SchNEWS Of The World


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Plan Coca Cola

Colombia has Plan Colombia, Bolivia has Plan Dignity, now Brazil has Advance Brazil and Mexico has Plan Puebla Panama. Put 'em all together and you get... PLAN COCA COLA

THE USA IS AN ADDICT. The country is addicted to petrol and cocaine - and will do anything to get its next fix. But like many addicts it's in denial, and now the people of Colombia and Bolivia are part of a plan to ensure that the US never goes without again.

Plan Colombia: Couldn't Give A Fark

Colombia's President Andres Pastrana originally proposed Plan Colombia as a $7.5 billion development plan to address the country's related problems of drug trafficking, civil war, and economic underdevelopment. $4 billion for the Plan was to come from Colombia itself, mainly through the privatisation of publicly owned utilities. Pastrana asked other countries and international lending organisations for the rest, and the US used this chance to create their very own 'plan Colombia'. So far only Spain has committed $100 million to the Plan, whilst other European countries have held back because of the $1.3 billion grant the U.S. is giving to the Colombian military. This money significantly changes Plan Colombia from a regional development initiative to an aggressive military engagement with what the U.S. calls "narco-guerrillas".

Only 20% of the overall money allocated by the U.S. will be spent on socio-economic aid. The rest will be spent on advanced military hardware supplied by major U.S. defence contractors. The original proposal called for a 55% military aid and a 45% developmental aid split within the $1.3 billion plan. The final U.S. proposal leant heavily on the military side. It supplied the newly created counter-narcotic divisions 30 Black Hawk helicopters, 33 UH-1N helicopters and a $341 million upgrade to radar facilities. This was the single largest arms sale to any Latin American country since the Cold war.

Aside from the huge amounts of money being made by its arms companies, the U.S. has substantial economic interests within Latin America. By 2010 overall U.S. trade with Latin America is set to surpass trade with Europe and Japan. Colombia is the U.S.'s seventh largest oil supplier and has discovered vast oil reserves within its territory. Venezuela has the largest petroleum reserves outside the Middle East and is the U.S.'s largest oil supplier. The U.S. has wanted to decrease its oil reliance on the Middle East and shift its purchasing to Latin America. Venezuela and Colombia increasingly figure in this equation. With so much at stake, what was supposed to be a development project has turned into an excuse for the US to build up its military presence in the region, and to make money from it.

Plan Colombia is not just a US government initiative. Its being spurred along by corporations who stand to gain if US influence in the region increases. Occidental Petroleum, a major oil producer in Colombia has lobbied Congress intensively for the safe passage of Plan Colombia (along with major defence contractors). Washington's interest merges with U.S. corporate interests not only through the aim to increase access to Colombia's markets, but also in eliminating the rebels who have consistently bombed oil pipelines and whose presence destabilises this crucial oil region. The FARC are part of a complex and newly emerging radical opposition to U.S. interests within South America. It is Latin America's largest guerrilla movement with approximately 20,000 combatants who are principally concentrated in the south of Colombia. A lot of the funding for the group comes from taxes it imposes on businesses in the territories that they control. They acknowledge that along with all businesses within their zones of control, they also tax coca cultivation. Also in existence, and concentrated in Colombia's north, are well armed right wing paramilitary groups, the largest of which is the umbrella organisation, the AUC (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia) which has 5-7,000 combatants. They are responsible for 80% of the 4000 politically motivated murders that happen every year in Colombia.

In northern Colombia coca cultivation is largely industrialised on large well-organised "coca-estates" run by powerful landowners and paramilitary gangs. In the South there is a pattern of small-scale coca cultivation by peasants displaced through the decades of civil war and unequal landholding. The trafficking networks are concentrated in the north of Colombia and connected to the paramilitaries and the countries ruling elite. These networks are responsible for the international traffic in cocaine and the laundering of the money this trade produces, and yet the U.S. has completely ignored these in Plan Colombia.

Current U.S. policy on Colombia will not fund any development programs in areas not completely under Colombian government control. This effectively rules out funding for areas in the southern regions which will be most affected by Plan Colombia, because they are controlled by the FARC. Most of the 300,000 peasants in the Colombia's southern region of Putumayo are either directly or indirectly dependent on the coca trade. If poverty is the root cause of drug cultivation then it would make sense to put most of the money from Plan Colombia into developmental programs, crop substitution schemes, and land reform but the US obviously have other ideas.

Plan Colombia seeks to eliminate the most immediate threat to U.S. interests - the FARC - but at the same time this gives the US an excuse to build bases in Colombia as well as countries like Ecudor and Panama - which under the plan will remain. A permanent military foothold in the region - they don't give a FARC.

The US has a plan for the whole of Latin America and Plan Colombia as it turns out is only a part of it. The intervention and influence of the US in the region has been increasing continually...

Plan Dignity: Bolivians Don't Dig it

In Bolivia it has taken the catchy name Plan Dignidad (Plan Dignity). Its based on a law passed in 1988 that makes the traditional cultivation of coca illegal. This is like saying corn in its natural state is chicha or wheat is whiskey. The law proved to be a total failure after 10 years: There was no substitute for coca as a crop, millions of dollars went to corrupt government officials and, nothing to the farmers. The text of the plan says that the "stigma of narco-traffic inhibits the free flow of capital and goods to Bolivia" which means its objective is to create Bolivia as a safe haven for neo-liberal global investors. 5000 families will be relocated, from the Chapare region to impose this plan and it will be supported by the build up of troops to speed the process along.

At the moment there are 8,000 police and troops stationed there. The plan is a fight against the peasant population, not against drugs. Between 1995 and 2000 there have been over 4000 arrests of men and women and young people, over 2,500 injured, 49 killed. The people of Chapare and the Yungas are defending the coca leaf and their land. The government said they could provide three alternative crops in 1988 but have so far failed to deliver.

Plan Dignidad says "2002:"zero coca en Bolivia". The peasant families in Bolivia have decided "2002: with our coca, land and territories." The plant has been traditionally grown and used in the area for centuries. The plan has not fought against the drug trade, this has been just used as an excuse to get money from donor countries. Instead the government has pursued a plan of forced land reform, militarisation and harassment of the peasant farmers, in the tropical regions of Bolivia. Growing coca has become a symbol of protest, a way of trying to hold on to traditional ways of life and a way of resisting the US led land grab being pursued under the name of 'dignity'.

Like in Colombia people are organising to resist the plan. Resistance is mostly organised by peasant federations, by the people most directly affected by the plan. "We do mobilisations like national blockades. If they do blockades in the six Federations of the Tropics, nobody gets past. To get them through the government has to use the armed forces, police. And in this way, with gas and bullets, they manage to disperse us." (Silvia Lasarte Flores, the leader of the Peasant women's federation)

The peoples whose lives and homes are being taken away are offered no alternatives. Despite the laws being in existence since 1988 nothing has happened in the region to encourage farmers to move away from growing coca. Plan Dignidad is another way in which the US is increasing its influence in Latin America, under the pretext of a 'war on drugs'. Like in Colombia it affects only the poor, and like in Colombia also people are fighting to preserve their way of life.

Road Rage: Plan Puebla Panama

By Penny

Plan Pueblo Panama was proposed by President Vincente Fox of Mexico in 2001. It was promoted as a way of bringing the neo-liberal "fruits of globalisation" to the region South and south East of Mexico city, and extending them to Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Little known outside the region, the mega-project will create an elaborate infrastructure of railways, ports, highways, roads and airports. They will connect together the development of the agricultural, fishing, timber and energy industries. Dams, gold and uranium mines, platforms for petroleum extraction, and chemical intensive palm plantations, will be built. Multinational corporations will be licensed to engage in bio-prospecting and tree felling in an area that holds 10% of the world's bio-diversity.

Central to the plan are tax and legal incentives designed to expand the maquiladora (assembly plant) concept. This is where manufactured U.S. goods are assembled in low wage factories and then returned to the U.S. via new transit corridors. Supported by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Fund, PPP would represent a massive cost saving to U.S and European multinational companies. Both shipping and freight times to the U.S and Asia will be drastically reduced. PPP would also create the foundation for the implementation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. However the project seems to have been designed for the benefit of the international economic powers - especially the U.S. It is based on the exploitation of the Central America's impoverished populations.

There are plans to build 70 hydroelectric dams to power the meta-project. These will have the devastating effect of diverting the drinking water of the local populations. In the state of Chiapas in Mexico alone, 32 dams are planned. They will flood jungles, canyons, rivers, and archaeological ruins, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. If these projects are realised up to a third of the Peten in Guatemala could be flooded, along with up to eight hundred archaeological sites in Peten and Chiapas.

The hydroelectric dams would also help dislocate and disrupt the indigenous populations of the region; who have a long history of resistance against government and business exploitation. These displaced populations would then provide a convenient workforce for the maquiladoras proposed by the PPP.

In Mexico the plan seems to represent a counter-insurgency strategy to eliminate and undermine the largely Mayan resistance in the area. In the Lacondon and Monte Azules areas in Chiapas several zapatista autonomous municipalities and communities are being immediately threatened with expulsion. Military and paramilitary presence has been significantly increased in the area.

Thousands of small projects are planned throughout Central America under the PPP. Taken as a whole, the plan will deny indigenous inhabitants the right to control and protect their lands and to decide the future of their own development. For the indigenous, the PPP represents a plan to homogenise their cultures and way of life, shifting the importance from agriculture to manufacturing.

Civil society organisations, and indigenous communities throughout Mexico and Central America, have repeatedly voiced their resistance to Plan Puebla Panama. The reasons for this are obvious - it has been formed for and by the interests of large multinational corporations and those in government with close ties to investors in the plan.

Representatives of N.G.O.'s, civil society, and indigenous groups, held regional conferences and demonstrations throughout the last year in Mexico and Guatemala to address the impacts of PPP. Through these meetings they hope to address the effects of the project on local communities, to create alternative plans for economic development, and plan strategies for a unified campaign that transcends borders. In the short term they aim to use legal instruments, create educational documents, and improve communication networks. The long-term goal is to develop and maintain strategies to defend land and resources; as well as educate local communities.

Resistance is a daily struggle for many indigenous communities in Mexico. They live with the threat of impending expulsion. Many have witnessed the growing military and paramilitary presence. A communiqué from Ricardo Flores Magon zapatista autonomous municipality in rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico on the 25th March 2002 testifies to this:

"Today we are saying it quite clearly, the project to exterminate our indigenous communities through dislocation and relocation is a strategic part of the Plan Puebla Panama and of its economic interests, which are attempting to extend neo-liberal policies and projects to the south and south- east of Mexico and all Central America. The PPP is also a counter-insurgency plan, because neo-liberal interests find themselves thwarted by our indigenous communities and our different cultures which understand land as mother, as a communal good that cannot be used for the benefit of just a few, because it cannot be destroyed or stolen in order to be made private and in order to take its wealth..We are not going to permit the dislocation nor the relocation of our communities, we are going to defend them with everything we have in our hands, in our truth, rights, and reason. We are going to defend our lands and communities as the territories and rights of our indigenous people."

Chiapas indymedia - http//

Global exchange -

Plan exploitation: Advance Brazil

Heavily under the influence of both home grown and foreign fat-cats, the Brazilian government thinks it's a good idea to blow $45 billion on an Amazon development plan dubbed 'Advance Brazil'. After the dismal failure of the Trans-Amazonian Highway (TAH) in the 1970s many Brazilians don't have much faith in this new development drive. Soon after its construction the sediments of the Amazon Basin made the highway unstable and it often flooded during heavy rains, blocking traffic and leaving crops to rot. Harvest yields for peasants were dismal since the forest soils were quickly exhausted, and virgin forest had to be cleared annually. Logging was difficult because commercially valuable trees didn't grow together in the same place and erosion from wind and rain ruined the land after clearing. Many colonists, unfamiliar with banking and lured by easy credit, went deep into debt. Instead of boosting the economy the TAH got Brazil into financial strife. So why would Advance Brazil be any different? The simple answer is it won't.

With various financial commitments to the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as trade agreements with other countries and global corporations, the Brazilian government's hands are variously tied. They are also under pressure from Brazil's business elite and influential landowners that aspire to the heavily advertised capitalist dream of wealthier nations. In comparison to the heavily industrially and economically developed Western European countries, Brazil is poor. Over 6.5 million families are without accommodation and 10 million lack the necessities to meet basic living standards. For these reasons Brazil's Government says that Advance Brazil is the way forward and the Amazon must be exploited. Various Advance Brazil schemes are already on the go, including the building of new roads, dams, railroads, waterways, ranches, oil pipelines and mineral extraction works, but opposition is also building.


In 1950, tropical rainforests covered 14% of the earth's land surface - now they only cover 6%. Nearly 40 percent of what's left is in the Brazilian Amazon.

According to a US-Brazilian study Advance Brazil is set to destroy about 42% of the rainforest by the year 2020. This will mean the loss of countless animals, trees, plants, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish because over half the world's 10 million species live there. Deforestation will also affect both local and global water cycles because one-fifth of the world's fresh water circulates in the Amazon Basin. Advance Brazil projects will also impact upon medicinal research - already much of the active ingredients in today's cancer-fighting drugs come from organisms found only in the rainforest, and there's many more that western medicine is yet to use.


"Illegal logging and land-clearing are rampant. New roads that cut into the frontier almost always initiate a process of spontaneous colonisation, logging, hunting and land speculation that is almost impossible to stop" - William Laurance, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, USA.

In order to 'colonise' land, large numbers of people from city slums have been given cash incentives to move - the word used is 'transmigrate' - to rainforest locations for a cash incentive, but often the settlers are unable to farm their land, and they are forced into wage slavery for big agricultural developments or mineral extraction works. "Slave labour in Brazil is directly linked to deforestation," says Cláudio Secchin, director of the Ministry of Labour's special antislavery Mobile Enforcement Team. The large companies exploit the surplus of labour, to the point that several workers who have fought for rights have been killed. "I can't read so maybe a half-dozen times I was ordered to burn the identity cards and work documents of workers who I had last seen walking down the road, supposedly on their way out. We also found heaps of bones out in the jungle, but none of us ever talked about it" said one worker on the Brazilian Indymedia website.


"Dams have already displaced more than one million Brazilians from their lands, and if there is no resistance, another 800,000 people will be expelled with the construction of 494 new dams in the next 10 years." - Movement of Dam affected People (MAB).

The Brazilian government is still trying to rustle-up investment, ignoring the comments of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) that "in many cases dams have led to an irreversible loss of species populations and ecosystems." The WCD also highlighted the fact that, "Impacts of dam building on people and livelihoods - both above and below dams - have been . devastating." Often led by MAB, opposition to dam building has been growing. In March 9 anti-dam protestors were hospitalised in Sao Paulo after clashes with the police in Rio Grande do Sul State. The demonstrators were part of a national campaign of protests against Brazil's hydropower energy policy and marked the fifth International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life. 500 people marched to the site of the Inter-American Development Bank's annual meeting in Fortaleza in northeast Brazil because the bank plans to finance many new dams. A spokesperson for the International Rivers Network said, "These dams would flood over 10,000 sq km of the Amazon rainforest, affecting indigenous communities and endangered species." Brazils history of dam building has been about as successful as its Trans- Amazonian highway, with over 2,000 Dams left to crumble unused in the last ten years.(


The largest opposition to Advance Brazil is Moviemento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST). The MST is a landless workers movement that organises mass land squats and actions to oppose the unequal distribution of land in Brazil and fights for workers rights. On 17th April 1996, Brazilian military police killed 19 landless workers in Eldorado, Carajas in the state of Para. 600 families connected to MST had occupied the highway to protest about delays in land reforms. The military police sent in to 'open up' the highway blocked it with troops instead and then opened up their weapons on the crowd. 19 workers were shot dead, 13 at point-blank range, and hundreds were left wounded. Oziel, an 18 year old MST organiser was grabbed by military police and tortured in front of everyone before being beaten to death. Seven years passed and finally in May this year Colonel Mario Colares Pantoja and Major Jos Maria Olivera (the Commandant of the troops responsible for the massacre) were sentenced to 158 Years imprisonment. And on the 18th May, 600 landless people connected to MST squatted a farm belonging to President Cardoso's family in Buritis, Minas Gerais. They occupied the farm to pressure the federal government to settle 200 families and to support other settlements in Minas and Goiao. The government brokered a deal with MST, publicly called the activists 'terrorists' and had 16 organisers from MST arrested during a so-called inspection of the farm for damage. The government has shown that they are incapable of protecting the human rights of indigenous people. The MST on the other hand has become famous for its actions and has received several Human Rights awards. It has also created 60 food co-operatives as well as setting up a large-scale literacy program. (


The 6th March represented a small victory for environmentalists when Brazil's Agrarian Reform Institute cancelled thousands of false and undocumented land ownership claims following a parliamentary investigation of squatters on Amazon public lands last spring. Roughly half of the reclaimed lands have been proposed as areas of strict protection such as national parks and ecological reserves. The other reclaimed areas will be protected as 'extraction' reserves and national forests, which means that the government can authorise the 'use' of the land, wood and minerals to anyone they reckon is committed to 'sustainable development'. The problem is, there's nothing 'sustainable' about developments which destroy the Amazon, flood tribal land and exploit the people.