What really happened at the PGA Europe Wintermeeting

At 'les Tanneries', Dijon
Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 of March 2003


What should the PGA be?

The first session of the winter meeting began with a round of opinions on how people see PGA, what they think the network is and/or should be. There was a shared understanding of PGA as a communication tool for spreading information and contacts, and the further debate developed around the question of campaigns and actions taken within the PGA. Some people strongly opposed having any campaigns and actions in the explicit name of PGA, and the possible turning of PGA into a 'label' that would replicate outdated (political party)dynamics that they see as not being in the spirit of PGA. Others emphasised the importance of visibility for the network and the role of actions and campaigns as a vehicle for such visibility that would enable more people to network and be aware of the contacts that exist. One participant spoke of the importance of PGA in sharing information and providing possibilities of connection between different struggles all over the world. An advantage pointed out during the conversation was that the PGA hallmarks are open enough to allow diversity of opinion within the network including about what it is or should be. There was a feeling of agreement on the need to make the network visible, and as part of that were mentioned the website, the conferences and global action round-up created by people in London which was labelled as 'inspired by PGA'. The difference of opinion concerned the question wether PGA should focus it's energy on particular campaigns and actions, as has happened before on the global days of ation and the differerent projects and caravans coming out of the PGA network.


The presentation of the convenorship proposal by DSM (another world is possible).

DSM is an organisation based in Belgrade with around 20-40 people, it is a coalition of different groups/projects (amongst others a women group, a paper). The last action they did was connected with PGA -the Argentinian solidarity mobilisations on 20/21st of December- and they managed to mobilise around 500 people. The coalition is grounded on the hallmarks of PGA. They do not think they will be able to organise the conference already in September and they will need help, especially on logistics and from experienced people.

There are big differences between groups in the west and the east of Europe. The people of DSM see it as very important that groups active in the PGA come to their country to see the local context. Around 1 million people are unemployed and they were expulsed from an art center for bringing up the issue. There is not that much tolerance for political movements in Yugoslavia.

DSM proposed to organise a debate on privatisation on the 15th of June as a trial run for the conference. Groups within PGA are invited to participate in the organising of the seminar. (already people from Eurodusnie and phil have offered to participate) Furthermore, different people have said they will help out with organising the conference: people from Eurodusnie, Ex-MRG/Eyfa, Longomai and the Tanneries.

Groups that should be contacted:

Evaluation of the Leiden conference

Some points brought up:

PGA Europe wintermeeting genderdiscussion

Because the 8th of March is international women's day, the gender issue was brought into the agenda. A discussion was started on the lack of importance given to the gender issue in the PGA network.

Patriarchy and hierarchy have been reproduced inside of our networks, from sexual herassment to a gendered division of labour into 'domestic' and 'external' activism. We should not only focus on fighting capitalism but on creating another world without patriarchical relationships.

Supposedly gender is a permanent item on all pga conferences, and it was decided at the last global conference that it should be a transversal theme, appearing at all issues. But at the last European conference in Leiden the gender issue was almost completely absent. So it was proposed to have a more in depth discussion on gender the next day.

According to some, gender should not be organised as a seperate issue, or as affirmative action (positive discrimination) because it only reproduces gender divisions. We have to find other ways of discussing gender at the conferences and the infopoints.

Others thought we should not be imposing a strict gender agenda from above, if there are groups that want to take initiative on the gender issue they should just bring it forward.

The issue of wether gender is on the agenda to be discussed is actually quite limited. We will not change social relations with a few discussions. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing it the right way, if we are not just discussing it and afterwards doing nothing. We should be reacting on sexist behaviour in our everyday lives.

A proposal is made to create a working group on gender in the preparation of the conference, to dedicate one day of the conference to gender, and create a special budget to finance groups and individuals working on gender issues coming.

A late night meeting took place on Saturday, to prepare the discussion for Sunday, focussing on finding solutions and bringing the gender approach into the PGA network. They made the following proposals:


1. Day of Gender at the PGA Conference

After listening to interesting experiences from Latin America where they work with 1-2 days of gender workshops before every PGA conference, there was no doubt that this should also be tried in Europe. These days of gender are not filled with endless talks and discussions but hands-on workshops, using tried methodologies such as role plays etc., and working in small groups with focuses such as e.g. 'Masculinity for Men'. The work is done in non-mixed groups as well as in mixed groups, with plenaric feed back sessions.

These ideas were adopted by this planning group, proposing a day of gender workshops midst the next PGA conference [to make it less easy to escape it...]. The proposal includes both non-mixed group [women's groups and men's groups] but also mixed working groups for those who would feel more comfortable with this.

These groups would be involved in role plays, workshops looking at the gender issue in relation to your local environment and work and in other ways taking a constructive stance for finding ways of organising where the gender issue becomes part of the structure [and the struggle]. Some would argue that the issue itself shouldn't become part of the structure, the structures should change so as we wouldn't have to discuss such a thing as 'gender'. The discussion goes on ...

On the Gender Issue Day, space should also be given to groups working and campaigning on gender issues in relation to society, activism, globalisation etc, to present their work and give workshops. These gender campaigns shouldn't be seen as isolated phenomenon and should as well be included with workshops and discussions in the overall programme of the conference.

2. Special Invitations Gender Groups

It was noticed that not many of these groups working on gender issues participate in the PGA conferences. There could be a discussion about why, but until then, it was decided that such groups should be especially invited, with personal invitations, to participate in the programme and contribute to the Gender Day. There will be a working group on gender active from now until the next conference, but it's the responsibility lays on everyone of us to find, reach out to and invite groups working and campaigning on gender issues.

3. Exasperation Spaces [...minute taker's choice of name, really like that word ...]

As in Strasbourg, where there was a women's tent, there is again the idea to set up special spaces dedicated to serious discussions about gender, where questions and concerns can be raised. These spaces can also be a contact point for informing and supporting, in case sexual or other haressment occurs. It was discussed that there should at least be non-mixed spaces, both for women and men, and also mixed spaces if there is a need and interest to set up such as well.

4. Flyer-ing Start of Discussion

The discussions and fitted-in sessions on gender at this winter meeting, were initiated by a report on sexist behaviour and sexual haressment within the PGA movement. These things are happening all the time but not much it talked or told about it, partly as it's very painful for the concerned people, partly because of old-fashined tabus or just plain ignorance.

Therefore there is a proposal to make an Introduction Flyer, to be handed out at the beginning of the conference, introducing some of these reasons why gender should be in everyone's concept of respect and social interaction and especially make participants aware of the cases of haressments while strongly pointing out how Non-Acceptable such behaviour is.

5. Conference Questionnaire

To prepare better for the discussions and workshop on the Gender Day, there is the idea to include some gender related questions in the application form. These questions would bring attention to how gender issues are addressed and dealt with in the local group, network and structures.

The proposals were endorsed by the entire meeting at the gender session on Sunday, March 9.

Kick-Start Questionnaire

But, happy as everyone were with such fruitful and inspiring discussions, there was an ambience of impatience knowing that the next PGA conference can be happening very far away from now. Therefor point 5. on the list of proposals were taken to a decision to kick-start the questionnaires idea and ask everyone who reads this report ... and to be sure that results will be reached, the questions in question will as well be sent to the list separately, to make serious efforts to respond to the questionnaire. The aim is to collect a database of reports on how gender is dealt with locally and regionally. The report will be posted on the website. You can send your report to pga_europe_resistance(AT)squat.net.

PGA Gender Working Group

There is now a gender working group, set up to coordinate the preparations for the Gender Day at the next PGA conference, but as well other gender issues related to pga [as much as time allows, I guess]. If you're interested to join, contact us through the process list pga_europe_process(AT)squat.net

The next european conference and planning preparatory meetings

Before starting to plan the preparation of the next conference, there is a proposal to start a discussion on the process list to find new ways of having meetings and taking decisions at the conference. It was said before that our conferences sometimes start looking like the UN and we should find ways of making it more interactive.

It is still unsure how much of the organisation the Belgrade group can take on, it is unsure how much people of the group are interested in working on the conference. In June they will organise a few seminars on privatisation which should be a test case for the capacity of the group itself and for the interest of the local population in these kind of issues.

The best way for us to get more clarity is to go to Belgrade and see the local context. We can imagine a lot of things right now, but we should know more about the local reality in Belgrade. The people that want to participate in the preparation of the next conference are invited to come to Belgrade, to the privatisation debate around the 15th of June. Afterwards we can have the preparatory meeting, and figure out a date for the next conference. As for dates, the belgrade group sees september as too early. The problem is that until April it is quite cold in that area so it could be that the conference will not take place until April next year.


Since the conference will not take place until another eight months it was felt to be very important to have a deep discussion on infopoints.

What are infopoints:

In Leiden people thought that PGA was not rooted enough in the local regions, there was a need of more local work. The solution we came up with is the role of the infopoint: a group decides to take on responsibility to spread info on the PGA in it's local surroundings, it can organise local meetings, and take actively part in PGA organising.

The problem surrounding infopoints is that there is very few knowledge about what is being done at other infopoints that could be translated and used again. A solution could be to use the the global action archive, (a website for annpuncements from groups involved in PGA): www.globalaction.tk as a place where all the infopoints can post their announcements, publications, callouts etc. We decide to do this, the site can be used already but is still being developed, the admin password will be given to all the infopoints.

The notes that came out of the Leiden conference was still very inaccessible for people not familiar with the PGA network, infopoints should work on this, making accesible articles, a nice layout etc...

Infopoints should also take a proactive role in linking the different struggles internationally.

We wondered why not more people want to become infopoints, some said it is because a lot of people do not understand the PGA. Other said that if they could not initiate actions under the name of PGA it makes no sense for them to be an infopoint. The only thing to tell would be the history and the hallmarks.

However, some think we do not have a mandate this wintermeeting to decide wether PGA should initiate actions or not. Others say it is hard to attract people to the network if such a basic quality is unclear.

(infopoint list)

Convenor and infopoints:

Since the convenor group is quite new to the whole PGA network they cannot take on all the tasks the convenor normally takes on. The role of the convenor is going to be just the organising of the conference. The infopoints should do the European networking and the maintenance of the infrastructure (email lists and websites) and contacts with other continents. We will call on all the infopoints to come to the preparatory meeting in Belgrade in the middle of June or at least to get in touch.


The work of the webteam is focussed around the pga website: www.agp.org. However, now they are only two people, they would like more people to get involved and to decentralise work amongst more people.

The global action archive is being developed at www.globalaction.tk, help is needed on translations and people that know php coding are invited to help developing it. The old action archive at so36.net is not being used anymore because The old action archive at so36.net is not being used anymore because it is based on software the webteam does not have the knowledge to use (Mir) and the future of the server is unsure.

The agp.org website is a very important aspect of the PGA network, therefore it is a shame there is such a limited amount of poeple working on it. There are complaints about the chaotic structure of the site and the bad translations. The two people that are working on it know cannot be blaimed for this, since they have only a limited amount of time and resources. There is an idea to have a skill-sharing meeting this summer where other people can learn the details of the webteam work.

Others note that it is also important to also find a way to include people in Latin America. They are really interested and feel excluded. In the south web access is a lot harder, people can develop web pages off-line and then send them from an internet cafe, but it is not an ideal solution.

There is a webteam email list: agpweb(AT)lists.riseup.net, people that are interested in participating in the development of the website are invited to subscribe. Also comments on how to improve the website can be sent here.

Mailing lists:

There are different email lists:

global:          caravan99(AT)lists.riseup.net
regional:        three european lists:
                 a latin american list:
                 a pacific list:
                 an asian list

There are also the sustained campaign email list, but they are not functioning. There is a proposal to stop all the sustained campaign list and do everything over the caravan list, which should become bilengual: english and spanish.

People are also needed to help moderating the caravan list. (contact agpweb(AT)lists.riseup.net)

The process points from the Leiden meeting

At the European conference in Leiden we made some basic decisions on how the structure of the PGA should work.

We did not have time to reach a consensus on all the issues discussed and have postponed decision until this wintermeeting. However, some of the points we should decide on are already beside reality (for example the point of having three convenors, we could find only one). The biggest part of the undecided points revolve around the support group so we decided to focus on that.

As for the role of the support group, there is an underlying tension between different groups in the PGA network. The support group consists mainly of people that were very active in the beginning period of the PGA. The convenors were often not doing everything they were supposed to, so the support grouped popped in to help out.

Later other groups criticized the support group for becoming a clique of friends that organised in a non-tranparent way to outsiders.

On the European level the support group was abolished around a year ago. The main reason why the support group had such an important role is that they were the collective memory of the PGA. The convenors would change every year. And every new convenor was new to the international network, they did not know who to contact and what was the way of doing things. The support group, through the wide network of informal contacts it had built up over the time, had a vital role.

We should see the informal contacts as a resource and we should find a way of decentralising this resource, make it available to more people. All the infopoints that want to do support work should be seen as the support group, from now on called the european process group. There should be more clarity on what kind of support work is being done, especially on the funding (on the other hand it is not very smart to have it publicly known where our funding comes from).

We will have a open process group meeting at the next conference and a skill sharing meeting before in Belgrade,and invite the Escada group that has already proposed to organise such a meeting in Esturias, the North of Spain. We decide to delete the whole block of decisions on the support group process points and proceed in a transparent and accessible way.

The global support group

Feedback from the different continents:

Right now the global process is basically at a standstill. Already before there was the feeling that the global conferences did not work well. At the last global conference (2001) we decided to stop organising global conferences three months before every WTO meeting and organise regional conferences when we want.

A second regional conference is being organised in Asia and different caravans. In Latin America the process is more complicated. The Ecuadorian convenor, peasant organisation Confunascc, is more proactive than the convenors before but beside that the process there is pretty dead.

After the Global conference in Cochabamba Bolivia the process in Latin America has been pretty dead. The problem were cultural collisions taking place between different groups before during and after the conference. Some groups have also been coopted into the World Social Forum process by Attac and other hierarchical groups. Another big problem is the high travel costs from Central America to South America, the tickets are the same price as from here to Latin America. Furthermore we had problems with distributing contact information and money. But the main problem is a lack of visibility.

Two conferences have been organised, one in South and one in Central America. A call for mobilisation against the WTO summit in Cancun in September has been made by the convenors in Ecuador. They call out for lcoal decentralized actions, since the travel costs to Cancun are very high. They call for a continental strike at the moment of the WTO summit. In order to make that happen they want to make caravans. But they need a lot of money for it and they have asked the support group to help out.

Another big problem is the clash between rural and urban realities. Especially the clash between urban anarchists that often work in small decentralised collectives and peasant organisations that often have massive organsiation with a an important leadership. An example is the denounce of the MST as a stalinist group by anarchists from Sao Paulo.

At the PGA meeting during the World Social Forum the same cultural differences appeared very clearly. The peasant organisations are both connected to PGA and to Via Campesina. But Via Campesina is getting more NGO styled, and the peasant are in need for a more radical organisation. But since Via Campesina is actively organising and the PGA is not, we do not offer them any alternative.

Via Campesina has turned to be more and more hostile to PGA, others comment that is has basically been highjacked by Confederation Paysanne.

The support work in Latin America is very fragmented, and it happens sometimes that people go to Latin America saying they represent the PGA. A lot of mistrust has thus been created with the PGA.

American PGA

The American process is in quite a mess, The network that existed got confronted with different problems related to repression, race issues, 9/11 and more. Groups involved in the US: Clac, Tampa Bay, Direct Action Network (DAN), starhawk etc. The conclusion from the conferences so far is that a lot more work needs to be done at the local level before a continental organisation can be started. The anti-war coalition is interesting but, basically run by the big coalition called Answer.

Mobilisations have started against the WTO in Cancun, but now the everyday antiwar organizing is in the way.

Indymedia is the only strong organisational process, for the rest it is still reovering from the 11th of September.

Maybe Cancun will provide a new focus point.

Asian PGA

After the Via Campesina Conference in India quite a good coordination existed between the different peasant organisations. A new conference will take place in Bangladesh in September and three caravans in July to announce it. An Asian support group exists that is quite well organised. Different people have travelled around this year collecting contacts. The support group works with a formal mandate: it is not allowed any polical statements/paternalism and should strictly focus on financial support.

In general the Asian process is quite strong.

The Asian support group could maybe be an example for other support groups, the support group in Latin America for example, takes on a lot of work that should actually be done by a convenor group: it gets politically involved. It is also far more fragemented than the Asian group, which leads to misunderstandings and loss of opportunities.

The global conference

The last global conference took place in 2001 in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Since then only regional conferences have been organised. The question is wether we should be initiating another global conference.

A big problem with the global conferences is that the cultural differences are so big that it is very hard to organise productive conferences. Most of the organisations in the 'Global South' do not want to work with facilitation, have completely different ways of discussing, and speak lots of different languages.

Besides that problem only the leaders of the movements in the 'South' are able to attend, and by having these kind of conferences we are actually only worsening hierarchical relations in stead of promoting participation. To organise a successful conference a organisational process has to be happening on the local level. Right now a lot more work needs to be done on base/community level.

The global network is being connected by Europeans travelling around and making connections, they have access to funding and organisations in the West. To create a more sustainable process it would be good if Southern groups would have some representatives travelling around as well, but the problem is that the leaders are too busy with the often urgent local situation, others often do not have the capacity to do political work (language, political education etc.).

In general we should be more careful who we work with. Sometimes local groups take us for NGO-type funders and plainly lie to us. We need more people to get involved in international support work, therefore the knowledge of global contacts should be made more accessible and it should be clear how people can get involved in support work.

We decided to:

  1. encourage periodical report on the pga_europe_process list from people who have contacts and see what is going on with the processes in the continents (not events or crises)
  2. space in all european conferences for reports on the process in other continents
  3. ask people who are contact points for other continents to put their contact on the website (near the infopoint area)
  4. update what we are doing in europe to the other continents after conferences and when there is something important. Use the asian/latinamerican lists for that + european descriptions on the who's who of the website
  5. open meetings for people who want to get involved in a european global process working group at the conferences for certain, and perhaps also between. Concerning all continents or some or one. with materials and readers and updates.

The Escanda Proposal

The Escanda collective has sent a proposal to organise two gatherings in Esturias:

  1. A convenors' committee meeting with all of the convenors around the globe 1-15 of July
  2. A skill sharing meeting, as an intro to support group work 4-6 and 11-13 of July.

The escanda proposal received criticism, since it was not discussed with any of the other groups involved.

Some felt that proposal like this should be discussed with people beforehand, and organised from base up. More people need to be involved in the definition process.

Others agreed that it was bad that it was presented with so little communication and so late, but thought that the proposal should be judged from it's content.

We discussed the necessity of the global convenors meeting. It was said that it makes little sense to invite all the convenors at this point of time. A lot of convenors that are mentioned in the propsal are not that active anymore and do not have a strong social base to represent. If we want to get the global process going again we should start working on the base. Also it was noted that instead of spending lots of money on inviting the leaders here to Europe, we could better spend that money on the projects for building up the network regionally, for example the Ecuadorian caravan in preparation of the next WTO protests.

So we agreed to communicate to Escanda (and cc to the process list):

We have reservation about:

Meanwhile the convenors enter the discussion and explain that it is very hard to understand the discussion for outsiders. We take this opportunity to propose a welcoming day at the next conference where the PGA will be explained to those that are new to the idea.

Report back on the anti G8 protests: the Geneva meeting of the 1st of March

The G8 summit is opening on June 1st in Evian, on the southern shore of Lake Geneva (Leman). Around Evian itself there is to be a large exclusion zone of several miles. Any attempt to get to the actual venue will end up with people fighting in the countryside far away from it. However, since Evian is a small place and can't house the entire entourage (secretaries, translators, journalists...), the conferenciers will probably be coming by transport from Geneva to Lausanne, and then by boat to Evian. Only a few big-shots will fit in helicopters.

Of course it's difficult to know what will change between now and June (mainly in respect to the war) but it's looking like the main day of action is going to be on the opening day, Sunday June 1st. After discussion at the Geneva meeting it was agreed that *both the march and the blockades will take place on that day*. On the night before, local people will light bonfires all around the lake.

The big demo in the Geneva-Annemasse area will proceed from both sides of the border to clog-up the road to Evian. With 6 kilometres there, 60,000 people can form a human wall ten persons thick. Since this will be a coordinated march there's not much probability of police confrontation there. Still, turning the demo through to a blockade is probably not going to be permitted - this is not to say that there will necessarily be a lot of problems there but closing the roads can be enough for the police to act. There will also probably be a smaller march somewhere around Lausanne.

A key blockade will probably happen in Lausanne, where people will be taking the ferry to Evian (all other movement on lake Geneva is forbidden). This blockade - and its complementaries at the Airport and on the roads around the Lake - is the most difficult and will probably be taken up by the more radical part of the movement. The quay in Lausanne will be a red zone but it looks like most of the hotels are actually outside it, with not more than three or four entry points to the ferry. There are also many creative ideas like everybody dumping their trash there, floating big barges made of 'Evian' bottles, etc.

There is a chance that the blockades, which will begin in the early hours on Sunday, may be reinforced by some of the march participants who will be bussed there. For this it is necessary to have good communication, perhaps pirate radio is the best idea. Hopefully once delegates can't get through from Lausanne they will try the roads around the lake, through Geneva in the southwest (totally closed off by the march/blockade), or through Saint Gingolphe in the southeast where there is a very narrow entry point with tunnels that are easy to blockade.

The big advantage here is that there is a lot of space to work with, and an opportunity to separate the protest spaces and make the differences very visible so as to avoid the confusions of Genoa. It thus looks like the division of labour between blockades/marches will be more or less along the lines of political affinity. Since ther is so much space there is a possibility of defining the space so that different affinities - with different levels of confrontation in mind - do not disturb each other. There is for example plenty of vital road-length to disrupt around the lake, for the delegates who can't get the ferry, and that can be a cool space for some "rural black-blockery" or in general small affinity group actions. There are some very good maps with many of the blockage opitions surrounding the lake on the g8deviant.org website (see website list below).

In Lausanne the space there seems very solid both politically and tactically. The OSL (liertarian socialists), anti-WEF and anti-WTO coordinations are working together, and will try to set up a very clear and diverse protest space so everyone knows what they can plug into

During the several days before there will be at least two self-organised camps. The CLAAAC (libertarians and anarchists) wanted to make their own camp (VAAAG), the other groups like the Greens, student groups, anarchists, Trotskyists and individuals are making another camp. The camps will both be in the south-western area, close to Geneva and on the French side of the border. They may be a good opportunity to converge in the days before, though it's also important to get to know the ground in Lausanne as early as possible if people want to go there. We know that some roads will be closed, so people who want to be elsewhere than the Geneva/Annemasse area on the action day may want to get out of the villages well before the last minute. In Geneva there will also be a media-oriented convergence centre and counter-summit (both will be NGO / Social Forum style).


http://www.g8deviant.org (aaarrg)
http://www.Evian-g8.org (vaaag)
http://www.claaacg8.org (claaac)
http://germany.indymedia.org/2003/03/43183.shtml (report in German on the Geneva meeting)

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