Thursday, November 29, 2007

December 8: Think Global, ACT LOCAL

Proposal: International Mobilization of Solidarity with the Accused of the Genoese G8.

With the approach of the verdict for the 25 comrades of the G8 trial, the desire to rise to the highest level the forms of solidarity and fight has grown.

The Genoese lawsuit is linked to those of Milan and Turin for the use of the offence of "devastation and looting", which provides ultra-high penalties (8 to 15 years), applied to the expression of dissent and political clash.

The judgment on appeal to the events of March 11th has seen the creation of his first former judicial (6 years, discounted to 4, for the abbreviated rite, for 15 of anti-fascists defendants) projecting a threatening shadow on the imminent outcome of the G8 process.

Saturday November 17th represents an important appointment. The hope is that this is only the first step, which many other initiatives will follow, in a virtuous mechanism in view of the day of judgment. The attempt - to be made the most coordinated way possible by everyone - could be to call a simultaneous mobilization day, December 8th, in many Italian and foreign cities with protests in symbolic places (Law Courts, prisons, embassies, consulates etc).

G8 has been an international issue and, if in 2001, already, the Italian police had shown the political choices made in the management of dissent, which culminated with Carlo's murder, today the judiciary follows in his footsteps with the request of exorbitant condemnations for the demonstrators: the real heads scapegoats, who, according to the hypothesis of the Prosecutor, should "pay for all" with very heavy penalties, up to 16 years in prison. To pay in an exemplary way so that it is an effective warning to all those who, in the future, will they dare to rebel.

On the other side, the two trials for the security forces, for the police massacre at Diaz and tortures at Bolzaneto, are still in the process of hearings and the judgment of first instance will not be issued before the next year.

Verdict that, however it will end, for almost the entire contested crimes, will be just formal, since the prescription will shortly cancel everything.

In Italy the days of July 2001 have represented a watershed in the management of public order and dissent: the police shooting at demonstrators; Carlo Giuliani's murder; the tanks running at a crazy speed against people; "the mexican butchery" at Diaz; tortures at Bolzaneto; indiscriminate beatings of defenceless people; the devastation even of ambulances by the security forces. All of these happened while AN's Honourables, Ascierto and Fini, were visiting the
operating centre of the security forces.

A crucial step towards acceptance of security policies and political repression which, in these 6 years, have changed our cities and attacked the movements through the use of the preventive detention and crimes as "devastation and looting" or subversive association.

The potential international nature of the initiative is given by the fact that the whole anti-fascist and anti-capitalist movement is under charge, movement which, from Seattle on, comes out and sets against the meetings, the last one in Germany, the next one in Japan, and in the 2009 in Italy.

The repression has been deployed even for the mobilization in Rostock, with arrests and trials currently under process. Every situation, national or international, could join with reference to the local context.

Therefore the call is to find a common date for mobilizations, everyone in its own territory, to express the greatest solidarity and complicity with the 25 comrades to the bar.

Never free as long as the last will be slave!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Myanmar citizens mount protest at ASEAN summit

Remember how Singapore played host to the IMF / WB meetings last year? Protesters were told to protest in a less than accessible area. This time around, that country hosts Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. Burmese students took to the streets peacefully in their bide to free their homeland from the junta. It's a crash course for Human Rights for Singapore.


About 40 Myanmar residents of Singapore held a brief vigil Tuesday night to protest what they said was an inadequate response to the crisis in Myanmar by Southeast Asian leaders meeting here.

ASEAN Action For Burma

It was one of the largest public protests seen in recent memory in Singapore, which has tight rules against demonstrations.

The group of mostly young men and women, all wearing red T-shirts, lined up silently in rows of three on the main Orchard Road shopping and tourist strip.

Red T-Shirt

Many held small printed leaflets that read "ASEAN -- Act with Honour, Action on Burma Now".

Three people in front of the group held a large banner that read, "Listen to Burma's Desires, Don't Follow Junta's Order".

Listen to Burma's Desires, Don't Follow Junta's Order

Others had written messages on pieces of paper. "Respect Human Rights Now", said one. Another said, "We welcome professor Gambari on behalf of Burmese people."

The United Nations special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in Singapore Tuesday expecting to brief leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who held their annual summit here Tuesday.

But as Gambari flew to Singapore, the city-state's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the summit chairman, announced the briefing was cancelled after Myanmar complained the envoy should only report to the Security Council.

Myo Myint Maung, 22, a spokesman for the demonstrators, said they were disappointed by ASEAN's response to the junta.

"We want ASEAN leaders to be more effective and more active regarding their action on Burma," he said. "We are standing here to hold a vigil to protest their statement."

The grouping has come under mounting pressure to rein in its errant member Myanmar after a September crackdown on mass protests, led by Buddhist monks, that left at least 15 people dead and sparked worldwide outrage.

Myo Myint Maung said ASEAN has taken "a very passive stance" towards Myanmar.

It is illegal in Singapore to hold a public gathering of five or more people without a police permit, meaning demonstrations are rare.

Myo Myint Maung said the group did not have a permit for the vigil which occurred a few hundred metres (yards) from the ASEAN summit venue, and just outside a special summit security zone in which even one protester is not permitted.

About 15 minutes after the vigil began, about 20 police converged on the group and asked if they had finished. They said they had, and peacefully dispersed as police recorded some of their names.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Support for a good South Bank

2nd Open letter on creation of South Bank

South America, November 2007


To the Presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela


Dear Presidents,

We are addressing you for the second time to express the great expectation aroused in our peoples by the initiative to establish a South Bank. We are also encouraged by the positive response of other countries of South America who have manifested their wish to participate in the South Bank.

The signatories of this letter are social networks, organizations, and movements, labour unions, and professionals who are struggling against the scourge of illegitimate public debt and the perverse policies and practices of the existing international financial institutions and the current global trade system. We are sure that the decision to establish a South Bank can be a significant step and an opportunity not only for South America, but also for the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean and other regions of the South.

We come from a recent history of struggle against dictatorships in nearly the entire continent. This explains our determination to open and institute new spaces for participation and direct democracy. However, the non-transparent and non-participatory way in which the negotiations on the establishment of the South Bank are being carried forward, without public debate and without consultation with our societies, might indicate that we are facing something that could turn out to be more of the same.

We are convinced that a new South-South financial entity should be focused not only on overcoming the negative experiences of economic aperture - with always the same consequences of higher indebtedness and capital flight, deregulation and privatization of public patrimony and basic services suffered by the region -, but also the well-known non-democratic, non-transparent, regressive, and discredited behaviour of the multilateral organisms such as the World Bank, the CAF, the IDB, and the IMF. Our recent history has shown that the latter’s choice of economic, social, and environmental policies, imposed on our governments through conditionalities, have ended in the decapitalization and deindustrialization of the region’s economies, and have trapped these in an agro-mineral-export model that impedes their development and deepens their subordination to the economies of the North, while worsening social inequity, ecological damage, and the “eternal” financial, historical, social, cultural, and ecological debts.

Recognizing how important it is for the countries involved in the establishment of the South Bank to reach agreement on key issues related to its nature and objectives and its financial and operational structure, we think it is essential to offer the following proposals which express the aspirations of ample sectors of our countries’ societies, as manifested by the numerous social entities consulted:

1. The focus of the South Bank should be in promoting a new development framework whose essential values would be the sovereignty of our peoples over their own territory and development, the responsible self-determination of our economic, social, and environmental policies, solidarity, sustainability, and ecological justice; for the Bank economic and technological development must be conceived as a means toward the superior goal which is human and social development.

2. The action of the South Bank must be guided by concrete goals such as full and dignified employment, ensuring food, heath, and housing, universalization of basic public and free education, a redistribution of wealth overcoming inequity, including gender and ethnic inequality, reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and their effects on the continent’s population and that of the entire world.

3. The South Bank should be an integral part of a new Latin American and Caribbean financial architecture which includes a South Fund, with the functions of a continental Central Bank capable of articulating a continental-wide system of settlements with a state of the art telematics platform. It needs to be able to link policies which promote macroeconomic stability with policies for development and the reduction of structural asymmetries, in a framework conducive to the future development of a common monetary system at the service of a strategy of strengthening economic and commercial ties within the region, introducing commercial exchanges based on national currencies and working towards the establishment of a regional currency at least for intraregional exchanges. To build a space of supranational monetary and financial sovereignty demands a lot of local flexibility in order to avoid sub imperialist temptations and the triumph of monetarist orthodoxy in certain aspects, as in recent European experience.

4. The South Bank should serve to compensate the historic, social, and ecological debts of which our peoples are creditors. Its financing must be oriented towards overcoming the asymmetries, social inequities, and ecological damage perpetrated in the continent for more than five centuries.

5. The South Bank must contemplate the participation of citizen organizations and social movements, not only in the development of its initial architecture but also in its financial and operational decision-making, and in the monitoring of the use given to the funds awarded.

6. The South Bank should be managed in an egalitarian way among its member countries, instituting and respecting the egalitarian principle of “one country, one vote” at all levels of collegiate decision-making. It should seek to channel regional savings in the region.

7. Capital subscriptions of the South Bank should be proportional to the economic capacity of member countries; other sources of capitalization could include part of the international reserves and loans from member countries, common global taxes and donations. Financial resources from the present multilateral financial institutions and from states that have plundered our continent should be excluded. Such dispositions of the South Bank could allow an increase in the placing of member countries’ reserves outside the dollar and euro spheres, and encourage the return of national capitals deposited abroad.

8. The South Bank must be committed to transparency in its administration, rendering a public accounting of its functioning and activities and submitting its lending operations and internal functioning to a permanent, socially-participatory external audit.

9. For the South Bank not to become “more of the same”, its administrative quality, austerity, and efficiency must be permanently evaluated, prohibiting any kind of immunity privileges to its officials, and based on the fully transparent and timely availability of information, and the democratic and social control of its management. To avoid excessive expenditures and bureaucratic deviations, the Bank must have a compact staff that is both diversified, efficient, effective, and managerially flexible.

10. The loans of the South Bank should be for the promotion of a genuinely cooperative regional integration, based on principles such as active subsidiarity, proportionality and complementarities; the financing of public investment; assisting self-managed local development; and promoting equitable and solidarity-based commercial exchanges among family farmers, small producers, the cooperative sector, and the social solidarity economy, indigenous and traditional communities and women’s, fishermen’s, workers’, identity etc. socioeconomic organizations.

11. The South Bank must adopt as its investment priority those projects oriented towards food and energy sovereignty; the research and development of appropriate technologies for an endogenous and sustainable development of the region, including free software; the programmed and complementary production of generic medicines; the recovery of ancestral wisdom, systematized and accepted as an agroecologic science; the promotion of environmental justice; the improvement of public services; support for victims of forced displacements; promotion of communications and intraregional culture; the creation of a South University and an equivalence system for diplomas issued throughout the region; and infrastructure that is based on different logics of spatial organization as implemented by local solidarity and self-managed development communities. The bank should not reproduce the finance model of existing international financial institutions with the construction of mega-projects that damage the environment and biodiversity.

12. The South Bank must be considered an essential tool for the custody and channelling of savings, breaking the repeated cycles of exaction of national and regional efforts through manoeuvres and suspicious deals with indebtedness and public securities, subsidies to privileged and/or corrupt private local and international economic and financial groups, and a permanent guarantee for the speculative movements of capital entry and outflow.

We understand that all the above is in keeping with what was emphasized in the Quito Ministerial Declaration of May 3, which states: “The peoples have given their governments the mandate to provide the region with new instruments of integration for development which must be on based on designs which are democratic, transparent, participatory, and accountable to the citizenry.

We are concerned about the repeated postponement of the signing of the South Bank´s founding Act, which could be an indication of the existence of significant unresolved issues. We hope that in the negotiations to overcome these unresolved issues, the proposals presented in this letter will be taken into account.

The current regional and international economic and financial situation is still favourable to the taking of concrete steps in this direction, but it may not last. We trust that you will take advantage of this historic possibility to create what could become a real South Peoples’ Solidarity Bank.

Yours sincerely,

Secretaría Regional:
Piedras 730, (1070) Buenos Aires
T/F +5411-43071867

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

New IMF Head: Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Seeking to restore its relevance and legitimacy, France's Dominique Strauss-Kahn took over Thursday as the head of the International Monetary Fund.

A former finance minister, he has pledged to make change at the 185-nation lending organization the core of his strategy "without delay," including reallocating votes so big developing countries have a larger say and improving finances so the IMF does not operate in the red.

Founded 63 years ago to promote global economic stability, the IMF put together multibillion dollar rescue packages for countries in financial crises while prescribing belt-tightening economic policies.

While it still lends to poor countries in Africa, many countries have access to the billions of dollars sloshing through international capital markets and no longer need the IMF. As a result, the IMF no longer earns interest on its loans has to overhaul its own finances.

Strauss-Kahn, a self described free-market Socialist known as DSK for his initials, said he wants to continue the mission of his predecessor, Spain's Rodrigo de Rato, to make the IMF more representative. De Rato led the organization through its annual meeting Oct. 21-22 and stepped down Wednesday for personal reasons two years before his term ends.

In interviews before assuming control, he suggested that to ensure a fairer representation within the institution of fast-growing economies, such as Brazil, India and China, that Europe, Russia and some other nations give up some of their power.

He added that this would not come at the expense of the United States, the largest shareholder in the IMF with veto power over its decisions.

Voting shares are based on a complex formula that takes account of a country's economic weight. Various proposals to change this have been advanced and Strauss-Kahn, facing a deadline in 2008 to find a solution, will preside over the bargaining.

"There is no doubt that the IMF needs serious institutional changes," said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, the aid agency and frequent critic of the IMF and other international financial institutions. "Nowadays the Netherlands has more votes than 23 African nations grouped together."

During the IMF annual meetings, Strauss-Kahn's push for reform got a boost from Italian Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, the new head of the IMF's policy-making committee. He proposed that "since the EU has one money, it should consolidate" its representation. France and Germany, the two biggest economies in the euro zone each with its own seat on the 24-member IMF board are likely to resist.

The policy committee has urged the board to cut costs and shed staff in the next six months. Strauss-Kahn said has said he will submit proposals to make the IMF "more efficient and less costly.

"Finding new sources of income is an issue for the IMF as out lending activity is decreasing, which reduces our income," he said. But he said he opposes dipping into the IMF's substantial gold reserves, worth about $77 billion (€53 billion), for cash.

The IMF is facing a deficit approaching $100 million (€69 million), its first in decades. It has $17 billion (€11.8 billion) in outstanding loans, down from $97 billion (€67 billion) at the end of 2004.

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