Climate camp in Sweden

The main tent at the camp with banners against Shell plans to drill in South of Sweden.

Some 150 participants gathered the Climate Camp at Eda 50 km North of Stockholm on August 2 – 8. It was organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden and educational organizations with very broad partcipation from all strands of the climate movement as well as people’s movements representing workers, peasants, the samic people and others. People were participating from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Paraguay, Russia and Sweden. Here were many from the direct action networks as Klimax, an anarchist kitchen, Shut it down and the Nordic climate camp in the South of Sweden were some 60 people gathered in July. Here was also the climate network from the Swedish conservationist society, the transition town movement, field biologists, the anti nuclear movement, anti uranium mining activists, the new organization climate action and a number of local action groups as well as members of Friends of the Earth.

During the camp a solidarity statement was issued to support the antifascists arrested in Moscow due to the Khimki forest conflict, see:Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists.

It is ten years ago since Friends of the Earth Sweden was able to organize a similar camp at Lindsberg with some 110 partcipants from all Nordic countries uniting the merging global justice movement. Since then summer camps have had not more than 35 participants and some years not been held at all.

The central camp building

As such the gathering was a traditional summer camp Swedish style out in the forest at a lake with good possibilities for swimming, walking and doing whatever you like close to nature except going to the toilet. There was a huge number of outdoor cabins fro this purpose instead. There was also possibilities to camp in tents or indoor in rather primitive houses. One of the provocative ideas coming out of the discussions at the camp was to organize next gathering in a suburb were the working class is living next time.

There was a lot of singing inspired by a workshop on the songs of the environmental movement. Most of the songs are from the 1970s and a renewal is necessary. This was done at the spot with a song against the airport which is planned to start for civilian traffic close to Uppsala. The next day an action took place in Uppsala against the plans with the help of a huge aircraft built in the camp.

A group discussion during the camp

The most heated debate at the camp was about strategy and how to translate the concept system change. Before the debate the young radicals working in the kitchen commented that the old reformists would not turn up. But this did not really become the case. In a typical Swedish manner the will was to be as concrete as possible and thus avoiding conflicts. So the main issue soon seemed to be only a question whether to be legal or not legal. Here it was easy to reach consensus. Even conservationists nowadays, at least those at the camp, can in principle say yes to civil disobedience depending on the situation. Furthermore there was a great majority or even consensus that it could include material damage as well as consensus that it could not include harming people. So the legal issue was no conflicting issue although in practice the Swedish environmental movement once strong in mass civil disobedience today is far less active.

Panel with all parliamentary parties at the camp

The other system critical issue was the question whether to work inside or outside the parliamentary system. This framing of the issue is popular among the left but something I cannot accept. A popular movement is independent and primarily not working as a negation of what tohers do but in its own merit possibly beyond both state and market. The discussion about parliamentary or not parliamentary strategies normally ends in coma by acknowledging both ways. Notably did the representative from the Norwegian climate network state that Norway was an exception as this state was completely democratic in its foundation and thus system critical non-parliamentary strategies was not necessary in this countries. This way of presenting Norwegian history was questioned by some Swedes and also the extreme belief in parliamentarism. This parliamentary approach was combined with a technocratic look at the climate issues which made the Norwegian position at the camp very isolated.

Kitchen crew with T-shirt stating Kein sex mit nazis, No sex with nazis.

The most interesting challenge in the discussion came from the Anarchist kitchen crew that stated that Friends of the Earth Sweden was not system critical as it is not opposing capitalism. As a notion that system critical must go beyond the division between economy and politics in our society and address the foundations of economy this was interesting. The fact that FoE Sweden only states that it is against neoliberalism while being reluctant to state that it is against capitalism could be seen as a proof that ti cannot justify stating that it is a system critical organization.

The answer partly stated in the discussion is that it depends on Whether system critical primarily is defined ideologically or what an organization is doing in practice. Furthermore it is a question whether capitalism is the only major criteria behind the present system or if there can be other factors too behind a development model that is causing both environmental and social crisis. In practice FoE sweden is more radical than most anticapitalist organization by addressing wider class alliances against what cab be described as both capitalist but also state centric development models.

Carmen Blanco Valer, quecha Indian, former metal worker and chair of Latin America Groups in Sweden, now at Färnebo Peoples High School discussing a climate justice network in Sweden and having next years camp in a suburb.

This was shown during the camp were peasants, Samic people and environmentalists came together to start mobilization for food sovereignty and a new model for agriculture and forestry. The main trend at the camp was in the spirit of Climate Justice Now with the help of Simone Lovera from Paraguay and System Change not climate change with the help of Matilde Kaalund from Klimaforum in Denmark. Klimaforum have not turned into a network for sustainable transition which inspired to make some similar initiative in Sweden.

There was also a debate with all the parliamentary parties as well as the Feminist Initiative. The Center party once close ally with the environmental movement was the most criticized in the panel.

The camp ended with energy strategy discussions and organizing coming actions against uranium mining.

White and grey haired antiuranium mine actvists from North of Sweden speaking with activists from Åland, a filmmaker and Gunnar Olesen from INfoRSE.

Google translated program you see below, (from the climate camp website

Monday, August 2

During the day in Eda:

The campaign Meatfree Monday quiz about food, environmental and human
rights. Before dinner the answers are looked through – the winners get
great prizes!

Bicycle Workshop – learn how tinkering with the bike, Part 1!

9:00 to 11:00 bike parade to the camp from Uppsala Central Station

Reports outside the entrance to the old station building. Do you not have
your own bike? Contact us and we will get one!

11.00-12 Opening including Staffan Lindberg!

Bolivian ambassador in the climate negotiation panel

Niclas Hällström presenting the failed negotiations and the hopeful Cochabamba climate meeting in Bolivia. Niclas have followed the negotiations oin behalf of the Swedish Conservation Society.

13:30 to 14:30 from Copenhagen via Cochabamba on the road to Mexico?

Climate negotiations in Copenhagen in which many world leaders were
unsuccessful. But Bolivia called for a climate for both governments and the
social movements and activists came several constructive proposals for
climate justice forward. How will the formal process to move forward? Will
the false solutions remain?

Simone Lovera, Paraguay, Global Forest Coalition and active in the Climate Justice
Now network
Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth Sweden
Niclas Hällström, What Next
Bolivian ambassador

Azril Bacal translating for the Bolivian ambassador. The ambassdor seemed at ease at the camp except when coming out from the outdoor toilet

15-18.00 System Change not Climate Change!

That was the slogan that emerged most clearly in Copenhagen, for example,
at demonstrations and on Klimaforum. But what do the movements mean when
they say system change? Criticism of neoliberalism, energy conversion,
leaving the fossil fuels in the ground? Opening panel discussion on how we
can move forward after Copenhagen and Cochabamba, locally and globally.
After group discussions on various themes and assembly.

Follow-up Klimaforum in Copenhagen
International Action Day October 12
Referendum from Cochabamba in October / November
Greenhouse Development Rights – a model for climate justice?

Local activism against fossil project with Heaven or sHell
The oil company Shell have done test drilling for natural gas in southern
Sweden, with the idea of extracting fossil gas commercially. Local people
rage, and warns of the effects on water, landscape, human health. Come and
learn more about how to organize themselves and how much resistance can be

Azril Bacal, Uppsala Social Forum
Carmen Blanco Valera, Latin American teams
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition and active in the Climate Justice
Mathilde Kaalund, Klimaforum
Johanne Linster, Network Heaven or sHell
Anna Frost, the Swedish Church’s youth
Per Capercaillie, active in the Network Shut It Down

The panel from the left, Carmen Blanco Valer, Azril Bacal, Ellie Cijvat, Simone Lovera, Anna Frost, Matilde Kaalund, Johanne Linster, and Per Capercaillie.

18:00 Awards Ceremony Meatfree Monday-quiz

19:30 to 20:30 Workshop Meatfree Monday

Our great demand for meat is one of the biggest causes of many of our most
serious environmental problems and the greatest threat to world food
supply. During this workshop we talk about these issues, but focuses mainly
on how to get involved in meat production will decrease.

Per-Anders Jande
Jonas Paulsson

19:30 to 20:30 Climate justice how? – Graffiti fence / wall Journal

Workshop to begin to make a graffiti fence for climate camp.
Kajsa Grebäck, Studiefrämjandet

20:30 Short films about climate

Two short films with discussion. Filmmakers from the course at Färnebo
Folkhögskola Branch in Gothenburg.
Henry Jackson, the course “Climate change and – with the film as a tool”

Tuesday, August 3

9:00 to 10:30 People’s Movement for Change

How does today’s social movements, they are left at all? Through time,
popular movements are always pushing forward social change. But do they
have a future? What is today’s and tomorrow’s biggest challenges?
Representatives of various movements emerge with different perspectives on

Torgny Östling, Via Campesina Sweden
Carmen Blanco Valera, Latin American Groups
Leif Mettävainio, GS – The union for the forestry, wood and graphic
Malin Hammar, Democratic Alternative
Jenny Gustavsson, active in the Nordic Climate Action Camp
Moderator Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth

9:30 to 10:30 Action Planning

Planning for Wednesday’s celebration in Uppsala.
Cast: climax

10:30 to 12:00 What about energy?

The potential for energy efficiency is enormous. Many municipalities have
long had great plans to reduce energy waste, but how do you achieve these?
Would energy conversion could be faster and, if so, why does it not?
Introduction of energy efficiency then examples from Knivsta Municipality
has been identified as a good example.

Hans Nilsson, international energy advisor, Four Fact
Christina Nystrom, operations controller and investigators Knivsta

Urban and rural farming interested audience

11-13.00 Guerilla gardening

Workshop with network growth from Stockholm, on how we can cultivate our

13:30 to 14:30 Nature Tours in the climate issue with Closenatureguuides

Gustav Jilker from the Samic nation

14-18.00 Can small farmers cool the planet?

Is it true that a small-scale farming can take advantage of renewable
energy, bring back the business and take advantage of ecosystem services in
a sustainable way? How do we present the global measurement system so that
small farmers benefit rather than be discouraged? A global sustainable
agriculture should be linked to issues of food sovereignty and rural
habitats. Is urban farming an option? How can we, as social movements
operate in a fair and democratic transition to a climate-agriculture?

Group discussions on:

To take advantage of renewable energy, bring back the business and
take advantage of ecosystem services in a sustainable manner.
food sovereignty in the North and South – How do we proceed?
Town Growing and peri-urban farming – what are the benefits? City
Farmer tell of their experiences and projects.
Torgny Ostling, Via Campesina Sweden
Åke Karlsson, Small farmers
Lennart Kjörling, MST support group
Gunnar Rundgren, international consultant organic farming etc..
Kristina Belfrage, researchers at CLU, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
at SLU
Ylva Andersson and Marina Queiroz, Matparken Gottsunda
Christer Pettersson, Winter Bay Garden
Moderator Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth

Farming panel from the left, Torgny Östling, Gustaf Jillker, Christer Pettersson, Gunnar Rundgren, Marina Queiroz, Kristina Belfrage, Åke Karlsson, and Lennart Kjörling. In front Ellie Cijvat.

20-21.30 Environmental Movement’s songs!

What has been sung and sung in the environmental movement from 60/70-tal to
the present day?
When you sing? How did the songs come to? We tell and sing together.
Louise Pettersson leads. Please bring your songs and tell or tell Louise
(louise.pettersson (at) in advance. Do you have instruments:
bring it gets funnier!

You find at lots of envrionmental songs gathered by Louise at Miljörörelsens sånger, ablog with embedded videos and more.

Wednesday, August 4

9:00 to 10:30 Workshop Banner Drop

Theoretically and practically climbing on a building and hanging banners.

9-12 Prosperity without Growth

How do we solve the economy and welfare crises? What options exist for the
current growth-based market economy? Talk about welfare policies for
growth, but experience and ideas on how the question can be written into
the broader political scene.

Annika Lillemets, MP Parliamentary Candidate
Kajsa Pornainen, President Social democratic-students
Håkan Sundberg, Common Welfare and Attac

10:30 to 12:00 Guided Nature of growth with Närnaturguiderna

15:00 Markets Meeting in Uppsala

Music, speeches and street theater to the planned low-cost place (planned
for the week).

15:00 to 16:30 Nature Tours for those who stay on Eda

20:00 Fest!

On the scene:
Climatic climax reggae!
Clara Lindsjö!
Lissi Dancefloor Disaster!

Later: Instrumental improvisation with Andrew & co in the alcohol-free bar.

Ideological evening corner

Thursday, August 5

During the day at Eda:

Bicycle Workshop – learn how tinkering with the bike, Part 2!

9-11.00 Vision of the Climate Justice Town

How can a climate fair city look like and how we work to realize it?
Introductions of alternative urban plans, the car as the norm in the city
and the social aspects of the city and public transport. After two or three
groups of deepening and discussion.

Per Hulthén, Nature Conservation
Karin Sandqvist, researchers
Mr Zampa,

11:00 to 12:30 A strategy to stop the Bypass high way Stockholm
Introduction of the situation around the road project Bypass Stockholm and
the referendum as a possible strategy and how young people can be more
involved. Then work in groups, each with a strategic plan. Ends with common

Lars Igeland, Friends of the Earth
John Ottosson, Climate Action
Catherine Bergstrom, Field Biologists

10-12.00 Forum Games.

How can we break the internal and external oppression? Forum Games
discussion as a Brazilian and has spread worldwide. In the game getaltas
current problems and solutions. You may use the body, heart and brain.
Kajsa Bilius is director and drama teacher from Vang has also committed to
justice and the surrounding environment.
14-16.00 Conversion Sweden.

Why do we ask for and how can we work locally to do it? Presentation of the
International Transition movement and exchange of experiences between local
conversion groups in Sweden.

January Forsmark, Sweden, Sala Conversion
Anders Persson, Sweden and shift Söderhamn
Bjorn Lind Bergson, Conversion Group in Sigtuna

16-18.00 How to work with social media?

Workshop with

19:30 to 21:00 Just in time for fun

Gunlög Rosen has a humorous and thought-provoking idea of cultural
encounters and cultural clashes, Swedish and conventions, common sense and
our human behavior.

20:30 to 21:30 Non-alcoholic bar and music

Anders Persson and Stefan Stenmark play and sing.

Late evening corner

Friday, August 6

9-10.30 The food and the environment – with a focus on food

450 million of the billion people who are short of food in the world are
farm workers. It is not enough to buy local, organic or fair to change the
balance of power. There is union work across national borders in the global
business. There is less market, more democracy and more focus on the daily
basis to ensure that we have food on the table.

Gunnar Brulin and Malin Klingzell-Brulin, Journal of Food Workers’ Union
Case and the Mediterranean, up to date with the book Food for Thought

10:30 to 12:00 Climate, gender and power.

It is the poorest who suffer most from a warmer climate. A majority of them
are girls and women. Environmental movement needs a gender perspective? How
can the fight against climate change combined with the struggle for greater

Lisa Gålmark; writer and debater
Gerd Johnsson-Latham, Deputy Director
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition
Kajsa Lindqvist, Friends of the Earth

Simone Lovera criticizing neoliberalism at the camp

13:30 to 15:00 The world’s forests is more than sinks!

The rain forest is important for the climate and deforestation is a
significant factor in global emissions. But the rain forest become a
commodity on the stock market climate? How does it affect the origin and
forest people? Borealskogen is not as controversial as a carbon sink, but
it contains large amounts of carbon. What is happening to the climate
change track?

Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition
Amanda Tas, Protect Forests

14-15.00 Nuclear fuel chain

Is nuclear power is carbon neutral? How does nuclear power in Sweden and
other countries’ environmental security? And what happens to the waste is?

Miles Goldstick, Environmental Movement’s Nuclear Waste Secretariat (MILK)

3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Can we cope with climate without nuclear power?

Interview with Tomas Kåberger director general of the Energy Agency.

19-20.00 Nuclear power a threat to world peace!

Kerstin Grebäck, International President of the International Women’s League
for Peace and Freedom.

20:00 to 21:30 Inside or outside the system – how do we work?

Should we violate society’s laws fossils? Or cooperate with Vattenfall’s
CEO? There are all shades between conflict and dialogue, nothing is black
and white. A conversation about ethics, method and strategy in the fight
for climate justice.

Jennie Gustafsson, active in the Nordic Climate Action Camp
Per Capercaillie, active in the Shut It Down
Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth
et al.

20:10 to 20:50 Hiroshima Day – a musical exposé on nuclear power, etc.

With My Leffler and Vimmelii

21:00 Open Stage

Welcome to behave with poetry, songs, theatrical or otherwise.

Jan Wiklund, long time Friends of the Earth/Alternative City Stockholm activist presenting his book Carriers of Democracy on the history of global people’s movements the last 2 500 years at open space.

Saturday, August 7

9-9.45 What does climate justice? – For the world, Sweden and locally

Introduction to morning programs on the conversion points for climate

Tomas Björnsson, Nature Conservation

10-12.00 A great and Democratic Transition to Renewable Energy in Europe –
how does it look?

Presentation Of The Friends of the Earth Europe and the Stockholm
Environment Institute study “The 40% Study – Mobilising Europe to Achieve
Climate Justice”, the INFORSE Scenario for Energy Transition in Europe and
a scenario on energy transition in Sweden. (In English with translation
into Swedish)

Silva Herrman, Global 2000 (Austria FOE)
Goran Bryntse, SERO Swedish Federation of Renewable Energy Association
Gunnar Boye Olesen, OVE and INFORSE Europe

10-12.00 Sustainable solutions in Europe

What is being done and how people have been ways to succeed? What are the
success factors? Ispirerande examples of innovative solutions, bicycle,
car-free cities, passive areas, lerhusbyar. If eco-villages, regions and
islands that produce their own energy by including wind, solar and
fjärrvärmekopperativ parks. If the exciting new climate movement and new
economic models.

Henrik Andersson, freelance journalist

13:00 to 14:00 Vattenfall on climate and energy

About Vattenfall’s investments in new nuclear, coal, carbon storage and
renewable energy. Hearing with Jesse Fahlestock from Vattenfall.

14-15.30 Politicians Debate – 4 weeks before the election!

16-18.00 Open forum – how do we proceed?

What happened during the camp? How can we move forward with the issues
discussed? How can we collaborate between organizations and groups? How we
take care of the initiatives and ideas that come up?

Open Space is a meeting format that makes it easier for participants to set
their own agenda. Meeting Manager is Kate Grebäck from Rainey.

20:00 Fest!

On the scene:
Markus Berjlund!
Rotor club!
Alcohol free bar!

Niclas Hällström sad after coming from UN climate negotiations in Bonn, glad to be back in the camp again.

Sunday, August 8
9-10.30 Climate Justice – by popular movements or experts?

The climate debate at scientists and other experts, a major role. Climate
models will be explained and percentages calculated. Ordinary people are
struggling to keep up with, while a broad business climate needed for the
conversion to take off. But there is a conflict between experts and public

Kajsa Grebäck, Nature Conservation’s Climate Network
Monica Sundström, Friends of the Earth
Jonathan Korsør, Democratic Alternative, etc.

(This point on  the agenda was cancelled in  favour of energy discussions. The issue had partly been covered by the discussion on strategy for climate justice.)

Russian Eco defence activists chatting with Göran Bryntse, chairman of Peoples Campaign against Nuclear power and Nuclear weapons

9:00 to 10:30 Nordic Exchange on Energy

Presentations from Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden on the situation of
the Transition to Renewable Energy – Opportunities, Obstacle & the Role of
Civil Society Organization. Discussion on Possibilities for joint action.
(In English with translation into Swedish)

10.30-12 Uranium mining in Sweden

Is it to break the current uranium in Sweden and other Nordic countries?
Exploration of multiple directions and opposition groups have been created.
Filmmaker Clara Sager Maliani showing clips from his current film project
on uranium resistance in Sweden. Then call and experience exchange with
uranmotståndesgrupper from different parts of Sweden.

Elsa Berglund, Friends of the Earth
Clear Sager Maliani, film producer
Diana Fernlund, Oviken Jämtland

Closing cermony

12:30 to 13:00 Closing!

The end

Nine women from Via Campesina prosecuted

Activists during the occupation

Nine women from Via Campesina has been charged for having participated 2008 in the occupation of a large estate Tarum, belonging to Swedish-Finnish Stora Enso, in Rio Gande do Sul in southern Brazil. According to the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo the activists are accused of organizing a gang gangs (formação de quadrilha), burglary (Invasão de propriedade), corruption of minors (Corrupção de menores) and violence against officers (desobediência judicial).
4 March 2008 about 500 women occupied a large estate Tarum, belonging to the Swedish-Finnish paper company, the action was in protest against the expansion of Stora Enso’s eucalyptus plantations in the region and its devastating ecological and social consequences. The action was also directed against the alleged illegal land purchase, since a large estate was in Brazil’s frontier region, an area where foreign companies can not own land without a special permit from the Security Council. A condition that Stora Enso had not yet lived up to.
During the occupation, the police intervened against women and children with rubber bullets. According to the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo hospital treated 69 women and children with injuries from police action. Journalists who were present was escorted from the premises and those who refused to move his equipment was confiscated. Irma Ostrovsk, one of the nine identified Via Campesina women is also charged with attempted murder (tentativa de homicidio) when she was allegedly held police commander Lauro Binsfeld with a scythe.

Two of the occupants

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 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: // full report at: )

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 Specht
Advocacy Officer, WIDE”

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

School for landless at Ministerial entrance

Tord Björk | education,MST,Repression,Women | Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

At the entrance of the Ministry for Agriculture in Brasilia, the peasant women established School for Landless Paulo Freire, with about 50 children, in protest against the recent decision of the Public Ministry of Rio Grande do Sul in closing the schools of the MST (Rural Landless Movement dosTrabalhadores) in gauchos encampements.

Public school for Landless – Closing schools is a crime!

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


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!


More about the actions in portuguese at:

March 8 MST action in Stockholm

Tord Björk | International action,MST,Women | Monday, March 9th, 2009

MST activists in rainy and snowy cold Stockholm at the International Women’s Day demonstration with banners and posters supporting the struggle in Brazil. The poster says Support rural workers and  women in Brazi for the environment and against Stora Enso.

Is MST for or against women’s emancipation?

Tord Björk | Latin American movements,MST,Women | Monday, March 9th, 2009

Are female activists in MST an emancipatory force in women’s struggle or do they represent backwardness and traditional rural values?

Man and woman at Jair Costa MST camp. Photo Pertti Simula

Many positive towards womens emancipation and female activists struggling may see this as an odd question. That antipatriarchial activists within MST from any point of view positive towards women’s emancipation are good for feminism is something everyone can agree upon. But that does not mean that they might be misused by a movement that in the end is authoritarian struggling for traditional values working against emancipation. Or that they are used or choose themselves to use old-fashioned methods that can be stamped by media as violent.

Men and women at Coptar MST cooperative. Photo Pertti Simula

Swedish author Magnus Linton have described his ambiguity towards MST in his book Americanos. On the one hand he sees MST as an impressive movement bringing social justice by breaking with authorian old parliamentary party politics. On the other hand he cannot decide himself clearly. He show how beating of wifes still continue in MST camps and settlements. He gives examples on how social hiearchies are reestablished in MST settlements between those that succed and those that fail to enlarge the small resources of animals and seedlings they are given by the government once they are recogninzed to get their piece of land according to the agragrian reform. And how a women living alone is less worth than a women living in a stable relationship.

But this reality may no movement be able to change alone. In reality both Linton and many others can show that MST is making things better for most people in the movement.

Women at Coopan MST cooperative. Photo Pertti Simula

Linton sees that the there is especially one conflicting issue between MST and socially interested presidents as Lula or other parts of the global justice movement which causes problems for women. That is the highly critical view on urbanisation.  Linton quotes one of the old MST leaders, Irma Brennetto, who describes how hard it is to maintain young people and especially women in the settlements. A majority of the young do not want to stay in the settlement she describes. They prefer the unsecure precarious job market and chaos in the cities instead of becoming peasants. The old still dominating leadership in MST also come from the Catholic liberation theology tradition and thus do not have the most liberal views on issues as abortion.

To others female activist in MST are manipulated by this old leadership to become guerilla soldiers. To some also left intellectuals in the cities and many middle class people and the media i Brazil MST started well but have turned into a movement using violence. The arguments starts by claiming that the movement is old-fashioned celebrating figures as Che Guevara and Lenin and organized in a hierarchic way. And then some few examples when violence against people have occured and blamed on MST are listed. But primarily the most prominent examples of violent acts carried out by MST are destruction of property.

Women and child at Jair Costa MST camp. Photo Pertti Simula

This is the result of MST and other female activists in Via Campesina organisations that the last year have occupied plants or plantations and begun deliberately to destroy equipment or cutting down trees. Such acts of civil disobedience are claimed by those against MST to be acts of violence.

What has been especially given as an example is how 2000 women from MST and other Via Campesina organizations on March 8 2006 entered and destroyed parts of Aracruz laboratory in Barra do Ribeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, uprooting more than 1 million eucalyptus tree seedlings. in protest against gene technology and in solidarity with Tupnikim indians that was violently evacuated from land which once belonged to them by Aracruz Celulose. After the action they immediately went to the demonstration on Women’s international day in Porto Alegre.

Activists and especially leaders are regularly violently attacked and killed by gunmen hired by landowners or killed or violently harrassed by police. But what emberass those claiming that MST is using violence is not the acts of violence against the movement or even acts of violence occurring against those defending the status quo. The violence considered as most horrible is occupying and destroying property. With such a definition of violence the feminist activists of MST becomes a great threat to modern patrirarchic Brazilian society.

The short impressions I got from visiting MST settlements and the national congress was that there are problems within MST for women’s emancipation but that the society that MST is trying to change is much worse. And that few social forces are doing so much for emancipating women in Brazil as MST. When MST invited organizations to come to their 25th anniversary celebrations there were many man coming. Within MST there were not only men taking the stage. As speakers, as people making comments from the floor, as leaders of cultural actions, as leaders of settlements and schools, as the most militant activists of the movement, there were many women to be seen.

Intervention from the floor at MST 25th anniversary plenary in Sarandi

I dared to ask one question. Was the chose of female activists to carry out action the result of tactics to present the movement as more vulnerable hoping for media to be more symphathetic or was it mainly due to a fact that many of the most militant activists were women. The answer confirmed clearly the last suggestion.

Women singing at MST cooperative. Photo Pertti Simula

Linton wrote his book in 2005. His ideal for emancipating the Latin American women were rather militant urban middel class activists in Bogota using international law and the power of modern medicine technology and subversive culture against traditional values rather than MST. His criticism against MST for maintaining traditional family values and illusions about rural life thus standing in the way for emancipation has been challenged. The wave believing in international laws and courts have proven to be as much an illusion as ever the idea of establishing rural societies with small farmer villages and cooperatives. Today it is the MST women that are the most militant feminists in Brazil and turns March 8 into women’s workers struggle day. On the scene in Sarandi at the MST 25 celebration they show the cultural strength of a movement now also orienting itself towards la periferia, to the suburbs of the cities.

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