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<nettime> PGA Bulletin #1

[This message originated from Play Fair Europe! Oviedo 
 <> and was forwarded by a
 nettime roving correspondent. I think the date below--
 1997--is a mistake, but one never knows these days...]

    PGA Bulletin
 Number 1, March 1997

Table of contents:
1. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee
2. Plans of action
3. Peoplesí Global Action Manifesto

(Sorry if you receive this message more than once)

1. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee

Friends of the world,

Together with peopleís movements from all continents (more than 300
delegates from 71 countries), we gathered in Geneva 23rd to 25th February
to discuss joint actions against World Trade Organisation (WTO), "free"
trade and corporate rule.

We shared our anger when witnessing the devastating social and
environmental effects of globalisation, promoted by WTO and other
institutions catering to the interests of transnational capital, such as
the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, and regional "free" trade
agreements like NAFTA, APEC and Maastricht We also shared our hopes and
ideals, our strategies for constructing alternative worlds beyond corporate

We met with teachers hungerstriking against privatisation of all public
education in Argentina; women organising against quasi-slavery in the
"Maquillas" factories of Mexico, Bangladesh, Salvador, and Nicaragua;
women's rights activists; farmers struggling against globalisation in
India, Philippines, Brazil, Estonia, Norway, Honduras, France, Spain,
Switzerland, Bangladesh, Senegal, Mozambique, Togo, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia
and many other countries; Ogoni, Maori, Maya, Aymara, Uíwa and other
indigenous peoples, fighting for their cultural rights and physical
survival; students struggling against nuclear power or the repression of
striking workers in Ukraine and South Korea; postal workers from Canada
resisting privatisation, militants against "un-free"trade from the United
States, environmentalists, unemployed, fisherfolk, anti-racists, peace
mobilisers, animal rights activists... Such a world-wide meeting of women
and men of grassroots movements was an extraordinary experience, bringing
new vision, hope and determination to us all.

For fighters of such movements it was easy to see that the same "free"
trade blackmail is at work when "Maquila" factories cross borders overnight
as when transnational corporations delocalise from France to Scotland; that
the same agribusiness monopolies are driving out small farmers in Mexico,
France, Africa, India, Switzerland and the Philippines; that the same
transnationals are transforming public services into private profit in
Argentina, Canada, France and Eastern Europe. Despite the huge material
differences, struggles in privileged and under-privileged parts of the
corporate empire have more and more in common, setting the stage for a new
and stronger sort of solidarity. (The conference itself, largely housed in
squatted halls and houses, depending entirely on the freely offered work of
the genevan "alternative" sector, was an example of this.)

This conference showed the energy that the unification of these diverse
struggles could untap. Struggles must always be rooted in the local and
particular. At the same time there is a more general, global problem. Just
daring to meet and name it gives us all more courage to refuse the
"realistic" solutions. The struggles are local, but together they take on a
new and deeper meaning. We can - and must - aim for the head of the monster.

It is difficult to describe the warmth and the depth of the encounters we
had here. The global enemy is relatively well known, but the global
resistance that it meets rarely passes through the filter of the medias.
And here we met the people who had shut down whole cities in Canada with
general strikes, risked their lives to seize lands in Latin America,
destroyed the seat of Cargill in India or Novartisís transgenic maize in
France. The discussions, the concrete planning for action, the stories of
struggle, the personalities, the enthusiastic hospitality of the Genevan
squatters, the impassioned accents of the women and men facing the police
outside the WTO building, all sealed an alliance between us. Scattered
around the world again, we will not forget. We remain together. This is our
common struggle.

Delegates committed themselves with enthusiasm to the central goal of the
conference: a global call for decentralised actions all around the world
against WTO, to protest the second WTO Ministerial Conference (May
18-20th), a conference which will also "celebrate" the 50th anniversary of
the first "free" trade agreements of GATT/WTO. A press group formed of
grassroots activists from different parts regions, will be present in
Geneva to centralise information and to inform the international press and
the PGA network about protests around the world. Resistance to the "new
world order" will also be global!

The Geneva welcoming committee thanks every delegate, once again, for
coming. Your presence also gave us in Geneva a unique occasion to come
together, to live concretely and collectively (be it by cooking a meal or
carrying mattresses!) our dream of a world with less "free" trade and more
free exchanges. We are happy and proud to have been able to receive you.

The Geneva Welcoming Committee

2. Plans of action:

The following plans of action were drawn up in the First PGA conference, at
the end of February. The list will be completed and regularly updated in
the web page of the PGA (, where you will also find a
form to communicate new actions. If you do not have access to the web,
please contact

The agitations against the WTO will start on the 1st of May with a national
massive demonstration of at least 1/2 million farmers at one of the
political centres of India, demanding that India quits the WTO. Professor
Nanjundaswamy, president of the Karnataka State Farmersí Association (KRRS)
will coordinate this programme (, fax
+91-80-3302171). The demonstration on the 1st of May will be preceded by a
three-days strategy meeting of leaders of diverse movements of India, to
discuss coordinated actions to achieve the end goal of getting India out of
the WTO.

On the 1st of May several other cities will see massive mobilisation
against the WTO. One of the main agitations will happen in Zurich, where
the 1st of May committee has chosen the struggle against the WTO as the
main topic for the mobilisations (which are the most important 1st of May
mobilisations in Switzerland and one of the main ones in Europe). In
several other cities similar plans are taking shape.

Actions in Geneva, 16th to 20th of May 1998:

* A big street party will take place in Geneva on Saturday the 16th, two
days before the beginning of the conference, and parallel to the G8 meeting
in Birmingham. The party will seize the city for the whole day. A special
train is being planned from Italy to join the party. There will from two to
three thousand farmers from UPS (the local small farmers union) selling
local food on the street (although this might be postponed to Monday the
18th). There will also be people coming from all Swiss cities.

* There will be a March against Unemployment and Exclusion, leaving from
several French cities to arrive to Geneva on the 15th. The march, organised
by AC! (Act against Unemployment!), has the aim of participating in the
actions against the WTO Ministerial Conference.

* A number of bicycle caravans will leave from the German cities Luechow
(25th April), Dresden (23rd April) and Giessen (2nd May), will meet in
Frankfurt on the 4th of May and head all together towards Geneva, to arrive
on the 16th of May, just in time for the street party. The caravans, called
"Money or Life?", will stop in several cities on the way (Hildesheim,
Goettingen, Freiberg, Chemnitz, Gera, Jena, Erfurt, Haina, Darmstadt,
Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Basel, Aarau, Bern, Fribourg and Lausanne,
probably also Wittingen, Wehnsen, Seesen, Gunkelrode, Saasen, Offenburg and
Burgdorf) to do awareness-raising actions. Contact: WIWA Wendland c/o
Abraxas, Marschtorstr. 56, D-29451 Dannenberg, Germany, tel.: +49-5862-7460
or +49-5842-247 fax: +49-5861-2527, email:

* On Sunday the 17th there will be a seminar for the local population and
the guest activists. There will also be practical training on techniques of
non-violent resistance to police repression.

* On Monday the 18th (the first day of the Ministerial Conference) there
will be a "Peoplesí Trade Day" in Geneva, which shall involve the blocking
of several symbolic centres of global capitalism (multinationals, fast food
restaurants, banks, etc) with small-scale, local trade consisting of direct
links between consumers and producers. The Peoplesí Trade Day will last the
whole day, and will also involve blocking the normal traffic in the city.

* On Tuesday the 19th (last day of the Ministerial Conference) and
Wednesday the 20th (day of celebration for the 50th anniversary of the
GATT) there will be more actions, which are still being discussed.

* During the whole period from the 15th to the 20th there will be a press
team formed of representatives of peoplesí movements from all continents,
collecting all kinds of material for the press (releases, picures, videos,
etc) from Geneva and all other cities of the world and handing it to the
press acredited to cover the Ministerial Conference. They will also
organise three big press conferences with the main leaders of peoplesí
movements from all over the world.

Other actions against the WTO:

* The World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers, which has been formed
in 25 countries, is planning massive agitational programmes all over the
world. Also, a world strike is being planned for the World Fisheriesí Day,
in November. These actions are being coordinated by Thomas Kocherry,
President of the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers
(, fax +91-471-501376).

* The Azadi Bachao Andolan (Save Freedom Movement) of India is planning to
submit a memorandum to the president of India with 10 million signatures
demanding the withdrawal of India from the WTO. Contact person: Tyagi Manoj
(, fax +91-532-609407)

* In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, the Garment Workers Unity Forum will
hold a massive demonstration against the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF.
This action is being coordinated by Ms. Mushrefa Mishu (fax +8802-863057).

* Speakersí Tour in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka: In these countries,
the level of awareness about the role of WTO is still rather low. Some
prominent speakspersons from India will be touring these countries to
participate in awareness-raising campaigns and discuss with movements and
interested groups.

* Saturday the 16th of May: "Street parties" all over the world, two days
before the beginning of the WTO Ministerial Conference and during the G8
meeting in Birmingham. Thousands of people in cities around Europe and
other parts of the world will simultaneously be dancing on the streets
transforming privatised enclosed space into Festivals of Resistance against
the car and fossil fuel industry, economic globalisation and corporate
rule. Contact address: Reclaim the Streets! PO Box 9656 , London N4 4JY,
UK, tel.: +44-171-2814621, email:

* There will be a "No Trade Day" in several cities in the USA, where
activists will block the transport of merchandise by railway, truck and plane.

* There will be actions in several Canadian cities from the 18th to the
20th of May, inlcuding information session, demonstrations and some direct

* There is a number of actions being discussed now in diverse Latin
American countries. More news will follow in the updates.

These are only the actions about which we are certain. More actions will be
added to the list in the next weeks.

Other actions:

* 2nd of April: Actions in solidarity with the struggle of the Argentinian
teachers. This date marks the first anniversary of their rotational hunger
strike and the installation of the "tent of Dignity" in front of the
parliament, which has become a very powerful symbol that goes much further
than the specific reivindications of teachers, an example of resistance and
struggle of the grassroots, non-bourocratic organisations for dignity,
freedom, human rights and a just society. Contact: CTERA,

10th of April: Mobilisations of the Zapatista bases in Mexico to demand the
application of the agreements of San Andres. International mobilisations
for support, to denounce the situation in Chiapas in particular and in
Mexico in general. Contact: FZLN,

* 15th-18th April: Peoplesí Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile.
Response of society to the II Presidential Summit of the Americas to
negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Organisations of the
whole continent will take part. The following fora will take place:
environment, indigenous peoples, human rights, women, peasants, ethics,
economic alternatives, trade unions. The organisers are (among others) the
Red Chilena por una iniciativa de los pueblos (RECHIP), Red
Mexicana de Accion contra el Libre Comercio (RMALC),
Red Nacional de Accion Ecologica, RENACE (, Alliance for
Responsible Trade from USA and Common Frontiers from Canada.

* 17th April: International mobilisation from La Via Campesina.
Mobilisations and actions will include marches in the whole Latin American
continent demanding food sovereignity and the right to land, and denouncing
the persecutions and the massacres of peasants. Contact: La Via Campesina,
Latin American coordination in Honduras,

* 22nd April: First anniversary of the massacre in the residence of the
Japanese embassador in Lima (Peru). Mobilisations to clarify what happened
in the massacre. Call for international solidarity. Contact:

* 1st May : Broad social mobilisation against Economic and Monetary Union
(EMU) and its economic, social and environmental consequences, parallel to
the extraordinary EU summitand other EU meetings (1st to 3rd May), where a
decision will be taken onthe countries that will join the Euro. Trade
unions and movements of unemployed in many countries are already involved
in this initiative. Contact address : Movement Against the Europe of
Maastricht and Economic Globalisation, Tudescos 4, 3a ext. decha., 28004
Madrid, Spain, tel.: +34- 1-5219346, fax: +34-1-5717108, email:

* 8th to 12th May: Actions at the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development) offices all around Europe, during their annual meeting in
Kiev / Ukraine and also during the Chernobyl Action Day. The Bank has been
primarily occupied in privatising whole sectors of national economies,
serving as a mechanism to impose the Western economic development model in
Central and Eastern Europe.The Bank currently pushes for nuclear power
development in the interest of Western corporations. Contact address: Za
Zemiata - CEE Bankwatch, PO Box 975, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria, Tel/fax
+359-2-658216, email: and also: Rainbow Keepers, PO Box
322, Kiev 252 187, Ukraine, tel:+38044-263- 4954 tel/fax.:
+38044-550-60-68, email:

* 12th -16th June: Reclaim Europe! when the EU leaders decide on peoples'
fate within the "exclusion zone". Counter Summit (workshops/ discussions to
advance campaigning, international strategy & cooperation), demos,
music.... in Cardiff / Wales.  Contact: Reclaim Europe!, 1B Waterlow Rd,
London N19 5NJ, Tel.: +44-171-272- 9333, Fax +44-171- 5610800, and (to both please), Web:

3. Peoples' Global Action Manifesto

(Working draft - comments and amendments accepted until the 30th of April
1998.) (Mail your comments, if possible in English and Spanish, to or fax them to +41-22-344 4731)

We cannot take communion from the altars of a dominant culture
which confuses price with value and converts people and countries 
into merchandise.
                 -- Eduardo Galeano

If you come only to help me, you can go back home.
But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival,
then maybe we can work together.
                 -- Aboriginal woman


We live in a time in which capital, with the help of international agencies
like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the World Bank (WB) and other institutions, is shaping national
policies in order to strengthen its global control over political, economic
and cultural life.

Capital has always been global. Its boundless drive for expansion and
profit recognises no limits. From the slave trade of earlier centuries to
the imperial colonisation of peoples, lands and cultures across the globe,
capitalist accumulation has always fed on the blood and tears of the
peoples of the world. This destruction and misery has been restrained only
by grassroots resistance.

Today, capital is deploying a new strategy to assert its power and
neutralise peoples' resistance. Its name is economic globalisation, and it
consists in the dismantling of national limitations to trade and to the
free movement of capital.

The effects of economic globalisation spread through the fabric of
societies and communities of the world, integrating their peoples into a
single gigantic system aimed at the extraction profit and the control of
peoples and nature. Words like "globalisation", "liberalisation" and
"deregulation" just disguise the growing disparities in living conditions
between elites and masses in both privileged and "peripheral" countries.

The newest and perhaps the most important phenomenon in the globalisation
process is the emergence of trade agreements as key instruments of
accumulation and control. The WTO is by far the most important institution
for evolving and implementing these trade agreements. It has become the
vehicle of choice for transnational capital to enforce global economic
governance. The Uruguay Round vastly expanded the scope of the multilateral
trading system (i.e. the agreements under the aegis of the WTO) so that it
no longer constitutes only trade in manufactured goods. The WTO agreements
now also cover trade in agriculture, trade in services, intellectual
property rights, and investment measures. This expansion has very
significant implications for economic and non-economic matters. For
example, the General Agreement on Trade in Services will have far-reaching
effects on cultures around the world. Similarly, the TRIPs (Trade Related
Intellectual Property Rights) agreement and unilateral pressures,
especially on biodiversity-rich countries, are forcing these countries to
adopt new legislations establishing property rights over forms of life,
with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and food security. The
multilateral trading system, embodied in the WTO, has a tremendous impact
on the shaping of national economic and social policies, and hence on the
scope and nature of development options.

Trade agreements are also proliferating at the regional level. NAFTA (North
American Free Trade Agreement) is the prototype of a regional
legally-binding agreement involving privileged and underprivileged
countries, and its model is sought to be extended to all the Americas. APEC
(Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is another model with both kinds of
countries involved, and it is being increasingly used to force new
agreements into the framework of the WTO. The Maastricht Treaty is of
course the main example of a legally-binding agreement among privileged
countries. Regional trade agreements among underprivileged countries, such
as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), SADC (Southern African
Development Cooperation), SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) and
MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market), have also emerged. All these regional
agreements consist of the transfer of decision-making power from the
national level to regional institutions which are even more distant from
people and less democratic than the nation-state.

As though this was not enough, a new treaty, the Multilateral Agreement on
Investments (MAI), is being promoted by the privileged countries to widen
the rights of foreign investors far beyond their current positions in most
countries and to severely curtail the rights and powers of governments to
regulate the entry, establishment and operations of foreign companies and
investors. This is currently also the most important attempt to extend
globalisation and "economic liberalisation". The MAI would abolish the
power and the legitimate sovereign right of peoples to determine their own
economic, social, and cultural policies.

All these institutions and agreements share the same goals: providing
mobility for goods, services and capital, increasing transnational
capital's control over peoples and nature, transferring power to distant
and undemocratic institutions, foreclosing the possibility to develop
community-based and self-reliant economies, and restricting peoples'
freedom to construct societies based on human values.

Economic globalisation, power and the "race to the bottom"

Economic globalisation has given birth to new forms of accumulation of
wealth and power. The accumulation takes place on a global scale, at
increasing speed, controlled by transnational corporations and investors.
While capital has gone global, redistribution policies remain the
responsibility of national governments, which are unable, and most of the
times unwilling, to act against the interests of transnational capital.

This asymmetry is provoking an accelerating redistribution of power at
global level, strengthening what is usually referred to as "corporate
power". In this peculiar political system, global capital determines the
economic and social agenda on a world-wide scale with the help of
"informal" and extremely influential lobby groups, such as the World
Economic Forum. These corporate lobby groups give their instructions to
governments in the form of recommendations, and governments follow them,
since the few that refuse to obey the "advice" of corporate lobby groups
find their currencies under attack by speculators and see the investors
pulling out. The influence of corporate lobby groups has been strengthened
by regional and multilateral agreements. With their help, neo-liberal
policies are being imposed all over the world.

These neo-liberal policies are creating social tensions at global level
similar to the ones witnessed at national level during the first stages of
the industrialisation: while the number of billionaires grows, more and
more people around the world find themselves in a system that offers them
no place in production and no access to consumption. This desperation,
combined with the free mobility of capital, provides transnational
investors the best possible environment to pit both workers and governments
against each other. The result is a "race to the bottom" in social and
environmental conditions and the dismantling of redistribution policies
(progressive taxation, social security systems, reduction of working time,
etc). A vicious circle is created, wherein "effective demand" concentrates
increasingly in the hands of a transnational elite, while more and more
people cannot meet their basic needs.

This process of world-wide accumulation and exclusion amounts to a global
attack on elementary human rights, with very visible consequences: misery,
hunger, homelessness, unemployment, deteriorating health conditions,
landlessness, illiteracy, sharpened gender inequalities, explosive growth
of the "informal" sector and the underground economy (particularly
production and trade of drugs), the destruction of community life, cuts in
social services and labour rights, increasing violence at all levels of
society, accelerating environmental destruction, growing racial, ethnic and
religious intolerance, massive migration (for economic, political and
environmental reasons), strengthened military control and repression, etc.

Exploitation, labour and livelihoods

The globalisation of capital has to a very significant extent dispossessed
workers of their ability to confront or bargain with capital in a national
context. Most of the conventional trade unions (particularly in the
privileged countries) have accepted their defeat by the global economy and
are voluntarily giving up the conquests won by the blood and tears of
generations of workers. In compliance with the requirements of capital,
they have traded solidarity for "international competitiveness" and labour
rights for "flexibility of the labour market". Now they are actively
advocating the introduction of a "social" clause in the multilateral
trading system, which would give privileged countries a tool for selective,
one-sided and neo-colonial protectionism, with the effect of increasing
poverty instead of attacking it at its root.

Right-wing groups in privileged countries often blame "social dumping" from
underprivileged countries for the rising unemployment and the worsening
labour conditions. They say that southern peoples are hijacking northern
capital with the help of cheap labour, weak or non-existent labour and
environmental regulations and low taxes, and that southern exports are
forcing northern producers out of the market. While there is a certain
degree of relocation to underprivileged countries (concentrated in specific
sectors like textiles and microelectronics), the teenage girls who
sacrifice their health doing unpaid overtime in transnational sweatshops
for miserable salaries can hardly be blamed for the social havoc created by
free mobility of goods and capital. Moreover, most relocation happens
between rich countries, with only a fraction of foreign investment going to
underprivileged countries (and even some investment flowing to the north
>from countries traditionally considered as "underdeveloped"). And the
threat of relocation to another rich country (by far the most usual kind of
relocation) is as effective in blackmailing workers as the threat to
relocate to an underprivileged country. Finally, the main cause of
unemployment in privileged countries is the introduction of
"rationalisation" technologies, over which underprivileged peoples
certainly have no influence at all. In short, increasing exploitation is
solely the responsibility of capitalists, not of peoples.

Many advocates of "development" welcome the free movement of capital from
privileged to underprivileged countries as a positive contribution to the
improvement of the living conditions of the poor, since foreign investment
is supposed to produce jobs and livelihoods. They forget that the positive
social impact of foreign investment is limited by its very nature, since
transnational corporations will only keep their money in underprivileged
countries as long as the policies of these countries enable them to
continue exploiting the misery and desperation of the population. The
financial markets impose extreme punishments to the countries that dare to
adopt any kind of policy that could eventually result in improved living
standards, as exemplified by the abrupt end to the shy redistribution
policies adopted in 1981 by Mitterand in France. Also, the Mexican crisis
of 1994 and the recent crises in East Asia, although presented by the media
as the result of technical mismanagement, are good examples of the impact
of a corporate economic rule which gains strength every day both in
underprivileged and privileged countries, conditioning each and every
aspect of their social and economic policies.

Those who believe in the beneficial social effects of "free" market also
forget that the impact of transnational capital is not limited to the
creation of exploitative jobs. Most of the foreign direct investment (two
thirds according to the United Nations) in both privileged and
underprivileged countries consists of transnational corporations (TNCs)
taking over national enterprises, which most typically results in the
destruction of jobs. And TNCs never come alone with their money: they also
bring foreign products into the country, sweeping great numbers of local
firms and farms out of the market, or forcing them to produce under even
more inhuman conditions. Finally, most of the foreign investment provokes
the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, which results in the
irretrievable dispossession of the livelihoods of diverse communities of
indigenous peoples, farmers, ethnic groups etc.

We reject the idea that "free" trade creates employment and increases
welfare, and the assumption that it can contribute to the alleviation of
poverty. But we also very clearly reject the right-wing alternative of a
stronger national capitalism, as well as the fascist alternative of an
authoritarian state to take over central control from corporations. Our
struggles aim at taking back control of the means of production from the
hands of both transnational and national capital, in order to create free,
sustainable and community-controlled livelihoods, based on solidarity and
peoples' needs and not on exploitation and greed.

Gender oppression

Globalisation and neo-liberal policies build on and increase existing
inequalities, including gender inequality. The gendered system of power in
the globalised economy, like most traditional systems, encourages the
exploitation of women as workers, as maintainers of the family and as
sexual objects.

Women are responsible for creating, educating, feeding, clothing and
disciplining young people to prepare them to become part of the global
labour force. They are used as cheap and docile labour for the most
exploitative forms of employment, as exemplified in the maquilas of the
textile and microelectronics industry. Forced out of their homelands by the
poverty caused by globalisation, many women seek employment in foreign
countries, often as illegal immigrants, subjected to terrifying working
conditions and insecurity. The world-wide trade in women's bodies has
become a major element of world commerce and includes children as young as
10. They are used by the global economy through diverse forms of
exploitation and commodification.

Women are expected to be actors only in their households. Although this has
never been the case, this expectation has been used to deny women a role in
public affairs. The economic system also makes use of these gender roles to
identify women as the cause of many social and environmental problems.
Hence, women having too many babies (rather than the rich consuming too
many resources) is seen as the cause of the global environmental crisis.
Similarly, the fact that women get low wages, since their remuneration are
supposed to be only supplementary income for the household, is used to
blame them for the unemployment of men and the reduction in their wage
levels. As a result, women are used as scapegoats, declared guilty for
creating the same misery that is oppressing them, instead of pointing at
the global capital as responsible for social and environmental havoc. This
ideological stigmatisation adds to the physical violence suffered on a
daily basis by women all over the planet.

Patriarchy and the gender system rest firmly on the idea of the naturalness
and exclusivity of heterosexuality. Most of the social systems and
structures violently reject any other form of sexual expression or
activity, and this limitation of freedom is used in order to perpetuate
patriarchal gender roles.

The elimination of patriarchy and the end of all forms of gender
discrimination requires an open commitment against the global market.
Similarly, it is vital that those struggling against global capital
understand and confront the exploitation and marginalisation of women and
participate in the struggle against homophobia. We need to develop new
cultures that represent real alternatives to these old and new forms of

The indigenous peoples' fight for survival

Indigenous peoples and nationalities have a long history of resistance
against the destruction provoked by capitalism. Today, they are confronted
with the neo-liberal globalisation project as an instrument of
transnational capital for neo-colonisation and extermination. Transnational
corporations are violently invading the last refuges of indigenous peoples,
violating their territories, habitats and resources, destroying their ways
of life, and often perpetrating their genocide. The nation states are
permitting and actively encouraging these violations in spite of their
commitment to respect indigenous peoples' rights, reflected in diverse
declarations, agreements and conventions.

Corporations are stealing ancient knowledge and patenting it for their own
gain and profit. This means that indigenous people and the rest of humanity
will have to pay for access to the knowledge that will have thus been
commodified. Furthermore, the indigenous peoples themselves are being
patented by pharmaceutical corporations and the US administration, under
the auspices of the Human Genome Diversity Programme. We oppose the
patenting of all life forms and the corporate monopolistic control of seed,
medicines and traditional knowledge systems and human genes.

The fights of indigenous peoples to defend their lands (including the
subsoil) and societies, are leading to a growing repression against them
and to the militarisation of their territories, forcing them to sacrifice
their lives or their liberty. This struggle will continue until the right
of indigenous peoples to territorial autonomy is fully respected throughout
the world.

Oppressed ethnic groups

The black communities of African origin in the Americas suffered for
centuries a violent and inhuman exploitation, as well as physical
annihilation. Their labour force was used as a fundamental tool for
accumulation of capital, both in America and Europe. Faced with this
oppression, the Afro-Americans have created community-based processes of
organisation and cultural resistance. Currently the black communities are
suffering the effects of "development" megaprojects in their territories
and the invasion of their lands by big landowners, which lead to massive
displacement, misery and cultural alienation, and many times to repression
and death.

A similar situation is being suffered by other peoples, like Gypsies,
Kurds, Saharouis, etc. All these peoples are forced to struggle for their
right to live in dignity by nation-states that repress their identity and
autonomy, and impose on them a forced incorporation into a homogeneous
society. Many of these groups are viewed as a threat by the dominant
powers, since they are reclaiming and practising their right to cultural
diversity and autonomy.

Onslaught on nature and agriculture

Land, water, forest, wildlife, aquatic life and mineral resources are not
commodities, but our life support. For decades the powers that have emerged
from money and market have swelled their profits and tightened their
control of politics and economics by usurping these resources, at the cost
of the lives and livelihoods of vast majorities around the world. For
decades the World Bank and the IMF, and now the WTO, in alliance with
national governments and corporate powers, have facilitated manoeuvrings to
appropriate the environment. The result is environmental devastation,
tragic and unmanageable social displacement, and the wiping out of cultural
and biological diversity, much of it irretrievably lost without
compensation to those reliant on it.

The disparities provoked within and between countries by national and
global capital have widened and deepened as the rich spirit away the
natural resources from communities and farmers, farm labourers,
fishworkers, tribal and indigenous populations, women, the socially
disadvantaged - beating down into the earth the already downtrodden. The
centralised management of natural resources imposed by trade and investment
agreements does not leave space for intergenerational and intragenerational
sustainability. It only serves the agenda of the powers that have designed
and ratified those agreements: to accumulate wealth and power.

Unsustainable and capital-intensive technologies have played a major role
in corporations' onslaught on nature and agriculture. Green revolution
technologies have caused social and environmental havoc wherever they have
been applied, creating destitution and hunger instead of eliminating them.
Today, modern biotechnology is emerging, together with patents on life, as
one of the most powerful and dangerous weapons of corporations to take over
the control of the food systems all over the world. Genetic engineering and
patents on life must be resisted, since their potential social and
environmental impact is the greatest in the history of humanity.

Waging struggles against the global capitalist paradigm, the
underprivileged work towards the regeneration of their natural heritage and
the rebuilding of integrated, egalitarian communities. Our vision is of a
decentralised economy and polity based on communities' rights to natural
resources and to plan their own development, with equality and
self-reliance as the basic values. In place of the distorted priorities
imposed through global designs in sectors such as transport, infrastructure
and energy, and energy-intensive technology, they assert their right to
life in the fulfilment of the basic needs of everyone, excluding the greed
of the consumerist minority. Respecting traditional knowledge and cultures
consonant with the values of equality, justice, and sustainability, we are
committed to evolving creative ways to use and fairly distribute our
natural resources.


Another important aspect of globalisation, as orchestrated by WTO and other
international agencies, is the commercialisation and commodification of
culture, the appropriation of diversity in order to co-opt it and integrate
it into the process of capitalist accumulation. This process of
homogenisation by the media not only contributes to the breakdown of the
cultural and social networks in local communities, but also destroys the
essence and meaning of culture.

Cultural diversity not only has an immeasurable value of its own, as
reflections of human creativity and potential; it also constitutes a
fundamental tool for resistance and self-reliance. Hence, cultural
homogenisation has been one of the most important tools for central control
since colonialism. In the past the elimination of cultural diversity was
mainly accomplished by the Church and by the imposition of colonial
languages. Today mass media and corporate consumerist culture are the main
agents of commodification and homogenisation of cultural diversity. The
result of this process is not only a major loss of humanity's heritage: it
also creates an alarming dependence on the capitalist culture of mass
consumption, a dependence that is much deeper in nature and much harder to
eliminate than economic or political dependence.

Control over culture must be taken out of corporate hands and reclaimed by
communities. Self-reliance and freedom are only possible on the basis of a
lively cultural diversity that enables peoples to independently determine
each and every aspect of their lives. We are deeply committed to cultural
liberation in all areas of life, from food to films, from music to media.
We will contribute with our direct action to the dismantlement of corporate
culture and the creation of spaces for genuine creativity.

Knowledge and technology

Knowledge and technology are not neutral or value-free. The domination of
capital is partly based on its control over both. Western science and
technology have made very important contributions to humankind, but their
domination has swept away very diverse and valuable knowledge systems and
technologies based on centuries-long experience.

Western science is characterised by the production of simplified models of
reality for experimental purposes; hence, the reductionist scientific
method has an extremely limited capacity to produce useful knowledge about
complex and chaotic systems like agriculture. Traditional knowledge systems
and knowledge-production methods are far more effective, since they are
based on generations of direct observation of and interaction with
unsimplified complex systems. Therefore, capital-intensive, science-based
technologies invariably fail to achieve their goals in complex systems, and
many times provoke the disarray of these systems, as green revolution
technologies, modern dam technology and many other examples demonstrate.

Despite their many failures, capital-intensive technologies are
systematically treated as superior to traditional, labour-intensive
technologies. This ideological discrimination results in unemployment,
indebtedness and, most important, in the loss of an invaluable body of
knowledges and technologies accumulated during centuries. Traditional
knowledge, often controlled by women, has till recently been rejected as
"superstition" and "witchcraft" by western, mostly male, scientists and
academics. Their "rationalism" and "modernisation" has for centuries aimed
at destroying it irretrievably. However, pharmaceutical corporations and
agribusiness have recently discovered the value and potential of
traditional knowledge, and are stealing, patenting and commodifying it for
their own gain and profit.

Capital-intensive technology is designed, promoted, commercialised and
imposed to serve the process of capitalist globalisation. Since the use of
technologies has a very important influence on social and individual life,
peoples should have a free choice of, access to and control over
technologies. Only those technologies which can be managed, operated and
controlled by local peoples should be considered valid. Also, control of
the way technology is designed and produced, its scopes and finalities,
should be inspired by human principles of solidarity, mutual co-operation
and common sense. Today, the principles underlying production of technology
are exactly the opposite: profit, competition, and the deliberate
production of obsolescence. Empowerment passes through people's control
over the use and production of technology.

Education and youth

The content of the present education system is more and more conditioned by
the demands of production as dictated by corporations. The interests and
requirements of economic globalisation are leading to a growing
commodification of education. The diminishing public budgets in education
are encouraging the development of private schools and universities, while
the labour conditions of people working in the public education sector are
being eroded by austerity and Structural Adjustment Programs. Increasingly,
learning is becoming a process that intensifies inequalities in societies.
Even the public education system, and most of all the university, is
becoming inaccessible for wide sectors of societies. The learning of
humanities (history, philosophy, etc.) and the development of critical
thinking is being discouraged in favour of an education subservient to the
interests of the globalisation process, where competitive values are
predominant. Students increasingly spend more time in learning how to
compete with each other, rather than enhancing personal growth and building
critical skills and the potential to transform society.

Education as a tool for social change requires confrontational academics
and critical educators for all educational systems. Community-based
education can provoke learning processes within social movements. The right
to information is essential for the work of social movements. Limited and
unequal access to language skills, especially for women, hinders
participation in political activity with other peoples. Building these
tools is a way to reinforce and rebuild human values. Yet formal education
is increasingly being commercialised as a vehicle for the market place.
This is done by corporate investment in research and by the promotion of
knowledge geared toward skills needed for the market. The domination of
mass media should be dissolved and the right to reproduce our own
knowledges and cultures must be supported.

However, for many children throughout the world, the commodification of
education is not an issue, since they are themselves being commodified as
sexual objects and exploited labour, and suffering inhuman levels of
violence. Economic globalisation is at the root of the daily nightmare of
increasing numbers of exploited children. Their fate is the most horrible
consequence of the misery generated by the global market.


Globalisation is aggravating complex and growing crises that give rise to
widespread tensions and conflicts. The need to deal with this increasing
disorder is intensifying militarisation and repression (more police,
arrests, jails, prisoners) in our societies. Military institutions, such as
U.S.-dominated NATO, organising the other powers of the North, are among
the main instruments upholding this unequal world order. Mandatory
conscription in many countries indoctrinates young people in order to
legitimate militarism. Similarly, the mass media and corporate culture
glorify the military and exalt the use of violence. There is also, behind
facades of democratic structures, an increasing militarisation of the
nation-state, which in many countries makes use of faceless paramilitary
groups to enforce the interests of capital.

At the same time, the military-industrial complex, one of the main pillars
of the global economic system, is increasingly controlled by huge private
corporations. The WTO formally leaves defence matters to states, but the
military sector is also affected by the drive for private profit.

We call for the dismantling of nuclear and all other weapons of mass
destruction. The World Court of The Hague has recently declared that
nuclear weapons violate international law and has called all the
nuclear-weapons countries to agree to dismantle them. This means that the
strategy of NATO, based on the possible use of nuclear weapons, amounts to
a crime against humanity.

Migration and discrimination

The neo-liberal regime provides freedom for the movement of capital, while
denying freedom of movement to human beings. Legal barriers to migration
are being constantly reinforced at the same time that massive destruction
of livelihoods and concentration of wealth in privileged countries uproot
millions of people, forcing them to seek work far from their homes.
Migrants are thus in more and more precarious and often illegal situations,
even easier targets for their exploiters. They are then made scapegoats,
against whom right wing politicians encourage the local population to vent
their frustrations. Solidarity with migrants is more important than ever.
There are no illegal humans, only inhuman laws.

Racism, xenophobia, the caste system and religious bigotry are used to
divide us and must be resisted on all fronts. We celebrate our diversity of
cultures and communities, and place none above the other.

                    *     *     *

The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions that promote
globalisation and liberalisation want us to believe in the beneficial
effects of global competition. Their agreements and policies constitute
direct violations of basic human rights (including civil, political,
economic, social, labour and cultural rights) which are codified in
international law and many national constitutions, and ingrained in
people's understandings of human dignity. We have had enough of their
inhuman policies. We reject the principle of competitiveness as solution
for peoples' problems. It only leads to the destruction of small producers
and local economies. Neo-liberalism is the real enemy of economic freedom.


Capitalism has slipped the fragile leash won through centuries of struggles
in national contexts. It is keeping alive the nation-state only for the
purposes of peoples' control and repression, while creating a new
transnational regulatory system to facilitate its global operation. We
cannot confront transnational capitalism with the traditional tools used in
the national context. In this new, globalised world we need to invent new
forms of struggle and solidarity, new objectives and strategies in our
political work. We have to join forces to create diverse spaces of
co-operation, equality, dignity, justice and freedom at a human scale,
while attacking national and transnational capital, and the agreements and
institutions that it creates to assert its power.

There are many diverse ways of resistance against capitalist globalisation
and its consequences. At an individual level, we need to transform our
daily lives, freeing ourselves from market laws and the pursuit of private
profit. At the collective level, we need to develop a diversity of forms of
organisation at different levels, acknowledging that there is not a single
way of solving the problems we are facing. Such organisations have to be
independent of governmental structures and economic powers, and based on
direct democracy. These new forms of autonomous organisation should emerge
>from and be rooted in local communities, while at the same time practising
international solidarity, building bridges to connect different social
sectors, peoples and organisations that are already fighting globalisation
across the world.

These tools for co-ordination and empowerment provide spaces for putting
into practice a diversity of local, small-scale strategies developed by
peoples all over the world in the last decades, with the aim of delinking
their communities, neighbourhoods or small collectives from the global
market. Direct links between producers and consumers in both rural and
urban areas, local currencies, interest-free credit schemes and similar
instruments are the building blocks for the creation of local, sustainable,
and self-reliant economies based on co-operation and solidarity rather than
competition and profit. While the global financial casino heads at
increasing speed towards social and environmental disintegration and
economic breakdown, we the peoples will reconstruct sustainable
livelihoods. Our means and inspiration will emanate from peoples' knowledge
and technology, squatted houses and fields, a strong and lively cultural
diversity and a very clear determination to actively disobey and disrespect
all the treaties and institutions at the root of misery.

In the context of governments all over the world acting as the creatures
and tools of capitalist powers and implementing neo-liberal policies
without debate among their own peoples or their elected representatives,
the only alternative left for the people is to destroy these trade
agreements and restore for themselves a life with direct democracy, free
>from coercion, domination and exploitation. Direct democratic action, which
carries with it the essence of non-violent civil disobedience to the unjust
system, is hence the only possible way to stop the mischief of corporate
state power. It also has the essential element of immediacy. However we do
not pass a judgement on the use of other forms of action under certain

The need has become urgent for concerted action to dismantle the
illegitimate world governing system which combines transnational capital,
nation-states, international financial institutions and trade agreements.
Only a global alliance of peoples' movements, respecting autonomy and
facilitating action-oriented resistance, can defeat this emerging
globalised monster. If impoverishment of populations is the agenda of
neo-liberalism, direct empowerment of the peoples though constructive
direct action and civil disobedience will be the programme of the Peoples'
Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO.

We assert our will to struggle as peoples against all forms of oppression.
But we do not only fight the wrongs imposed on us. We are also committed to
building a new world. We are together as human beings and communities, our
unity deeply rooted in diversity. Together we shape a vision of a just
world and begin to build that true prosperity which comes from human
empowerment, natural bounty, diversity, dignity and freedom.

Geneva, February-March 1998
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