Posts Tagged 'World Bank'

17 de Abril. Día Mundial de lucha campesina.

Llamamiento para el 17 de abril:

Día Internacional de las Luchas Campesinas

¡Acabemos con el acaparamiento de tierras!

¡La tierra para quienes la trabajan!

(Jakarta, 2 de marzo de 2012) El 17 de abril es el Día Internacional de las Luchas Campesinas, que conmemora la masacre de 19 campesinas y campesinos que luchaban por tierra y justicia en Brasil en 1996. Cada año se celebra este día en todo el mundo, en defensa de las campesinas y los campesinos que luchan por sus derechos.

Durante los últimos años hemos padecido la aplicación de nuevas políticas y de un nuevo modelo de desarrollo basado en la expansión y expropiación de terrenos, conocido como acaparamiento de tierras. El acaparamiento de tierras es un fenómeno impulsado por inversores y personas con poder a escala local, nacional e internacional, con la connivencia de gobiernos y autoridades locales, para controlar los recursos más preciados del mundo.

El acaparamiento de tierras ha provocado la concentración de la tierra y recursos naturales en manos de grandes inversores, dueños de plantaciones, empresas madereras, hidroeléctricas y mineras, desarrolladres turísticos e inmobiliarios, autoridades portuarias y de infraestructuras, etc. La consecuencia ha sido el desalojo y desplazamiento de poblaciones locales —generalmente campesinos y campesinas—, la violación de derechos humanos y de la mujer, el aumento de la pobreza, la fractura social y la contaminación ambiental. El acaparamiento de tierras trasciende las estructuras imperialistas Norte-Sur: las corporaciones transnacionales involucradas están basadas en Estados Unidos, Europa, Chile, México, Brasil, Rusia, India, China, Sudáfrica, Tailandia, Malasia, Indonesia y Corea del Sur, entre otros.

Las instituciones financieras, como los bancos privados, los fondos de pensiones y otros fondos de inversión, se han convertido en agentes poderosos en el acaparamiento de tierras, mientras se siguen emprendiendo guerras para tomar el control de las riquezas naturales. El Banco Mundial y algunos bancos regionales de desarrollo están facilitando el acaparamiento de tierras y agua mediante la promoción de medidas y legislaciones que favorecen a las corporaciones, como el suministro de capital y garantías para inversores corporativos y el fomento de un modelo económico de desarrollo destructivo y extractivo. En el interín, el Banco Mundial y otras instituciones han propuesto siete principios para la Inversión Agrícola Responsable (IAR) que deberían prevenir los abusos, pero que en realidad dan legitimidad al acaparamiento de tierras por parte de inversores públicos y privados. La Via Campesina, junto con aliadas y alidos claves, ha protestado en contra de esta iniciativa durante los últimos dos años.

El acaparamiento de tierras es un fenómeno global basado en la dominación corporativa de la agricultura a través del control de la tierra, el agua, las semillas y otros recursos. Muchos gobiernos y gabinetes estratégicos la justifican aduciendo que la agroindustria modernizará las prácticas agrícolas atrasadas y garantizará la seguridad alimentaria para todos. Sin embargo, por muy difundidas que sean estas aduciones, se ha demostrado que son completamente falsas en el mundo real.

Los agentes clave detrás del acaparamiento de tierras dan prioridad a las ganancias ganancias por encima del bienestar de las personas: producen agrocombustibles si ello resulta más rentable que la producción de alimentos; y exportan su producción alimentaria si ello resulta más lucrativo que venderla en el mercado local. En esta carrera por lucrar, la agro-indústra está aumentando su control de los sistemás de producción de alimentos, monopolizando recursos y dominando en los procesos de toma de decisiones. Los grupos de presión corporativos poseen una fuerte inflencia política que a menudo embarga a las instituciones democráticas. Además, actúan con la complicidad de la clase dirigente local y nacional (comerciantes, políticos y líderes de comunidades), que no protegen a su propio pueblo del saqueo.

El acaparamiento de tierras ha desposeído a campesinas y campesinos y pueblos indígenas, especialmente a mujeres y jóvenes, de sus recursos y medios de sustento. También está dañando el medio ambiente. Los pueblos indígenas y las minorías étnicas se ven expulsados de sus territorios por fuerzas armadas, lo que aumenta su vulnerabilidad y en ciertos casos ocasiona incluso la esclavitud. Las falsas soluciones al cambio climático, basadas en el mercado, como el concepto en boga de la “economía verde”, están logrando separar para siempre a las comunidades locales de sus recursos agrícolas y naturales.

Así pues, La Via Campesina realiza un llamamiento a todas y todos sus miembros y aliados, movimientos de pescadores, organizaciones de trabajadores agrícolas, grupos de estudiantes y medioambiente, movimientos a favor de la justicia social, para organizar acciones en todo el mundo el dia 17 de abril para ejercer una masiva demostración de resistencia popular al acaparamiento de tierras y destacar la lucha contra el control corporativo sobre los recursos agrícolas y naturales.

Unámonos y luchemos:

  • Para detener el acaparamiento de tierras y reclamar la tierra tomada. ¡La tierra debería estar en manos de quienes la trabajan!
  • Para aplicar una reforma agraria integral a fin de llevar justicia social a las zonas rurales.
  • Para acabar con el control de la vida de miles de millones de personas, ejercido por unos pocos inversores y empresas transnacionales.
  • Para oponernos a los principios de las “inversiones agrícolas responsables” (IAR) propuestas por el Banco Mundial, ya que nunca puede ser “responsable” el hecho de que inversores y empresas acaparen tierras agrícolas.
  • Para reforzar el sistema de producción agrícola basado en la agricultura campesina y la soberanía alimentaria.

Invitamos a organizaciones, movimientos y agrupaciones y personas a que el 17 de abril organicen una acción directa, una proyección de vídeo, un mercado campesino , una ocupación de tierras, un debate, una protesta, una exposición de arte, o cualquier otra acción que destaque el mismo objetivo.

Stop Land-Grabbing Now!

Nyeleni, November 19, 2011

We, women and men peasants, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and their allies, who gathered together in Nyeleni from 17-19 November 2011, are determined to defend food sovereignty, the commons and the rights of small scale food providers to natural resources. We supported the Kolongo Appeal from peasant organizations in Mali, who have taken the lead in organising local resistance to the take-over of peasants’ lands in Africa. We came to Nyeleni in response to the Dakar Appeal, which calls for a global alliance against land-grabbing.

In the past three days, peasants, pastoralists and indigenous peoples have come together from across the world for the first time to share with each other their experiences and struggles against land-grabbing. In Mali, the Government has committed to give away 800 thousand hectares of land to business investors. These are lands of communities that have belonged to them for generations, even centuries, while the Malian State has only existed since the 1960-s. This situation is mirrored in many other countries where customary rights are not recognised. Taking away the lands of communities is a violation of both their customary and historical rights.

Secure access to and control over land and natural resources are inextricably linked to the enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and several regional and international human rights conventions, such as the rights to an adequate standard of living, housing, food, health, culture, property and participation. We note with grave concern that states are not meeting their obligations in this regard and putting the interests of business interests above the rights of peoples.

Land-grabbing is a global phenomenon led by local, national and transnational elites and investors, and governments with the aim of controlling the world’s most precious resources. The global financial, food and climate crises have triggered a rush among investors and wealthy governments to acquire and capture land and natural resources, since these are the only “safe havens” left that guarantee secure financial returns. Pension and other investment funds have become powerful actors in land-grabbing, while wars continue to be waged to seize control over natural wealth. The World Bank and regional development banks are facilitating land grabs by promoting corporate-friendly policies and laws, facilitating capital and guarantees for corporate investors, and fostering an extractive, destructive economic development model. The World Bank, IFAD, FAO and UNCTAD have proposed seven principles that legitimise farmland grabbing by corporate and state investors. Led by some of the world’s largest transnational corporations, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) aims to transform smallhold agriculture into industrial agriculture and integrate smallhold farmers to global value chains, greatly increasing their vulnerability to land-loss.

Land-grabbing goes beyond traditional North-South imperialist structures; transnational corporations can be based in the United States, Europe, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, among others. It is also a crisis in both rural and urban areas. Land is being grabbed in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe for industrial agriculture, mining, infrastructure projects, dams, tourism, conservation parks, industry, urban expansion and military purposes. Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities are being expelled from their territories by armed forces, increasing their vulnerability and in some cases even leading to slavery. Market based, false solutions to climate change are creating more ways to alienate local communities from their lands and natural resources.

Despite the fact that women produce most of the world’s food, and are responsible for family and community well being, existing patriarchal structures continue to dispossess women from the lands that they cultivate and their rights to resources. Since most peasant women do not have secure, legally recognised land rights, they are particularly vulnerable to evictions.

The fight against land-grabbing is a fight against capitalism, neoliberalism and a destructive economic model. Through testimonies from our sisters and brothers in Burkina Faso, Columbia, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda, we learned how land-grabbing threatens small scale, family based farming, nature, the environment and food sovereignty. Land grabbing displaces and dislocates communities, destroys local economies and the social-cultural fabric, and jeopardizes the identities of communities, be they farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, workers, dalits or indigenous peoples. Those who stand up for their rights are beaten, jailed and killed. There is no way to mitigate the impacts of this economic model and the power structures that promote it. Our lands are not for sale or lease.

But we are not defeated. Through organisation, mobilisation and community cohesiveness, we have been able to stop land-grabbing in many places. Furthermore, our societies are recognising that small-scale, family based agriculture and food production is the most socially, economically and environmentally sustainable model of using resources.

Recalling the Dakar Appeal, we reiterate our commitment to resist land-grabbing by all means possible, to support all those who fight land-grabs, and to put pressure on national governments and international institutions to fulfill their obligations to defend and uphold the rights of peoples. Specifically, we commit to:

Organise rural and urban communities against land-grabs in every form.

Strengthen the capacities of our communities and movements to reclaim and defend our rights, lands and resources.

Win and secure the rights of women in our communities to land and natural resources.

Create public awareness about how land grabbing is creating crises for all society.

Build alliances across different sectors, constituencies, regions, and mobilise our societies to stop land-grabbing

Strengthen our movements to achieve and promote food sovereignty and genuine agrarian reform

In order to meet the above commitments, we will develop the following actions:

  • Report back to our communities the deliberations and commitments of this Conference.
  • Institutionalise April 17 as the day of global mobilisation against land-grabbing; also identify additional appropriate dates that can be used for such mobilisations to defend land and the commons.
  • Develop our political arguments to expose and discredit the economic model that spurs land-grabbing, and the various actors and initiatives that promote and legitimise it.
  • Build our own databases about land-grabbing by documenting cases, and gathering the needed information and evidence about processes, actors, impacts, etc.
  • Ensure that communities have the information they need about laws, rights, companies, contracts, etc., so that they can resist more effectively the business investors and governments who try to take their lands and natural resources.
  • Set up early warning systems to alert communities to risks and threats.
  • Establish a Peoples’ Observatory on land-grabbing to facilitate and centralise data gathering, communications, planning actions, advocacy, research and analysis, etc.
  • Strengthen our communities through political and technical training, and restore our pride in being food producers and providers.
  • Secure land and resource rights for women by conscientising our communities and movements, targeted re-distribution of land for women, and other actions make laws and policies responsive to the particular needs of women.
  • Build strong organisational networks and alliances at various levels–local, regional and international–building on the Dakar Appeal and with small-scale food producers/providers at the centre of these alliances.
  • Build alliances with members of pension schemes in order to prevent pension fund managers from investing in projects that result in land grabbing.

Make our leaders abide by the rules set by our communities and compel them to be accountable to us, and our communities and organisations.

  • Develop our own systems of legal aid and liaise with legal and human rights experts.
  • Condemn all forms of violence and criminalisation of our struggles and our mobilizations in defense of our rights.
  • Work for the immediate release of all those jailed as a result of their struggles for their lands and territories, and urgently develop campaigns of solidarity with all those facing conflicts.
  • Build strategic alliances with press and media, so that they report accurately our messages and realities; counter the prejudices spread by the mainstream media about the land struggles in Zimbabwe.
  • Develop and use local media to organise members of our and other communities, and share with them information about land-grabbing.
  • Take our messages and demands to parliaments, governments and international institutions.
  • Identify and target local, national and international spaces for actions, mobilizations and building broad-based societal resistance to land-grabbing.
  • Plan actions that target corporations, (including financial corporations), the World Bank and other multilateral development banks that benefit from, drive and promote land and natural resource grabs.
  • Expand and strengthen our actions to achieve and promote food sovereignty and agrarian reform.
  • Support peoples’ enclosures of their resources through land occupations, occupations of the offices of corporate investors, protests and other actions to reclaim their commons.
  • Demands that our governments fulfill their human rights obligations, immediately stop land and natural resource transfers to business investors, cancel contracts already made, and protect rural and urban communities from ongoing and future land-grabs.

We call all organizations committed to these principles and actions to join our Global Alliance against Land-Grabbing, which we solemnly launch today here in Nyeleni.

Globalise the struggle! Globalise hope!

Stop the global land grab.

“NGOs don’t mobilise people, desperation mobilises people,” said a Cambodian land activist as he related the experience of Boeung Kak villagers who were driven off their land by their own government to make way for corporate profiteering.

Such stories were abundant from all corners of the world this week at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The forum, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, attracted representatives from civil society organisations, social movements and unions from more than 123 countries. Present among them were land rights activists and small farmers, who came to relate and decry the unfettered grabbing of their land.

Land grabbing emerged as the hot topic in this year’s forum. The phenomenon is defined as taking possession of and/or controlling a scale of land for commercial or industrial agricultural production, which is disproportionate in size in comparison to the average land holding in the region. Stories from Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, India, Brazil and Mozambique illustrate that the phenomenon is widespread and the consequences can be dire. Land investments from overseas to secure food supplies and biofuels, speculation and resource extraction are the major drivers of this phenomenon.

Speaking through a megaphone under a plastic tent, peasant leaders from Mali exposed the acquisition of plots in their village by the Libyan government, which built a 40-metre long canal through their community. The canal runs through their traditional pastoral grazing land, cultivated plots and even their cemetery. “Not even our dead could rest in peace,” said the representative from Afrique Verte, a local NGO monitoring the issue.

In a world where the commoditisation of resources has become the norm, it is not surprising that communities are losing their most precious assets to the highest bidder. The spectre of a hungry world is being used to push the agenda for industrial agriculture, but in reality, the majority of the land is used for producing animal feed and agrofuels, as well as land speculation, rather than food crops. A World Bank report on land acquisitions shows that only 37% of this land is used to grow food.

Land has become one of the hottest commodities in the world market, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the global grabbing took place from 2006 to 2009, according to the World Bank. Buyers prefer land that is easy to acquire and fairly fertile, with access to water resources. As most governments desire foreign direct investment in the elusive pursuit of a narrowly defined “economic growth”, the optimal transaction almost always comes at the expense of small farmers. .

Small family farms are considered economically “inefficient” because their yields feed their communities and not the global market. But family farms actually have higher productivity per hectare than their larger counterparts. Nevertheless, investment in them has been reduced in the last 20 years in favour of industrial farming.

In my home country of Brazil, we have seen the disastrous effects of this large-scale agricultural development model, where half of agricultural production is going to soy and sugar cane, to feed animals and cars, not people. Brazil went from 8% to 35% of global trade in soy in the decade to 2005, but this comes at the cost of deforestation of the Amazon, displacement of traditional communities and a massive rural exodus to urban slums. Yet it is the small farmer that feeds Brazil, with 60% of the food consumed nationally coming from family farms, according to the 2006 Agricultural Census.

Inherent in this predicament is the commodification of land, which stems from the neoliberal development model that drives policymakers. The very architecture of this global governance and economic system must be challenged and reformed. The time has come to reinvest in the kind of agriculture that actually feeds people. The notion that small farmers are unproductive renders them invisible; their contributions to their communities and local development go unrecognised and with that they go on tightening their belts, one notch at a time.

Land rights activists here at the World Social Forum call for global agriculture to work for people, upholding the right to food, supporting land reform that recognises customary rights and invests in small-scale production. We demand that our governments assume their responsibility to us, their constituents. Our needs should drive their actions, not a quixotic quest for corporate investment returns that have little chance of feeding the world’s poor.

• This article was amended on 14 February 2011. In the sixth paragraph, “Africa” was corrected to “sub-Saharan Africa” and “International Food Policy Research Institute” was changed to “World Bank”, which was the source of the statistic. “The 90% increase in soy production in the last decade in Brazil comes at the cost of deforestation” in the eighth paragraph was changed to “Brazil went from 8% to 35% of global trade in soy in the decade to 2005, but this comes at the cost of deforestation”.

Gisele Henriques
Gisele Henriques is a Brazilian activist and the policy and advocacy officer on food and agriculture issues for the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE. She has worked for more than a decade in support of the rights of farmers in Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mexico and Brazil

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/12/global-land-grab-farmers

World: Slow Death by Carbon Credits.

Indigenous peoples can suffer from pollution compensation plan

By Dennis Martinez*

Forget any spin. In the end, the recent UN gathering on climate change in Cancún repeated Copenhagen’s failure in 2009. Again, the world’s industrial economies refused to set new binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, despite dire warnings by scientists. Instead, delegates again vaguely promised money for climate adaptation and mitigation: this time $30 billion to the developing world by 2012, and $100 billion more by 2020.

Once more, the industrialized countries appear to have pledged much of this money in a salvage measure dubbed “REDD” – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries.

Established by wealthy nations, venture capitalists, the World Bank, and the United Nations, REDD would pay for the carbon absorbed in developing countries, to compensate for pollution caused by industrialized countries.

The initiative would allow polluters to buy carbon credits from companies, communities, non-government organizations, or countries that promise not to destroy forests for a specific period. To polluters, setting aside money for carbon absorption in a REDD forest is far less costly than reducing emissions at tailpipes or smokestacks.

But even if it works – itself a point of contention – this carbon-offsetting simply postpones any weaning off the fossil-fuel economy.

Perhaps the people least impressed by this half-measure are the ones who most urgently need a solution to climate disruption. From the Amazon basin to the African savannahs, traditional indigenous peoples depend directly on their local environment for sustenance, and so they are the most vulnerable to climate change. At Cancún, indigenous leaders again watched as REDD technocrats tried to “save” their territorial forests as global carbon sinks, instead of cutting their own countries’ emissions.

REDD can target the tropical forests exactly because indigenous communities have carefully preserved them for many thousands of years. But the initiative seems to have little use for the forest inhabitants themselves. The UN climate talks relegate indigenous peoples to “observer” status. At least eight national REDD plans funded by the World Bank would allow bans on the kind of small-scale, biodiverse farming that is practiced by many indigenous peoples and is misnamed “slash and burn.” At the same time, at least 19 of the plans explicitly contain provisions for tree plantations, which displace forest dwellers, degrade biodiversity, and cause high fire risk. Plantations are tolerated under the United Nations’ definition of forests. They satisfy carbon investors who like precise measurement and predictability – not messy, biodiverse forest habitat.

This mentality inspires what critics call “fortress conservation”: non-government organizations and national authorities cordon off land to protect species and institute carbon-offset projects, driving out of their forests the indigenous stewards, who become “conservation refugees.” John Nelson, Africa policy adviser for the Forest Peoples Program, estimates that some 150,000 to 200,000 people in the Congo basin alone have suffered this fate.

“Imagine waking up one day,” he says, “to find a boundary outside your village – with armed paramilitary guards telling you that you cannot enter the forest.” If people cannot go there, they cannot teach their children how to live in the traditional ways, and these ways, with all they might have to teach the larger world about storing carbon and repairing forest ecosystems, will be lost. “Mitigation policies of the developed world,” Ramiro Batzin, a Keqchikel Maya from Guatemala, recently told the World Bank, “will kill us before climate change does!”

Despite their long residence in the forests, many indigenous peoples have fought for decades to establish legal title to the land. But nothing at Cancún required REDD programs to establish or secure those rights, or to obtain genuine consent for projects in indigenous communities.

This neglect, and the fortress conservation it allows, is not only an injustice but also a missed opportunity. Studies have shown that traditional land management, when title is secured, sinks carbon far more effectively and cheaply than conventional efforts favored by REDD.

The Emberá of Panama, like the Ogiek of Kenya, have been the stewards of the land for millennia. But at best REDD would promise them compensation – and a dubious dependence on a cash economy, which tends to erode traditional culture. Especially in an age of climate chaos, the erosion of such stewardship is unacceptable. And in any case, nobody should mistake the initiative for a real solution to a changing climate. That remains what it was in Kyoto, and what it will be later this year in Durban: cut greenhouse gas emissions.

* Dennis Martinez, a Native American forest-restoration specialist, is on the steering committee of the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative. Laird Townsend of the non-profit media organization Project Word, a project of the Tides Center, contributed to this article.

http://www.servindi.org/actualidad/38573?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Servindi+%28Servicio+de+Informaci%C3%B3n+Indigena%29

Arundhati Roy: Los movimientos indígenas son nuestra única esperanza.

La actualidad en la India

El gobierno de la India, que fue uno de los países líderes del Movimiento de Países No Alineados durante la guerra fría, ha optado ahora por estar completamente alineado. Se llama a sí mismo un aliado natural de Israel y de los Estados Unidos. En 1990 adopta el mercado libre. Desde entonces, ajustes estructurales, privatización y enormes proyectos de infraestructura –como diques de contención, plantas de energía y minas– han provocado el desplazamiento de cientos de miles de personas. India es probablemente el país con mayor número de desplazados internos en el mundo. La gran mayoría de estas personas pertenecen a comunidades indígenas tribales o a castas Dalit (intocables).

El actual gobierno está encabezado por títeres del Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) y del mundo corporativo. El primer ministro de la democracia más grande del mundo, Manmohan Singh, nunca en su vida ha ganado una elección. El ministro local, P. Chidambaram, es un abogado corporativo que ha representado a grandes industrias mineras, incluso a la infame Enron. Él dice que visualiza el 80% de la población india viviendo en ciudades. Esto significaría una hazaña de ingeniería social a una escala que ningún gobierno ha imaginado jamás. Cerca de 500 millones de personas yéndose de sus tierras. Esto sólo puedo hacerse si la India se convierte en un estado militarizado.

Aún cuando la población rural está siendo desplazada de sus tierras a un ritmo sin precedentes, cuando llega a las ciudades y vive en barrios y puebluchos de chabolas, conformando la masa de trabajadores –prácticamente esclavos– que construyen las nuevas y resplandecientes ciudades, cuando terminan su trabajo, igual son expulsados de las ciudades. Tenemos un población de 800 millones de personas que viven con menos de medio dólar al día. Son lo que los nazis solían llamar “comedores superfluos”. El gobierno quiere deshacerse de ellos.

El movimiento Naxalita, la gente Dalit y Adivasi de la India rural

Es la misma vieja historia. Ustedes, en las Américas, lo saben mejor que nadie. Si miras un mapa de la India, verás que en los bosques, la gran riqueza mineral, y los grupos indígenas están amontonados unos encima de los otros. Sólo la bauxita está valuada en 4 trillones de dólares. Aproximadamente en el 2005 el gobierno firmó cientos de Memorandos de Entendimiento (MOUs, por sus siglas en inglés) con corporativos privados para realizar proyectos masivos de minería e infraestructura. Éstos intentaron empezar a trabajar, pero se toparon con una muy, muy fuerte resistencia –una biodiversidad de resistencias– que abarca desde militantes gandhianos, socialistas e indígenas, hasta una clásica lucha maoísta armada. El gobierno los señaló a todos como maoístas y el primer ministro los llamó –a la gente más pobre del mundo– la mayor amenaza a la seguridad interna de la India. Todos estos movimientos, se hayan o no levantado en armas, han sido reprimidos violentamente.

El movimiento Naxalita comenzó en un distrito de la parte del oeste de Bengala, llamado Naxabari, en 1967. El partido se llamaba Partido Comunista de la India (Marxista-Lenista) (CPI [ML], por sus siglas en inglés). Su actividad política central tenía que ver con la reforma de la tierra. Se encontraron con represión militar y policiaca, a través de la cual el partido fue prácticamente aniquilado físicamente. El partido se separó y se dividió. Aparecieron nuevos partidos con ligeras variaciones de la ideología original, pero cada vez que parecía haber sido derrotado, se levantaba de entre los muertos, propagándose por el país. Fue particularmente fuerte en el estado de Andhra Pradesh, donde se llamó a sí mismo Grupo de Guerra de la Gente y más tarde tan sólo la Guerra de la Gente (PW, por sus siglas en inglés). En el 2004 fueron virtualmente expulsados de este lugar y muchos dirigentes escaparon a los bosques de Chhattisgarh, donde se reunieron con sus compañeros, quienes habían estado trabajando con gente de las tribus durante treinta años. Ahora, de repente, la fortaleza del bosque en donde se habían replegado ha resultado ser el nuevo gran hallazgo de los corporativos y los Naxalitas están siendo nombrados “la gran amenaza para la seguridad interna.”

Los movimientos y luchas indígenas se están incrementando en todo el mundo, especialmente en Latinoamérica. Están cuestionando fuertemente a los gobiernos y a los corporativos e incluso, en casos como el de Bolivia y Ecuador, enfrentan el dilema de tomar o no el poder y están defendiendo una nueva visión de la existencia humana: “sumak kawsay” (buen vivir en quechua) que armoniza al hombre y la naturaleza, rechazando los principios del capitalismo.

Estos movimientos son nuestra única esperanza. Mientras los movimientos de resistencia comunista, incluidas las guerras de guerrillas, pueden tener algo que enseñarnos acerca de la resistencia, yo no creo que tengan la visión o la imaginación para mostrarnos un modo de vida sustentable.

Las mujeres en los movimientos de la India

Casi todos los movimientos de resistencia en la India tienen mujeres al frente. Esto es una de las cosas más maravillosas que tiene este lugar. Incluso el grupo base del Ejército de Liberación de las Personas (PLGA, por sus siglas en inglés) tiene alrededor de 45% de mujeres en sus filas. Aunque los maoístas no pueden ser llamados totalmente igualitarios, aparentemente lo son más que otros partidos políticos.

El futuro del movimiento

Para empezar, creo que vendrá una seria escalada. El gobierno indio ha hecho promesas a corporativos y aquí “crear un buen clima para la inversión” no significa otra cosa que una guerra contra los pobres. Pero la India está en una posición peculiar. A diferencia de los países del oeste, que mientras desarrollaban la democracia en su país, cometían genocidios en sus colonias para extraer materia prima que alimentara su industria, hoy la India –que se vende como la democracia más grande del mundo– está teniendo que colonizar sus más bajas regiones, para comer sus extremidades. Pero las extremidades se rehúsan a ser comidas.

La situación es esta: durante cinco años la gente más pobre del mundo se las ha arreglado para, de alguna manera u otra, rechazar a los más poderosos corporativos. Podría ser que la gente de este país, con toda su sabiduría y flexibilidad, gane. Si es así, harán historia. Quizá vayan a enseñar al mundo una nueva forma de hacer las cosas. Si pierden, será una derrota del tipo que la gente pobre de todo el mundo ha experimentado siglo tras siglo. La pelea está en pie. La solidaridad internacional ayuda, pero cada vez más, la pelea debe estar en la base local, militante e imposible de cooptar.

http://desinformemonos.org

The Social Earthquake in Chile

Chile is experiencing a social earthquake in the aftermath of the 8.8 magnitude quake that struck the country on February 27. “The fault lines of the Chilean Economic Miracle have been exposed,” says Elias Padilla, an anthropology professor at the Academic University of Christian Humanism in Santiago. “The free market, neo-liberal economic model that Chile has followed since the Pinochet dictatorship has feet of mud.”

Chile is one of the most inequitable societies in the world. Today, 14 percent of the population lives in abject poverty. The top 20 percent captures 50 percent of the national income, while the bottom 20 percent earns only 5 percent. In a 2005 World Bank survey of 124 countries, Chile ranked twelfth in the list of countries with the worst distribution of income.

The rampant ideology of the free market has produced a deep sense of alienation among much of the population. Although a coalition of center left parties replaced the Pinochet regime 20 years ago, it opted to depoliticize the country, to rule from the top down, allowing controlled elections every few years, shunting aside the popular organizations and social movements that had brought down the dictatorship.

This explains the scenes of looting and social chaos in the southern part of the country that were transmitted round the world on the third day after the earthquake. In Concepcion, Chile’s second largest city, which was virtually leveled by the earthquake, the population received absolutely no assistance from the central government for two days. The chain supermarkets and malls that had come to replace the local stores and shops over the years remained firmly shuttered.

Settling Accounts

Popular frustration exploded as mobs descended on the commercial center, carting off everything, not just food from the supermarkets but also shoes, clothing, plasma TVs, and cell phones. This wasn’t simple looting, but the settling accounts with an economic system that dictates that only possessions and commodities matter. The “gente decente” the decent people and the big media began referring to them as lumpen, vandals and delinquents. “The greater the social inequities, the greater the delinquency,” explains Hugo Fruhling of the Center for the Study of Citizen Security at the University of Chile.

In the two days leading up to the riots, the government of Michele Bachelet revealed its incapacity to understand and deal with the human tragedy wrecked on the country. Many of the ministers were gone on summer vacation, or licking their wounds as they prepared to turn over their offices to the incoming right wing government of billionaire Sebastian Piñera, who will be sworn in this Thursday. Bachelet declared that the country’s needs had to be studied and surveyed before any assistance could be sent. On Saturday morning, the day of the quake, she ordered the military to place a helicopter at her disposal to fly over Concepcion to assess the damage. As of Sunday morning, no helicopter had appeared, and the trip was abandoned.

As an anonymous Carlos L. wrote in an email widely circulated in Chile: “It would be very difficult in the history of the country to find a government with so many powerful resources — technological, economic, political, organizational — that has been unable to provide any response to the urgent social demands of entire regions gripped by fear, needs of shelter, water, food and hope.”

What arrived in Concepcion on Monday was not relief or assistance, but several thousand soldiers and police transported in trucks and planes, as people were ordered to stay in their homes. Pitched battles were fought in the streets of Concepcion, as buildings were set afire. Other citizens took up arms to protect their homes and barrios as the city appeared to be on the brink of an urban war. On Tuesday, relief assistance finally began to arrive in quantity, along with more troops and the militarization of the southern region.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on part of a Latin American tour that was scheduled before the quake, flew into Santiago on Tuesday to meet with Bachelet and Piñera. She brought 20 satellite phones and a technician on her plane, saying one of the “biggest problems has been communications as we found in Haiti in those days after the quake.” It went unsaid that just as in Chile, the U.S. sent in the military to take control of Porte au Prince before any significant relief assistance was distributed.

Milton Friedman’s Legacy

The Wall Street Journal joined in the fray to uphold the neoliberal model, running an article by Bret Stephens, “How Milton Friedman Saved Chile.” He asserted that Friedman’s “spirit was surely hovering protectively over Chile in the early morning hours of Saturday. Thanks largely to him, the country has endured a tragedy that elsewhere would have been an apocalypse.” He went on to declare, “it’s not by chance that Chilean’s were living in houses of brick—and Haitians in houses of straw — when the wolf arrived to try to blow them down.” Chile had adopted “some of the world’s strictest building codes,” as the economy boomed due to Pinochet’s appointment of Friedman-trained economists to cabinet ministries and the subsequent civilian government’s commitment to neoliberalism.

There are two problems with this view. First, as Naomi Klein points out in “Chile’s Socialist Rebar” on the Huffington Post, it was the socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1972 that established the first earthquake building codes. They were later strengthened, not by Pinochet, but by the restored civilian government in the 1990’s.

Secondly, as CIPER, the Center of Journalistic Investigation and Information reported on March 6, greater Santiago has 23 residential complexes and high rises built over the last 15 years that suffered severe quake damage. Building codes had been skirted, and “the responsibility of the construction and real estate enterprises is now the subject of public debate.” In the country at large, 2 million people out of a population of 17 million are homeless. Most of the houses destroyed by the earthquake were built of adobe or other improvised materials, many in the shanty towns that have sprung up to provide a cheap, informal work force for the country’s big businesses and industries.

There is little hope that the incoming government of Sebastian Piñera will rectify the social inequities that the quake exposed. The richest person in Chile, he and several of his advisers and ministers are implicated as major shareholders in construction projects that were severely damaged by the quake because building codes were ignored. Having campaigned on a platform of bringing security to the cities and moving against vandalism and crime, he criticized Bachelet’s for not deploying the military sooner in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Signs of Resistance

There are signs that the historic Chile of popular organizations and grass roots mobilizing may be reawakening. A coalition of over 60 social and nongovernmental organizations released a letter stating: “In these dramatic circumstances, organized citizens have proven capable of providing urgent, rapid and creative responses to the social crisis that millions of families are experiencing. The most diverse organizations–neighborhood associations, housing and homeless committees, trade unions, university federations and student centers, cultural organizations, environmental groups — are mobilizing, demonstrating the imaginative potential and solidarity of communities.” The declaration concluded by demanding of the Piñera government the right to “monitor the plans and models of reconstruction so that they include the full participation of the communities.”

Roger Burbach lived in Chile during the Allende years. He is author of The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice (Zed Books) and director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) based in Berkeley, CA

Posted on New America Media

Latin America’s economic rebels

Among the conventional wisdom that we hear every day in the business press is that developing countries should bend over backwards to create a friendly climate for foreign corporations, follow orthodox (neoliberal) macroeconomic policy advice and strive to achieve an investment-grade sovereign credit rating so as to attract more foreign capital.

Guess which country is expected to have the fastest economic growth in the Americas this year? Bolivia. The country’s first indigenous president,Evo Morales, was elected in 2005 and took office in January 2006. Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, had been operating underIMF agreements for 20 consecutive years, and its per-capita income was lower than it had been 27 years earlier.

Evo sent the IMF packing just three months after he took office, and then moved to re-nationalise the hydrocarbons industry (mostly natural gas). Needless to say this did not sit well with the international corporate community. Nor did Bolivia’s decision in May 2007 to withdraw from theWorld Bank‘s international arbitration panel, which had a tendency to settle disputes in favour of international corporations and against governments.

But Bolivia’s re-nationalisation and increased royalties on hydrocarbons has given the government billions of dollars of additional revenue (Bolivia’s entire GDP is only about $16.6bn, with a population of 10 million people). These revenues have been useful for a government that wants to promote development, and especially to maintain growth during the downturn. Public investment increased from 6.3% of GDP in 2005 to 10.5% in 2009.

Bolivia’s growth through the current world downturn is even more remarkable in that it was hit hard by falling prices for its most important exports – natural gas and minerals – and also by a loss of important export preferences in the US market. The Bush administration cut off Bolivia’s trade preferences that were granted under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, allegedly to punish Bolivia for insufficient co-operation in the “war on drugs”.

In reality, it was more complicated: Bolivia expelled the US ambassadorbecause of evidence that the US government was supporting the opposition to the Morales government, and the ATPDA revocation followed soon thereafter. In any case, the Obama administration has so far not changed the Bush administration’s policies toward Bolivia. But Bolivia has proven that it can do quite well without Washington’s co-operation.

Ecuador‘s leftist president, Rafael Correa, is an economist who, well before he was elected in December 2006, understood and wrote about the limitations of neoliberal economic dogma. He took office in 2007 and established an international tribunal to examine the legitimacy of the country’s debt. In November 2008 the commission found that part of the debt was not legally contracted, and in December Correa announced that the government would default on roughly $3.2bn of its international debt.

He was vilified in the business press, but the default was successful. Ecuador cleared a third of its foreign debt off its books by defaulting and then buying the debt back at about 35 cents on the dollar. The country’s international credit rating remains low, but no lower than it was before Correa’s election, and it was even raised a notch after the buyback was completed.

The Correa government also incurred foreign investors’ wrath by renegotiating its deals with foreign oil companies to capture a larger share of revenue as oil prices rose. And Correa has bucked pressure from Chevron and its powerful allies in Washington to drop his support of a lawsuit against the company for alleged pollution of ground waters, with damages that could exceed $27bn.

How has Ecuador done? Growth has averaged a healthy 4.5% over Correa’s first two years. And the government has made sure that it has trickled down: healthcare spending as a percent of GDP has doubled, and social spending in general has expanded considerably from 5.4% to 8.3% of GDP in two years. This includes a doubling of the cash transfer programme to poor households, a $474m increase in spending for housing, and other programmes for low-income families.

Ecuador was hit hard by a 77% drop in the price of its oil exports from June 2008 to February 2009, as well as a decline in remittances from abroad. Nonetheless it has weathered the storm pretty well. Other unorthodox policies, in addition to the debt default, have helped Ecuador to stimulate its economy without running too low on reserves.

Ecuador’s currency is the US dollar, so that rules out using exchange rate policy and most monetary policy for counter-cyclical efforts in a recession – a significant handicap. Instead, Ecuador was able to cut deals with China for a billion-dollar advance payment for oil and another $1bn loan.

The government also has begun requiring Ecuadorian banks to repatriate some of their reserves held abroad, expected to bring back another $1.2bn, and it has started repatriating $2.5bn in central bank reserves held abroad in order to finance another large stimulus package.

Ecuador’s growth will probably come in at about 1% this year, which is pretty good relative to most of the hemisphere. For example, Mexico, at the other end of the spectrum, is projected to have a 7.5% decline in GDP for 2009.

The standard reporting and even quasi-academic analysis of Bolivia and Ecuador says they are victims of populist, socialist, “anti-American” governments – aligned with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Cuba, of course – and on the road to ruin. To be sure, both countries have many challenges ahead, the most important of which will be to implement economic strategies that can diversify and develop their economies over the long run. But they have made a good start so far, by giving the conventional wisdom of the economic and foreign policy establishment – in Washington and Europe – the respect it has earned.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/oct/27/bolivia-ecuador-economy



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