Milan report: Convenor/cochabamba w/g's.

Call for the Meeting


Here are notes from the first w/g on Cochabamba and the second w/g on Cochabamba and on new convenors.

One possibility for all the reports and notes coming in would be to have an area on the PGA website where they are placed as they arrive/are collected; along with the call for the meeting and presentations of the participating groups with links to their websites where possible. This could go some way to providing 'a map' of the PGA network in Europe.

All the best,

Del (RTSLondon)

Notes from the Cochabamba Working Group (afternoon of Sat. 24th March)

Cochabamba in Bolivia is the location of the 3rd global PGA conference to be held from the 17th-23rd of September 2001. The hosts are the Federacion Campesina del Tropica de Cochabamba (peasant federation) and the Federacion de Trabajadoras del Hogar (domestic workers federation). A tentative call for the conference, with application details and agenda proposals, is already circulating.

Three were about 6 people who joined this group. After a short intro to the conference and an account of problems in the previous global PGA conference in Bangalore, India (such as too many individual 'europeans' participating) we noted and discussed 9 main issues:

  1. How to do the 'quota' process in Europe. In an attempt to address a growing imbalance, the decision in the Praha convenors meeting was for a 30%/70% ration between 'north/south' for this conference. So from the suggested 300 participants worldwide around 60 would be shared between 'the north' participants. There was also a suggestion of observer/support team status and using a euro-block process while there to delegate from.
  2. Building a strong 'support team'; to help organise before/during/after the conference. This may involve arriving weeks before to prepare, and staying a while after to clear up.
  3. Fundraising. For 'propaganda' as well as for the conference itself. It's important to call for finance and begin visa and travel arrangements for/by 'south' participants/movements now. European and N.American groups could try to raise enough money to cover ticket(s) for a 'south' group or at least fundraise beyond their own costs. While it's clear that 'north' groups aren't necessarily richer, they often have better access to funding possibilities.
  4. Distributing good information on the local movements and situations; and ensuring good communication with the local organisers - the host movements have appointed a 'support team' in Cochabamba already.
  5. A possible demonstration during the conference. It was suggested that having a large number of 'internationals', especially europeans on such a demo could be good for the local situation.
  6. Travel arrangements. It is much cheaper to travel to Buenos Aries, Argentina, so one possibility would be to arrange a caravan from there to Cochabamba. The journey to Cochabamba would take about a week but such a caravan could help make stronger links with regional struggles against GM crops and petroleum corporations, enable other regional Bolivian groups to reach Cochabamba, and help clarify the differences between networks like PGA and others like ATTAC.
  7. Local involvement from the beginning is very important. Earlier 'encruentros' have suffered from a lack of local involvement. The hosts represent one tendency in Bolivia, important to extend also to other sectors and take into account community and traditional structures.
  8. Don't repeat mistakes! It's important to talk about previous problems, especially with the Bangalore PGA conference hosts and support teams.
  9. A number of us in this w/g (and the european PGA meeting generally) have contacts in Bolivia and 'the south', we need to communicate and co-ordinate between us and with such contacts. Both to build the local 'support teams' and to extend 'south' involvement.

Convenor/Cochabamba Working Goup; afternoon, Sunday 25 march

(there were around 30 participants in this w/g. A list of groups present was made; who has this list?)


After an intro to the idea of this w/g there was an invitation for groups present who were thinking of taking on the convenor role to present themselves. It was also suggested that we check if there were other groups we couldn't be in this w/g who were thinking of offering to take on the job.

There were two groups who presented themselves: Eurodusnie, an anarchist collective from the Netherlands and MRG (Global Resistance Movement) a grassroots network from Madrid and Catalonia (Spain).

Eurodusnie ): we are thinking of offering though of course this will involve more discussion between us and the other NL collectives to ensure we can do it properly. Eurodusnie is defined as an anarchist collective, has existed for 4 years and involves around 30 people. We work with many issues incl. immigration, children, squatting - Eurodusnie is based in a social centre. Networking locally and globally has been fundamental and Eurodusnie has been very involved in the 'global days of action', meetings and PGA process generally (the InterContinentalCaravan office for example was based in the Eurodusnie office). Discussion about being convenors has incl. reflection on being very busy, resisting eviction etc, but we are all very busy and this reflects our involvements in the important work of localising our resistance to remake society.

A participant from an autonomous collective in NL also offered to help Eurodusnie if they take on the role. ): the Global Resistance Movement is based in Madrid and Barcelona/Catalonia and came originally from organising for the Praha S26 events. While speaking from our city/regional assemblies which are autonomous, we also co-ordinate our activities. MRG is very diverse incl. cancel debt campaigners, environmentalists, ATTAC, squat groups, students, and Zapatista support groups, as well as other autonomous groups that have come from early assemblies. There are no clear 'membership' relations. In general our approach is non-violent direct action. Collectives - in Madrid at least - participate in the assembly from their groups under agreement of being anticapitalist, autonomous and grassroots. There has been no discussion yet on taking on the convenor role, we will take back the possibility to our assemblies and collectives and at Easter there will be a gathering from across Spain to co-ordinate future activities where we can discuss it further. Spanish speaking convenors may be useful for strengthening 'south' relations and, while we cannot decide now on being convenors, having the next european meeting in Spain might be important and possible.

Questions were then asked:

What is the attitude to migrant and indigenous 'issues'?
MRG: yes very important and critical in the region. In Madrid there have been many demonstrations and migrant occupations of churches against the new 'terror laws'.
ED: immigration occupations have existed for many years also in NL and Eurodusnie itself began from a conference on 'fortress Europe'. 'The free shop' works to help migrants and we work also with De Fabel ('no-one is illegal') collective on migrant/asylum issues.

How will MRG take responsibility for convenor-ing? Is there one grassroots group who will take it on or as a national network? What do the groups see as their role in PGA?
MRG: well, we will try to share responsibility for the role. And it should be understood that for many the two 'spanish' groups are in different 'states'/countries.
ED: the last is an important question but there is still little info on convenor-ing so our answer is the question also! There seems a clear need to clarify how PGA will work, how groups are involved, and to abolish informal heirarchies. Eurodusnie doesn't need to be convenors as we're very busy but it is clearly a job that needs doing.

After thanking the groups for presentations it was decided to finish the 'new convenors' discussion. It was also said that in the past there were two European convenors for east and west and we maybe have to work to get an eastern europe convenor or at least clarify the position. In summary, one group has offered, the other is thinking on it; if the latter is a no then it's decided. As for the east we can call again but otherwise we have only western europe convenors.


It's proposed that the discussion focuses on how to delegate participation from Europe to Cochabamba. This situation is unusual for european groups so we need to work on the possibilities. Combine regional delegates with previously involved groups; clarifying 'observer' idea; deciding on group participation etc.

One suggestion was to allocate speaking time of 70% rather than participant distinctions and numbers. This was problematic for some because of the PGA process and the need for projects/work to be taken forward from the conference. This was countered as an opinion, not a fact; the proposal deserves more thought. What can be changed? What can be sorted out there? One problem was that the current convenors decided on numbers in Praha, not speaking time. Another suggestion was that in Seattle for N30 similar problems were faced and the 'spokescouncil' idea was adopted. It was proposed that we respect the convenors decision, make a statement that also contextualises our problems with this. It should also be understand that many may go anyway and to some extent we will have to address the problems there for which the 'spokes' idea may help. Though, alternatively, it's of course possible that the problem is overestimated! That from an index of groups here (and on email after) many may not want to go for reasons of local work, funds etc.

It's, in the end, more important what we 'represent' and will say rather than numbers. Yes, but here we talk about the process and the whole european PGA meeting is what we will take. There is a tension/choice between 'spokes' who have a clear statement/mission and participants who listen and create. We were reminded that in 'the south' the process of deciding involvement in the 70% will be a similar problem which this process will inform; and that there were some decisions/agreements already from the current convenors such as agenda proposals and for the finalising of participants. We should however keep the decision on speaking here not weigh on the other convenors to decide our involvement.

The main plenary was now underway so we needed to finish. The final proposal was for using spokescouncil clusters and rotating participants. Then the numbers can be fixed session by session using consensus and cluster techniques and rotating speakers in main assemblies. The present western europe convenors will suggest this to the other convenors.

April 2nd - from notes taken by Del (RTSLondon)

Milan Encuentro