Célia em Movimento

an E-CHANGER volunteer for 7 years, celia worked until june 2007 for the 'gender sector' of the MST/BA - the rural landless workers movement in the northeastern brazilian state of bahia. from then until june 2010 she worked at the international secretariat of the world march of women in são paulo. although she is no longer a volunteer, she still works in brazil with the WMW and E-CHANGER and will therefore continue to share her professional and personal experiences... enjoy!

24 April 2008

Activists Call for Urgent Land Reform

Inter-Press Service (IPS)
By Walter Sotomayor

BRASILIA, Apr 17 (IPS) - An urgent call to speed up the land reform process in Latin America was issued Thursday by rural activists at the 30th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, who also sharply criticised agribusiness interests and large estates in the region.

"We are carrying out occupations of land, marches and protests to demand the settlement of 150,000 families living in camps and greater investment in rural development," said a communiqué released by Brazil’s Landless Movement (MST).

The MST has held demonstrations this week in memory of the 19 peasant farmers massacred by police 12 years ago in Eldorado dos Carajás, in the northern Brazilian state of Pará.

The delegates of 33 Latin America and Caribbean countries taking part in the Apr. 14-18 FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) conference paused in their deliberations Thursday to receive two dozen representatives of the MST and other social movements and to pay homage to the victims of Eldorado, who were shot by the police while taking part in a peaceful march for land reform.

Brazilian activist Maria das Graças Amorim, the spokeswoman for the Agrarian Reform Forum, a coalition of 47 organisations, urged the government delegates to consider the need to set a limit on the size of rural estates in Latin America. "How can it be that a few have so much property while so many have so little," she said.

More than 2,000 MST activists who were camping out near Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, which is hosting the conference, took part in a simultaneous march that ended in front of Congress.

Brazil’s Minister of Agrarian Development, Guilherme Cassel, said the FAO had learned a great deal from the exchange with the rural activists. "An agency like the FAO, which forms part of the United Nations, cannot operate at the margins of civil society, without taking advantage of its knowledge and experience. This is living democracy," said the official.

FAO regional representative José Francisco Graciano acknowledged that the inequality that characterises Latin America also marks the countryside, and said agrarian reform is an imperative for the region.

But he clarified that the FAO can only point out possible directions to take, and that it is up to each government to reach its own decisions.

The FAO conference incorporated this week in its debates the demands of a number of social organisations that held a parallel gathering in Brasilia.

Small farmers and representatives of indigenous communities and non-governmental organisations who met for four days in the Brazilian capital issued a declaration in which they defended food sovereignty, called for a moratorium on production of biofuels, and condemned the use of genetically modified organisms.

"We assert that hunger and poverty are not the product of chance, but part of a model that violates people’s right to a decent life," says the document, which also declared support for South America’s coca farmers.

"Economic liberalisation, seen as the sole route to development, is directly proportional to the growth of poverty and hunger in the region," adds the declaration.

The MST called demonstrations in 16 of Brazil’s 27 states to commemorate Apr. 17, the International Day of Peasant Struggle.

Tens of thousands of small farmers took part in roadblocks, protests outside of government buildings and large corporations, occupations of state-owned banks and companies considered enemies of agrarian reform, and marches on rural highways and in cities around the country.

The MST is calling for the urgent distribution of land to 150,000 families who are living in camps along highways or on unproductive portions of large estates, waiting for plots of their own on which to grow crops for survival.

Since the 1980s, nearly one million rural families in Brazil have received land as part of the ongoing agrarian reform process, according to official figures. (END/2008)

Article Originally Available @: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42034

WMW International Newsletter, Volume 11, Number 1, February 2008: Editorial

Dear sisters,

As an anti-capitalist, feminist movement, one of the four focus action themes of the World March of Women is Women’s Work. The political objectives of this theme are to continue our work with regard to feminist economic alternatives, but also to denounce the impact of neoliberal and patriarchal globalisation on the lives of women, on their working conditions and on their financial autonomy. And it is ‘free’ trade agreements that are not only one of the corner stones of neoliberalism, but are in themselves the rules of a system based on the sexual and international exploration of labour. For this reason, one of the desired outcomes stated in our Strategic Plan 2007 – 2010 is to “Strengthen the WMW's participation in the struggle against free trade”, and with this objective in mind, we have chosen to dedicate the 1st edition of 2008 to this subject.

In the first section of the newsletter, we look at the concepts of free trade and integration, and analyse the impacts of the former and the feminist alternatives to the latter. We examine: the threat of the North American PSP to civil society, and resistance to it; the “Africa-Europe: What Alternatives?” summit held in Portugal in December; and the advance of, and struggle against bilateral agreements (Costa Rica; Israel – Mercosur). While in the second section of the newsletter we highlight five anti-neoliberal globalization alternatives around the world in which the March has taken part / will take part in: the 3rd ‘Connecting Alternatives’ meeting in Peru that will take place in May; the International meeting to discuss Participative Democracy in France in December; the 1st Encounter of Zapatista Women with Women of the World; the 26th January: ‘the day the WSF went truly global’; and the launching of our newest National Coordinating Body in Bangladesh, South Asia.

Our challenge as an International movement is to ensure that the global struggle against free trade is superior to the sum of its parts. In other words, how can we share experiences and learning from each mobilization / event with each other within the March and with other allies in constructive and creative ways? How do we exchange ideas and mutually construct common strategies against the advance of free trade and other neoliberal policies? The 26th January, Global Day of Action and Mobilization of the WSF, was one such way and the 8th March, International Women’s Day, will be another…Let’s not lose the opportunity to make ourselves heard and seen and to demand another world based on feminist, anti-capitalist, truly democratic principals.

Newsletter available at: http://www.marchemondiale.org/bulletin_liaison/2008/200801/200801html/en

The WSF Global Day of Action and Mobilization II: The day the WSF went truly global

26th January 2008: it’s a –5ºc, snow on the ground day in Montreal, Quebec, and a 32ºc humid day in Manila, Philippines. But on this day – despite climatic differences – the WMW was present in mobilizations around the world. From Pakistan to Peru, Guatemala to Galicia, France to the Philippines, Bangladesh to Brazil, March activists united to occupy the streets in solidarity with women who are prevented from doing so. Under the slogan “They are Present”, the women of Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iran, Kenya and Mexico were remembered, while the current violence and abuses against them were denounced in the strongest possible way.

Mobilisations took a different form in different countries, but the WMW’s feminist ‘batucada’ (drumming group) was present in several: in Manila, Philippines where women animated the march “On with the struggle: Jobs and justice, land and freedom!” with feminist drumming rhythms for the first time; in the birthplace of the ‘batucada’ - Brazil - in several different cities around the country; and in Montreal where WMW activists warmed themselves and onlookers up with their funky beats.

In other countries, the WMW took part in seminars and forums: in Pakistan 200 grass-roots women and others (peasants, fishers, journalists, lawyers…) took part in a very successful Social Movements Assembly (unfortunately the authorities did not permit the planned rally so the ‘batucada’ was not able to play); in Galicia the March was present at the Constituent Assembly of the Galician Social Forum where the International meeting of the WMW in October was announced; in Mexico there was a women’s tent in the Zocalo in Mexico City in which the WMW participated in the debates (and on 31st January there was a mobilization against ASPAN in which the WMW was also present), while in Cuba the WMW National Coordination promoted a reflection session on the present and future of the March in the country. In yet other places, cultural events were on the agenda, such as in the city of Villa El Salvador in Peru, where the 26th was a day of culture – graffiti, mime, theatre, cinema – and debate, and in France where cultural activities and debates followed the festive march through Paris. In Bangladesh, the recently formed NCB organized a human chain in front of the National Parliamentary building in the capital, Dhaka.

We will continue marching until all women are free!