire Blv., LA, CA 90024, USA. Fax 310.443.6690, ph. 310.208.8800
Presidente Andres Pastrana; Casa Presidencial, Bogota, Colombia, fax +571.334.1940 (direct) or through the Colombian Embassy in your country
ORGANIZE A DEMONSTRATION/EVENT AT A COLOMBIAN CONSULATE: We need to show Occidental AND the Colombian government that activists around the world will stand with the U'wa to prevent the destruction of their culture and homeland . The best way to do this is to have a strong presence at Colombian consulates and embassies around the world. If you live near a consulate please call them up and ask for a meeting with the ambassador or consul. Organize a vigil, demonstration or direct action. Please send information about what you are planning to do or have done to <email@example.com>.
CONNECT THE U'WA WITH YOUR WORK AGAINST THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION OR OTHER FORMS OF CORPORATE DOMINATION: The next three months will be the critical time for the U'wa. As many activists around the world are organize around the next World Trade Organization meeting (Nov 29-Dec 3)the U'wa will be fighting for their lives against the same system of uncheck corporate expansion. Use the U'wa resistance as an example of the emerging global resistance to corporate domination. Connect the U'wa struggle with your ongoing campaigns - whether its environmental justice, anti-militarism, indigenous rights or fighting globalization. Use the U'wa struggle as an example on the November 30th day of action against globalization. See http://go.to/n30 or email N30contacts@angelfire.com for details.
Fact sheets and other campaign materials are available on the RAN website WWW.RAN.ORG
Please call or email for hard copies, additional information and to coordinate your local actions with other supporters. Contact Patrick Reinsborough at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or call us in San Francisco, USA at 415-398-4404.
U'wa Defense Working Group Members:
Amazon Watch, Action Resource Center, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, EarthWays Foundation, International Law Project for Human Environmental & Economic Defense, Project Underground, Rainforest Action Network, Sol Communications
4.2. Systematic Killings Unleashed in Colombia to Make Place for a Dam
Excerpts of statement of the peasant communities in the area of Batata, Colombia:
THE PARAMILITARY ARE LAUNCHING A TERROR CAMPAIGN IN OUR LANDS
The paramilitary along with the army are putting under siege the peasants of Congo, Conguito, Murmullo Alto, Murmullo Bajo and La Sierpe in the area of Batata, in the department of Cordoba. With the help of lists [of people to be killed], assassinations, threats and restrictions in the access to food, they are imposing a terror campaign that has led several families to flee, to abandon their lands out of fear to become the victims of these death squads.
The threat for us are not only the incursions that they have made to the communities, killing people, giving threats and burning down our houses; the fear for us is permanent, now we cannot even go down to the market to buy things for our families. In the road to Batata they have installed checkpoints where military and paramilitary threaten us.
We the peasants of this area are distressed by the wave of assassinations and because this situation seems to be part of a project that has just started, consisting on expelling us from our lands so that the state can take possession of them and the company Urra can continue its projected dam.
The paramilitary groups act coordinated with the army brigade XI of Montería and with the complicity of the mayor of Tierralta, Hector Acosta, land-owner and cattle rancher; also the electricity corporation Urra is participating; the paramilitary themselves tell us that we should leave our lands because an environmental park has to be created on the banks of the reservoir of Urra's dam, they have told us that the Urra corporation is funding their operation in order to use our lands without having to pay for them.
On April 11 the paramilitary/military went into the Batata area and after gathering and threatening all people, saying that they would burn down their communities, they picked some people and took them away; they are since then missing. They are: Vicente Salcedo, 45 years old, peasant and carpenter, father of five children; Juan Salcedo, 35 years old, peasant; and Ms. Enidia Monterrosa, 40 years old, mother of two daughters, who lived in the outskirts of Batata. After picking their victims they left but on the road they met Luis Pérez, 50 years old peasant and father of eight children; they killed him by shots in the head.
On July 25 the paramilitary/military went again into the communities and after threatening the population, they killed Carlos Cipriani, a 35 years old handicapped man; they cut him into pieces and put them into a bag; they also assassinated Eduardo Hoyos, 20 years old.
On August 23 the paramilitary/military went into the community El Conguito; after taking everybody out and burning down three houses, they continued towards Alto Murmullo. On the way they met Luis Pérez Arroyo, 25 year old peasant father of four children; they tortured him and cut off his head. In Alto Murmullo they simulated a fight with the guerilla and killed Carmelo Pérez. They later went to the house of Ms. Blanca Jaramillo, 50 years old and mother of three sons. They took everyone out of the house and shooted at them; John Jairo lost one leg and Moreno a hand. They pretended to be dead and nothing more than that happened to them, but the paramilitary burned down the house of Ms. Blanca before leaving, as well as the house of Rafael Pérez, another peasant. The radio and the press said that they were guerrilleros who had died in a fight with the army.
In the meantime we are still threatened even if we go down to the only market where we can go shopping and people point us with their fingers only because our lands are in a place where an economic project is planned. This is the true reason for all the assassinations and for the threat that they will continue; we are enduring the paramilitary onslaught and know who is behind it, well-known people of the area like Emilio Gómez, a trader who lives in Montería, Nando Gómez, brother of Emilio Gómez, and Jairo Morelos, cattle rancher of Tierralta; they have publicly shouted that they will kill all the inhabitants of the region.
We want to ask the International Community for support and solidarity so that the displacement that is about to happen gets stopped and that the massacre gets discontinued; the paramilitary themselves say that they have a list of 17 people to be killed; we are letting the Colombia state know all this so that it avoids this peasant bloodbath and this new displacement in our country.
Signed by the communities: Alto Murmullo, La Sierpe, Congo, Conguito
Zona Rural de Batata, October 18 1999
(end of the communique of the peasant communities)
PLEASE WRITE TO ANDRES PASTRANA DEMANDING:
* AN IMMEDIATE END TO THE ATTROCITIES COMMITTED TO THE PEASANTS OF THE BATATA REGION,
* THE IMPRISIONMENT OF ALL PARAMILITARY GANGS
* TRIAL AND EXEMPLARY PUNISHMENT TO THE ARMY OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN THESE CRIMES AND THE MAYOR OF TIERRALTA, HECTOR ACOSTA.
Presidente Andres Pastrana; Casa Presidencial, Bogota, Colombia, fax +571.334.1940 (direct) or through the Colombian Embassy in your country. Please send a copy of the correspondence to <email@example.com> and <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
4.3. 18 Wounded in Honduran Peaceful March of Farmers, Indigenous and Black Communities
Bloodiest governmental repression of the decade in Honduras
On October 12, over 5,000 peaceful protesters marched in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, as part of the Latin-America-wide "Cry of the Excluded" (Grito de los Excluidos) and of the International Campaign for Land Reform of La Via Campesina. The demonstration, composed of farmers' organisations, indigenous peoples, black communities and environmental organisations, demanded a true land reform and opposed the approval of article 107 which would enable foreign investors to acquire land in the coastal area, where indigenous and black communities live.
Indigenous and Black organisations gathered at the Spanish Embassy in Tegucigalpa, to protest 507 years of conquest, drawing attention to on-going and systemic violations of numerous economic, social, cultural and political rights of a majority of Hondurans.
They later joined farmers' movements and other popular organisations at the Supreme Court where documents were delivered to Court officials demanding land reform, while others assembled outside in a festive atmosphere with music and speeches. The demonstration proceeded to the Security Ministry, where the protesters demanded justice and punishment for the assassination of several opposition and farmers' leaders.
Around noon, when the mobilisation arrived near the Presidential Palace, the march was prevented from approaching by more than 100 police and soldiers in riot gear and the Presidential Honour Guard, sent by the authoritarian and pretentious president Carlos Flores to avoid that the march arrives to his palace. March leaders were negotiating with governmental officials for more than an hour under a pressing heat and sun, when a truckload of army special forces called "Cobras" literally drove through the crowd scattering the marchers and hitting people, including elderly and women.
The soldiers jumped from the truck, some landing on top of marchers. A pushing match started and the first tear gas canisters were soon fired into the crowd. Panic ensued and many ran, some falling on top of others. For those who stayed near the police line, the shoving match got brutal. As the police and soldiers swung their batons causing severe injuries, a small group of protesters began throwing stones. Soldiers then escalated the violence with hundreds of rounds of semi-automatic gunfire. Eighteen marchers were injured, including various bullet wounds and multiple leg and spinal fractures. One Lenca indigenous man lost his eye from a shot to his face.
After these deplorable events, which will be remembered as the most repressive governmental response to peaceful protest in recent memory, the marchers still managed to get together again and continued towards the Land Reform Institute (INA) and the National Congress, where the march ended.
The Honduran government is legally proceeding against 35 march leaders, accused of inciting riot and injuring nine soldiers. The government immediately initiated a venomous campaign in the press against the marchers, especially in La Tribuna, a newspaper owned by President Carlos Flores. "International agitators" are also blamed for being behind the protest.
Please write to the Honduran president to express outrage at the repression of the peaceful protest by farmers', indigenous and black communities' organisations and at the attempt to criminalise their leaders for what is obviously just the consequence of authoritarian and anti-democratic repression on the side of the security forces. Urge that reparations be paid to the wounded. Write to Ingeniero Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé Presidente, Republica de Honduras, Tel. (+504) 221-4547, Fax: (+504) 235-6949 or 235-66-08.
Copies of correspondence should also go to:
* Consejo Coordinador de Organizaciones Campesinas de Honduras, (COCOCH - where the international secretariat of La Via Campesina is situated), Apartado Postal 3628, Tegucigalpa, MDC. Honduras. Telefax: (504) 235 9915 (direct), Tel: (504) 232-2198, email <email@example.com>, http://www.sdnhon.org.hn/via
* CONPAH, Confederacion de Pueblos Autoctonos de Honduras. T/F:011-504-225-4925. Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
* Guatemala Partners / Rights Action, 1830 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA. Tel. (1-202) 783-1123, fax (1-202) 483-6730, email <email@example.com>.
4.4. News from the Landless Workers' Movement of Brazil (MST)
Below you find information about the exoneration of the police officers responsible for the worst massacre of landless farmers in Brazil, about the Popular March for Brazil recently organised by the MST and other grassroots movements of that country, and about a recent case of human rights violation in Parana.Excerpts of the article "Brazilian Police Verdict Exposes 'Open Wound'" published by The Washington Post, August 26, 1999:
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 25--Brazil's justice system, long criticized as corrupt and inefficient, has again touched off national and international furor following a jury verdict last week that exonerated three police officials accused in connection with the slaying of 19 landless workers in 1996.
Human rights activists, government officials and members of Brazil's landless workers movement had been optimistic about a guilty verdict--unusual in a country whose police, known as some of most venal and violent in the world, are rarely punished for their crimes.
The lead prosecutor, scheduled to try another 150 officers who allegedly took part in the killings, quit the case in protest. Legal experts say that a not-guilty verdict in this first trial has made it virtually impossible to convict the remaining defendants.
"This is a case that speaks of an open wound in Brazilian history," said Nilo Batista, a prominent lawyer who helped the prosecution in the case. A guilty verdict "would have been an advance, but it wasn't."
The killings occurred when military police clashed with hundreds of landless workers who had decided to march to the governor's office to protest their plight. They were part of a movement that has become increasingly powerful in this sprawling country, where the wealthy and near-wealthy own 90 percent of the land.
After several hours of tense negotiations between the government and protesters, police were called in to smash the demonstration. They arrived with revolvers, rifles and automatic weapons; the workers, for the most part, carried only sickles.
Shots split the air, and when things had calmed 40 minutes later, 19 protesters lay dead. Some of them had been shot point-blank. Others apparently had been hacked to death with their own sickles.
Police investigators committed a slew of errors within the first days after the killings that ultimately made it virtually impossible to tell which officers did the shooting, human rights activists charge. Police didn't get witnesses to try to identify officers who were present, didn't check officers' hands and clothes for gunpowder residue and failed to secure information about the weapons officers carried, making ballistics tests impossible, the activists say. [End of excerpts from article.]
Message to the Brazilian people issued by the MST on August 19, 1999:
This morning the officials of the military police Mario Colares Pantoja, Jose Maria de Oliveira and Raimundo Almendra Lameira were exonerated of the accusation of having participated in the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajas, on April 17 1996. This decision ashames the country and makes us orphans of justice.
Once more it becomes evident that the only use of the Juridical Power is to punish workers, the poor and the marginalised. In the rare occasions when the representatives of the elites or those who are at their service are in the bench of the accused, impunity rules.
For us they were not exonerated. There is definitive evidence to prove that they are directly responsible for the assassination of 19 landless rural workers. The decision of the judge is simply a guarantee of impunity for those who commit criminal acts against workers.
This decision is the last chapter of a forgery that already started in the first days after the conflict took place. The authorities of police, justice and government did their best to make the collection of evidence against the criminals as difficult as possible, to guarantee impunity from the beginning. Hence, the decision of the judge is not an isolated act. He was simply one more actor in this theatre play in which the final act, of impunity, was already foreseen.
Today, with this decision of the judge Ronaldo do Vale, the one sitting in the bench of the criminals is not anymore just the military officials. It is the Juridical Power. We will hence go through all higher instances of the Juridical Power in the hope that this act of injustice will be repaired. The manifestations of the Brazilian population and of the international public opinion, protesting against this absurd decision of the judge, attest the need to continue the struggle to bring justice to our country.
National Direction of the MST [end of the statement of the MST]
This deplorable verdict reflects the continuing situation of impunity in the state of Para, the most violent region of the country, where hundreds of peasants have been killed over land conflicts in the past two decades. Nationally, since 1985, 1,181 have been killed in land conflicts; in only 86 cases has there been trials and in those trials, only a total of seven intellectual authors have been convicted.
The public prosecutor responsible for the case has identified several irregularities, including manipulation of the jurors and intimidation of the witnesses (including numerous death threats) and will appeal the verdict. Several rural labour rights organisations, as well as the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) have protested the way in which the trial has been conducted. The president of the CNBB, dom Jayme Chemello, said that what he found strange was that the military police are using the plea of self- defense: "It is very strange to use machine guns in an act of self-defense. It is a very complicated argument because there were no deaths among the police to legitimate such a claim."
As the Human Rights Department of the MST had declared in a statement to the international public opinion in August 2, 1999, '...we need public support, as well as international presence at the trial. The international community has been very instrumental in bringing attention to this case so far. Your continuing support will be very important in our struggle for justice.' Please send letters in support of a new trial to:
1. Tribunal de Justiça do Estado do Pará. Fax: +55-21-91 241 2970, email <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>
2. Presidência da República, Fax: +55-21-61 322 2314, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
3. Ministério da Justiça, fax: +55-21-61 321 1565, email <email@example.com>
4. INCRA - Raul Jungman, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
5. Governador Almir Gabriel, Pará, fax: +55 - (0)91-248 - 0133
Please send copies of all correspondence to <email@example.com>
LETTER OF THE ASSEMBLY OF GRASSROOTS FIGHTERS
After walking more than 1.600 Km, 1.100 men and women, grassroots fighters, coming from 23 states, linked with different social movements, arrived to Brasilia. On the way, in schools, churches and associations of all kinds, they spoke for and with more than 200 thousand people. They were seen by many more. Their disciplined mobilisation in roads and cities transformed the pedagogy of the discourse into the pedagogy of the example, whichis much more sincere and efficient. The image of the struggle became clear, unequivocal and direct. It was the Popular March for Brazil.
The support of the people to the marchers was extraordinary: we left Rio de Janeiro the 26th of July with food for one week, and from then onwards, until the 7th of October, society sustained us. We practised voluntary work. We learnt to be more perseverant. We came to know ourselves better.
At our arrival, thousands of friends joined us. We entered together into the capital of the country, in a moving demonstration, that we will never forget. We remained in assembly during three days, debating a new project for Brazil. We are part of the Popular Consultation.
We saw, during the whole march, that the people are not willing to remain subjugated to the current policies. The work of deconstruction of the Nation has been exposed, without veils, in front of everyone's eyes. Everybody perceives that Brazil does not have a government that helps society to organise itself to increase the collective well-being and that represents the interests of the country in the international system. The government has become an agent to promote crisis and inequality, since it has chosen to represent, within Brazil, the interests of the countries and economic interests that dominate the international system.
Since the links between government and society are broken, Brazil has been propelled into an unprecedented crisis. The productive sector is paying the price of a prolonged stagnation; the economy has never been so vulnerable to external pressures; the steering of economic policy has been handed over to a foreign institution, the International Monetary Fund; the State has lost its capac