PGA Bulletin 1 March 97 / 1. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee


Richard Moore

PGA Bulletin
Number 1, March 1997


          Table of contents:

               1. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee
               2. Peoples' Global Action Manifesto
               3. Plans of action


[1]. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee

     Friends of the world,

     Together with people's 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 control.

     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, U'wa 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 Novartis's 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