PGA Bulletin


PGA Bulletin
Number 1, March 1997

Table of contents:

1. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee
2. Peoples' Global Action Manifesto
3. Plans of action


. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee

(this does not belong to the Bulletin)
Invitation to the Conference
Demonstration 25.2. (Pictures)
Impressionen von der Konferenz (de)
PGA - call for global action in Europe

Friends of the world,

Together with people's movements from all continents (more than 300 delegates from 71 countries), we gathered in Geneva 23rd to 25th February to discuss joint actions against World Trade Organisation (WTO), "free" trade and corporate rule.

We shared our anger when witnessing the devastating social and environmental effects of globalisation, promoted by WTO and other institutions catering to the interests of transnational capital, such as the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, and regional "free" trade agreements like NAFTA, APEC and Maastricht We also shared our hopes and ideals, our strategies for constructing alternative worlds beyond corporate control.

We met with teachers hungerstriking against privatisation of all public education in Argentina; women organising against quasi-slavery in the "Maquillas" factories of Mexico, Bangladesh, Salvador, and Nicaragua; women's rights activists; farmers struggling against globalisation in India, Philippines, Brazil, Estonia, Norway, Honduras, France, Spain, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Senegal, Mozambique, Togo, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia and many other countries; Ogoni, Maori, Maya, Aymara, U'wa and other indigenous peoples, fighting for their cultural rights and physical survival; students struggling against nuclear power or the repression of striking workers in Ukraine and South Korea; postal workers from Canada resisting privatisation, militants against "un-free"trade from the United States, environmentalists, unemployed, fisherfolk, anti-racists, peace mobilisers, animal rights activists... Such a world-wide meeting of women and men of grassroots movements was an extraordinary experience, bringing new vision, hope and determination to us all.

For fighters of such movements it was easy to see that the same "free" trade blackmail is at work when "Maquila" factories cross borders overnight as when transnational corporations delocalise from France to Scotland; that the same agribusiness monopolies are driving out small farmers in Mexico, France, Africa, India, Switzerland and the Philippines; that the same transnationals are transforming public services into private profit in Argentina, Canada, France and Eastern Europe. Despite the huge material differences, struggles in privileged and under-privileged parts of the corporate empire have more and more in common, setting the stage for a new and stronger sort of solidarity. (The conference itself, largely housed in squatted halls and houses, depending entirely on the freely offered work of the genevan "alternative" sector, was an example of this.)
This conference showed the energy that the unification of these diverse struggles could untap. Struggles must always be rooted in the local and particular. At the same time there is a more general, global problem. Just daring to meet and name it gives us all more courage to refuse the "realistic" solutions. The struggles are local, but together they take on a new and deeper meaning. We can - and must - aim for the head of the monster.

It is difficult to describe the warmth and the depth of the encounters we had here. The global enemy is relatively well known, but the global resistance that it meets rarely passes through the filter of the medias. And here we met the people who had shut down whole cities in Canada with general strikes, risked their lives to seize lands in Latin America, destroyed the seat of Cargill in India or Novartis's transgenic maize in France. The discussions, the concrete planning for action, the stories of struggle, the personalities, the enthusiastic hospitality of the Genevan squatters, the impassioned accents of the women and men facing the police outside the WTO building, all sealed an alliance between us. Scattered around the world again, we will not forget. We remain together. This is our common struggle.

Delegates committed themselves with enthusiasm to the central goal of the conference: a global call for decentralised actions all around the world against WTO, to protest the second WTO Ministerial Conference (May 18-20th), a conference which will also "celebrate" the 50th anniversary of the first "free" trade agreements of GATT/WTO. A press group formed of grassroots activists from different parts regions, will be present in Geneva to centralise information and to inform the international press and the PGA network about protests around the world. Resistance to the "new world order" will also be global!
The Geneva welcoming committee thanks every delegate, once again, for coming. Your presence also gave us in Geneva a unique occasion to come together, to live concretely and collectively (be it by cooking a meal or carrying mattresses!) our dream of a world with less "free" trade and more free exchanges. We are happy and proud to have been able to receive you.

The Geneva Welcoming Committee

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(Working draft - deadline for submission of comments and amendments: 30 April 1998. Mail your comments, if possible in English and Spanish, to: agpweb (AT) or fax them to +41-22-344 4731)

[Note from the web editors: very few comments having reached us until the deadline above, it was decided to leave the manifesto as it is, until the second PGA conference in Bangalore, India, which is to take place in the first days of April 1999. Instead, we document and encourage a discussion on the manifesto, in preparation for rewriting it at the conference in Bangalore.]

We cannot take communion from the altars of a dominant culture which confuses price with value and converts people and countries into merchandise.
-- Eduardo Galeano
If you come only to help me, you can go back home. But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival, then maybe we can work together.
-- Aboriginal woman

Part 1

Economic globalisation, power and the "race tothe bottom"
Exploitation, labour and livelihoods
Gender oppression
The indigenous peoples' fight for survival
Oppressed ethnic groups
Onslaught on nature and agriculture
Knowledge and technology
Education and youth
Migration and discrimination

Part 2



We live in a time in which capital, with the help of internationalagencies like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International MonetaryFund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and other institutions, is shaping nationalpolicies in order to strengthen its global control over political, economicand cultural life.

Capital has always been global. Its boundless drive for expansion andprofit recognises no limits. From the slave trade of earlier centuriesto the imperial colonisation of peoples, lands and cultures across the globe, capitalist accumulation has always fed on the blood and tears ofthe peoples of the world. This destruction and misery has been restrainedonly by grassroots resistance.

Today, capital is deploying a new strategy to assert its power and neutralisepeoples' resistance. Its name is economic globalisation, and it consistsin the dismantling of national limitations to trade and to the free movementof capital.

The effects of economic globalisation spread through the fabric of societiesand communities of the world, integrating their peoples into a single giganticsystem aimed at the extraction profit and the control of peoples and nature.Words like "globalisation", "liberalisation" and "deregulation" just disguisethe growing disparities in living conditions between elites and massesin both privileged and "peripheral" countries.

The newest and perhaps the most important phenomenon in the globalisationprocess is the emergence of trade agreements as key instruments of accumulationand control. The WTO is by far the most important institution for evolvingand implementing these trade agreements. It has become the vehicle of choicefor transnational capital to enforce global economic governance. The UruguayRound vastly expanded the scope of the multilateral trading system (i.e.the agreements under the aegis of the WTO) so that it no longer constitutesonly trade in manufactured goods. The WTO agreements now also cover tradein agriculture, trade in services, intellectual property rights, and investmentmeasures. This expansion has very significant implications for economicand non-economic matters. For example, the General Agreement on Trade inServices will have far-reaching effects on cultures around the world. Similarly,the TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) agreement and unilateralpressures, especially on biodiversity-rich countries, are forcing thesecountries to adopt new legislations establishing property rights over forms of life, with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and food security.The multilateral trading system, embodied in the WTO, has a tremendousimpact on the shaping of national economic and social policies, and henceon the scope and nature of development options.

Trade agreements are also proliferating at the regional level. NAFTA(North American Free Trade Agreement) is the prototype of a regional legally-bindingagreement involving privileged and underprivileged countries, and its modelis sought to be extended to South America. APEC (Asia-Pacific EconomicCooperation) is another model with both kinds of countries involved, andit is being increasingly used to force new agreements into the frameworkof the WTO. The Maastricht Treaty is of course the main example of a legally-bindingagreement among privileged countries. Regional trade agreements among underprivilegedcountries, such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), SADC(Southern African Development Cooperation), SAFTA (South Asian Free TradeAgreement) and MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market), have also emerged. Allthese regional agreements consist of the transfer of decision-making powerfrom the national level to regional institutions which are even more distantfrom people and less democratic than the nation-state.

As though this was not enough, a new treaty is being promoted by the privileged countries, the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) towiden the rights of foreign investors far beyond their current positionsin most countries and to severely curtail the rights and powers of governmentsto regulate the entry, establishment and operations of foreign companiesand investors. This is currently also the most important attempt to extendglobalisation and "economic liberalisation". MAI would abolish the powerand the legitimate sovereign right of peoples to determine their own economic,social, and cultural policies.

All these institutions and agreements share the same goals: providingmobility for goods, services and capital, increasing transnational capital'scontrol over peoples and nature, transferring power to distant and undemocraticinstitutions, foreclosing the possibility to develop community-based andself-reliant economies, and restricting peoples' freedom to construct societiesbased on human values.

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Economic globalisation, power and the "race to the bottom"

Economic globalisation has given birth to new forms of accumulationand power. The accumulation takes place on a global scale, at increasingspeed, controlled by transnational corporations and investors. Whilecapital has gone global, redistribution policies remain the responsibilityof national governments, which are unable, and most of the times unwilling,to act against the interests of transnational capital.

This asymmetry is provoking an accelerating redistribution of powerat global level, strengthening what is usually referred to as "corporatepower". In this peculiar political system, global capital determines (withthe help of "informal" and extremely influential lobby groups, such asthe World Economic Forum) the economic and social agenda on a world-widescale. These corporate lobby groups give their instructions to governmentsin the form of recommendations, and governments follow them, since the few that refuse to obey the "advice" of corporate lobby groups find theircurrencies under attack by speculators and see the investors pulling out.The influence of corporate lobby groups has been strengthened by regionaland multilateral agreements. With their help, neo-liberal policies arebeing imposed all over the world.

These neo-liberal policies are creating social tensions at global levelsimilar to the ones witnessed at national level during the first stagesof the industrialisation: while the number of billionaires grows, moreand more people around the world find themselves in a system that offersthem no place in production and no access to consumption. This desperation,combined with the free mobility of capital, provides transnational investorsthe best possible environment to pit workers and governments against eachother. The result is a "race to the bottom" in social and environmentalconditions and the dismantling of redistribution policies (progressivetaxation, social security systems, reduction of working time, etc). A viciouscircle is created, wherein "effective demand" concentrates increasinglyin the hands of a transnational elite, while more and more people cannotmeet their basic needs.

This process of world-wide accumulation and exclusion amounts to a globalattack on elementary human rights, with very visible consequences: misery,hunger, homelessness, unemployment, deteriorating health conditions, landlessness,illiteracy, sharpened gender inequalities, explosive growth of the "informal"sector and the underground economy (particularly production and trade ofdrugs), the destruction of community life, cuts in social services andlabour rights, increasing violence at all levels of society, acceleratingenvironmental destruction, growing racial, ethnic and religious intolerance,massive migration (for economic, political and environmental reasons),strengthened military control and repression, etc.

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Exploitation, labour and livelihoods

The globalisation of capital has to a very significant extentdispossessed workers of their ability to confront or bargain with capitalin a national context. Most of the conventional trade unions (particularlyin the privileged countries) have accepted their defeat by the global economyand are voluntarily giving up the conquests won by the blood and tearsof generations of workers. In compliance with the requirements of capital,they have traded solidarity for "international competitiveness" and labourrights for "flexibility of the labour market". Now they are actively advocatingthe introduction of a "social" clause in the multilateral trading system,which would give privileged countries a tool for selective, one-sided andneo-colonial protectionism, with the effect of increasing poverty insteadof attacking it at its root.

Right-wing groups in privileged countries often blame "social dumping"from underprivileged countries for the rising unemployment and the worseninglabour conditions. They say that southern peoples are hijacking northerncapital with the help of cheap labour, weak or non-existent labour andenvironmental regulations and low taxes, and that southern exports areforcing northern producers out of the market. While there is a certaindegree of relocation to underprivileged countries (concentrated in specificsectors like textiles and microelectronics), the teenage girls who sacrificetheir health doing unpaid overtime in transnational sweatshops for miserablesalaries can hardly be blamed for the social havoc created by free mobilityof goods and capital. Moreover, most relocation happens between rich countries,with only a fraction of foreign investment going to underprivileged countries(and even some investment flowing to the north from countries traditionallyconsidered as "underdeveloped"). And the threat of relocation to anotherrich country (by far the most usual kind of relocation) is as effectivein blackmailing workers as the threat to relocate to an underprivilegedcountry. Finally, the main cause of unemployment in privileged countriesis the introduction of "rationalisation" technologies, over which underprivilegedpeoples certainly have no influence at all. In short, increasing exploitationis solely the responsibility of capitalists, not of peoples.

Many advocates of "development" welcome the free movement capital from privileged to underprivileged countries as a positive contribution to the improvement of the living conditions of the poor, since foreign investment produces jobs and livelihoods. They forget that the positive social impact of foreign investment is limited by its very nature, since transnational corporations will only keep their money in underprivileged countries as long as the policies of these countries enable them to continue exploiting the misery and desperation of the population. The financial markets impose extreme punishments to the countries that dare to adopt any kind of policy that could eventually result in improved living standards, as exemplified by the abrupt end to the shy redistribution policies adopted in 1981 by Mitterand in France. Also, the Mexican crisis of 1994 and the recent crises in East Asia, although presented by the media as the result of technical mismanagement, are good examples of the impact of a corporate economic rule which gains strength every day both in underprivileged and privileged countries, conditioning each and every aspect of their social and economic policies.

Those who believe in the beneficial social effects of "free" marketalso forget that the impact of transnational capital is not limited tothe creation of exploitative jobs. Most of the foreign direct investment(two thirds according to the United Nations) in both privileged and underprivilegedcountries consists of transnational corporations (TNCs) taking over nationalenterprises, which most typically results in the destruction of jobs. AndTNCs never come alone with their money: they also bring foreign productsinto the country, sweeping great numbers of local firms and farms out ofthe market, or forcing them to produce under even more inhuman conditions.Finally, most of the foreign investment provokes the unsustainable exploitationof natural resources, which results in the irretrievable dispossessionof the livelihoods of diverse communities of indigenous peoples, farmers,ethnic groups etc.

We reject the idea that "free" trade creates employment and increaseswelfare, and the assumption that it can contribute to the alleviation ofpoverty. But we also very clearly reject the right-wing alternative ofa stronger national capitalism, as well as the fascist alternative of anauthoritarian state to take over central control from corporations. Ourstruggles aim at taking back control of the means of production from the hands of both transnational and national capital, in order to create free,sustainable and community-controlled livelihoods, based on solidarity andpeoples' needs and not on exploitation and greed.

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Gender oppression

Globalisation and neo-liberal policies build on and increaseexisting inequalities, including gender inequality. The gendered systemof power in the globalised economy, like most traditional systems, encouragesthe exploitation of women as workers, as maintainers of the family andas sexual objects.

Women are responsible for creating, educating, feeding, clothing anddisciplining young people to prepare them to become part of the globallabour force. They are used as cheap and docile labour for the most exploitativeforms of employment, as exemplified in the maquilas of the textileand microelectronics industry. Forced out of their homelands by the povertycaused by globalisation, many women seek employment in foreign countries,often as illegal immigrants, subjected to terrifying working conditionsand insecurity. The world-wide trade in women's bodies has become a majorelement of world commerce and includes children as young as 10. They areused by the global economy through diverse forms of exploitation and commodification.

Women are expected to be actors only in their households. Although thishas never been the case, this expectation has been used to deny women arole in public affairs. The economic system also makes use of these genderroles to identify women as the cause of many social and environmental problems.Hence, women having too many babies (rather than the rich consuming toomany resources) is seen as the cause of the global environmental crisis.Similarly, the fact that women get low wages, since their remunerationare supposed to be only supplementary income for the household, is usedto blame them for the unemployment of men and the reduction in their wagelevels. As a result, women are used as scapegoats, declared guilty forcreating the same misery that is oppressing them, instead of pointing atthe global capital as responsible for social and environmental havoc. Thisideological stigmatisation adds to the physical violence suffered on adaily basis by women all over the planet.

Patriarchy and the gender system rest firmly on the idea of the naturalnessand exclusivity of heterosexuality. Most of the social systems and structuresviolently reject any other form of sexual expression or activity, and thislimitation of freedom is used in order to perpetuate patriarchal genderroles. Globalisation, although indirectly contributing to the strugglesfor women's and sexual liberation by introducing them in very oppressivesocieties, also strengthens the patriarchy at the root of violence againstwomen and against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

The elimination of patriarchy and the end of all forms of gender discriminationrequires an open commitment against the global market. Similarly, it isvital that those struggling against global capital understand and confrontthe exploitation and marginalisation of women and participate in the struggleagainst homophobia. We need to develop new cultures that represent realalternatives to these old and new forms of oppression.

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The indigenous peoples' fight for survival

Indigenous peoples and nationalities have a long history ofresistance against the destruction provoked by capitalism. Today, theyare confronted with the neo-liberal globalisation project as an instrumentof transnational and financial capital for neo-colonisation and extermination.These new actors of the globalisation process are violently invading the last refuges of indigenous peoples, violating their territories, habitatsand resources, destroying their ways of life, and often perpetrating theirgenocide. The nation states are permitting and actively encouraging theseviolations in spite of their commitment to respect indigenous peoples'rights, reflected in diverse declarations, agreements and conventions.

Corporations are stealing ancient knowledge and patenting it for theirown gain and profit. This means that indigenous people and the rest ofhumanity will have to pay for access to the knowledge that will have thusbeen commodified. Furthermore, the indigenous peoples themselves are beingpatented by pharmaceutical corporations and the US administration, underthe auspices of the Human Genome Diversity Programme. We oppose the patentingof all life forms and the corporate monopolistic control of seed, medicinesand traditional knowledge systems and human genomes.

The fights of indigenous peoples to defend their lands (including the subsoil) and their forms of living, are leading to a growing repressionagainst them and to the militarisation of their territories, forcing themto sacrifice their lives or their liberty. This struggle will continueuntil the right of indigenous peoples to territorial autonomy is fullyrespected throughout the world.

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Oppressed ethnic groups

The black communities of African origin in the Americas sufferedfor centuries a violent and inhuman exploitation, as well as physical annihilation.Their labour force was used as a fundamental tool for accumulation of capital,both in America and Europe. Faced with this oppression, the Afro-Americanshave created community-based processes of organisation and cultural resistance.Currently the black communities are suffering the effects of "development"megaprojects in their territories and the invasion of their lands by biglandowners, which lead to massive displacement, misery and cultural alienation,and many times to repression and death.

A similar situation is being suffered by other peoples, like Gypsies,Kurds, Saharouis, etc. All these peoples are forced to struggle for their right to live in dignity by nation-states that repress their identity andautonomy, and impose on them a forced incorporation into a homogeneoussociety. Many of these groups are viewed as a threat by the dominant powers,since they are reclaiming and practising their right to cultural diversityand autonomy.

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Onslaught on nature and agriculture

Land, water, forest, wildlife, aquatic life and mineral resourcesare not commodities, but our life support. For decades the powers thathave emerged from money and market have swelled their profits and tightenedtheir control of politics and economics by usurping these resources, atthe cost of the lives and livelihoods of vast majorities around the world.For decades the World Bank and the IMF, and now the WTO, in alliance withnational governments and corporate powers, have facilitated manoeuvringsto appropriate the environment. The result is environmental devastation,tragic and unmanageable social displacement, and the wiping out of culturaland biological diversity, much of it irretrievably lost without compensationto those reliant on it.

The disparities provoked within and between countries by national andglobal capital have widened and deepened as the rich spirit away the naturalresources from communities and farmers, farm labourers, fishworkers, tribaland indigenous populations, women, the socially disadvantaged - beatingdown into the earth the already downtrodden. The centralised managementof natural resources imposed by trade and investment agreements does notleave space for intergenerational and intragenerational sustainability.It only serves the agenda of the powers that have designed and ratifiedthose agreements: to accumulate wealth and power.

Unsustainable and capital-intensive technologies have played a majorrole in corporations' onslaught on nature and agriculture. Green revolutiontechnologies have caused social and environmental havoc wherever they havebeen applied, creating destitution and hunger instead of eliminating them.Today, modern biotechnology is emerging, together with patents on life,as one of the most powerful and dangerous weapons of corporations to takeover the control of the food systems all over the world. Genetic engineeringand patents on life must be resisted, since their potential social andenvironmental impact is the greatest in the history of humanity.

Waging struggles against the global capitalist paradigm, the underprivilegedwork towards the regeneration of their natural heritage and the rebuildingof integrated, egalitarian communities. Our vision is of a decentralisedeconomy and polity based on communities' rights to natural resources andto plan their own development, with equality and self-reliance as the basicvalues. In place of the distorted priorities imposed through global designsin sectors such as transport, infrastructure and energy, and energy-intensivetechnology, they assert their right to life in the fulfilment of the basicneeds of everyone, excluding the greed of the consumerist minority. Respectingtraditional knowledge and cultures consonant with the values of equality,justice, and sustainability, we are committed to evolving creative waysto use and fairly distribute our natural resources.

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Another important aspect of globalisation, as orchestratedby WTO and other international agencies, is the commercialisation and commodificationof culture, the appropriation of diversity in order to co-opt it and integrateit into the process of capitalist accumulation. This process of homogenisationby the media not only contributes to the breakdown of the cultural andsocial networks in local communities, but also destroys the essence andmeaning of culture.

Cultural diversity not only has an immeasurable value of its own, asreflections of human creativity and potential; it also constitutes a fundamentaltool for resistance and self-reliance. Hence, cultural homogenisation hasbeen one of the most important tools for central control since colonialism.In the past the elimination of cultural diversity was mainly accomplishedby the Church and by the imposition of colonial languages. Today mass mediaand corporate consumerist culture are the main agents of commodificationand homogenisation of cultural diversity. The result of this process isnot only a major loss of humanity's heritage: it also creates an alarmingdependence on the capitalist culture of mass consumption, a dependencethat is much deeper in nature and much harder to eliminate than economicor political dependence.

Control over culture must be taken out of corporate hands and reclaimedby communities. Self-reliance and freedom are only possible on the basisof a lively cultural diversity that enables peoples to independently determineeach and every aspect of their lives. We are deeply committed to culturalliberation in all areas of life, from food to films, from music to media.We will contribute with our direct action to the dismantlement of corporateculture and the creation of spaces for genuine creativity.

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Knowledge and technology

Knowledge and technology are not neutral or value-free. Thedomination of capital is partly based on its control over both. Westernscience and technology have made very important contributions to humankind,but their domination has swept away very diverse and valuable knowledgesystems and technologies based on centuries-long experience.

Western science is characterised by the production of simplified modelsof reality for experimental purposes; hence, the reductionist scientificmethod has an extremely limited capacity to produce useful knowledge aboutcomplex and chaotic systems like agriculture. Traditional knowledge systemsand knowledge-production methods are far more effective, since they arebased on generations of direct observation of and interaction with unsimplifiedcomplex systems. Therefore, capital-intensive, science-based technologiesinvariably fail to achieve their goals in complex systems, and many timesprovoke the disarray of these systems, as green revolution technologies,modern dam technology and many other examples demonstrate.

Despite their many failures, capital-intensive technologies are systematicallytreated as superior to traditional, labour-intensive technologies. Thisideological discrimination results in unemployment, indebtedness and, mostimportant, in the loss of an invaluable body of knowledges and technologiesaccumulated during centuries. Traditional knowledge, often controlled bywomen, has till recently been rejected as "superstition" and "witchcraft"by western, mostly male, scientists and academics. Their "rationalism"and "modernisation" has for centuries aimed at destroying it irretrievably.However, pharmaceutical corporations and agribusiness have recently discoveredthe value and potential of traditional knowledge, and are stealing, patentingand commodifying it for their own gain and profit.
Capital-intensive technology is designed, promoted, commercialisedand imposed to serve the process of capitalist globalisation. Since the use of technologies has a very important influence on social and individuallife, peoples should have a free choice of, access to and control overtechnologies. Only those technologies which can be managed, operated andcontrolled by local peoples should be considered valid. Also, control ofthe way technology is designed and produced, its scopes and finalities,should be inspired by human principles of solidarity, mutual co-operationand common sense. Today, the principles underlying production of technologyare exactly the opposite: profit, competition, and the deliberate productionof obsolescence. Empowerment passes through people's control over the useand production of technology.

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Education and youth

The content of the present education system is more and moreconditioned by the demands of production as dictated by corporations. Theinterests and requirements of economic globalisation are leading to a growingcommodification of education. The diminishing public budgets in educationare encouraging the development of private schools and universities, whilethe labour conditions of people working in the public education sectorare being eroded by austerity and Structural Adjustment Programs. Increasingly,learning is becoming a process that intensifies inequalities in societies.Even the public education system, and most of all the university, is becominginaccessible for wide sectors of societies. The learning of humanities(history, philosophy, etc.) and the development of critical thinking isbeing discouraged in favour of an education subservient to the interestsof the globalisation process, where competitive values are predominant.Students increasingly spend more time in learning how to compete with eachother, rather than enhancing personal growth and building critical skillsand the potential to transform society.

Education as a tool for social change requires confrontational academicsand critical educators for all educational systems. Community-based educationcan provoke learning processes within social movements. The right to informationis essential for the work of social movements. Limited and unequal accessto language skills, especially for women, hinders participation in politicalactivity with other peoples. Building these tools is a way to reinforceand rebuild human values. Yet formal education is increasingly being commercialisedas a vehicle for the market place. This is done by corporate investmentin research and by the promotion of knowledge geared toward skills neededfor the market. The domination of mass media should be dissolved and theright to reproduce our own knowledges and cultures must be supported.

However, for many children throughout the world, the commodification of education is not an issue, since they are themselves being commodifiedas sexual objects and exploited labour, and suffering inhuman levels ofviolence. Economic globalisation is at the root of the daily nightmareof increasing numbers of exploited children. Their fate is the most horrible consequence of the misery generated by the global market.

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Globalisation is aggravating complex and growing crises that give rise to widespread tensions and conflicts. The need to deal with thisincreasing disorder is intensifying militarisation and repression (morepolice, arrests, jails, prisoners) in our societies. Military institutions,such as U.S.-dominated NATO, organising the other powers of the North,are among the main instruments upholding this unequal world order. Mandatoryconscription in many countries indoctrinates young people in order to legitimatemilitarism. Similarly, the mass media and corporate culture glorify the military and exalt the use of violence. There is also, behind facades ofdemocratic structures, an increasing militarisation of the nation-state,which in many countries makes use of faceless paramilitary groups to enforcethe interests of capital.

At the same time, the military-industrial complex, one of the main pillars of the global economic system, is increasingly controlled by huge privatecorporations. The WTO formally leaves defence matters to states, but the military sector is also affected by the drive for private profit.

We call for the dismantling of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction. The World Court of The Hague has recently declared that nuclearweapons violate international law and has called all the nuclear-weaponscountries to agree to dismantle them. This means that the strategy of NATO,based on the possible use of nuclear weapons, amounts to a crime againsthumanity.

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Migration and discrimination

The neo-liberal regime provides freedom for the movement of capital, while denying freedom of movement to human beings. Legal barriersto migration are being constantly reinforced at the same time that massivedestruction of livelihoods and concentration of wealth in privileged countriesuproot millions of people, forcing them to seek work far from their homes.Migrants are thus in more and more precarious and often illegal situations,even easier targets for their exploiters. They are then made scapegoats,against whom right wing politicians encourage the local population to venttheir frustrations. Solidarity with migrants is more important than ever.There are no illegal humans, only inhuman laws.

Racism, xenophobia, the caste system and religious bigotry are used to divide us and must be resisted on all fronts. We celebrate our diversityof cultures and communities, and place none above the other.

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The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions that promote globalisation and liberalisation want us to believe in the beneficial effectsof global competition. Their agreements and policies constitute directviolations of basic human rights (including civil, political, economic,social, labour and cultural rights) which are codified in internationallaw and many national constitutions, and ingrained in people's understandings of human dignity. We have had enough of their inhuman policies. We rejectthe principle of competitiveness as solution for peoples' problems. Itonly leads to the destruction of small producers and local economies. Neo-liberalismis the real enemy of economic freedom.

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Capitalism has slipped the fragile leash won through centuries of struggles in national contexts. It is keeping alive the nation-state only for the purposes of peoples' control and repression, while creating a new transnationalregulatory system to facilitate its global operation. We cannot confronttransnational capitalism with the traditional tools used in the nationalcontext. In this new, globalised world we need to invent new forms of struggle and solidarity, new objectives and strategies in our political work. Wehave to join forces to create diverse spaces of co-operation, equality,dignity, justice and freedom at a human scale, while attacking nationaland transnational capital, and the agreements and institutions that itcreates to assert its power.

There are many diverse ways of resistance against capitalist globalisation and its consequences. At an individual level, we need to transform ourdaily lives, freeing ourselves from market laws and the pursuit of privateprofit. At the collective level, we need to develop a diversity of forms of organisation at different levels, acknowledging that there is not asingle way of solving the problems we are facing. Such organisations have to be independent of governmental structures and economic powers, and basedon direct democracy. These new forms of autonomous organisation shouldemerge from and be rooted in local communities, while at the same timepractising international solidarity, building bridges to connect differentsocial sectors, peoples and organisations that are already fighting globalisationacross the world.

These tools for co-ordination and empowerment provide spaces for putting into practice a diversity of local, small-scale strategies developed bypeoples all over the world in the last decades, with the aim of delinkingtheir communities, neighbourhoods or small collectives from the globalmarket. Direct links between producers and consumers in both rural andurban areas, local currencies, interest-free credit schemes and similar instruments are the building blocks for the creation of local, sustainable,and self-reliant economies based on co-operation and solidarity ratherthan competition and profit. While the global financial casino heads atincreasing speed towards social and environmental disintegration and economicbreakdown, we the peoples will reconstruct sustainable livelihoods. Ourmeans and inspiration will emanate from peoples' knowledge and technology,squatted houses and fields, a strong and lively cultural diversity anda very clear determination to actively disobey and disrespect all the treatiesand institutions at the root of misery.

In the context of governments all over the world acting as the creatures and tools of capitalist powers and implementing neo-liberal policies withoutdebate among their own peoples or their elected representatives, the onlyalternative left for the people is to destroy these trade agreements andrestore for themselves a life with direct democracy, free from coercion,domination and exploitation. Direct democratic action, which carries with it the essence of non-violent civil disobedience to the unjust system,is hence the only possible way to stop the mischief of corporate statepower. It also has the essential element of immediacy. However we do notpass a judgement on the use of other forms of action under certain circumstances.

The need has become urgent for concerted action to dismantle the illegitimate world governing system which combines transnational capital, nation-states,international financial institutions and trade agreements. Only a globalalliance of peoples' movements, respecting autonomy and facilitating action-orientedresistance, can defeat this emerging globalised monster. If impoverishmentof populations is the agenda of neo-liberalism, direct empowerment of the peoples though constructive direct action and civil disobedience will bethe programme of the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and theWTO.

We assert our will to struggle as peoples against all forms of oppression.But we do not only fight the wrongs imposed on us. We are also committedto building a new world. We are together as human beings and communities,our unity deeply rooted in diversity. Together we shape a vision of a justworld and begin to build that true prosperity which comes from human empowerment,natural bounty, diversity, dignity and freedom.

Geneva, February-March 1998


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[3]. Plans of action


The following plans of action were drawn up in the First PGA conference, at the end of February. The list will be completed and regularly updated in the web page of the PGA (, where you will also find a form to communicate new actions. If you do not have access to the web, please contact: agpweb (AT)

The agitations against the WTO will start on the 1st of May with a national massive demonstration of at least 1/2 million farmers at one of the political centres of India, demanding that India quits the WTO. Professor Nanjundaswamy, president of the Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS) will coordinate this programme (, fax +91-80-3302171). The demonstration on the 1st of May will be preceded by a three-days strategy meeting of leaders of diverse movements of India, to discuss coordinated actions to achieve the end goal of getting India out of the WTO.

On the 1st of May several other cities will see massive mobilisation against the WTO. One of the main agitations will happen in Zurich, where the 1st of May committee has chosen the struggle against the WTO as the main topic for the mobilisations (which are the most important 1st of May mobilisations in Switzerland and one of the main ones in Europe). In several other cities similar plans are taking shape.

Actions in Geneva, 16th to 20th of May 1998:


* A big street party will take place in Geneva on Saturday the 16th, two days before the beginning of the conference, and parallel to the G8 meeting in Birmingham. The party will seize the city for the whole day. A special train is being planned from Italy to join the party. There will from two to three thousand farmers from UPS (the local small farmers union) selling local food on the street (although this might be postponed to Monday the 18th). There will also be people coming from all Swiss cities.

* There will be a March against Unemployment and Exclusion, leaving from several French cities to arrive to Geneva on the 15th. The march, organised by AC! (Act against Unemployment!), has the aim of participating in the actions against the WTO Ministerial Conference.

* A number of bicycle caravans will leave from the German cities Luechow (25th April), Dresden (23rd April) and Giessen (2nd May), will meet in Frankfurt on the 4th of May and head all together towards Geneva, to arrive on the 16th of May, just in time for the street party. The caravans, called "Money or Life?", will stop in several cities on the way (Hildesheim, Goettingen, Freiberg, Chemnitz, Gera, Jena, Erfurt, Haina, Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Basel, Aarau, Bern, Fribourg and Lausanne, probably also Wittingen, Wehnsen, Seesen, Gunkelrode, Saasen, Offenburg and Burgdorf) to do awareness-raising actions. Contact: WIWA Wendland, tel.: +49-5862-7460 or +49-5842-247, fax: +49-5861-2527, e-mail:

* On Sunday the 17th there will be a seminar for the local population and the guest activists. There will also be practical training on techniques of non-violent resistance to police repression.

* On Monday the 18th (the first day of the Ministerial Conference) there will be a "Peoples' Trade Day" in Geneva, which shall involve the blocking of several symbolic centres of global capitalism (multinationals, fast food restaurants, banks, etc) with small-scale, local trade consisting of direct links between consumers and producers. The Peoples' Trade Day will last the whole day, and will also involve blocking the normal traffic in the city.

* On the evening of Tuesday the 19th there will be a candle procession to the WTO building.

* On Wednesday the 20th (last day of the Ministerial Conference) there will be a silent procession to the WTO building. This procession, composed of people with their mouths covered and their hands tied on the back, will head towards the WTO building with the stated intention of entering and stopping the conference. They will only offer passive resistance to police repression.

* During the whole period from the 15th to the 20th there will be a press team formed of representatives of peoples' movements from all continents, collecting all kinds of material for the press (releases, picures, videos, etc) from Geneva and all other cities of the world and handing it to the press acredited to cover the Ministerial Conference. They will also organise three big press conferences with the main leaders of peoples' movements from all over the world.

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Other actions


* The World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers, which has been formed in 25 countries, is planning massive agitational programmes all over the world. Also, a world strike is being planned for the World Fisheries' Day, in November. These actions are being coordinated by Thomas Kocherry, President of the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers (, fax +91-471-501376).

* The Azadi Bachao Andolan (Save Freedom Movement) of India is planning to submit a memorandum to the president of India with 10 million signatures demanding the withdrawal of India from the WTO. Contact person: Tyagi Manoj (, fax +91-532-609407)

* In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, the Garment Workers Unity Forum will hold a massive demonstration against the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF. This action is being coordinated by Ms. Mushrefa Mishu (fax +8802-863057).

* Speakers' Tour in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka: In these countries, the level of awareness about the role of WTO is still rather low. Some prominent speakspersons from India will be touring these countries to participate in awareness-raising campaigns and discuss with movements and interested groups.

* Regional meeting in South Asia: it will take place sometime before the 18th of May.

* There will be "street parties" all over the world on Saturday the 16th of May, two days before the beginning of the WTO Ministerial Conference and during the G8 meeting in Birmingham. The list of cities that will participate in this global call for street parties is not completed yet, but it will definetely include Birmingham, London, Sydney and Lyon. Confirmation is still pending for around ten more cities.

* There will be a "No Trade Day" in several cities in the USA, where activists will block the transport of merchandise by railway, truck and plane.

* There will be actions in several Canadian cities from the 18th to the 20th of May, inlcuding information session, demonstrations and some direct actions.

* There will be a national meeting of peasants in Peru from the 18th to the 20th of May, which will include protests against the WTO in the programme.

* The black communities of Colombia are organising a national action on the 18th together with trade unions and indigenous peoples.


These are only the actions about which we are certain. More actions will be added to the list in the next weeks.


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