Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 292, FRIDAY 9th February, 2001
The IMF-imposed policies, carried out by the Ecuadorian government in exchange for more loans, have resulted in more than 50% of Ecuador's national budget going to pay off the foreign debt, have burdened the country with the highest rate of inflation in Latin America, the highest levels of corruption, the most advanced rates of deforestation and environmental degradation, and the worst example of maldistribution of wealth on the continent... and this disaster, the result of your policies, is repeating itself throughout the Third World in which you have intervened to "help us rise out of poverty." - Ivonne Yanez, Acción Ecológica
Ecuador is currently under a state of emergency after thousands of protestors took to the streets to demand the government withdraw sweeping price rises across the country. Thanks to yet another one of those structural adjustment programmes so beloved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the price of cooking fuel has doubled, petrol prices have risen sharply and bus fares have increased by 75%.
However, the government has stated that their economic policy was not negotiatable "as it constitutes the fundamental backbone of the stabilisation plan for dollarisation and the predictions of growth", as agreed with the IMF.
Freedom of association has been suspended, and the army is arresting anyone leading the protests. Once again it is the indigenous people of Ecuador - who make up around forty five per cent of the population - that are leading the protests. Obviously they aren't listening to the UK's Development Minister Clare Short who reckons complaints against organisations like the IMF are from those "sitting predominately in the wealthy parts of the world."
Large areas of the country have been paralysed by blockades and 5,000 people are in the University of Eucador with the police and army firing thousands of bullets and tear gas at them.
Just over a year ago, over one a half million Indians marched on the capital against the privatisation of the water supply and the dollarisation of the economy. Their protests toppled the president. Vice president Gustavo Noboa took over promising that the water of Ecuador would never be sold off to multinationals, small farmers would be forgiven their debts to the government and fuel prices would be frozen for 2 years.
However, at the same time the army was given a huge pay rise with the help of US "aid" and the promises and signed accords were forgotten. Since then the currency has been dollarised, trade unions banned in the mines and oil fields (all of which are 100% USA owned) the price of petrol was raised by 200%. For poor farmers who depend on getting their produce to market that increases have been devastating. The US is also busy building 11 new military bases in the country under the cover of "fighting the war on drugs"
The Ecuadorian government have warned that "all subversive agents who are responsible for formenting destabilisation.will be arrested for disturbing the peace."
Surely the ones destabilising the economy and formenting unrest are the IMF? SchNEWS reckons it's about time they were shut down, their policies locked up and the key thrown away.
Marc Helie is a partner of Gramercy Advisors, who refused to agree to a one month extension of the pay-out on the Ecuadorean bonds that his firm held. He openly brags that he is, "the man who brought Ecuador to its knees, single-handed". In a article in The Globe & Mail Helie's firm is described as, ".. specialising in making money from economies on the brink of disaster.."
On The Piste
The World Economic Forum (see Schnews 233) in the Swiss ski resort of Davos recently took place in "fortress"-like conditions. In a temporary suspension of democratic rights, hundreds of armed police "effectively privatised" the area, turning up to 1000 people away from the border who were not "normal-looking" or carried suspicious reading material. After deeming them abnormal and unworthy of entry into the chic resort, police had hoped to spray these folk with horseshit, but were scuppered when local farmers refused to provide manure.
Messages submitted worldwide to a Swiss website were laser-beamed onto the mountain which overlooks Davos. These included suspiciously non-commercial, environment and people-based propaganda, submitted by people probably not wearing suits.
Meanwhile in Brazil a counter-conference called the World Social Forum pissed all over Davos by bringing together 12,000 people from 120 countries. Militant farmers from all around the globe then went on to join Brazilian peasants from the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Rio Grande, storming a Monsanto biotech research station. They trashed GM corn and soybeans and took over the research centre setting up beds and hammocks.
Another 5000 protesters marched through Madrid to coincide with the WEF, demonstrating against Davos, and the opening up of borders for profit but not for people. White monkey activists dressed in white overalls with helmets and balloons for protection scaled 15 storey buildings, hanging huge banners against immigration laws and capitalism. The police tried to detain 70 white monkeys but had to return them to the crowd after the sound system truck stopped in the road along with 5000 demonstrators and refused to move on.
CRAP ARRESTS OF THE WEEK
For eating.Police in Holland arrested 13 people in a shopping mall for the crime of handing out or eating free food. The activists from Free Food Utrecht were ordered to leave as police believed they were in breach of trade regulations. A judge later called for their release, stating that free food did not constitute trading. Free Food said that they would continue to hand out 'nice dinners'.
MoD Vs Ruckus
Just in case you still aren't feeling safe on the streets despite the vast array of police powers and acts (see SchNEWS 291), rest assured - the MoD Police are coming your way. That's right, the Armed Forces Bill which is currently making its way through parliment could see extended powers granted to the 35,000 MoD officers. Currently their duties are restricted to the investigation of crimes involving service people and defense contractors, intervention within the wider community is prohibited. Under the proposed legislation, officers would be able to stop and search and assist in the breaking up of large demonstrations such as last year's fuel crisis.
Thanks to everyone for offers of help after our computer disasters. Because of our week off we've got dates coming out of our ears, so go to the party and protest section of our website to find out what's happening (apologies to all you lot not on the internet - but SchNEWS would just be a list of very interesting dates otherwise)
SchNEWS in brief
On February 6th Leonard Peltier will have spent 25 years behind bars. He was found guilty of killing two FBI agents, despite the fact that the government say they do not know who is responsible for the deaths.
In the 1970's native American Indians began organising in a Pine Ridge reserve against European domination. The government were none too pleased with this and began waging a low intensity war against tribal traditions. Between 1973 and 1976 over sixty native people were murdered on Pine Ridge. Leonard went to the reserve to help defend his people and subsequently got involved in an exchange of fire in which two FBI agents got killed. Leonard was convicted of the murders on false evidence.
Leonard is now very ill and it had been hoped that Bill Clinton would have given Leonard a pardon before he left office, but despite calling for racial unity, he failed to do so. Write to Leonard Peltier #89637-132, PO Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048, USA. * To find out more www.freepeltier.org * Recommended reading "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" by Peter Mattheisom.
* Satpal Ram has been reassessed as a category C prisoner and moved to another prison write to him at Satpal Ram, HMP Wellingborough, Doddington road, Wellingborough, Northants NN8 2NH
* Mark Barnsley have been moved yet again this time to Wakefield high security prison. The Mark Barnsley Campaign are asking for letters of complaint to be sent to David Shaw, The Govenor, HMP Wakefield, 5 Love Lane, Wakefield, WF2 9AG. Letters of support to Mark should be sent to him (prisoner number: WA2897) at the same address.
Protesters in Nigeria have occupied three of Shells oil pumping stations forcing them to close. In a statement on Monday, the protesters called for the provision of amenities such as schools and roads, as well as jobs for local people. Despite huge revenues being gained from oil production, indigenous people see none of the benefits. Many villages close to oil wells still have no electricity, clinics or other basic services.The protests are reported to be costing the oil company 40,000 barrels a day. Not that Shell will notice this much as they have just announced record profits up 85 percent from last year. Shell are said to be holding talks with representatives from the community.
And they say cannabis doesn't rot your brain.
A man who left bags of cannabis in a taxi after running off without paying has been caught thanks to his own quick thinking.
First he rang the taxi firm asking if they'd found the bag. They directed him to the lost property department at Brighton police station where he duly turned up! Dor!
Unknown to Mr.Dopey, the taxi driver had looked inside the bag, and found 12 packets of cannabis and grassed him up to the cops.
Officers were waiting when he turned up at the station and he is now helping with inquiries. One officer commented "He gambled no one had looked inside the bag which was pretty stupid if you ask me."
STOP PRESS...Police raid bank!
Cor-blimley-theyre-practically-giving-them-away book offer SchNEWS Round issues 51 - 100 £5 inc SchNEWS Annual issues 101 - 150 £5 inc. SchNEWS Survival Guide issues 151 - 200 and a whole lot more £6 + £1.20 postage (US Postage £4.00 for individual books, £13 for all four). In the UK you can get the fist three for £15 inc. postage. And finally.... The Schquall book at only £8.00 inc postage. In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles, photos, cartoons, a yellow pages list of contacts, comedy etc. All the above books are available from the Brighton Peace Centre, saving postage yer tight gits.
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Last updated 9th February 2001