While the worlds eight richest leaders prepare to meet in Scotland,
hundreds of thousands will be protesting in the streets. The neo-liberal
model of privatisation, cut backs and corporate plunder is held
up by the rich and powerful as the only way to run the world. We
disagree - and last week so did the people of Bolivia, who once
again showed that we dont have to take this economic model
Will the people allow a rerun of the old story of the
countrys riches evaporating in foreign hands? The people demanded
and continue to demand that the gas be used for Bolivia and that
the country not submit again to the dictatorship of its underground
resources. The right to self-determination, so often invoked, so
rarely respected, begins here. - Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan
Bolivia is Latin Americas poorest country precisely because
its people have been force-fed the neoliberal reform agenda for
such a long time. The imposed policies of privatisation, cuts to
welfare and other business friendly reforms are only designed to
help the multinationals and their pals in government make shed loads
of money. The poorest 20% of Bolivians own less than 2% of the nations
wealth, yet the top fifth own a whopping 62%: and these neo-liberal
policies are widening this gap. The debt relief promised by G8 plc
is a con. It comes laden with the same conditions as the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) loans that got the countries into debt in the
first place. One of the demands: privatise your state owned industries
until nothings left. In Argentina they even sold off the state
With a history of over two hundred coups or revolutions since independence
in 1825, the Bolivian people are, once again, sticking two fingers
up at the political elite. Just under five years ago, during the
Cochabamba water war, a collective rebellion wrestled
back control of the water supply from the grip of the Bechtel Corporation
which had even managed to persuade the Bolivian Congress to introduce
a law banning people from collecting rainwater! With Betchel out
of the picture and a victory under their belts, protesters are now
reclaiming control of their gas supply, kicking out the likes of
British Gas on their way.
Back in March, demonstrators derailed a deal that would have made
the Pacific LNG consortium, which includes British Gas, ten dollars
for every one they invested in the country. The rich elite were
keen to get the 1.5 trillion cubic metres of gas out of the ground
and down to the coast, to be shipped off to California as quickly
and as profitably as possible. Others, notably the indigenous majority,
thought that the Bolivians should be able to use the gas for themselves.
Tens of thousands protesters forced the shutdown of four oilfields
and access to seven of Bolivias nine regions, demanding that
a tax of 50% be levied against the gas companies. Over the past
month protesters have firmly rejected the 32% compromise
tax suggested by Congress and are now calling for the re-nationalisation
of the gas system. Bolivians are officially off message
and G8 leaders are non-too pleased.
Carlos Arze, an NGO worker from La Paz, says that the demonstrators
are looking to break the 20-year old neo-liberal economic
model that has allowed transnational corporations to control the
policies and economy of this country. And the latest victory
came last Tuesday (7th June) when President Carlos Mesa, bowed to
pressure and quit his job. The new president, Bolivias Supreme
Court head, Eduardo Rodriguez is the countrys third president
in less than two years.
In a country where 30% of the population lives on less than 60p
a day, G8 policy has been more concerned with privatisation and
profit than poverty. The current economic system, invented by US
economists in the 1980s, has destroyed the countrys agricultural
and industrial sectors, bringing hundreds of thousands of workless
but highly politicised families to live at the gates of the capital
city, La Paz. It is from here that they have been able to hold the
country to ransom: only one road connects La Paz with the outside
world and its been blockaded by the irate indigenous population
of El Alto since May.
Meanwhile, a powerful business elite - mostly of European descent
- in the south-eastern city of Santa Cruz has been pushing for far
greater regional autonomy and a bigger share of the regions
gas and oil wealth. Leaders there, where most of the countrys
gas is located, have pledged to hold a referendum on increased autonomy
this August - with or without the approval of central government,
setting the stage for future conflicts. Despite such attempts by
the rich to grind them even further into poverty, the majority of
Bolivians have shown the world that there is no need to simply accept
the economic agenda pushed by the G8. Resistance works and the head
honchos of this system are congregating at Gleneagles this July...
* Recommended reading Cochabamba - Water War In Bolivia by
Oscar Olivera (2004) South End Press.
Crap Arrest of the Week
For filming: Peace protester Paul Lesniowski has been arrested
and put in Lewes Prison on remand for a WEEK - just for filming
the antics of a security guard outside the EDO factory in Brighton.
EDO are Brightons own local friendly arms dealers, making
bits for bombs to drop on Iraqi cities.
Paul was on a demonstration on June 15th organized by Smash EDO,
the campaign to close down the bomb factory. The bomb-pushers recently
paid their lawyers £50,000 to sue for an injunction against
the protestors, under the Protection from Harassment Act - originally
designed to protect vulnerable people from scary stalkers, not scary
arms dealers from ordinary people. Until the lawsuit is resolved,
a watered down version of the injunction applies.
Paul was arrested when not even protesting, but acting as a legal
observer in a marked yellow jacket. Paul was being filmed by the
director of Guardian Security, who works for EDO. He filmed back
and promptly got arrested for breaching the injunction.
Paul is due to appear in court again on June 23rd, charged with
Contempt of Court. Supporters have been holding solidarity demonstrations
outside Lewes Prison. www.smashedo.org.uk
- Where To Go When You Hit Scotland
Heres several locations for accommodation, cheap
food and up-to-date information:
* Glasgow Info Point: G42 Collective, Suite 3, 674
Pollockshaws Road, South Glasgow. (with internet access) (Take
the 44, 22, 23 or 57 bus from Central Glasgow, get off at
Eglington Toll), phone 0141 4239055. An info point at Glasgow
central train station is also being arranged
* Accommodation/Convergence Spaces: after 23rd June
addresses for various venues will be on Dissent Website www.dissent.org.uk
or call 07875 145271
* Edinburgh Info Point: 10 Albert Pl, Leith Walk.
0131 477 2954
* Teviot Building, Edinburgh Students Union Building,
Bristo Square will be open from June 30th-9th July. info-point/meeting
* Nearby is the Indymedia Centre upstairs in the Forest
Café, Bristo Place opening 25th.
RURAL CONVERGENCE SPACE:
* CAMPING has been arranged with the local Council
from 1st-9th in a location in Stirling. 25 acres (or
so) will host a capacity of 5,000 happy campers, organised
by Horizone Eco-Village. The exact location will be given
out on the 23rd on the dissent website.
For updates check out:
07913 263515 firstname.lastname@example.org
FLEEING FROM THE GUN
With both Refugee Week and the G8 in Gleneagles fast approaching,
this provides an ideal opportunity to look at the point the two
Putting aside the rather bizarre idea of an unelected and undemocratic
group setting the agenda for rest of the world, the self-imposed
role of the G8 (US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Canada
and Russia) is to set policy in the international financial system.
Other countries can attend as spectators or sometimes as guest speakers,
but nothing more. Collectively, the G8 countries control over half
the votes at the two major international financial institutions,
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A massive responsibility
as demonstrated by the current debate on Africa, however the responsibility
of the countries of the G8 in its creation of refugees through their
sale of arms has been consistently overlooked.
The UK government wrings its hands over the refugee problem,
but its support for arms sales actually encourages overseas governments
to pursue policies that make it more likely that people will be
forced to flee their homes. In 2002, Campaign Against Arms Trade
calculated that the UK government subsidised arms sales to the tune
of £760 million a year. The Defence Export Services Organisation
(DESO), part of the Ministry of Defence, has 600 civil servants
encouraging UK military exports. Such exports also account, on average,
for about one-third of the export credit guarantees issued by the
UK. Arms exports dont just violate human rights directly.
Such sales are used by governments of supplier countries as instruments
of foreign policy leverage. Military equipment is sold to friends,
and with the equipment goes a message of political approval for
the recipient government.
Returning to Africa, nearly all the G8 countries are guilty of
supplying weapons, small arms or torture equipment to the African
countries they depend on for supplies of fossil fuels and other
raw materials. Britain and Russia are both accused of supplying
weaponry and technology for oil extraction to Sudan during the recent
war. In 1998 the former president of French oil giant Elf admitted
that his company had supplied weapons to both main parties in the
conflict in the Congo.
Ultimately, it is not some abstract process, as our leaders would
have us believe, but a concrete collaboration between Western states,
international financial institutions and corporations that is responsible
for the collapse of so many Southern states and thus for its logical
consequence: global migration. Millions of people, impoverished
by skewed trade treaties, ignored by increasingly ideological aid
arrangements, displaced by wars fought with Western weapons or development
projects built by Western companies, feel they have no choice but
to seek a life elsewhere.
The vast majority of these displaced millions live in the countries
of Asia and Africa, but a small percentage do make it the West.
They are usually greeted not with shame-faced embarrassment or apology
but with resentment and hatred. The question not often enough asked
is why our leaders conceal the reasons why refugees come here and
our responsibility in their plight.
The Refugee Project 020 7250 1315 www.therefugeeproject.org
Campaign Against Arms Trade 020 7281 0297 www.caat.org.uk
short guide to the trillion dollar arms business
G8 countries account for around 85% of the global arms
trade a heavily subsidised and under-regulated business.
Whilst the G8 countries push free trade on the
global south, they are free to subsidise their own arms industries
as much as they want, providing a system of corporate welfare
for arms giants like Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. This
welfare is often facilitated by the guarantee of payment that
companies get from their governments export credit system
- in the UK this is the Export Credit Guarantee Department
(ECGD). The underwriting of arms sales means companies pursue
deals to countries which may well default on payments, safe
in the knowledge that if it happens, it is up to the exporting
government to pursue the debt, and taxpayers to foot any remaining
bill. Between 1997 and 2001 at least two thirds of the worlds
arms deals came from just five G8 countries USA, Russia,
France, Britain and Germany. In 2003 the G8 countries exported
arms worth in excess of US$24 billion. Whilst some of these
exports were to other G8 or developed countries, more than
half went to the developing world. In 1994 it was estimated
that one fifth of the debt owed by poor countries is due to
past arms sales. However, despite their heavy representation
in weapons production G8 countries are the least affected
by the use of arms. Of the 150 wars fought between 1945 and
the mid 1990s, more than 90% were in the developing world.
DSEI ARMS FAIR
13-16th September 2005 - DSEi is Britains biggest
weapons supermarket. This is where scumbags like BAE Systems
can sell weapons to murdering tyranical regimes to wage war
on their own people, it is subsidised by the government. When
you next hear of some atrocity commited in some far off country
there's a pretty high chance the weapons used were made by
British companies. Its time to Disarm DSEi! ExCeL Centre,
London Docklands 07817 652029. www.dsei.org
States of America
|US contribution to debt relief
deal over next 10 years
|Est. Total Annual Economic Aid
|US Military spending 2004
set to rise 4.8% next year
Global Arms Trade
The proposed M74 monster motorway to be built through the middle
of Glasgow is to be shelved until 2007. The news came on the same
day the Cre8 Summit started, a week of events taking place on land
in the path of the road, against the road and the G8 summit. This
comes after JAM74 and Friends Of Earth began an appeal against the
Scottish Exectives decision to go ahead with the road despite
the fact that an inquiry came out at the same time which said dont
build it. The ensuing court case has meant that contracts
to build the road cant be awarded until 2007 and hopefully
never. (For more see SchNEWS 501) www.jam74.org
MAKE CAPITALISM HISTORY
ACTIONS AGAINST THE G8
Check out our Party and Protest
guide for details of what's to expect when you get to Scotland.
And why not check out what other protests, parties and festivals
are going on over the summer while you're at it.
Heres a load of useful stuff for you to get clued up about
before you go to the G8...
Protest and Action Info: The Dissent! Network co-ordinate
radical resistance to the Summit. www.dissent.org.uk
Legal: Get clued up, know your rights. Check out: www.g8legalsupport.info
Training: It pays to be prepared... Check out: www.dissent.org.uk/content/view/66/57/
for a whole load of resources, or see the SchNEWS Diy Guide - www.schnews.org.uk/diyguide
Medical: Need first aid skills see www.actionmedics.org.uk
Trauma: Helping people when it's all too much. www.activist-trauma.net
Remember - there won't be people laying everything on for
you once you get there. Bring whatever you expect to need - and
take yer rubbish away with you! Don't forget yer sleeping bag, mat,
eating utensils/plate/bowl, food, water etc. There will be cooked
food available at the centres mentioned, but as its impossible
to tell how many people are coming so COME PREPARED!
Guitar Politics - with strings attached
The poor are financing the rich. If we are serious about
ending poverty, we have to be serious about ending the unjust and
violent systems for wealth creation which create poverty by robbing
the poor of their resources, livelihoods and incomes.
- Vandana Shiva, campaigner and author.
The basic fact is that Britain under Blair and Brown is
one of the worlds leading champions of the neo-liberal economic
model that is essentially being imposed on much of the rest of the
world, and which is generally increasing poverty and inequality.
- Mark Curtis, author.
SchNEWS doesnt doubt Bob Geldofs sincerity in wanting
to end world hunger. With twenty four thousand people dying of starvation
every day hes right to be fucking angry and right to want
the world to act. But unfortunately Bob Geldof, and the Africa Commission
of which he is a member, is committed to solving poverty
through a neo-liberal agenda - relying on the very forces of international
capital that have created Africas poverty in the first place.
In fact asking the gangsters that run the G8 to sort out world poverty
and climate change is a bit like asking paedophiles to take charge
of a playgroup.
Take the latest G8 fanfare on debt cancellation which comes with
sets of conditions. Paragraph 2 of the finance ministers statement
says that to qualify for debt relief, developing countries must
tackle corruption, boost private sector development
and eliminate impediments to private investment, both domestic
As journalist George Monbiot points out The G8s plan
for saving Africa is little better than an extortion racket. Do
you still believe our newly-sanctified leaders have earned their
halos? If so, you have swallowed a truckload of nonsense. Yes, they
should cancel the debt. But they should cancel it unconditionally.
UP TO THEIR NECKS
All the countries now receiving full debt relief are doing so because
they are part of the HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) programme.
This means they have been forced to commit to the usual IMF and
World Bank neo-liberal market reforms - which, in reality, enforces
handovers of power and resources to Western corporate interests
for structurally-guaranteed profit making. This includes privatising
essential supplies like water into foreign control, as Tanzania
found out recently to its cost. Having booted out a UK / German
consortium for being crap having not even installed a single
new pipe for the £2.5m already bagged for increasing water
access the company are now threatening to sue for breach
of contract (see SchNEWS 499 for more online). Privatisation has
also been a condition attached to British aid for Mozambique, Uganda
So, are these reforms good for making poverty history?
As Mark Curtis (historian and author) reports, Zambia, for
example, is a country not simply harmed by this model, but virtually
destroyed by it
forced by the World Bank and IMF to promote
sweeping trade liberalization and massive privatization, and dismantle
the public sector. These reforms together with HIV/AIDS have increased
poverty and destroyed key industries. Zambia now has the lowest
life expectancy in the world: at 33 years Another success
story then. All this without mentioning some of the many other countries
(Like Peru, Guyana, Nigeria and Haiti) in desperate need of debt
cancellation but excluded for not yet playing neo-liberal ball sufficiently
So whilst we will all soon be awash in media coverage of guilt-cleansing-poptastic-debt-relief-euphoria,
remember not to get too carried away with excitement.
DOING THE BUSINESS
Business is arriving at the G8 summit more organised than
it has ever been. - Corporate Watch
Last July Chancellor Gordon Brown and Reuters chairman, Niall
FitzGerald, set up a Business Contact Group explicitly to provide
private sector input to the African Commission. Its 16 or so corporate
members read like a role call of the most exploitative and despised
companies currently operating on the continent - including Anglo
American, Shell, De Beers, Rio Tinto and... Diageo, who also er,
own the Gleneagles hotel where the G8 Summit will take place.
This group had plenty of input into the African Commission report
that called for more public-private partnerships (PPPs). PPPs are
when the private sector is contracted to build and operate infrastructure
like roads or provide basic services like water, health and electricity
- basically privatisation by the back door. In fact these sorts
of partnerships have been such an expensive cock up
in the UK why not export the idea to the rest of the world?
A report by the South African Institute of International Affairs
assessing PPPs across Africa over the last 15 years found that:
the private sector is not always more efficient, service provision
is often more expensive and big government contracts are complex,
demanding and open to corruption, and energy and water have been
the least successful examples of PPPs. Most importantly, PPPs do
not help the poor.
more background see: www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=1232
IF THE MONEY'S RIGHT
Ethiopia is one of the 18 highly indebted countries that
has recently been granted debt relief, heralded as a country adhering
to the sets of conditions that allow this privilege. One condition
is economic, the other relates to transparency and accountability.
So, is the Ethiopian regime transparent and accountable? Well the
population seem to think not, and have been expressing this in recent
protests against vote rigging in last months disputed elections.
The protest in the countries capital, Addis Ababa, led to dozens
of students being killed, wounded, and sent to labour camps.
The pre-election crackdown involved a campaign of terror, and included
the house arrest of the leader of the main opposition group, the
Coalition for Unity and Democracy. These oppressive actions of the
Ethiopian regime came just days before Ethiopia was awarded debt
relief, with the likes of Tony Blair patting him on the back, blatantly
more concerned that the economic conditions for debt relief were
being met rather than any adherence to human rights or accountability.
See also - www.allafrica.com
Mafia Style Moneylending?
Debt package agreed on Jun 11th
|Total African debt since
|Total African repayments since
|Total debt still outstanding
WEVE GOT IT COMING
With the whole media world (not to mention SchNEWS) awash with
stuff about poverty and debt relief, there is one topic that has
strangely faded from the picture...
The biggest problem the planet faces over the next few decades
will not be whether the poorest countries can achieve a decent credit
rating but the small matter of global climate change. Using colonialism,
slavery and exploitation as resources, the cavernous gap between
rich and poor was built on ecological abuse which is now being paid
for by the Worlds poorest and in the not to distant future,
everyone. Climate change will visit on the poor of the world a level
of destitution and hunger that will swamp any progress on debt secured
at Gleneagles. Africa will suffer both more frequent droughts and
more serious floods.
But instead of any meaningful action politicians talk of technical
fixes but carry on business-as-normal in the search for a little
more shareholder profit. These policies are on a crash course with
the one entity we eventually wont be able to bully or negotiate
with Mother Nature.
Lets remind ourselves of some facts - average global temperature
increased by about 0.6C in the 20th Century. Sea levels have risen
10 - 20cm. Most of the worlds glaciers are in retreat and
Arctic sea-ice has thinned by 40% in recent decades. Regardless
of the usual corporate-sponsored stooge scientists and dodgy industry-funded
front groups rubbishing the main scientific consensus (see the history
of tobacco, mobile phones, pesticides companies etc to get the picture
of how corporations bullshit so they can carry on polluting), current
climate models predict a global temperature increase of 1.4 - 5.8°C
by 2100. To put this in context, global temperatures are estimated
to have only varied by one degree Celsius since the dawn of human
civilisation. Major crises loom: from droughts, floods and other
abnormal weather catastrophes, to crop failures and shortages of
water, natural resources and indeed populations of animals
and fish as well as people. And its taken only a few percent
of the global population to achieve this in just 150 years
The blatant obvious truth is that while our leaders
are out trying to sell the developed world dream to
everyone, it is completely impossible that the earth could sustain
everyone acting like we do. Whats more the hypocrites in power
know this which is why globalisation is actually set up to
sustain our status quo for as long as possible whilst promising
that riches will eventually trickle down, honest! Until
we accept that it is our living standards and practices that will
have to change, all these well meant initiatives to improve the
poors short-term lot are not going to count for feckall.
Its gonna take a lot more than pop tunes and wristbands to
sort out this one.
See also: www.risingtide.org.uk
Read Sharon Beders Global Spin: The Corporate Assault
on Environmentalism, Green Books
Who would you put in charge of a Renewable Energy Task Force?
An ex oil baron? Well thats who the G8 decided in their wisdom
to appoint - none other than Sir Mark Moody Stuart, who used to
be in charge of oil company Shell. While the G8 leaders are up in
Gleneagles next month playing golf, Moody-boy will be chairing a
meeting between senior business leaders and African Heads of State
at the G8 Business Summit in London.
Our mate Mark is most infamous for attempts to wreck UN environment
summits and preventing the regulation of business, insisting instead
on promoting voluntary action through his leadership of the Business
Action for Sustainable Development (BASD). BASDs proposed
sustainable development projects for Africa included
er, several nuclear energy projects and an oil and gas pipeline!
The summit will end with a declaration and message to the
G8 leaders- presumably renewing the same old message:
dont let trifles like the planet and its people get in the
way of business making bigger bucks.
SchNEWS warns all readers... bring yer anorak... and yer wellies.
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