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!

19 January 2009

Dear All,

I saw this morning pictures of children from what the sender called 'Gaza Concentration Camp'.
This horror, this cruelty is done in my name, a Jewish Israeli woman living in West Jerusalem.
Israel's crime against humanity in Gaza is done in my name, a feminist peace activist.
These killings are done in the name of my loved ones.
This suffering is caused in the name of my community.
This crime against Palestinian children, women and men in Gaza is done in my name.
I feel deep shame.
I feel pain.
I mourn.
I feel rage.
I feel helplessness.

I am part of an activist community.
My community is active everyday to stop this bloodshed.
My community is active against the occupation for long years
My community is active for a just solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict
My community acts in solidarity with the Palestinian people
My community acknowledges that Palestinian people aspire to live in peace
My community is aware of the violent results of the occupation and the poverty and despair it brings.
My community is cooperating with Palestinians around ecological and economic empowerment projetcs
My community is active against racism
My community is active against poverty and for social justice within Israel
My community is active for women's rights
My community is active for solidarity among women
My community is Jewish - Palestinian
My community is old and young
My community is active for human rights of the Palestinians
My community is active for their economic, social, civil and political rights
My community is acknowledges that our own security and well being is connected to the well being of Palestinians and their security and prosperity
My community isactive against violence and war
My community refuses to take part in war and the occupation
My community is active for justice, prosperity, ecological awareness and peace

My community is part of a global feminist peace political movement that links between war and violence against women and sees in them a base of patriarchy.

My community is active to stop bloodshed and cruelty in the service of super powers that combine militaristic, fundamentalist, capitalist and nationalist structures
My community is made of many close and far circles of activism and knowledge
My community is diverse, varied and rich in its colours
My community isof women, men and multi gendered
My community is hetero, lesbian, gay, bi, queer and transgender
My community is local
My community is global

I am a Woman in Black in Israel

The Israeli government is committing crimes against humanity in Gaza.
I feel shame.
I feel rage.
I feel helplessness
We did not stop the evil
We continue to protest in the streets everyday, to appeal to decision makers, to widespread the information, to sign petitions, to send humanitarian aid, to do direct actions, to write letters and distribute leaflets
In the south of Israel where they suffer of counter violence of rockets there are also voices for peace
Our voices are not heard
Our clear and loud voices are silenced
Our voices do not reach our sisters and brothers in Palestine
Our voices do not stop the fire and destruction
We will continue to act and hope
We will continue to cross imposed patriarchal walls, borders and ghettos
We will continue to hear the cry of Gaza
We will continue to hear the cry of the West Bank
We will also listen to the cry of women and children in Congo, North Uganda, South Sudan, Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and elsewhere
The suffering everywhere is connected and part of the same patriarchal political culture
We are saying out loud NOT IN OUR NAME
We refuse to be enemies
We refuse to take part in oppressive relationships
We will continue to oppose war and militarism
We will continue to create a culture of non-violence, justice and peace
We will continue to serve humanity
May we learn and teach that all is one
May we learn and teach that one is all
May we find transformation, justice and healing
May we all live in Peace
May we all live in Joy

Yvonne Deutsch
Women in Black activist (http://www.womeninblack.org.uk/)
Jerusalem, 8th January 2009

17 January 2009

The Eighth Commandment - Lies
Eduardo Galeano
New Internationalist 414, August 2008 (www.newint.org)

Until a short while ago, the mainstream media were regaling us daily with cheery statistics about the international war against poverty. Poverty, it was reported, was beating a retreat, though the poor, ill-informed, didn't hear the good news. Now, however, the best-paid bureaucrats of the planet are confessing that they were the onew who had it wrong.

The World Bank has made known that its International Comparison Programme (which seeks to measure the relative social and economic well-being of the world's countries) has been brought up to date. The Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are all part of the initiative.

In the new findings, the experts correct a few of the errors present in earlier reports. Among other things, they inform us that the poorest of the world's poor, the so-called 'indigent', number 500 million more than had been previously calculated.

We also learn that the poor countires are quite a bit poorer than the earlier statistics indicated and that their condition deteriorated while the World Bank was selling them the free-market happy pills. And as if that weren't enough, it turns out that the universal inequality between the rich and the poor was also incorrectly measured, and that, planet-wide, the abyss between the two is still deeper than that of Brazil, an unjust country if ever there was one.

Another Lie
At the same time, an ex-Vice President of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, in a book written with Linda Bilmes, has investigated the costs of the Iraq War.

President George Bush had announced that the war might cost at most about $50 billion, which at first glance didn't seem too high a price for the conquest of such an oil-rich country.

In round numbers - perhaps squared is the more accurate term - the slaughter in Iraq has now lasted more than 5 years and in this period the US has spent $1,000 billion killing innocent civilians. From above the clouds the bombs kill without knowing whom as, beneath the shroud of smoke, the dead die without knowing what for. The figure cited by Bush only paid for about a trimester of crimes and speeches. The figure lied, in the service of this war that was born of a lie and has been generating more lies ever since.

And Another Lie
After the entire world knew that in Iraq there were no weapons of mass destruction other than those used by its invaders, the war continued, although pretexts for it had been forgotten. Then, on 14th December 2005, journalists asked how many Iraqi civilians had been killed in the first two years of the war.

And President Bush spoke of the issue for the first time. He answered 'About 30,000, more or less.' And then he made a joke, confirming his ever-tasteful sense of comic timing, and the journalists had a good laugh.

The following year he repeated the figure. He didn't clarify that this 30,000 referred only to civilian Iraqi deaths that had been reported in newspapers. The real number was far higher, as he well knew, because the majority of deaths are not reported. He also knew that the victims included many children and old people.

This was the only information provided by the US government on the results of its practice of openly firing on Iraqi civilians. The invader country keeps a close tally only its own dead. The others are the enemy, or collateral damage, and do not deserve to be counted. Anyway, counting them would be dangereous: the mountain of dead bodies might give the wrong impression.

And then some truth
Bush was still taking his first steps as President when, on 27th July 2001, he asked his fellow citizens: ' Can you imagine a country that was unable to grow enough food to feed the poeple? It would be a nation that would be subject to international pressure. It would be a nation at risk. And so when we're talking about American agriculture, we're really talking about a national security issue.'

This time the President wasn't lying. He was defending the fabulous subsidies that protected his country's fields. 'American agriculture' meant, and still means, nothing more than the 'Agriculture of the United States.'

But it is Mexico, another American country, which best illustrates his insight from the 27th July. Since it signed the free-trade agreement with the US, Mexico has not grown enough food to meet the needs of its population and has been exposed to international pressures, making it a vulnerable nation whose national security is in grave danger.

Today Mexico buys from the United States $10 billion worth of food that it could have produced itself; Washington's protectionist subsidies make competition from other countries impossible; Mexican tortillas are Mexican only inasmuch as they are eaten by Mexicans - the corn they are made from is imported from and subsidised by the US, and is transgenic to boot.

The free-trade treaty promised prosperity from trade, but Mexico's primary export has been the ruined peasant farmers that emigrate north.

Some countries know how to defend themselves - only a few. And those few are rich. Other countries are trained to work towards their own ruin - almost all of the others, that is.

Eduardo Galeano is the author of The Open Veins of Latin America, Memories of Fire, and Mirrors/An Almost Universal History.

Change, but at what price? The environmental year in review

After 2008 started with panic over food prices, the world seemed to be waking up to global warming. But then the recession hit.

The Guardian's environmental review of 2008 in words:
And pictures:

MST: 25 years of obstinancy

João Pedro Stedile

In January 1984, there was a process of re-ascension of mass movements in Brazil. The working class was reorganizing, accumulating organic forces. Underground parties, such as the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), the Communist Party of Brazil, etc., were in the streets. We had achieved a partial amnesty, but the majority of the exiles had returned.

The Worker's Party (PT), the Central Workers' Union (CUT) were taking shape, as well as the National Congress of the Working Class (CONCLAT) promoted by the communists, which later merged into the CUT. Broad sectors of the Christian churches broadened their beaver-like efforts, to keep building consciousness and nucleos de base (1) in defense of the poor, inspired by liberation theology. There was enthusiasm everywhere, because the dictatorship was being defeated and the Brazilian working class was on the offense; fighting and organizing.

The peasants in the countryside lived in that same climate, amidst the same offensive. Between 1979 and 1984 dozens of land occupations were carried out throughout the country. The posseiros (2), the landless, salaried country-dwellers, lost their fear. And they fought. They did not want to migrate to the cities like bullocks to the slaughterhouse (in the words of our dear Uruguayan poet Zitarroza).

As the fruit of all that, we met in Cascabel, in January 1984, encouraged by the pastoral work of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), leaders of the land struggle in 16 Brazilian states. And there, after 5 days of debates, discussions, collective reflections, we founded the MST: the Landless Workers Movement.

Our objectives were clear. To organize a mass movement at a national level, that could raise the consciousness of the peasants so that they would struggle for land, for agrarian reform (entailing broader changes in agriculture) and for a more just and equal society. We wanted, in short, to fight poverty and social inequality. And the principal cause of this situation in the countryside was the concentration of land ownership, known as latifundium.

We did not have the slightest idea if this was possible. Nor how much time would pass as we sought out our goals.

25 years have passed. Much time. They were years of many mobilizations, many struggles, and constant obstinacy, ongoing struggle and mobilization against the latifundia.

We paid dearly for that obstinacy. During the Collor administration we were firmly repressed, with the installation of a department specializing in the landless in the Federal Police bureau. After, with the victory of neoliberalism of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso government, there was a green light for the latifundistas and their provincial police to attack the movement. And in a short time we had two massacres: Corumbiara and Carajás. Throughout those years, hundreds of rural workers paid with their own lives, for the dream of free land.

But we continue the struggle.

We have held back the neoliberalism selected by the Lula government. We had hope that the electoral victory could unleash a new re-ascent of the mass movement and that the agrarian reform would have a larger impetus behind its implementation. There was no agrarian reform during the Lula government. On the contrary, the forces of international and financial capital, through their multi-national corporations, have increased their control over Brazilian agriculture. Today, the greater part of our riches, the production and distribution of agricultural commodities are beneath the control of trans-national corporations. They have allied themselves with capitalist landowners and generated the agro-business economic model. Many of their spokesmen hurried to announce in the columns of the great bourgeois newspapers that the MST was finished. A mistaken deceit.

The hegemony of finance capital and of the multi-nationals over agriculture did not manage, happily, to put an end to the MST. For one sole reason: agri-business does not present any solution for the problems of millions of poor people who live in the countryside. And the MST is the expression of the desire for liberation of those poor people.

The struggle for agrarian reform, which earlier had been based solely on occupying the land of latifundia, is now more complex. We must struggle against capital. Against the domination of multi-national corporations. And the agrarian reform is no longer that classic tool: expropriating great latifundium and distributing them in parcels to the poor peasants. Now, changes in the countryside, to combat poverty, inequality, and the concentration of wealth, depend on changes not only in land ownership, but also the production model. Now, the enemies are also internationalized businesses, which dominate world markets. This also means that peasants will depend more and more on alliances with the workers in the cities in order to advance their battle.

Happily, the MST acquired experience in those 25 years. The knowledge necessary to develop new methods, new forms of mass struggle, that can resolve the problems of the people. (Translation by Max Ajl.)

- João Pedro Stedile is a member of the National Coordination of the MST and of the Vía Campesina Brasil. The article originally appeared in the Brazilian left-wing monthly Caros Amigos in January 2009.

- Max Ajl has written on Latin American politics and economics for the Guardian, NACLA, and the New Statesman, and blogs at Jewbonics.

Translator's Notes:

(1) Small groups organized in Brazilian cities or the countryside, often at the initiative of radical Christian priests.

(2) Peasants who have precarious land possessions, above all in Amazonia, who, nevertheless, do not have property titles..