European PGA Meeting: information and suggestions

Information and suggestions for the European PGA Meeting:
Milan, March 24th/25th

from Reclaim the Streets (London)

  1. Short introduction to Reclaim the Streets (as requested in the Conference Call)
  2. Suggestions for Milan Agenda
  3. Notes from September 2000 Prague PGA Convenor/ex-Convenor/Support Group Meetings
  4. Introductions to other groups/movements involved in PGA

J18 London
J18 London

1)What is Reclaim the Streets?

Reclaim the Streets (RTS) is a direct action network that first came together in London in the early 1990's and now includes autonomous groups worldwide. RTS takes creative action in the struggle towards positive, ecological and socially just alternatives to capitalism and the current hierarchical social order. London RTS were the Western European PGA convenors before Ya Basta!, and, in February 2000, put together an English print version of the last 'official' PGA bulletin. For more information on London RTS see: and for links to RTS groups worldwide:

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2) Some proposed agenda items for the Milan Conference:

  1. Main PGA issues to be discussed.( From a draft Bolivian PGA Conference agenda:)
    1. Action strategies within the space of communication and coordination of the PGA (the step from global days of action to sustained global 'campaigns'; the question of violence; criminalisation and solidarity, etc.)
    2. Revision of PGA manifesto.
    3. Extension of the contacts and of the space of communication and coordination articulated through PGA
    4. Plans of sustained action (concrete proposals to go beyond the Global Days of Action through globally coordinated campaigns against particular aspects of capitalist domination)
    5. Mobilisation against the G8 Summit in Genoa (20-22 July 2001), against the annual meeting of the IMF/World Bank (Washington, 2-4 October 2001), against the 4th Ministerial Conference of the WTO (Nov. 2001) and other globally coordinated actions."
  2. Suggestions more specific to Euroland:
    • Strengthening and expanding existing European counter- networks (East & West )
    • European linked issues (Immigration, Euro-integration, etc)
    • Relations between Europe and World - (twinning with Global South, countering repression/criminalisation, etc)
    • European Days of Action (G8, No-Border Camps, etc)
    • Communication
  3. Thoughts on how to structure the meeting:
    • Each day with different focus: one on issues/analysis; one on structures/practical
    • Solution for language translations: suggest each group where possible to bring their own translators for english, Spanish, Italian. (another idea was to use radio airwaves)
    • Round-table discussions on specific 'issues'
    • importance of good facilitation, preparation of meetings, timing, etc.

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3) Notes from the Peoples' Global Action Meeting, Prague, September 2000

From the 18th -23rd of September 2000 in Prague, Czech Republic, there was a gathering of Peoples' Global Action Convenors, ex-Convenors and PGA support group members. Below are notes taken by London Reclaim the Streets participants. Hopefully they give a impression of the current concerns of many in the PGA network and provide a useful starting point for discussions at the European PGA meeting in Milan.

Convenor/ex-Convenor participants from: Movimento Juventud Kuna, (Panama); Tino Rangatirotanga, (New Zealand); Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network, (US); Pioceso de comunidades Negras en Colombia; CONFEUNASSC, (Honduras); PICIS, (South Korea); Reclaim the Streets, (UK); Bangladesh Krishok Federation; Bangladesh Kisani Sabha; MST, (Brazil); Confederacion Sindical De Trabajadores, (Nicaragua); Coordinacion de mujeres de las federaciones del tropico de Cochabamba, (Bolivia); Tampa Bay Action Group, (US); Guises Montana Experimental, (Nicaragua); Organizaciones Negras de Centroamerica, (Honduras); Narmada Bachao Andolan, (India); Canadian Postal Workers.

Plus a number of PGA Support Group members who did a great job helping us in practical ways through days of often intense meetings.

(The first few days of the gathering were mainly taken up with planning the participation of PGA in the Prague S26 events. More in-depth discussion followed on the remaining three days...)


The main discussion focused on four issues arising from a previous PGA Convenors meeting, which were:

  1. A call to address the problems in the PGA network structure which would help convenors/ex-convenors to take responsibility for PGA tasks and not just leave decisions to the support group.
  2. The need for a clearer PGA 'strategy' and to push this forward at the regional and Bolivian PGA Conference(s).
  3. Financial clarification: where PGA gets its' money, how it is spent and by who.
  4. Access and Communication: ie. regular bulletins, website/email, minutes/reports etc.

General comments: as convenors were still missing from the meeting it was felt that talking in detail about strategy for instance was difficult. A discussion concerning how PGA is seen and used by the movements already 'represented' here followed. Issues such as: the differences in our 'on the ground' struggles; the mainly northern strength of Global Days of Action (GDA's) and how to go beyond them; the withdrawal of some previously involved movements from the network; the lack of clarity on the organisation of PGA ( is it one?); Relations to alliance building and media work - were all areas touched on. And, while the need for more cross-fertilisation, reflection and communication between the various struggles was highlighted, the impact of inequalities in access to finances and resources on our ability to contribute was an important factor to deal with.

Participants then broke into Spanish and English language groups to aid detailed and quick discussion on the basic functioning of PGA, attempting to address issues such as:

English language subgroup selection amalgamation:

" It's not necessary for PGA to endorse GDA's - they have their own dynamic. GDA's are not enough, and were never meant to be; more a practical expression of shared activity and understanding. PGA is a network not an organisation, but it can still be an organised network, seeking not to increase members but the real connections between movements and struggles. Organised is not necessarily bureaucratic. Need for clearer structures and a well-defined support-group role. Understanding of the relations of local struggles in a global context. Alternative spaces. Getting beyond 'natural' identities. Are convenors PGA 'members'? Antagonisms not just between countries but also within them between different networks and issues. PGA is an ideological bastard - this may have been necessary to begin with but now we need clarity and to go beyond 'globalisation'. There is a dynamic between structure and the grassroots.

The early conference and PGA in general have been quite centralised, in terms of needing the support group(s) to organise conferences, meetings, bulletins, funding, the web site etc. This was needed but now we're at a crossroads: we need clear and more efficient structures or a slower process involving the movements better. If the movements cannot manage PGA on their own, if it doesn't work, then it's been a fake process. PGA needs to be for and by social movements, but until now that's been more an ideal plan and not really practical internationalism on a grassroots level. But we also need to recognise the success of PGA already with the GDA's and the many possibilities of the network. What we need is a methodology to help our process. The structure and process are not necessarily mutually exclusive - the former is needed for the latter. Sustainability of the network, finances etc. Maybe have more regional conferences rather then just the Bolivian type? Co-ordinated effort at the global conference(s) to make the regions happen. Convince the support group to abolish itself. Share everything, databases, web, convenors details etc.

There was also an issue of how to respond to crisis in local struggles, such as Plan Columbia. There was a suggestion for all groups in the network to go to Colombia to really show practical solidarity which could create stronger links between the social movements involved in the PGA network. But the main problem seems to be more in how PGA can create structures to incorporate all local struggle, not only spectacular actions."

Spanish language subgroup selection *interpreted* amalgamation:

"GDA's need to work in general forms for particular struggles. PGA needs to define its' position on non-violence and its' concrete manifestations towards confronting global capitalism. Do global actions but redefine the terms and include southern struggles within GDA's. We understand PGA to be a space for co-ordination, respecting different streams of ideas and action. PGA expressions should be able to cover radical to reformist streams of thought. The main struggles today can be a secondary struggle tomorrow. Movements leave often for incidental reasons. What criteria for funding search? Who are the donors? What is the support group function in this? Not judge other movements. Convenors should lead and take seriously their role. Restate that we can't speak on behalf of PGA unless convenor consensus.

Illustrative extras (speaker from each region): Days of action are not feasible in Honduras. Three years of daily struggle to stop attacks on our existence. Bolivia is being blockaded now as part of the massive movement against capitalisation and the privatisation of water. (Ecuador speaker): We resisted 'democracy' and state institutions. The theory of our organisation is being lost. Our movement could qualify as reformist but this is a wrong perception. PGA has to understand and respect the relative processes in countries. High level struggle can also involve low-level struggle. Recognise the diversity of struggles while clarifying we are against capital. (Columbia speaker): The struggle is everyday. Our language is stolen and our elders cannot embrace an understanding of the IMF/WB but only the companies who directly effect us (who are of course supported by the WB and IMF!). (Nicuraguan speaker): GDA's should be the conclusion of countless actions in many countries. Constant struggle is the norm. SAP's imposed, 70% unemployment, no support for agriculture etc. Different realities - different struggles but need common voice. PGA is possibly the banner lifting organisation. Southern movements are not trying to tell the North what to do, we recognise similar attempts to connect struggles in the North. PGA needs ways of sustained action and spaces for constant sharing. You are our companeros - we need to get beyond differences and work even better for the long term. We in Latin American movements will work to reconnect with the movements who have lost contact and for their return to PGA. (Columbia speaker): There are different visions for different realities, understood by daily life. PGA has to attempt to express this divergence in convergence, then we can co-exist in agreement. How can the South include itself better in GDA's? This is a challenge for us. The support group has responsibilities to allow for this globalised struggle - their problem is to help enable this. But if convenors fail to make decisions then the support group should."

Mention was made of the work being done on a Latin American web server system to connect LA struggles and to enable easier co-ordination and sharing of information.


Agenda: presentation of 'issues'; proposed changes and discussion; Bolivian conference

The discussion yesterday while useful needs to turn into concrete proposals. Proposal that perhaps commissions can be arranged for concreting ideas in practise. One for the Bolivian conference, one for proposals for changes from yesterdays discussions. AGREED

Presentation of various 'issues':

Commission report-back on improving the workings of the PGA network:

1) Clearer strategy 2) Relationships with other movements and networks 3) How to strengthen internal relationships

Beyond GDA's (strategy): For many groups GDA's make little sense, still GDA's are successful and concrete expressions of our common struggle. Our objective is to for PGA to connect and highlight daily struggles while creating the space for constant exchange of ideas and practises. Some suggestions:

Internal/external relations:

Organising the PGA Network:

Amalgamated comments and discussion on these suggestions:

"Some movements don't have such skills, need to help groups develop them. PGA could have a secretariat in each continent as the movements themselves are often too busy. Need to know not where money comes from but where it goes - transparency may scare off donors (even internal transparency is external). Some good ideas here especially for central american black movement, the expansion of the process. These past days are encouraging that we can consolidate the PGA process. Global 'campaign' themes is a useful idea for ongoing struggle beyond the present moment. Capital is in real geographical areas. The strengthening of global struggle is through local forms of struggle. The implication of this involves actions reacting to clear cases such as displacement/migration, matching local space to global space. Plan Columbia is a good example of this process. There are similar 'campaigns' already ie. Jubilee 2000, Shout of the Excluded: how will PGA relate to these? There is a danger that such 'campaigning' could stifle diversity. PGA's strength is in bringing campaigns together, maybe convenors could attempt to internationalise their areas of struggle. PGA does not yet have the strength to stop Plan Columbia but it can give statements of the fight against it and new perspectives on the struggles. The PGA 'trademark' is presenting the 'uniting' of struggles as part of the solution. We should relate 'campaigns' to Capital; of material struggles as manifestations of Capital - difficult but a better focus. Decentralisation is the key to PGA. Politics is local - some of our most powerful enemies are global. Co-ordinate and find commonalities, not organise campaigns. This is indeed our approach from previous days, 'campaign' is NGO language and the wrong word for the suggestion for sustained action. The difference (from the UN, shut down IMF/WB etc campaigns) is also in the definition. The call is issued from local struggle and is universalised, making known the contradictions of 'reform/issue based' approaches. Not creating a new struggle but local issues breaking out and linking globally. Plan Columbia for instance reflects a point when a struggle can be shown to be endemic of the whole system, and gives a chance to crystalise internationally. It should be made clear that Plan Columbia is a concrete expression of capitalism and linked to other regional struggles, this is for PGA. Like Vietnam - bring the war back home. Important though that it is not a solidarity campaign for the South, this is problematic and not the PGA role."


All Groups/individuals were encouraged to join one or other of these working groups and arrange between them meetings before leaving Prague and continued communication afterwards.

Bolivian PGA Conference: An announcement was given that in Bolivia a new phase of resistance has just begun today involving blockades and occupations and some serious injuries. It was suggested that because of this and other commitments (and the problem of organising during Easter week in Bolivia) the preferred date of around April 23rd is impractical. September 2001 would be a better time for the Bolivian organisers but if necessarily they could still go with the earlier date. September it was thought is too late and too close to the next WTO conference. PGA conferences according to the present organisational principles are meant to be sometime before the WTO meetings - perhaps May would be better. But the general feeling here is that we should not be tied to GDA's or WTO dates so let's fit into the possible dates. A full year before we meet again though is too long. AGREED proposal for 'working group' and convenors to be allowed to discuss and investigate dates and clashes during next few weeks but that end of April beginning of May is preferred.


Convenors meeting (with RTS standing in for Ya Basta!)

This meeting mainly discussed Cochabamba and in particular the issue of representation at the next PGA conference. The convenors present felt it was important that a representative 'selection' of groups should attend each conference. The number of delegates from each area would be decided by the convenors. The delegates should be speaking from everywhere, should be active in the PGA network and/or active in their region, and also agree with the hallmarks in the manifesto. It was AGREED that groups/movements need to submit information or 'justify' why they should be able to attend the Bolivian conference. It was AGREED that there would be 'invitation' of groups on two levels: regional and by the current convenors (who will have the last say). Conditions for the participation of the support group are needed as well. It was AGREED that the support group can speak, but not take or block decisions during the conference. The convenors also AGREED that there should be a 70% Southern and 30% Northern balance of groups invited to the conference in Bolivia. We will aim for at least 200 delegates to attend the conference, which means that the finance group together with the convenors need to raise money for at least 140 tickets, money also has to be raised at a local level. It was AGREED that all Southern delegates will be asked to contribute what they can to their ticket.

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4) Short Introductions to SOME of the movements involved in PGA worldwide

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST, Brasil: mass organisation of landless peasants, the most important direct action movement for agrarian reform. It has already re-distributed land for half a million peasants.

Confederacion Unica Nacional de Afiliados al segure social Campesino - Coordinadora Nacional Campesiona: the most important peasant movement of Ecuador, which strongly participate in peaceful takeover of parliament in 2000. This action had been protest against structural reforms, initiated by IMF

Frente nacional de los Trabajadores, FNT, Nicaragua: the main association of trade union, uniting workers of all sectors of economy

Proceso de Comunidades Negras: the movement of black communities in Columbia, which played a key role in founding the Afro-American association, involved in international movement of coordinated resistance. (see: Plan Colombia & PCN)

Movimento de Las Juventud Kuna: youth movement of indigenous Kuna people from Panama. Kun people are one of the very first communities of indigenous people, which was granted self-management in the beginning of the 20th century.

Organiziones Negras de Centroamerica, ONECA: association of black communities of Middle America, its secretariat is currently managed by organisation Garifunas of Honduras.

Guises Montana Experimental, Nicaragua: organisation aimed at preservation of biodiversity, which have been playing an important role in the PGA movement of South America.


Narmada Bachaao Andolan, NBA - Save Narmada Movement: movement of Indian Adivivas people and farmers of three local communities, affected by Narmada Valley Development Programme, which plans to build 3000 dams in a single valley. NBA campaign of civic disobedience forced WB to cancel the financing of Sardar project, being one of the main dams in the whole programme. (see: Narmada)

National Alliance of Peoples Movement: Indian platform of grassroots movement, aimed at various themes like dam construction, rights of the Adivasis people, vital interests of fisherman folk etc.

Krishok Federation: national peasant federation, focusing on problems of small peasants and landless peasants and impacts of imperialist globalisation and as part of that at technology of "Green Revolution".

Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform, MONLAR, Sri Lanka: the movement aimed at obtaining land reform.

Policy and Informational Centre for International Solidarity: the most important information link to various solidarity campaigns, ongoing in Southern Korea. (

Foundation for an Independent Aoteora: national organisation for self-emancipation of Maori people, which already had organised several large-scale actions against ongoing colonisation of Aoteora.

Aoteora Educators: organisation, responsible for information exchange and education inside the movement Tino Rangatirotanga, movement for Maori people national sovereignty, based upon independent tribe-rooted groups.

Karnataka State Farmers Association, KRRS: the largest movement of Indian Peasants, renowned by actions like burning of Monsanto-owned fields, destruction of Cargill seed plant etc.

Landless Women Association of BanglaDesh [PGA Working Group, Prague S26]

Garment Workers
Garment Workers' Press Conference

Garment Workers Unity Forum, Bangladesh: movement organisation the garment workers, mostly women, employed in the "free trade zones" garment plants, suffering probably the most intensive exploitation of workforce on the whole earth. (see: Domestic & Garment Workers)

Seis Federaciones del Tropico: currently the most active resistance in Bolivia. It has initiated recent battle of water, which overturned the privatisation schemes of the government.

Strike committee of Autonomous University of Mexico: one of the recent remarkable examples of resistance against WB and IMF within Latin America.

Kensington Welfare Rights Union and Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign: they have organised several street rallies against homelessness and poverty in U.S.

Women in Black: the Yugoslavian women anti-war movement.

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