Draft Minutes from the Peoples' Global Action

convenors/x-convenors/support group meeting; Prague, Czech Republic, Sept. 18th - 22nd
18th - 19th - 20th - 21st - 22nd September | Prague Reports

Present: Movimento Juventud Kuna, Panama - Tino Rangatirotanga, New Zealand - Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network, US - Proceso de comunidades Negras en Colombia - CONFEUNASSC Ecuador - PICIS South Korea - Reclaim the Streets, UK - Bangladesh Krishok Federation - Bangladesh Kisani Sabha - MST Brazil - Confederacion Sindical De Trabajadores, Nicaragua - Federacionaes del tropico de CBBA Bolivia - 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.

There were also several people from the support group.


The day was spent discussing with the few convenors/ex-convenors already present, the structure and content of the next few days meetings. After a brainstorm of possible themes and topics needing discussion they were divided into a suggested discussion agenda for the 19th - 21st Sept.

The 19th could be used to clarify any existing information on PGA's role in Prague, decide the structure and content of the counter summit tasks, discuss and decide on the other tasks the PGA network might have to take on while in Prague - public speaking, media, actions etc,. Time allowing, this would be followed by general action proposals/announcements/ideas such as: Plan Columbia, GDA proposal from Italian group (Ya Basta), Davos action, Gender meeting in Panama. Each 'idea' would be given a short introduction, and the whole presentation and discussion concluded within half a day (running into the morning of 20th if necessary).

20th -21st: the remaining part of these two days could concentrate on preparations for the next global PGA conference planned for Cochabama, Bolivia, in 2001; such as: setting the date, discussing financial needs, invitations, and our internal communication structure until then.

There was also a media discussion revolving around the request for PGA participation in a BBC film on the Prague protests. It was AGREED that the assembled PGA types would attempt to work with the film-makers, provided:

  1. They agreed to distribute the film for free to groups linked to the PGA network.
  2. Make a solidarity donation to PGA.
  3. That PGA groups present would try and make sure similar time was given to 'our' independent media and film-makers.
  4. that they did not film in the meeting space nor disrupt the meetings.


To begin the days discussions a basic introduction to PGA's role in Prague was prepared and worked through. The headings were: the counter summit, the convergence centre, public talks, outreach, S26 stages/ S26 action.

The Counter Summit (CS): the CS was over three days and in three different venues. The PGA support group had secured one of the three CS venues (Cinema Aereo) for 'social movement' presentations and discussions. The organising and content of these days was up to us, though one day in the venue had union presentations pre-arranged. We also considered including other presentations.

It was suggested that a list of 'social movement' speakers from those present and due to arrive was drawn up and advertised and that a 'commission' working-group should meet outside this meeting to arrange and work on CS agenda generally. Volunteers to meet later, finalise and then bring the plan back to tomorrows meeting for agreement. Arrange for indymedia to be present at CS for interviews. It was proposed and AGREED that we should attempt to widen the involvement in 'social movement' discussions. It was also AGREED that if possible we should invite a Czech group as our 'hosts' while in Prague, to be involved in these discussions at some point.

The Convergence Centre (CC): CC organisers had asked if PGA network could organise workshops/presentations/discussions in the CC space. It was said that during the Washington anti WB demonstrations the convergence centre had been really useful for outreach, so it was AGREED that a second working group would talk with the CS organisers and sort out the details.

Outreach/Public meetings: the priest who had given PGA the two flats to meet and sleep had arranged a school talk and public meeting for PGA speakers - these needed confirming and arranging and the CS group took on this.

S26 stages/action: there is the possibility of PGA delegates talking from 'stages' on the morning of the 26th. This, and the role of the gathered PGA delegates on the main action, needs further organising. We AGREED that a support group person would work on these points so as to minimise disruption to the main business of the meetings.

There was then a call for clarification of INPEG and areas like the convergence centre so that we could make informed decisions on our involvement.

Clarification: The Czech group who have organised for all the Global Days of Action (GDA) is made up of Anarchists, Earth First/Reclaim the Streets types (main group called Solidarita - there was later some dispute about their 'originating' role). This collective issued the call to action on S26 and set up the Initiative Against Economic Globalisation (INPEG) as a platform. First this involved mainly Czech anarchist, left unions, etc. but soon wider European and international groups were invited to participate in the meetings. Support (not least monetary) was badly needed. The recent action camp in Prague has seen many more groups arrive.

Now INPEG has an identity crisis and has to clarify itself in tonight's (19th) meeting. Lots of Americans have become involved since the Seattle events (there are 40 involved in Indymedia alone) and also many more left trot groups want a piece of the action. INPEG though has been generally organised on PGA type conditions/hallmarks and is negotiating with others to ensure good relations between the different Antifascist and union demonstrations.

It was AGREED that

  1. INPEG and PGA are distinct and that PGA is not seen as responsible for what occurs in Prague.
  2. That we hoped to have meetings with the Czech 'hosts' to inform us further on the upcoming events.

There was then a report on the Geneva meetings (the previous occasion when a large group of convenors had met). the focus was on strategy, operational plans, how PGA works and where PGA is heading. There is a document in Spanish from this Geneva meeting. It was understood that this document would be the starting point for the current meetings. It was AGREED that a summary of the Geneva document should be translated, read and taken as the starting point for continuing discussions.

The meeting finished with an introduction to the convergence centre space by one of the organisers with an invitation to use it for PGA presentations alongside or instead of the counter summit venue.


The morning session began with a convenors only discussion (with RTS asked to stand in for Ya Basta, the current Western European Convenors) of the Ya Basta situation (presently stuck at the border!) and PGA's response. It was AGREED that one or two of the convenors would attend a pre-arranged INPEG press conference on the border situation later that morning.

A report -back from the 'commission' organising the PGA counter-summit agenda was then presented followed by discussion and clarification of their suggested agenda.

The afternoon session began with convenors, ex-convenors and the various support group people all present. the question was asked: who should be attending these meetings? It was AGREED that the support group people could stay but should clarify their connections to PGA and would have no decision-making power.

A report-back from the press conference followed. While it was generally positive in supporting Ya Basta and showing the global dimensions of the 'protests', the two PGA convenors who attended also reported problems. For instance the INPEG framework involving liberal notions of 'democratic rights/justice/non-violence' during the press conference was criticised and the need for better translation highlighted.

The main discussion focused first on four main issues arising from the Geneva meetings: 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 Bolivian Conference. 3. Financial clarification: where PGA gets its' money, how it is spent and by who. 4. Access to communication ie. Regular bulletins, website/email, minutes/reports etc.

But 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. The differences in our 'on the ground' struggles; the mainly northern strength of 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? And how this affects relations to alliance building and media work were 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.

It was then proposed and AGREED that we should break into English and Spanish speaking language groups to aid detailed and quick discussion on the basic functioning of PGA while attempting to address issues such as:

  1. Getting beyond Global Days of Action
  2. How to enable diverse movements to continue their participation
  3. Organising the network
  4. General structure, eg. communications, future plans, relations, daily struggles

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 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 regional conferences rather then the Bolivian type? Co-ordinated effort at the global conference 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, there was a suggestion of 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 our 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: ? Global 'campaigns' beyond a day of action, on themes of global struggles such as militarisation and criminalisation. In this way attention is given to variety of global but daily struggles. This approach could also help distinguish PGA's anti-capitalist aims from anti-WB/IMF/WTO reforms. ? Existing spaces for constant sharing and mutual inspiration need more work (incl. website, bulletin, etc) - establish working groups to define ongoing practicalities and create new spaces for engagement.

Internal/external relations:

? Establish regional groundwork supporting relations between PGA groups internally and where possible outside/beyond the existing network links. ? Being non-judgemental and non-competitive internally respecting each other as a principle. Non-exclusive - attempting to work with other networks. ? Insist on having 'official' confirmation of affinity so as to avoid lack of a legitimate mandate from movements ? Ask for precise concrete engagement from already participating groups/movements. ie. For Bolivia set conditions for attendance which groups have to respond to.

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, a 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.

--> plan colombia


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 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. Statements to reach the convenors by March 2001. It was AGREED that there would be 'quality control' 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. The dates for the Bolivian conference were AGREED and set for the last week of April, with the last day on May 1st 2001.

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