Open letter to Latin American organizations on cooperation towards COP16

Mexican flag above the Thematic World Social Forum at Zócalo in Mexico City 2010

Open letter to Latin American organizations on cooperation towards COP16
Cc Concerned Mexican organizations, CJA and CJN.

As Latin American organizations you have in an open letter addressed the issue of cooperation towards COP16 and especially pointed at Mexican organizations involved in the Pintale las rayas al cambio climatico campaign as your prefered cooperation partner while opposing the Mexican grass rooot organizations supporting the Klimaforum10 initiative.

This choice of cooperation partners and criteria chosen for making the choice between the two is of global interest. COP16 is a challenge after the failure of the official process and the successful combination of mass activities in Copenhagen as well as the Cochabamba meeting to protect mother earth. Both the mass activities carried out by Climate Justice Action, Klimaforum09, and Climate justice Now with the common demand – ”System change – not climate change” and the Cochabamba meeting was a major step towards marginalizing the role of professionalized often Northern based NGOs in world politics, groups like Greenpeace and Oxfam with their main cooperation partners in Climate Action Network and the tcktcktck campaign.

Your proposal for carrying forward these alliances that marginalized the professional NGOs makes it necessary to put some questions.

1. The climate campaign Pintale las rayas al cambio climatico you state as a main Mexican cooperation partner. This campaign is dominated in my opinion by Greenpeace, Oxfam and Mexican organizations funded by the Boell foundation linked to the German Green party. This means a strong European influence in the climate cooperation towards Cancun you prefer. The promoters of the Klimaforum10 initiative are indepedent Mexican ecological grass roots organization as Ecomunidades and Cambios that do not have international funding for their daily work or are part of transnational organizations with the leadership in the North. Why do you criticize Klimaforum10 for being strongly influenced by European interests when in fact it is rather the cooperation you prefer who can rightly be questioned for the same thing? Why do you put geograhic critieria as a main argument for your position rather than political arguments?

2. The Mexican grass roots organizations are firmly against all false solutions on climate change and support fully the Climate Justice Now platform. The organizations you prefer have stated at the Foro Social Mundial tematico that they want to combine both CJN and Climate Action Network positions. Why do you prefer to disregard the steps forward taken in Copenhagen were Klimaforum09, CJN and CJA jointly were able to marginalise the CAN professional NGOs and replace their lobbying with a joint System change not climate change message?

3. Greenpeace, Oxfam, Iniciativa 350 México, (Initiative 350), Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Oficina México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Boell Fundation – Mexican office for Central America and the Carribean, Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, (Mexican Center for Environmental Rights) Presencia Ciudadana, (Citizens presence) and Pronatura have in a joint Mexican position paper on REDD, reduction of emissions from deforestration and forest degradation, and other COP issues declared their positive affirmation of this instrument if it is not funded by market mechanisms and indigenous peoples rights are respected. But the concerns raised by many mass movements completly rejecting REDD like in India or among system critical organizations following the process are not only an issue of financing mechanisms and rights. It is also that in practice rights are quite often not followed  and the general push for saving the climate through monoculture plantations. Critical concerns about REDD that is also reflected in the statements made by the Cochabamba Climate Conference. The Klimaforum09 declaration does the opposite from what the Mexican NGOs prefer to do. In the declaration REDD is denounced  and instead a call is made for ”An immediate ban on deforestation on primary forests and the parallell initiation of an ambitious global tree-planting program based on native and diverse species in partnership with indigenous peoples and forest depedent communities.” These ideas are shared by the Cochabamba meeting as well as the Mexican grass root groups supporting the Klimaforum10 initiative, groups that have a long standing record of being indepedent from the envrionmental NGOs participating in sustainable development lobbying within the system. On which side are you politically in the conflict between main stream environmental NGOs like Greenpeace, Boell fundation and Oxfam and grass root environmental groups as Ecomunidades and the consensus reached in Cochabamba?

4. The Klimaforum09 did not allow political parties being members of the host committee although they in their own name could organize activities during the forum. The Mexican grass root organizations behind the Klimaforum10 are also sceptical towards political parties as members of a host committee. Is this a problem for you or your Mexican cooperation partners?

Tord Björk

On behalf of myself

Member of Friends of the Earth Sweden climate working group and the Peasant and indigenous committee

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=1607
Report from Mexico by Christophe Aguiton and Nicola Bullard: http://www.climate-justice-now.org/the-mobilisation-for-cancun
Píntale las rayas al cambio climático: http://pintalelaraya.org
Mexican NGOs on REDD and other COP issues in Spanish: http://www.boell-latinoamerica.org/web/117.html or direct link to pdf file: http://www.boell-latinoamerica.org/downloads/10_puntos_Esenciales_Copenhage_final.pdf
A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09: System change – not climate chnage:
http://declaration.klimaforum.org/declaration/english
Peoples Agreement, Cochabamba: http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/peoples-agreement

The Heat Is On, nr 3 Copenhagen process update

While the official COP15 process runs into more and more problems the movements are getting better and better organised for the Copenhagen summit in December. US has taken the lead dragging EU along on forgetting about the Kyoto protocol and replacing it with self regulation. With India wanting to split the G77 and opt for an alliance with the US positions to put the good parts of the Kyoto protocol aside and replace it with a non-agreement the situation becomes more shaky than ever. In Denmark the chief negotiator have left the process.  It seems like it is only the Danish environmental and energy minister and incoming COP15 president, Connie Hedegaard, that keeps smiling presenting the idea of agreeing on a non-agreement without a protocol as a successful outcome – “I think what matters is that we, when we depart from Copenhagen, with credibility can say we brought the world on the right track, on a track that makes it credible that we can stay below the two degrees average increase in temperature worldwide. That is basically the success criteria we must try to deliver on.” She also stress that there must be some money from developed countries to the developing world. A new agreement is no longer a goal. It is thoughtful if the most badly hit countries will accept a less strong decision than the already too weak Kyoto protocol when it becomes more and more evident that the climate change is worsening.

For an interview with Connie Hedegard read
http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=2257

Analysis over the present negotiation situation you will find at many places.

Content The Heat Is On nr 3 issued October 25 2009

1. Biggest environmental action day ever October 24.

” The outcome must be described as successful. The creativity used all across the globe to present the message of the campaign have shown that many wants to participate in new ways that was first used very broadly at the Anti Iraq war demonstrations in 2003. The large number of activities shows the effectiveness of American campaigning. ”

” One way that the climate justice movement used the October 24 international action day was to expose carbon trading scam.”

Read more: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=710

2. International Climate Justice Tribunal 13-14 October

In Cochabamba in Bolivia an International Climate Justice Tribunal was organised on October 13-14. Seven cases was addressed by the tribunal in Bolia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Accused were rich countries that are included in the Kyoto agreement in Annex 1,the Dutch foundation Forest Absorbing Carbon Emissions and a number of other economic organisations.

Reda more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=707

3. The crucial role of migrants in the climate justice movement

” Both at a meeting called Inspiration Latin America in Stockholm an at a consultation organised by People’s Movement on Climate Change in Copenhagen it became evident that migrants will play a crucial role in the Copenhagen process.”

Read more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=692

4. Climate Justice Now cooperates more closely with CJA and Klimaforum

“A Climate Justice Action meeting took place in Copenhagen to prepare for actions in December October 15-18 and a Klimaforum meeting on October 18. At both occasions Climate Justice Now organisations as Via Campesina was a strong cooperation partner.”

http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=703

5. December 16 more non-violent than December 12?

” One thing is for sure. Some organisers of the broad climate demonstration on December 12 as representatives of Climate Action in Sweden tries to claim that they are doing a good non-violent manifestation while Climate Justice Action on December 16 is doing something more violent. Now it is clear. They do not know what they talk about. ”

Read more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=679

6. Repression unifies.

“A proposal for new legislation against riots in Denmark can severely effect the demonstrations during COP15. Sentences for a number of acts like staying in a demonstration after it has been dissolved by the police or other crimes that are hard to define in a grey zone is supposed to be followed by much higher sentences in prison or fines than before.

This has caused also main stream NGOs to react apart from active work from Danish CJA activists.”

Including some notes concerning repression in Denmark from a Swedish perspective

“The Danish political culture is rather repressive. This is not only due to the government, the political parties, the police and the media but also highly competiveness between organisations.”

Read more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=690

G20 Pittsburgh demonstration and climate justice camp

Protesting against G20 failure in addressing climate change

Some 4000 to 10000 protesters gathered at the G20 Summit and 4900 policemen. The G20 failed in addressing the issue of how to solve the crisis for those most severly hit in the South and focused mostly on moralistic superficial goals as actions against bonuses for bosses, an issue that looks good in the mass media in rich countries.

The main demonstration People’s March was initiated by the peace organization Thomas Merton Center. The issues raised by protesters had a wide range from supporting workers hit by the crisis to peace and climate change. Camps were organized as Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC), pink code for women’s peace activism and others.

3RCC reports as many other groups harassments by the police from refusal to allow demonstrations to walk according to the permit given to the use of new anti-demonstration weapons. The Police unleashed tear gas and sound cannon. Alternative media reports almost 200 arrested, the police 83. 19 businessmen had their windows smashed.

It seems as the G20 protests were more a testing ground for technology than a place were politics was developed. The new police weapon against demonstrators  was in use as well as pepper spray, extra long sticks etc. The demonstrators used Twitter to communicate. The puppets that once was a favourite in antiglobalization demonstrations is no gone according to one report. Instead masks with politicians are as popular as ever.

Workshops were puppets were built before demonstrations was popular for the police in implementing a new police strategy after Seattle built on lies and knowledge of psychology. In April 2000 and later the police claimed that molotov cocktail or similar weapons were inside the buildings were the puppets were made. Then they stormed the workshop with predictable result. Protesters came to the place in solidarity, there were clashes with the police and the proactive strategy had been successful. The police could both arrest those that had strong solidariet feelings and present an image to the media of violent demonstrators. Of course the molotov cocktails never existed. This proactive US police tactic to escalate violence at Summits were in June 2001 brought to Europe by Håkan Jaldung, head of the police operation during the EU Summit in Gothenburg and partcipant in education for police offciers 40 times in the US. The difference was that while the US police had used the tactic against puppet workshops with some 75 people inside the Swedish police used against the mina convergence center, counter summit and sleeping quarters of 700 people. Jaldung made the action in close connection with US intelligence against the advice from Swedish national security police who had many infiltrators inside and saw no reason to storm the convergence center. The result was chaos during three days initiatied by the police, shooting against demonstrators with live ammunition and 90 per cent of the population supporting the police. 50 demonstrators were sentenced in total 50 years to prison and the left split blaiming each other for the riots instead of defending those on trial. So watch out for US police tactics.

The article below that have received very many responses and started a debate is: Are We Addicted to Rioting?

Tord Björk

From Gipfelsoli Newsletter – Globalized Solidarity:

G20 Protests Rock Pittsburgh

News, updates and analysis on the G20 summit in Pittsburgh and associated
protests.

See http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2009092501263020#comments

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Protests at Group of 20 Conference [Photos]

More: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Home/G20_2009_Pittsburgh_Pictures

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G20 riots in Pittsburgh – How I organized them via Twitter

During the recent G20 protests in Pittsburgh a group of on-the-ground
participants, residents from Pittsburgh, mainstream and alternative media
writers, left-wing activists and regular folks came together to form a virtual
community on Twitter. We shared info, were collectively shocked at police
violence and plugged important gaps in mainstream coverage of the protests.
Here, Mike Gogulski responds to the charge that he was responsible for rioting
protesters.

by Mike Gogulski
from NoState.com

More:
http://socialistwebzine.blogspot.com/2009/10/g20-riots-in-pittsburgh-how-i-organized.html

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Are We Addicted to Rioting?

The G20 is upon us, and though BBC world news featured some of “the troubles” in
Pittsburgh, on the ground reports hardly match up with the media-inflation,
police-inflation, and activist-inflation of the actual thing. As one who was
not present in Pittsburgh, I cannot give a first-hand account. Phone calls with
friends on the ground and various independent and corporate-media accounts are
my window to the events. But as one who has participated in countless similar
events, who didn’t attend the G20 due to feelings of disconnection/confusion
with my own people, I felt strongly enough to write this.

More: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2009092714272755#comments

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Robocops Come to Pittsburgh…and Bring the Latest Weaponry with Them

By mike ferner

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of “crowd
control munitions,” including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S.,
was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during
last week’s G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many
thousands of police (most transported on Port Authority buses displaying
“PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD”), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with
overreacting”and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.

Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray,
flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first
time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), I saw the LRAD in
action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an
old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a
high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks
of pedestrians, merchants and journalists and drove residents into their homes,
but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and
sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear
looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie
you didn’t want to be in.

More:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/2/Robocops-Come-to-Pittsburg-by-mike-ferner-090928-713.html

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Groggy but not subdued, anarchists hail protest success with little damage

They weren’t stockpiling human waste to throw at police.

They didn’t set cars ablaze or chain themselves together in “sleeping dragons”
with PVC pipe.

The anarchists who police and media had warned for months could wreak havoc on
the city during the G-20 summit didn’t exactly fulfill that expectation.
Instead, they smashed some windows and turned over a few Dumpsters, flooded the
streets of Lawrenceville and staged sporadic uprisings for hours elsewhere, met
by a large contingent of riot police at almost every turn.

Some were sprayed with OC gas, others pelted with rubber bullets. Still others
were arrested in the demonstrations, which they had spent their summers
planning.

More: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09269/1000990-482.stm

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Pittsburgh police use sub-lethal weapons against protestors

Mega-events are often the time for some surveillance / control / security innovation and experimentation by states. In what seems to be a rather unwelcome first, the Pittsburgh police have used a military sonic canon to clear protestors off the streets at the G20 summit. These devices are among many so-called ’sub-lethal weapons’ (see the article by Steve Wright here) that have been gradually migrating from military to civilian use for a number of years – see for example the ongoing debate over the use in the UK of the ultrasonic ‘Mosquito’ device, which is supposed to target young people; its makers rather cynically advertise it as ’so effective that they tried to ban it’.

The particular weapon used by the Pittsburgh police is the Long Range Accoustic Device (LRAD) made by the American Technology Corporation, which generates a piercing noise that is not only extremely unpleasant, it can damage eardrums and cause heart problems. It was rather eeriely appropriate to see them being used (as you can on The Guardian’s website) on the same day that TNI / Statewatch released their report on the security-industrial complex and a reminder that this is a global phenomenon.

More: http://ubisurv.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/pittsburgh-police-use-sub-lethal-weapons-against-protestors/

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G-20 opponents, police clash on Pittsburgh streets

PITTSBURGH — Police threw canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks.

The march turned chaotic at just about the same time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world’s major economies.

The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advocating against capitalism, tried to march from an outlying neighborhood toward the convention center where the summit is being held.

Police in riot gear stood guard near the protesters, who banged on drums and chanted “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

The hundreds of marchers included small groups of self-described anarchists, some wearing dark clothes and bandanas and carrying black flags. Others wore helmets and safety goggles.

More: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5izJGY1GNeNYgNG6q1N0bsXCVfBeAD9ATUDIG1

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66 arrested in Pittsburgh G20 protests

POLICE in Pittsburgh have arrested 66 people after a night of battles with protesters who tried to march on a summit of the world’s top leaders, the FBI says.
Twenty-four people were arrested yesterday when groups of diehard youths refused to disperse when police used pepper spray and fired bean bag rounds to break up an unauthorised demonstration of around 1000 protesters.

Anarchists had attempted to march on the conference centre hosting the Group of 20 summit of the world’s leading economies, which anti-capitalist activists regard as an unaccountable group that ignores the world’s poor.

A further 42 people were arrested when protests erupted in Schenley Plaza near the University of Pittsburgh in the evening, the FBI said in a statement today.

More: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26126665-12377,00.html

You find more similar material at www.gipfelsoli.org

Stora Enso lies and prosecution of MST activists

The image of Via Campesina and MST as violent is wide-spread and recurrent in Brazilian media. Often activists are described as armed and violent, even when the official police reports and witness statements after the event proves the opposite.

Recently the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Samonat was sucked into this gossip carousel when they told that MST, at a meeting with Stora Enso, had threatened the company with violence and murder unless the eucalyptus plantation ceased. This was simply a lie. I who had attended the meeting (and have it all taped) can confirm that MST not to said anything close to this. After having contacted the newspaper and sent the recording to them they were forced  to publish a correction.

But the damage is already done and it is this media logic that strikes against the social movements in Brazil right now. The steady stream of accusations and charges against activists of the MST and Via Campesina attaches itself to the public retina and the social movements gest increasingly isolated.

When I talked to one of the MST’s lawyers a few weeks ago, I realized how few of the criminal investigation brought against MST activists led to any convictions. Activists acquitted almost always. The MST-lawyer did not believe that the Via Campesina women would be sentenced when the evidence provided in this case was weak. I’m no lawyer and can not really judge that. Anyway, one might wonder why so much time and resources are spent on these investigations as they almost never lead to any convictions? Why prosecute if you do not have proof?

My own explanation is that it works in the media. Every time the MST, or Via Campesina mentioned can reporters say “The women, who were charged with burglary and attempted murder” or “MST, which is currently investigated for embezzlement” and so on.

The allegations raised often takes several years to examine and is a simple way to link the movements with illegal and violent activities. And in the long run MST and Via Campesina becomes more and more isolated because of this. Even if newspapers occasionally publish a correction.

from email by Max da Rocha, Friends of MST Sweden

One of the 69 injured female activists during the occupation of Stora Enso plantation

Women Struggle against Agribusiness, for Agrarian Reform and Food Sovereignty

Tord Björk | global crisis,monoculture,MST,Women | Sunday, March 29th, 2009

700 Via Campesina women occupy the fazenda Ana Paula

Women from La Via Campesina mobilized last week on March 8th for International Women’s Day. The fight is our historic tool to denounce the agribusiness model which is socially unjust and environmentally unsustainable. We also question the role of the State, which in the wake of a deep structural economic crisis, chooses to aid big private companies which exploit our country, its biodiversity, our natural resources and leave our workers unemployed.

We live in a period where there is a new right-wing offensive against social movements. With this campaign, we show the enemies of Agrarian Reform and of the worker, that we will continue confronting agribusiness, creating an alternative project for the Brazilian countryside.

While factory farms receive R$65 billion in financing from the government, family farmers, which generate jobs and produce food for the people, are left with less than R$13 billion. In 2008, BNDES gave to various sectors, including mining, stockbreeding, cellulose and paper, nearly R$17 billion.

In the wake of the crisis, these sectors were the first to throw their negative effects onto the backs of workers: firms tied to agribusiness left 134,000 people unemployed in the country. It was the second highest sector of unemployment since September, when the international economic crisis began.

The actions of our struggle transform the sentiment of all workers in cities and in the countryside into struggle:

We won’t pay for the crisis!

We denounce monocultural production, and for that reason we occupy sugar cane and eucalyptus plantations. Those crops advance over food production and damage our biodiversity. For that reason we occupied the Cosan power plant in São Paulo, a Votorantim farm in Rio Grande do Sul, a Vale eucalyptus farm in Maranhão, we cut stalks of sugar cane in Paraíba, and planted beans and corn in their place.

We denounce dangerous working conditions that lead to slave-like exploitation, and for that reason we occupied sugar plantations in Pernambuco and marched in Paraná. We denounce the project calling for the transfer of the São Francisco River and we occupied Codevasf in Pernambuco.

1300 female workers occupy the harbor Portocel

We denounce the agro export model, which prioritizes the profits made by large companies. We occupied Portocel port, used and operated by Aracruz Cellulose, in Espírito Santo state, questioning the exportation of 96% of disposable paper from its production to consumers in the north.

We questioned the agribusiness model and its financing of the State. The alliance between large property owners and transnational corporations has been deemed legitimate by the government, which doesn’t prioritize the family farmer. In Brasília we occupied the Agricultural Ministry, we occupied Incra offices in Rio Grande do Norte and in Paraíba. We occupied the Banco do Brasil agency in Santa Catarina.

We protested in front of the Federal Supreme Court, whose president, Gilmar Mendes, has assumed the role as a leader of the right in Brazil. He defends his interests as a large property owner and the interests of his social caste. He doesn’t want Agrarian Reform or to see land redistributed. We will continue with our promise and remain mobilized and we won’t waver against those most reactionary sectors, the transnational corporations and financial capital.

And while land, water and seeds are threatened, we will be ready. We are the progeny of so many men and women who did not submit to inequality and injustice. We have a plan for Brazilian agriculture, with its base being food sovereignty, family agriculture and Agrarian Reform, to address the necessities of the Brazilian people.

At this moment, we place ourselves at the side of Brazilian society to discuss how to confront the economic crisis and construct a popular development plan, with social justice and popular sovereignty.

MST National Coordinators

Women raise their voices against tree plantations

Tord Björk | Environmental movements,Friends of the Earth,monoculture,Stora Enso,Women | Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Quote from email:

Brazilian women protesting against plantations March 8 2009

“I would like to draw your attention to following video produced by World Rainforest Movement – an international network involved in efforts to  defend the world’s rainforest and forests peoples.

Over the last years World Rainforest Movement has been carrying out a
campaign against the expansion of large scale tree monocrops. And within that campaign we have been working on and documenting the differentiated
impacts that monoculture plantations have on women.

World Rainforest Movement has recently produced a 12 minute video called “Women raise their voices against tree plantations. Testimonies from Brazil, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea” (available at http://www.wrm.org.uy/Videos/Women_Voices.html) which was announced on  March 8: International Women’s Day.
The video is the result of three workshops conducted in PNG, Nigeria and Brazil within the framework of a project on the Role of the European Union in disempowering women in the South through the conversion of local ecosystems into tree plantations. The video is accompanied by a written report containing further information on the findings of the workshops. (summary report at: http://www.wrm.org.uy/subjects/women/summaryreport.pdf // full report at: http://www.wrm.org.uy/subjects/women/fullreport.pdf )

In the case of Papua New Guinea the workshop refers to oil palm plantations that are being mainly promoted to feed the European market with palm oil (used in products such as cosmetics, soap, vegetable oil and foodstuffs)  as well as for the production of agrofuels.

The second case is that of Nigeria which is about rubber plantations established on the lands of a local community by the France-based Michelin company for producing rubber used in the manufacture of tyres.

And finally the Brazilian case is about eucalyptus plantations set up by three companies -the Swedish-Finnish Stora Enso, Aracruz Celulose and Votorantim- for producing pulp for export to Europe for converting it there into paper.

World Rainforest Movement hopes with this tool to raise awareness on how European policies, consumption levels and corporations  are impacting on women’s lives in Southern countries.

Best regards
Barbara
Barbara Specht
Advocacy Officer, WIDE”

Footnote. It can be added that Friends of the Earth International also have co-produced the video together with WRM.

Women protest against agribusiness

Tord Björk | Latin American movements,monoculture,MST,Repression,Women | Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

On this Monday (9 / 3), women of Via Campesina are protestng to denounce the government support given to agribusiness and transnational corporations of the export sector – especially agriculture – in the context of global economic crisis, while neglecting the rural workers, the small farmers and agrarian reform. So far, the protests were held in four regions: Central West (Brasilia), Southeast (Espírito Santo and São Paulo), South (Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná) and Northeast (Pernambuco). All are part of Day of Struggle on the International Women’s Day.

Only in December, the agribusiness fired 134 thousand people across country. The agribusiness sector has in the economic crisis resigned second most in the country, despite the high profitability of the last period and the investments of the government. In 2008, BNDES disbursed to the sectors of mining, agriculture, pulp and paper around 17 billion Reais. Of the total of 1.51 trillion Reias forecatsed for the period between 2008 and 2011, the agribusiness has forecast only 45.1 billion Reias in investments.

“The economic crisis demonstrates that the current economic model supporting the agribusiness and transnational companies submit our country to international capital and are responsible for global collapse. Now, they are asking the government or the states for help and dismiss their workers. Brazilian society and workers can not pay for the crisis of neoliberalism, “says Itelvina Masioli, of the Via Campesina.

“It’s time to change the agricultural model, bringing to reality the land reform and an economic model that is strengthening the internal market and increasing the minimum wage to protect workers and guarantee the national sovereignty,” he concludes.

Occupants at the Agricultural ministery in Brasilia

In Brasilia, 800 women from Via Campesina occupied the building of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, in Brasília. The demonstration denounced the government’s agrarian policy, led by the Ministry of Agriculture, controlled by big landowners, upholding the large, transnational companies and financial capital, responsible for the crisis.

The rural workers also complain about the development model imposed by the government, transnational corporations and banks for the Brazilian countryside, and charge the implementation of a model based on small farm agriculture through the implementation of agrarian reform and an economic policy geared to the generation of jobs for the population.

Occupants entering Fazenda Ana Paula

In Rio Grande do Sul, 700 women organized by Via Campesina occupied the Fazenda Ana Paula, owned by Votorantim Celulose e Papel. The occupation began with the cutting of eucalyptus in the area. After speculation against the Brazilian currency and take losses on the financial crisis, the VCP has received 6.6 billion Reias from the Brazilian government to acquire Aracruz Celulose, by buying half of Banco Votorantim’s portfolio and a loan from the National Bank Economic and Social Development, BNDES. The cost of purchase was 5.6 billion Reias.

The VCP had promised to generate 30 thousand jobs in the state and even receive tax exemptions and resources of federal, state and municipalities, the Aracruz caused the resignation of 1.2 thousand workers in Guaiba, between workers and engineers, and other VCP 2 thousand workers. The agribusiness sector has resigned second most of all sectors in the present financial crisis. Only in December, the agribusiness fired 134 thousand people across the country.

Occupants at Portocel

In the Espirito Santo, about 1,300 women from Via Campesina occupied the Portocel, port of exports of the company Aracruz Celulose, located in Barra do Riacho, Aracruz municipality to terminate the transfer of public resources of the state to the company. Women entered the port, did an act with the destruction of part of the production of eucalyptus, and left the area. Aracruz is recieving public resources, but does not create or guarantee jobs, destroys the environment and does not contribute to national development.

To save the Aracruz’s bankruptcy, the government pass through BNDES – with funds from the FAT (Fundo de Amparo to work) – 2.4 billion Reias for the Votorantim group to buy shares of Aracruz. Even with the resources to support the employee, the company does not guarantee employment, and has fired more than 1,500 outsourced workers. The case is a demonstration that the interests of private companies do not overlap with the interests of the Brazilian people.

The planted area of companies in the sector of paper and pulp totals 5.5 million hectares in our country, not counting the 304 hectares of fields belonging to third parties but used by companies for the plantation of eucalyptus (because of Votorantim). Still, this was the sector of the economy that felt the changes more quickly toward the economy, due to speculation in the financial market.

The Aracruz, Votorantim Celulose e Papel (VCP) and Klabin had a combined loss of 2, 7 billion Reias in the third quarter of the year. The speculation of Aracruz caused losses estimated at approximately 2 billion Reias (equivalent to the amount of revenue a year of exports of pulp manufacturer, for 2.1 billion Reias in 2007). “Companies make money on our natural resources, speculates in the financial market and, in time of crisis, dismiss workers and runs to the state government for help,” wonders Itelvina Masioli.

Occupants in Barra Bonita

In Sao Paulo, about 600 workers from Via Campesina occupied this Monday (09) an area of Cosan in the municipality of Barra Bonita, the region of Jau, 280 km from the capital. The group Cosan operates an area two times larger than the total number of acres intended for Agrarian Reform in the State of São Paulo: 605 hectares by the group, only 300 thousand to 15 thousand families in state and federal settlements.

Occupants at Barra Bonita

The unit of Barra, the place of the manifestation, is the largest sugar and ethanol mill in the world capable of crushing the cane, a symbol of the sugar-alcohol sector. According to analysis by the BNDES (2003), the plant operates more than 70 hectares of land, of which about 18 hectares are owned by the company itself, and the others are rented, covering six counties in the region. “The land of the group Cosan does not meet its social role and thus are in total disagreement with what the Constitution provides for the country. Therefore, their land should be designed for Agrarian Reform immediately, scores Soraia Soriano, Via Campesina.

In Pernambuco, more than 200 rural workers from Via Campesina held a demonstration in Cruangi Mill, located in Alliance, Zona da Mata Norte in Pernambuco against the model of monoculture of sugar cane and slave labor in the State. The mill became one of the symbols of exploitation of rural workers when, in February, in an operation of the mobile inspection group against slave labor, were rescued 252 workers, among them 27 minors. All found in the mill, under slavery.

The sugar-alcohol sector was the branch of economics that is most used in labor-slave in the year 2008. According to CPT, 2,553 workers were rescued last year in the fields of cane. This number represented 49% of workers found in the system of slave labor in the country in 2008. In Pernambuco, 529 workers were found in situations of slavery and extreme exploitation in the factories in the state, last year. One of the most emblematic case was the Victoria Mill in the town of Palmares, here more than 240 rural workers who worked in degrading situations were rescued.

In Paraná, 1,000 workers from Via Campesina organised a march through central Porecatu, in the northern partt of the state. The demonstration began in the morning, leaving the City Hall Community Center to the central square, where a celebration was held with the sharing of food for Agrarian Reform. During the journey the women denounced the model of agribusiness, production of monocultures (from sugarcane, soybean, eucalyptus, pine, among others) and transnational, that destroy biodiversity, peasant culture and prevent the Agrarian Reform.

The Paraná workers also made a collect for the settlement of 6 thousand families remaining camped out in about 65 camps in the state, and the expropriation of fazenda Variante belonging to the Gorup Atalla in Porecatu, where workers were in a state of slavery. The area is occupied by 300 families from the MST, since the beginning of November last year.

There are in Brazil 130 thousand families camping out and more than four million households of landless. “The implementation of land reform and consolidation of a new agricultural model dependent on the defeat of the current economic model. The provision of rural credit from the federal government for the agriculture business in this season (2008/09) is 65 billion Reias and only 13 billion Reias to the family farm, with exemption of taxes on exports. Export only raw materials do not develop the country, and income distribution, ” says Itelvina Masioli, of the Via Campesina.

Other actions:

Affected by dams claim rights in Paraíba

Since the morning of Monday (9 / 3), activists from Via Campesina and People’s Assembly are mobilized in João Pessoa, in Paraíba. The actions, which continue throughout the day, mark the national day of struggle of women and international day of struggle against the dams.

In the morning, around 350 women occupied the Association of Planters of Cana and the state in a symbolic gesture, cut feet and cane planting beans and corn. The action was in protest to the impacts of the production of ethanol in Brazil: exremely explottive and degrading conditions of work in the cane fields, the contamination of soil, air and water, the land and the concentration of expensive land, which further weaken programs of land reform, and threatens the production of foods that are consumed in the country.

This afternoon, about 800 protesters march to follow in the seat of government of the state. They demand the immediate resettlement of all families affected by the dam built to accumulate water and causing the displacement of approximately 4,500 people.

Women burn eucalyptus logs of the Valley in Maranhao

In a political action of protest, women of Via Campesina burned this Monday (9 / 3) a production of logs of eucalyptus in the Valley ranch, in Açailândia in Maranhao.

The action that is part of the National Day of Peasant Struggle of Women. Women protest against the advance of the monoculture of eucalyptus in the area, practiced by transnational companies that are installed in the Brazilian countryside. The eucalyptus planted in the Valley is intended only to supply acoal, creating air pollution in the region and the assault on health of inhabitants of the surroundings.

The coal industry is located just 800 meters from the California settlement, the result of an occupation in 1996. The more than 1.8 thousand people suffer every day of the settlement with the burning of coal by 70 industrial furnaces and the Valley is causing respiratory diseases, headaches, eye irritation and sinusitis. Therefore, it became common, settlers suffer breathing stops and starts up the spills.

Last year, the company had promised install filters on chimneys and coal burning process of the interim of eucalyptus in the coal, but nothing was accomplished.

The progress of the ‘green desert in the Amazon region started in the early 80s. Companies arriving in the region and taking over the ownership of the best land for the production of cellulose, which in the last ten years has been used to produce charcoal. In Maranhão, are more than 10 municipalities affected by the aggressive and damaging monoculture of eucalyptus
(rudimentary translation by Tord Björk from mst article in portuguese with the help of google translate, photos from MST website)

Peasant women against agro-business

Tord Björk | monoculture,MST,Women | Monday, March 9th, 2009

PEASANT WOMEN IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST AGRO-BUSINESS,
FOR THE AGRARIAN REFORM AND FOOD SOVEREIGNTY

We peasant women, riparian, extractivists, indigenous, afro-descendants and landless come forward to denounce, through our political actions, the extreme seriousness of the Brazilian situation. We will not be subordinated to a capitalist and patriarchal model of society, which concentrates power and wealth. We do not want the agriculture project from the agro-business, hydro-business and the transnational corporations in Brazil.

We are mobilizing, to denounce the political, economic, social and environmental crises created by the elite in charge of the State: national and international financial capital. We are not prepared to pay the bill of the crises, through the super-exploitation of our labor, low  wages, longer shifts and the escalation in the exploitation of our natural resources. We therefore DENOUNCE:

THE AGRO AND HYDRO BUSINESSES ARE UNSUSTAINABLE: monocultures, notably sugar-cane, soy and eucalyptus cause strong  environmental unbalance, serious social problems, generating grave consequences for humanity through the intense use of agro-chemicals. It is a model that appropriates and dominates water, land, energy sources, minerals, seeds, and our bio-diversity. It exerts control on seeds through GMOs, increasing illnesses, especially in women and children. It rolls over natural resources, in the greed to increase profits from forests, in the Amazon and in what is left of the Brazilian Savannah [cerrado], Atlantic forest, the pampa biome and the northeastern semi-arid.

SUPER-EXPLOITATION OF LABOR: major profits in this model derive from low wages, precarization, constant threats of  unemployment and conditions similar to slave labor. It is this super-exploitation of labor  which allows the commodities produced in this model to be cheaper and more  competitive in the world.

FINANCING OF THE STATE: this model benefits from public investment taken from the poor in the form of taxes and transferring those resources to banks and companies. Brazilian government collects from society, every year, 150 billion reais and transfers those resources to  banks in order to pay for a debt that was not made by the people, who were never consulted about it. The owners of those papers are no more than 20 thousand  rich people, among bank owners and national and international financial  speculators..

Without those resources, the government cannot invest in education,  employment, health, welfare rights, housing and the agrarian reform. The transfer occurs specially through the FAT [Fund for the Assistance of Workers] and the BNDES [National Bank for Economic and Social Development] – -both government bodies.

It is the most profitable model for capitalists and the most dependent on  public investment. The government and the State give total support to it since it generates dollar credits. That is done specially in terms of credit lines:  the agro-business receives for their exports, more than 65 billion reais a year from public banks and tax exemption. To export only raw material does not  develop the country and does not distribute wealth to all.

AN ALLIANCE that affects food sovereignty and the control of Brazilian agriculture: There´s an alliance between major land owners and transnational corporations to  control the supply of industrial agricultural products – manures, fertilizers, chemical poisons and machines, control prices and markets for each product. Brazil continues prioritizing the export of raw materials, without added values, selling at low prices and by doing so they are transferring part of our  natural wealth included in the product.

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF THE STRUGGLE: Recently, the State has used its  entire police
machine, the judiciary and the media to defend corporations, the agro-business and private
property and to criminalize social struggles.

We reafirm the struggle as the only solution for social transformation! And we have the right to struggle!

We are mobilizing to defend agro-ecology, bio-diversity, co-op peasant agriculture, the production of healthy food, the Agrarian Reform, welfare rights, free and good health and education for  all. In order to defend land, water, seeds, energy and oil as nature´s goods at the service of human beings.

We break the silence to recuperate peasant culture and knowledge, to recuperate our country, Brazil. And to do so we call the Brazilian people to join the struggle. To join us to build a new development project that will benefit the Brazilian people and not corporations and banks.

We will continue struggling and organizing women, men, the working youth, children in order to defend our rights to live in a fair, egalitarian, and sovereign country.

Hurray for march 8th: The international Day of
Struggle for Working Women!

VIA CAMPESINA BRAZIL and FETRAF – MARCH
2009

More about the actions in portuguese at: http://www.mst.org.br/mst/especiais.php?ed=86

The Lilac Bloc

You see them everywhere now. At the MST 25th anniversary, the lilac scarves. Hanging around the neck of women or put in front of the mouth on pictures of activists with sharpened agricultural tools in their hands.

The development seems to have been quick. On the first photos of determined actvists on the way to occupy and even cut down eucalupty trees seen as a threat against a sustainable future the scarves are multicolor. But now in short time they are all lilac. Some with prints on them in black promoting Via Campesina, the global organisation for peasants. The lilac block which is quite different and better organised than the masked blocs in rich countries. A lilac block that carefully carries out both resistance and constructive actions building wider and wider solidarity between oppressed groups using direct actions.


The militant actions on Womens international day March 8 have strengthened the unity among rural women in Brazil struggling for common interests against domestic land owners but more and more mainly against transnational corporations.

Lats year actions took place in 17 different states. The largest was an action against Finnish-Swedish forest company Stora Enso. Here is how the action developed. It started early in the morning:

Female activist chopping eucalyptu at Stora Enso plantation

Around 900 women of the movements belonging to Via Campesina occupied the Tarumã Farm, 2,100 hectares big, in the municipality of Rosário do Sul, at about 400 km from the state capital Porto Alegre. They arrived at the area at about 6 am and started immediately to cut down eucalyptus trees and to plant native trees seedlings.

The Swedish Finnish company Stora Enso had illegally bought land close to the border in the hope that they later could influence the legislators and get the laws changed.

“Our action is legitimate. It is Stora Enso that is acting illegally. Planting this green desert in the border region is a crime against the legislation of our country, against the ‘pampa’ (type of grassland) biome and against the food sovereignty of our state that stays with every time less land to produce food crops. We are cutting what is bad and planting what is good for the environment and for the people of Rio Grande do Sul”.

900 female rural workers occupation declaration against Stora Enso

Planting for the future

Time for men to arrive with their boss, the head of the military police as you can see in the middle

The first import thing to do is to get rid of mass media.

Now the real action can start

Police aiming at female activist with a gun

Destroying the milk for the children

Arresting the women

Many hundred arrested women

How the police were beating the women

We are not afraid!

Paula Acampada expain why i is necessary to struggle against the corporations.

So watch out for the lilac bloc if you see the future only in corporate rule

Friends of the Earth at WSF

Tord Björk | Friends of the Earth,monoculture,WSF | Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The plantation meeting is more than overcrowded. You can feel a sense of urgency in the air. The climate negotiations view on the future of forests on earth is cut into pieces. Trees are seen only as carbon. The representative from indigenous people is especially critical.

Friends of the Earth participates strongly in the meeting as speakers and participants. Here are at least FoE from Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Uruguay. Friends of the Earth is putting effort into three themes in Belem, that is monoculture plantation, climate justice and food sovereignity. Friends of the Earth Sweden is also interested in the development of cooperation among popular movements and strategies for ecological and social solutions on the multidimensional crisis.

Friends of the Earth groups meet at WSF to discuss plantations.

Friends of the Earth International is not putting much effort from the central level in WSF Belem. No central funds were made available for FoEI participation so the 30 or so Friends of the Earth people who are in Belem are paid by their national organisation or campaign resources. FoEI representative in the WSF process, Hildebrando Veles, are here.

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