The current gas wars have once again brought the Bolivian
social movement to the mountain peak of international attention.
It first burst onto the political scene with the water wars
of Cochabamba three years ago when US multinational Bechtel was
handed control of the water system of Bolivias third largest
city (see SchNEWS 339) Within weeks of the takeover, Bechtel hit
poor families with massive increases in bills, sparking off a popular
rebellion of the jobless, single mothers and working people. Money-thirsty
Bechtel were duly kicked out of the country, the water system was
placed under control of a local committee and the young, grassroots
social movement tasted the success of direct action.
In their clandestine deal with the Bolivian government, Bechtel
fat cats were given assurance that the government could handle any
protests that might erupt. To defend the water-grabbing multinationals
contract the Bolivian government imposed martial law and fired live
rounds at its own people. And even that didnt stop the popular
rebellion from bursting Bechtels bubble (who ended up successfully
suing the Bolivian state for the $25 million profits they lost.)
Pacific LNG, the company trying to build the Bolivian gas pipeline,
seems to be following in Bechtels footsteps, having tanks
sent out in their favour before the dodgy pipeline is even built.
Do these corporations never learn?
The Bolivian social movement erupted once again in Feb this
year in retaliation to yet another IMF-imposed policy (see SchNEWS
393). Thousands of students and workers demonstrated while protesting
police were shot at by the military in a huge mobilisation against
income tax rises that would hit the poor and lower middle classes
hardest. De Lozadas government was shaken and he quickly withdrew
Bolivia, like much of S. America, is resisting capital and powerlessness
with new, diverse social movements. There are many similarities
between the Bolivian situation and the IMF-caused Argentinian social
Bolivia, like Argentina, has been a model student of IMF reforms,
and is now also a broken window of failure in free market fundamentalism.
After almost 2 decades of structural adjustment Bolivia
is one of the least prosperous countries in S. America, having lost
its tin, rubber and silver over the years through a jungle of export
deals. Unlike Argentina, though, the Bolivian social
movement has party politics at its core. Where Argentina saw the
explosion of people discovering new forms of grassroots power through
the creation of neighbourhood assemblies and squatted social centres,
the Bolivian movement is led mainly by the losing socialist presidential
candidate, Evo Morales, and his party Movimento al Socialismo.
However theres still powerful diversity in the Bolivian resistance.
The indigenous Aymara peasants have a strong presence, demanding
the return of their stolen lands and control over their mining and
petrol interests. The small-scale coca growers are also part of
the movement as they struggle against the USs nightmarish
war on drugs. Add to them the students, workers, unions, and neighbourhood
assemblies and you see the Bolivian state and international capital
have got a fight on their hands. As Cochabamba-based democracy activist
David Schultz says: In some of the worlds most humble
people, the would-be makers of economic commandments may well have
met their match.
As rebellion spreads all over the mountains and towns; as 2,500
miners march from Huindini to La Paz blockading major roads and
resisting the army with sticks of dynamite; as swelling, tear-gassed
protests flood Cochabamba; as blockades throughout the southern
highlands continue; as the movement declares that it will continue
with mass actions the silent truce in the cities as thousands
mourn the dead seems to many as the calm before the storm. La Paz
looks set to be without peace for some time to come.
Honduras: The IMF seem intent on spreading social rebellion
around South America. It went to Honduras this week to see if the
country qualified for nearly $1billion of debt relief and
what did it get? Tens of thousands rioting on the streets of the
capital Tegucigalpa. It might be because the people of Honduras
are well aware that this debt relief comes with strings attached
which call for countries to slim down their social programmes
and public spending. The last time the IMF were in town, earlier
this year, to broker a new $1billion loan tens of thousands kicked
off on the streets. No wonder seeing as 40% of the national budget
goes towards servicing the debt rather than social services.
Crap Arrest Of The Week
For dressing up as Santa Claus!
A German man who wore Santa Claus clothing over his motorbike suit
while protesting against a Nazi march has been fined £140.
Cops nicked him for breaking Germanys ban on masking your
face during demonstrations, and also claimed his biking suit amounted
to passive weaponry! At the trial a meteorologist confirmed
that it had been a cold, wet day, which justified the biking suit
while photos showed him pulling down his beard to look into a camera.
Charges were dropped after he agreed to pay a fine. Friends now
call him St. Nicked. Ho, Ho, Ho!
Last week Jarvis decided to jump before it was pushed
and pull out of rail track maintenance. The engineering giant complained
the work was no longer profitable and was damaging its reputation.
And what a reputation
Still under police investigation for
last years Potters Bar train crash, in which seven people
died, they at first tried to blame rail vandals for the crash. Last
month the removal of a rail by one of their employees led to the
derailment of an Inter-City train at London Kings Cross, similar
to the derailment of a coal train at Aldwarke junction in Yorkshire
last November. The year before the company were prosecuted by the
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for unsafe practice during
railway maintenance work and fined for nearly running over
several track workers. In July 1999 they were fined after a worker
lost an eye after they had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment
and had too few staff working on the track. A year later they were
fined £500,000 after two separate train derailments because
it failed to check the track before trains were allowed to
run, exposing employees and passengers to risk of injury.
In October 2000, 41 year old Mark Meadowcroft was killed by a train
while working for Jarvis.
Jarvis complained that new contracts introduced by Network Rail
carried such stringent penalty clauses that frankly we could
never be able to make a satisfactory profit. RMT union boss
Bob Crow said: The safety culture on Britains railways
has been fundamentally undermined by fragmentation. We have contractors
who use sub-contractors, sub-contractors who use agencies, agencies
who use casual labour and theyre all in it for profit, not
The company had hoped to sell its maintenance business but this
was vetoed. 3,500 of its workers will now transfer to Network Rail
leaving it in direct control of 40% of railway maintenance - which
unions say is equivalent to public ownership.
Still, rail maintenance accounts for less than 15% of the companys
turnover and Jarvis can now concentrate on its other government
PFI activities like building schools, universities and hospitals
(see SchNEWS 424). It is also part of the consortium, Tube Lines,
which won the contract to maintain the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly
lines on the London Underground. Have a safe journey!
Bin There - Done That
Residents in Ireland have been busy fighting the Bin Tax which
shifts the costs for disposing of waste from industry and agriculture,
which produces the most waste, onto the general public, with the
poorest sections of society paying relatively more because the tax
is a flat charge regardless of income.
The charge is soon to be imposed in Dublin, and a campaign of direct
action has started up to blockade bin depots. Recently in an attempt
to intimidate people into not protesting, 15 people were jailed
for these actions. However the authorities tactic backfired,
sparking a number of protests at the jail, council offices and further
blockades of bin depots across the city. Binmen were sympathetic
to the campaign and did not break the blockades, realising that
the tax affects them too, with privatization of their jobs possibly
following. While residents and workers are resolute in their resistance,
the same cannot be said for the Union leaders, who have refused
to support their workers and some even denouncing the anti-bin tax
campaign. The long term lesson is that the union leaders and structure
are crap and do not serve their members interests. But a combination
of public action and worker solidarity means that this is a campaign
that they could well win. http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html
Since last October Wal-Mart, or as its known in this country
Asda, has been trying to build a massive supermarket on the Old
Kent Road but thanks to local people, so far they have gotten nowhere.
After physically resisting 3 evictions the campaign is still going
strong. Old Kent Road, one of the poorest parts of London, doesnt
need another supermarket as there are already three large ones plus
many more local shops (which would probably go out of business if
another Asda was built). What the area does need is a large community
centre. There are 100,000 people living in estates within a mile
of the site and understandably there is a high crime and apathy
rate in the area.
So a call has gone out for people to come down and help, as the
activists say Whatever help you can offer including people
to resist evictions we would be very grateful indeed. We would love
to accommodate anyone with skills in permaculture, organics, alternative
energy etc. Bearing in mind the conditions are pretty rough (we
have had our water and electricity cut off many times). We see this
as a wider issue, of globalization, about profit over people and
a breakdown in communities internationally. For directions
to the site phone 07906 440336
Pull The Other One!
Yesterday the government published the reports of the farm scale
trials of genetically modified (GM) crops. The report reveals that
two of the crops (oil seed rape and beet) cause more of a reduction
in farmland wildlife than conventional crops. A different problem
applied to the GM maize: the weedkiller used in the trial is banned
by the European Union invalidating the tests.
If the government does go ahead then it will have to deal with
the 1,500 people who have vowed to pull up GM crops. This follows
a successful summer of action with all this years national
seed list trials (where new strains are tested) being destroyed.
If you havent yet done so, sign the Pledge. 01865 727972 www.greengloves.org
Big Noise Demo against Bayer (the number one GM company in Britain)
10am onwards, 13th November outside their HQ in Newbury. 07092 036576
from Brighton tickets £5 from Cowley Club, London Road For
transport from Leeds email email@example.com
The UK field trials didnt look at cross contamination by
GM crops, but in Mexico contamination by genetically modified maize
crops of traditional varieties were found in 24% of samples with
some samples showing the presence of up to four different GM types.
Similar results have been found in Spain where the only European
GM crop is being grown. The GM maize has resulted in the first case
of an organic farmer losing their organic status due to GM contamination.
SchNEWS In Brief
- Treat yourself to a trip to the seaside! This Saturday (18)
Hastings Against War is holding a conference Waging
War, Making Peace 10 am-5pm, White Rock Theatre, Hastings.
Tel. 0845 458 9572 for details
- London Action Resource Centre are having a Peoples
Global Action info & social night next Friday (24) 7pm @ LARC,
62 Fieldgate St., London E1 0207 377 9088 www.londonarc.org
- Peter Tatchell will be talking next Wednesday (22) 8pm
at Quaker Meeting House, 74 Ragstone Road, Slough about
the failure of the western peace movement to offer a viable alternative
to Saddam regime, and what should happen next. www.slough4peace.net
- Noise Art Exhibition next Friday (24) with Scrap Records
DJs and SchNEWS info and videos from 4-11pm. at New Foundary,
84-86 Great Eastern St., London EC 2 (nearest tube Old St
take 2nd exit). Plus bands from 4pm the next day including Dead
- The worlds largest arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin,
isnt exactly skint. Yet when antiwar activists blockaded
its California headquarters in protest at its central role in
the arms trade and Iraq, it sued the 52 protesters for the $41,000
it claimed were security costs for the demo. But last week a dangerous
precedent against direct action was prevented when a judge threw
the case out when Lockheed conceded it wasnt fair
to force protesters to underwrite its security costs. www.stoplockheed.org
- A regional Indymedia for the south east of England
is about to be started. All living in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey
& Sussex are invited to be involved, and there will be a meeting
at the Cowley Club, 21 London Rd Brighton on Tues 21st at 7.30pm.
Ever heard of Yeveran? Ever thought about visiting Tblisi? Or Baku?
Not many people pay much attention to these capital cities or the
Caucasian countries of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to which
they belong. Nor are people aware of the many environmental and
social problems that have arisen in this often forgotten corner
of the world since the demise of the Soviet Union. Two Dutch women
have attempted to remedy this ignorance by setting up Falkor I.C.Y,
which aims to establish a network linking activists in Europe with
those working on ecology, human rights, and independent media projects
in the former Soviet republics. Since its conception 2 years
ago, Falkor has produced a video documenting the problem of nuclear
waste being dumped and stolen in the region, arranged work placements
on educational and cultural projects for disadvantaged youth, organised
group exchange programmes, and is currently planning to bring Western
Ska and rock bands to the republics while helping Caucasian bands
to tour over here. www.falkor.org
Picture the scene in Iraq one year on. There has been hardly any
electricity for 18 months, very little water and no-ones been
paid by the occupying forces since they invaded. Attacks by the
resistance are running at about one an hour and lots of U.S. and
British troops prefer the option of court marshal and jail rather
than being target practice for Iraqis. So what does Iraq need? Well
according to well placed banking and commercial sources
loads of brand spanking new McDonalds! Thats right, within
a year from now these same people envisage the streets of Baghdad
to be covered in burger wrappers instead of spent bullets and bomb
craters. So the US want to replace the guns with a longer, more
drawn out killer instead eh?
McDonalds employees in Paris have been on strike for 6 months and
counting. Not only are they on strike theyre also occupying
the restaurant 24/7 shutting it down and turning it into a giant
banner for their cause. Check out http://advaloreminternational.com/videos/mcdo.html
SchNEWS warns all readers you wouldn't Bolivia the Loza-da puns
we've got. Honest!
NOW OUT!!! 'PEACE DE RESISTANCE' - SchNEWS Annual
2003 - £8 + £1.70 p&p
- SchNEWS Round
issues 51 - 100 Sold out - Sorry
- SchNEWS Annual
issues 101 - 150 £3.70 inc. postage.
- SchNEWS Survival
Guide issues 151 - 200 and a whole lot more £3.70 inc. postage
- The SchQUALL
book at only £6 + £1.70 p&p.
and SQUALLs YEARBOOK 2001. 300 pages of adventures from
the direct action frontline. £3 + £1.70 p&p. You
can order the book from a bookshop or your library, quote the
ISBN 09529748 4 3.
- SchNEWS Of
The World issues 301 - 350. 300
more pages of adventures from the direct action frontline. £7
+ £1.50 p&p. You can order the book from a bookshop
or your library, quote the ISBN 09529748 6X
In the UK you
can get SchNEWS Annual, Survival Handbook, Yearbook 2001 and SchNEWS
of the World for just £15 inc p&p.
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If you can help distribute the new book by taking a few boxes
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