Life in movements and commemoration of Jyri Jaakola

How can you come from Mexico? Do they not murder everyone there? This was the question I was asked by children at the activist community Annikinkatu in Tampere when I told them that I just arrived from a social forum in Mexico.

I came to late to Jyri Jaakola’s funeral in his hometown Tampere in Finland followed by a commemoration among friends at Annikinkatu collective in the center of Tampere. Jyri Jaakola was murdered together with Beatriz Carino on April 27 while being human rights watchers to defend an indigenous autonomous commune in Oaxaca in Southern Mexico.

My work in Sweden stopped me from coming in time. But there was a commemoration also during the Tampere Social Forum later the same day were I finally could join in. As traditional in Finland a minute of silence was capturing our souls in memory of an activist that so many knew and respected. But there was also as so many times in Finland a throughout analysis of the situation for indigenous people in Oaxaca, Mexico, and other places as India and Brazil.

Outi Hakkarainen to the right and Ville Veiko Hirvelä to the right at Tamoere Social Forum commemoration of Jyri Jaakola 20th of May 2010

Outi Hakkarainen who have been many times to Mexico highlighted the polarized conflict in Oaxaca and in general the indigenous conditions in Mexico. Clarissa Abreu from Friends of the Earth in Brazil brought up the Amazonian problems and Ville Veiko Hirvelä the conflicts for Adivasis, the largest group of indigenous in the whole world with some 80 million people facing similar problems as in Mexico and Brazil. Living on land rich of natural resources and often without Western kind of formal ownership of their land they are faced with severe threats against their livelihood and the future of their people. In many places on earth the violence against indigenous peoples are increasing, and so sometimes as well against those that commit themselves to defend their rights.

In few or no other Western country is the closeness between practical commitment, intellectual efforts and politics as close as in Finland. Jyri Jaakola belonged to this tradition. It is no coincidence that he was willing to take risks to support the building of alternatives in Mexico. He did the same in Finland contributing to the solidarity efforts of the Finnish alternative movement.

Direct action against dam building at Koijärvi 1979

The alternative movement struggling for solidarity across all borders and ecological awareness came late to Finland. But when it came it all happened at the same time. It was heralded by a Gandhian style direct action to prevent the building of a dam at Koijärvi in 1979, a breakthrough for civil disobedience in the consensus oriented Finnish political culture. Soon followed occupation of houses and a music movement, mass peace movement, trade union revival and a strong movement in solidarity with the third world. In a year or two a political campaign had gained momentum gathering hundreds of people at seminars on the third world issues while activists showed their naked ass towards politicians at the step of the parliament in disgust of political unwillingness to raise the development aid.  Huge part of the population was soon informed about every popular movement aid project and given the possibility to voluntarily tax themselves of 1 percent to any of the projects. An initiative that soon gathered millions of euros each year in stable income for a wide range of projects and formed tha basis of a new organization, the Service Center for Development Cooperation with both the churches, trade unions and most other mass movements joining it making the sum of added members exceeding the total number of inhabitants in Finland. As one can imagine the campaign was a success and was able to double the amount of Finnish development aid but also became a NGO which made it necessary to also establish more radical organization as Ympäristö ja Kehitys, Center for Environment and Development. It was from this third world solidarity movement that the radical Finnish environmental movement emerged that already 1990 put the issue of climate justice on top of their agenda with people from India leading marches against the building of motorways and coordinating climate action days in 1991 in 70 countries. And thus it was no coincidence that Jyri Jaakola not only was a strong third world solidarity activists but also active in Climate Justice Action.

Estelle

Important was that the organizational efforts was backed by strong practical initiatives. Three were central with Jyri Jaakola engaged in the foremost symbol, the fair trade sailing ship Estelle. It started as the other two in the mid 1980s with an effort of building on the old sailing traditions in Finland, the last nation to have shipping companies with sailing fleet until the 1930s with their main headquarters on Åland islands. An old ship was rebuilt in Turku and finally after very many years it could sail and participate at many campaigns and summits starting its first long trip if I remember correctly at the EU Summit in Amsterdam 1997.

Jyri Jaakola belonged to this special activists community of sailors and made it to the European Social forum in 2008 were indigenous people had a special place to be at Estelle in the harbour and many sailors from neighbouring countries and more far away had their gatherings.

Peace Station in Helsinki

The two other practical Finnish initiatives from the mid 1980s has the same stubbornness stamped on them. One is the Peace station, which is exactly was it says. One of the central railway stations in Helsinki was to be teared down, one of the last traditional wooden stations in the capital surroundings. Now the station was surrounded by only new huge modern houses and no traditional wooden houses were more to be seen. So what did the Finnish movements do? Well they put the house into parts, moved it some 500 meters and put it up again as a center for all peace organizations in Finland, and still it is.

Annikinkatu in Tampere

In the mid 1980s there was also a fight in Tampere, the second biggest city in Finland and the most working class town of them all. Here as in Helsinki modern times brought the idea to destroy any sign of the working class poor past and tear down every wooden house bloc in the city center. But people started to make resistance. In the Annikinkatu bloc the residents were able to influence the selection of those renting the apartment. While all other wooden blocs in the city with people living in them disappeared this bloc is still standing.

The threats against the collective have been numerous and the rights of those living there insecure. But finally after 25 years there now seems to be a solution nearby.

It is at Annikinkatu the activists gathered to commemorate their fellow Jyri. Here the spirit is kept alive in what is labelled sometimes as the inland harbour of Estelle. Here children and grown ups are living while activists from the neighbouring community and from far away can gather strength. The future of Estelle is uncertain. The costs of maintaining the ship is very high and it is hard to make longer trips anymore. But Peace station and Annikinkatu is alive and so are we on visit.

Two days after the commemoration of Jyri Jaakola a new child with parents living in Annikinkatu was celebrated in the midst of the wooden house bloc. Flowers and presents were carried forward and there was singing. New life was welcomed.

The Mexican filt that I brought with me from Mexico was also well received among the Annikinkatu children. After the first mystery was solved, that not everyone visiting Mexico was murdered the Mexican colours was something to hug dearly. Lets hope that the Mexican rug gets a long life at Annikinkatu helped by the solidarity of Jyri Jaakola and all his likes in all the world.

The commemoration at Tampere Social Forum ended in a Mexican way. Contrary to the Finnish tradition of being silent in memory of a person the Mexican way of doing the same thing at the social forum in Mexico City was adopted. Thus the commemoration ended by a minute of applause for Jyri Jaakola and Beatriz Carino, a ceremony that was well adopted and did not only make the hands warm.

Tord Björk

Listen to their voices:

Jyri Jaakola interview 01.02.2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMy7yTvFiNU

Discurso de Bety Cariño. Tecuán News – Kolectivo Azul. Embajada de canada, 3 de diciembre de 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWPkLcoVoaI

About the murder: Mexico’s state of impunity

http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/2349

SIPAZ Peace blog posts about the caravan attack with many links:

http://sipazen.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/oaxaca-information-update-on-observation-caravan-attack/

http://sipazen.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/oaxaca-the-peace-network-condemns-armed-attack-against-observation-caravan-in-san-juan-copala/

http://sipazen.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/oaxaca-attack-on-observation-caravan%E2%80%942-dead-and-4-missing/

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

Mensaje de organizaciones latinoamericanas sobre Klimaforum10

Climate panel at the Foro Social Mundial tematico seen as a model for Cancun by some Mexican actors as RMALC opposing Klimaforum10. To the left Alejandro Villamar from RMALC, in the middle and to the right Francois Houtart. Tord Björk was the fourth participant in the panel here taking the photo.

La Alianza Social Continental, Jubileo Sur/Américas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC), REBRIP, RMALC, Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI), la Convergencia de los Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas (COMPA) y CADTM Abya Yala estamos comprometidos en la construcción de un proceso de movilización conjunta en torno a la problemática del Cambio Climático, sus causas estructurales y sus reales soluciones.En este proceso, identificamos algunos momentos importantes en los próximos meses, como la cumbre Enlazando Alternativas, el Foro Social Américas y la realización de la COP16 en Cancún. Dado que el tema de esta última es el cambio climático, será especialmente estratégica para el conjunto del movimiento mundial sobre justicia climática.

Como se mencionó en la carta de la Asamblea de Movimientos Sociales, realizada en el marco de la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático en Cochabamba “Evaluamos que la cuestión del cambio climático es importante junto a otras manifestaciones de la crisis sistémica global. Para confrontar realmente la ofensiva imperialista debemos frenar la militarización de nuestros territorios y la criminalización de los movimientos sociales, toda la agenda neocolonial contenida en los Tratados de Libre Comercio, el endeudamiento ilegítimo, el poder de las transnacionales y especialmente el modelo del agronegocio y extractivo que promueven en la privatización de la vida y la naturaleza”.

Durante la conferencia de Cochabamba discutimos y avanzamos en consolidar las alianzas con el ánimo de afianzar un proceso de movilización hacia Cancún, lo suficientemente sólido para darle continuidad posteriormente. En ese sentido, se resaltó la importancia de  retomar y seguir construyendo a partir de las experiencias anteriores, como la de la lucha contra el ALCA, que permitió identificar puntos de encuentro y luchas comunes entre los movimientos sociales del continente que nos oponemos a este modelo económico y social. Estas luchas han sido visibilizadas de muchas maneras, incluyendo a través de la realización de Cumbres de los Pueblos, que son momentos de resistencia, debate, construcción colectiva y movilización. Estas Cumbres constituyen una tradición para los movimientos de todo el hemisferio y tienen una legitimidad ganada como espacio de lucha frente a las distintas iniciativas neoliberales en contra de los pueblos.

En consecuencia, frente a la COP16 en Cancún, consideramos que es fundamental fortalecer el proceso continental, articulando con redes y organizaciones de otras regiones del mundo, como lo hemos hecho también anteriormente. Si bien respetamos y valoramos la experiencia del Klimaforum, éste respondía al contexto europeo y danés, específicamente. Intentar trasladarlo o importarlo a nuestra región implica desconocer la realidad de nuestras luchas, así como la identidad y la historia de las movilizaciones en el continente.

Reconocemos la importancia de llevar a cabo articulaciones con otras regiones, en especial en torno a este tema, cuyas implicaciones afectan a los pueblos de todo el mundo. De acuerdo con el espíritu de lo acordado en Cochabamaba, la prioridad es nutrirse y articularse con las campañas, redes y organizaciones regionales y globales que en los últimos años han trabajado para enfrentar el cambio climático y defender los derechos de la Madre Tierra, y otras redes, organizaciones regionales y globales sectoriales y temáticas que han asumido el mismo compromiso. Muchas de nuestras redes y movimientos tienen trabajo a nivel mundial. En ese sentido, creemos que la convocatoria y las movilizaciones de Copenhague fueron muy importantes y es necesario darle continuidad a las alianzas que allí se consolidaron y que también venían de procesos anteriores. Sin embargo, ello no puede resultar en un desconocimiento de los procesos nacionales y regionales.

En relación con el trabajo que se está desarrollando en México, consideramos importante plantear algunas precisiones: existen varios grupos de organizaciones sociales de todo el país que está trabajando en consolidar un espacio amplio de convergencia y movilización. Este trabajo es el resultado de una autoconvocatoria de todos los interesados (entre ellos RMALC, las organizaciones mexicanas que forman parte de la campaña “Píntale la raya al cambio” , Otros Mundos, organizaciones de todos los sectores sociales incluidos miembros de Vía campesina, y algunas ONG’s comprometidas con estas luchas). Dado que se está buscando una coalición lo más amplia posible, basada en el trabajo con las organizaciones sociales, se trata de un proceso que requiere su tiempo, en el que es necesario hacer actividades de difusión, formación y discusión para construir consensos de carácter popular en torno a nuestras demandas por justicia climática.

Apoyamos este proceso desde el nivel regional y creemos que el espacio que se desarrolle frente a la COP16, debe ser amplio, tener un carácter político y de movilización, en el que sea posible debatir con las distintas redes y organizaciones sociales a nivel mundial, para alzar nuestras voces de rechazo al modelo económico y demandar justicia climática.

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10

Alejandro Villamar to the left from RMALC, Mexican Network against Free Trade  that have signed the letter from Latin American organization below. In the middle Nicola Bullard from CJN at the discussion on Cancun at Foro Social Mundial tematico in Mexico City before the letter was sent.

The Hemispheric Social Alliance, Jubilee South/Americas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth (Latin America and the Caribbean), REBRIP, COMPA, Jubilee South/Americas, Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI), Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples, the World March of Women and the Mexican Network against Free Trade and CADTM Abya Yala are committed to work  together in the construction of a process of joint mobilization around the problem of climate change, its structural causes and true solutions.  We have identified several key points in the coming months including the Enlazando Alternatives Summit, the Americas Social Forum in Paraguay and COP16 in Cancun.  Since the theme of COP 16 is climate change, it is especially strategic for the worldwide climate justice movement.

As stated in the letter from the Assembly of Social Movements, held during the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba:  “We consider that the question of climate change is important, together with other manifestations of systemic global crisis. To truly confront the imperialist offensive we must stop; the militarization of our territories, the criminalization of social movements, the entire neo-colonial agenda contained in the Free Trade Agreements, illegitimate indebtedness, the power of transnational’s and especially the agro-business and extractive model which promotes the privatization of life and nature”.

During the Cochabamba conference, we discussed and advanced in the consolidation of alliances to build a process of mobilization for Cancun which is sufficiently solid to have subsequent continuity.  In this respect, the importance of building on pervious experiences such as the struggle against the FTAA, which enabled us to identify points of convergence and common struggles among the social movements of the continent opposed to this economic and social model.  These struggles are made known in many different ways including via Peoples’ Summits, which are moments of resistance, debate, collective construction and mobilization. These Summits are a tradition for the movements of the entire hemisphere and have earned legitimacy as spaces for struggle in the face of a plethora of neo-liberal initiatives against the peoples.

As a result, in the face of COP 16 in Cancun, we believe that it is crucial to strengthen the continental process, coordinating the efforts with networks and organizations from other regions of the world, as we have done in the past.  While we respect and value the experience of the Kilmaforum, it responds to the European and more specifically, Danish context.  An attempt to transfer or import it to our region would not respect the reality of our struggles, the identity or history of the mobilizations in our hemisphere.

We recognize the importance of joint actions with other regions, especially related to this theme, in light of the implications that affect the all of the peoples of the world.  In keeping with the spirit of agreements reached in Cochabamba, the priority is to strengthen ourselves and link eforts with the campaigns, networks, regional and global organizations that have worked in recent years to confront climate change and defend the rights of Mother Earth, as well as other regional and global sector networks and thematic organizations which have made the same commitment.  Many of our networks and movements are working at a global level.  In this respect, we believe that the convocation and mobilizations in Copenhagen were very important and it is necessary to continue the alliances that were consolidated there, and emerged from previous processes. However, this must not ignore national and regional processes.

In relation to the work that is happening in Mexico, we think it is important to make a few observations:  there are a number of social organizations around the country which are working to consolidate a broad space of convergence and mobilization. This work is the result of a call which went out among interested groups (including RMALC, the Mexican organizations which are a part of the “Drawing the line for Change” campaign, Other Worlds, organizations from all social sectors including members of Via Campesina and some NGOs which are a part of this struggle).  Given that the goal is the broadest possible coalition, based in the work of the social organizations; it is a process which requires time. Activities that provide information, formation and discussion must be carried out in order to construct popular consensus around our demands for climate justice.

We support this process from a regional level and we believe that the space being developed in preparation for COP16 must be broad, have a political character and be oriented towards mobilization, where a debate can be held with networks and social organizations at a global level, to raise our voices in rejection of the economic model and to demand climate justice.

Towards COP16 in Mexico

The discussion the second day at FSM tematico on Cancun initiatives

Five Mexican movement initiatives towards the Climate summit in Cancun were presented at two meetings during Foro Social Mundial tematico 2-4th of May in Mexico City and at an ad hoc meting during WSF international meeting. Partly the initiatives were linked to each other. Political content and what organizations actually backs which initiatives was somewhat unclear. Partly because some were not present at the first meeting as Klimaforum10 and Via Campesina, partly because what to do and what demands to put forward is still to be discussed. The five initiatives were:

Sandra Luna from CEMDA speaking and Jorge Villareal from Boell foundation charing the meeting during the first day of the discussion at FSM tematico on cooperacion towards Cancun

1. The meetings without a name, afterwards others have labeled these meetings Frente amplio, broad front, a classical Latin American left wing concept. 6 such meetings has taken place. Participants are networks cooperating internationally with Latin American movements on anti neoliberal and other issues, NGOs as Greenpeace and other rather main stream environmental organizations as well as ecological grass roots groups.

Alejandro Villamar from RMALC to the right together with Christophe Aguiton and Nicola Bullard during the second day of the Cancun discussions

2. Climate justice campaign towards Cancun, a Latin American campaign also still without a name supported by Mexican organizations as RMALC, the network against free trade that grow out of the struggle against NAFTA. This group  participates in the broad meetings and describes its purpose as participating in the open meetings to come to an agreement with the bigger environmental NGOs, often having international funding, on a common platform towards Cancun. (these environmental NGOs are sometimes mentioned as important as they are organizing the climate campaign “Pintale la Raya al Cambio Climatico” – http://pintalelaraya.org. It should also be noted that in general main stream environmental organizations and Climate Action Network (CAN) groups in Latin America are more radical than in the US or Europe but of course still far from the position of ecological grass roots groups and a clear Climate Justice Now standpoint, see Pintale la Raya al Cambio Climatico campaign as an example.

Silvia Ribeiro from ETC group at Via Campesina seminar discussing with local activist

3. Organicaciones de base ; almost grass roots organization, and partly or all Mexican Via Campesina. This was presented as a strand that was not completly integrated in the other initiatives.

From the left Eugenio and Ruben from Cambios and to the right Miguel Valencia from Ecomunidades, grass roots promoting Klimaforum10

4. Klimaforum 10 – an initiative by ecological grass roots organizations with social justice concerns on a radical platform similar to the Cochabamba and Klimaforum09 declarations excluding the Climate Action Network and tcktcktck campaigning promoted by Greenpeace and others. Some of the ecological groups behind the Klimaforum10 initiative have more radical demands on emissions, growth and social change than the environmental NGOs or even Climate Justice Now but want to have a broad platform for the Klimaforum10 based on the rights of Mother earth, Human rights and migrant rights and the system change not climate change declaration from Copenhagen.

In general Klimaforum10 people were more open about the content, both their own and what they wanted for a common platform. They stated also where the grass root ecological movements might differ from others. They said: they are for animal rights, and more to the point they are against capitalism but also oppose socialism when it is developmentalist (desarollistas) which is the case with many left wing political parties in Latin America and according to their experience in the Mexican capital region. This is why they are all for the Cochabamba declaration on the rights of Mother Earth with one exception, the notion of socialism. They have been the only force in the climate justice discussions here at FSM meetings on climate justice cooperation that have positively mentioned the Zapatista kind of struggle while being sceptical towards left wing parties. They were also the only ones mentioning the systemcritical Mesa 18 in Cochabamba were indigenous groups and ecological groups met opposing mining and other development projects causing social and environmental problems in Bolivia and ALBA countries. This Mesa 18 was not allowed to be part of the official Cochabamba meeting. That Klimaforum10 mentioned Mesa 18 was not seen positively by some other groups present belonging to the Cochabamba main stream.

Klimaforum10 have 18 people engaged voluntarily and meetings twice a week. They have contacted the foreign ministry for infrastructure support.

5. Local ecological grass root organizations in the Cancun region. Fundacion sin fronteras working on ecological issues and solidarity economy and likeminded small groups in the region presented the situation. Danish Peoples Climate Action (mostly big NGOs of the tcktcktck kind having a coordination during COP15 in Copenhagen) have visited Cancun and a meeting for all interested took place. The local “left wing” government have made and NGO with one person in key position previously in the government. As the local grass roots organizations are sceptical towards the left wing government and its record they have maintained their own cooperation but lack resources.

Discussion during the first day on initiatives towards Cancun

The first meeting was held on Monday. It was chaired by a young person from the Boell foundation which is linked to the German Green party and a main donor to many NGOs and environmental projects in Mexico. The chair intervened quite extensively in the discussion. The main contradiction in the Mexican work towards Cancun was said to be the relationship with government. On what issues was not presented which made the discussion obscure. Centro Mexicana de Derechos Ambientales seemed not against to have some contacts with the government while RMALC was opposed. Both groups participates in the broad meetings without name.

The discussion was extensive but did not make the political content much more clear. There is a strong Latin American cooperation between well established networks that used the meeting in Cochabamba to further develop their work towards Cancun. It was also clear that there were many Mexican grass roots organisations, especially rural, that had their own discussion on their own agenda. All Mexican groups stated that there was a need to develop more consciousness about climate change and climate justice in Mexico.

The most clear political agenda at the first meeting was promoted by RMALC, mainly stating it was climate justice and referring to Cochabamba and some general climate justice agenda as Latin American networks have formulated the issue. It was more presented as something that was well known already and not to be contested rather than in a critical manner showing what the differences could be in relation to other opinions or in relation to possible internal differences.

A more clear political discussion seems to be hard to have as the broad meetings was sometimes presented as only for information exchange and the participants so far in spite of many meetings have not made their opinion clear. At other times the purpose was presented as enabling to come to an initiative later.

The general Picture can be summarized: On the one hand there was a Mexican initiative emerging with RMALC as the key organization within the broad meetings getting their legitimation from their established position as a network working with many different summits and latin American networks as the Hemispheric Alliance. On the other hands Klimaforum10 with Ecomunidad and like minded organization as key groups that have a long term commitment to local ecological struggles also against the left wing regional government that was funding the FSM tematico. These groups lack international experience before going to Copenhagen, have coordinated the ecological part of Mexican social forums earlier when it was not as much in their mind coopted by the regional government. They also never recieved any international funding. Apart from these two groups the third dominant actor are environmental NGOs as Greenpeace and others often funded by Boell foundation who all have a key position in the Frente amplio meetings. These groups stated clearly their undecisiveness, that they wanted to have the situation open including cooperating with CAN and not only CJN. Via Campesina made it clear that they are going to have their own process to find out their agenda in different parts of Mexico.

Nicola Bullard to the left from Climate Justice Now and Focus on the Global Sotuh together with Alberto from Via Campesina Mexico and Silvia Ribeiro from ETC group

A problem seems that many Mexican groups except for the ecological grass roots groups who have for long been working on climate and environmental issues and RMALC who have a long record in international cooperation with other networks are uncertain about the issue and want to wait and see tofind out were possible cooperation partners are. RMALC and their closest cooperation partners seems especially looking at tactics in relation to election that will take place in the whole region of Cancun the following months. Thus a clear political picture is not possible until after this according some estimations. To get support from the regional government is seen as a key element for getting  resources by this group and then go to the federal government. Via Campesina had announced a sceptical meeting in Mexico City in connection to both FSM tematico and WSF International committee meeting. But this was postponed due to Mexican Via Campesina that needs more time to discuss their position.

Tord Björk

Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner, Friends of the Earth Sweden

COP15 ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost possibilities

Content
The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting, see below.

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Activist setting up ALBA meeting posters. From ALBA meeting website

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

Seldom has so many organisers been misusing a great opportunity for political intervention to support climate protesters and democratic rights in general as at the mass meeting at the Valby hall on December 17 at 16.00 in Copenhagen during COP15. What could have been a strong left-wing contribution to the climate justice struggle became more of an exotic political show for Western Europeans to hope for other parts of the world to bring about change. I will come back to these critical remarks in length at the end of this article but first a regular report from the meeting.

As such the meeting was predictable. It filled its purpose well of being a unique chance to meet many presidents or vice presidents from progressive regimes in Latin America and the Caribbean from the so called ALBA countries. Sometimes the feeling of being many at the same place sharing a hope together is of importance for sustaining everyday struggles. The role these countries have made it relevant during the Climate Summit to invite their leaders to share a moment of hope that it least somewhere changes can takes place in the whole society of social and ecological importance. Cuba for being the maybe best example on earth on practical transition to a sustainable society. Bolivia for being an example for promoting climate justice demands. In general all ALBA countries for being examples of creating better conditions for the majority of people bringing hopes for alternatives. As the title of the meeting stated: ALBA a solidarity and sustainable alternative.

The meeting started in traditional working class movement style with the Red Horn orchestra followed by welcome speach from the initiator Danish-Cuban Association and Anders Olesen, chair of the Danish Construction Workers Union, an organization also providing security guards. The Danish well known Savage Rose were playing as well as the protest singer David Rovics from the US who celebrated ”St.Patricks Brigade”, Irishmen who fought on the loosing Mexican side in the war against US 1846. Other musicians performing were Wayna Rap, Los Alejandros and Tamra Rosanes. There were almost 4 000 participants according to the organisers, 2 500 sold tickets at 100 Danish crowns and as many participants  according to the main stream press and 3 000 to 4 000 participants according to friendly press.

Poster on the ALBA meeting website

At 17.30 Esteban Lazo, vice president of Cuba entered the podium as the first speaker. He greets the meeting by saying that the first five years of ALBA has been celebrated in Havana. A human and solidarity alternative that shows that another world is possible.

The response greetings to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution by the participants of the mass meeting. ”Cuba Si! Yankee No!” is the call from the floor and Lazo answers, I bring greeting from the Cuban president Raul Castro, and the leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro.

ALBA is not an alternative only for Latin America and the Caribbean, but for all people of the planet he continues. The Alba countries are today standing together with the progressive forces in the rest of the world in the struggle for the right of life and earth. We have to salvage this earth because we have no other.

This is why the most important battle of humanity is taking place in Copenhagen these days. Lazo described the problems in the negotiations and the need not to allow the control of CO2 emissions come into the hands of the market. We should not speculate in the future of our and our children’s future. We are fighting not only for social justice but also for human survival. The solution to the climate problems lies in a new economic model that puts people at the centre concluded Lazo.

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos followed him stating that the ALBA countries alternative was the only sustainable. Santos made a similar speech as Lazo but was also responding to a comment from the audience in Spanish saying ”mujeres”, women. As the left wing Nicaraguan government have been accused by feminists movements for oppressive abortion laws the Foreign Minister was well prepared. He informed about free health care for women after and how mother care and family planning have saved many women’s life.

Chavez and Morales in Copenhagen, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tantundem/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The podium became more and more full of a mix of people, diplomats, an admiral in white uniform, security guards; from many members of the ALBA bloc. During Santos’ speech the atmosphere became more tense and people started to wisper that Evo an Hugo had arrived. Than from behind the scene they entered, the Bolivian and Venezuelan presidents that so many had waited for: »Compañeros!«. The cameras were flashing, hands shaken, bodies embraced at the podium and wolf whistling, chanting and applause from the audience at the scene and those sitting at the galleries comes forward to great the socialist leaders. »Venceremos! – Let’s win!«.

The Bolivian president enters the speakers tribune greeted by chanting from the floor:

»Evo – Evo – Evo de nuevo!«

Some presidents do not want to discuss the causes behind climate change, Morales started coming directly from the negotiations. I will tell you the cause: Capitalism. Capitalism is the worst enemy – both for life and the climate. – Let’s unite and defend our earth, Morales challenged the meeting.

Inside the Bella Centret the leaders of the rich countries defend capitalism, a society of abundance for a few and wastage, the president told the meeting.

»We are not alone on the struggle to protect Mother Earth. Only the support from blow can change the world. Help me say loud. The planet or death – Let us win! cried Evo Morales. The audience responded willingly.

Then the Bolivian president Evo Morales surprised by announcing that a popular referendum is underway, and has been proposed for the entire world, to find out whether the world’s citizens would support or reject ideas for saving “Pachamama” (Mother Earth).

His speech was greeted with applause on several occasions. Morales affirmed that even if the governments of the rich nations rejected such a referendum, the peoples represented in the organizations and demonstrations in Denmark had already expressed, with their protests, their initial approval of the initiative.

Evo suggested the following questions for a worldwide referendum on climate change:

“..Do you agree to restore a harmonious relationship with Nature recognizing the rights of Mother Earth…?”

Siiiii  is the positive response in Spanish from the floor.

“…Do you agree to change this excessively consumerist and wasting model, that is, the capitalist system…?”

Si once more.

“…Do you agree that the developed countries should reduce and reabsorb their greenhouse effect gas emissions so that the temperature do not raise more than one degree…?”

Once more the hall is in unity with the speaker.

“…Do you agree on transferring everything that is currently being spent in wars to create a budget higher than the defence budget to tackle the problem of climate change..?.”

Yet again is the answer from the floor Si!

”…Do you agree in setting up a special court to sentence climate criminals?”

The hall agreed loudly. All five proposals had been adopted. Evo Morales had proposed exactly the same demands at the official conference with some minority support (except for the limitation to one degree temperature rise if Fidel Castro’s reports is correct). He concludes that we now finally had agreed to a document at this summit.

As he was finishing his plenary speech for the basis for a world wide referendum Hugo Chavez came to his side. While Evo had used 15 minutes for his speech, Hugo now used two hours.

From telesur

“Long live the young people, the volcano of socialism, the volcano of the peoples!” So did Hugo Chavez start his speech. “On behalf of Venezuela, the Bolivarian revolution, the ALBA, I want to thank very much, the invitation to this event,” he said. It was all on live Venezuelan public service TV.

“Long live Bolivar!” continued the president, recalling that on December 17, but on 1830, Simón Bolívar died. “Bolivar was an example of what should be a young revolutionary”, assured Chavez to those present.

Chavez received his strongest response from the floor in the beginning of his speech when he declared himself a feminist, and said that all socialists and Marxists also must be feminists and support the rights of women.

From telesur

Only unity will bring us victory stated Chavez and quoted or mentioned both the Inca indian leader Túpac Amaru, Rosa Luxemburg, the Cuban revolutionaries Jose Marti, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Nicaragua national hero Sandino, Jesus, Muhammed and the Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard in his speech. He especially praised the activists inside and outside the Bella Centre conference and criticized strongly the brutality of the police.

– I have seen much hard repression on the streets of Copenhagen these days, Chavez cried out, repression that you do not see in Cuba, Ecuador or Bolivia. He specifically gave full support to the attempt by demonstrators to use non-violent civil disobedience to enter the Bella Centre. System Change not climate change, the slogan used by the protesters was many times repeated in his speech.

Chavez addressed the threat from US against the new socialistic revolution in the South and how new military bases are erected. Behind the facade of Obama the imperialists tries to stop this revolution and to threaten all the Latin American people. But we will resist and see to that that the empire will be defeated.

– The revolution in the North is coming. I feel it. People in the north, unite with people in the South and let us together make the great world revolution against imperialism, capitalism and death! The celebration of these words exploded when Chavez resounding voice and fist signaled to the committed mass meeting participants the socialists revolution also in Europe.

Have you red the Communist manifesto? Read it again! It will be relaunched. From Caracas we have called a meeting to establish a 5th International. As Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels established the 1st International, Rosa Luxemburg, was among those establishing the 2nd International, Lenin made the 3rd International and Trotsky formed the 4th International we are of the opinion that it is time to call for, to gather, to start the struggle for the 5th International. An international of both parties, social movements and trade unions building upon Marxism, socialism, communism and the true spirit of Christianity and Islam.

Organize, Chavez challenged the floor and the meeting became excited.

– A united people can never be defeated! Chavez! Chavez! Chavez! was chanted in chorus by the participants.

After his speech Chávez went down to Morales and put his arm around him on the podium.

– ¡Viva el socialismo! – Long live socialism they cried out.

– ¡Viva!, – Long live!, the floor responded.

”¡Hasta la victoria, Siempre!” – Towards victory always!
”¡Patria, Socialisme o Muerte! Venceremos!” Fatherland, socialism or death!

Shouted Chavez and he and Morales jumps down from the podium to reach out to all the outstretched hands in the front row. With them came rather surprised and not very pleased security guards and some somewhat lost Danish policemen while Hugo and Evo now slowly went along the barrier shaking hands and talked to people taking a good time doing it for almost half an hour. The band Somos una Venezuela could finally start very late after schedule while many now were leaving enthusiastic about their experience according to many reports. As one report concluded: They went from there with a hope in their hearts: Another world is possible.

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

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 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)

Next Page »