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By National Agricultural Trade Union Federation
NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM CONCENTRATES POWER AND WEALTH, AT THE TIME GLOBALIZING POVERTY, DESPOTISM AND IMPUNITY
I thank the members of the AGAPE ecumenical center in Prali for the kind invitation to participate in this international political field, where we are going to reflect on the serious social consequences of globalization and consumerism, those two dire manifestations of the contemporary capitalist system that today affect most of humanity.
We are experiencing a stage in history in which the dominant power seeks a civilization where everything can be bought and sold, including human beings. A universal store of infamy where 15% of the richest population on earth - what they call the "first world" - consumes 86% of all goods, products and services that are generated on the planet.
It is a cynical system, defender of a false modernity in which injustice and inequality really prevail. A "first world" that justifies exclusion, poverty and slave labor for more than three billion human beings, as if it were an inexorable destiny. This supposed global civilization denies cultural diversity and intends to impose a single language, a single currency, a model of "progress" and supposedly unique and infallible values, ignoring the environmental and human tragedy that our planet is experiencing.
This serious threat that humanity is currently facing forces us to build alternatives to fight against this impressive avalanche of injustices imposed by the capitalist system. Fighting against the tyranny of power and wealth is an inescapable ethical issue.
In this sense, the international political field organized by AGAPE, as an ecumenical meeting in the religious, political and cultural, constitutes a beautiful occasion to recognize and express our affection, our admiration and deep respect for those who have fought against social injustices throughout of our history, and especially by those who today continue to raise their voices, their thoughts and their daily actions, in favor of building a better human society.
The spaces for popular, plural and collective discussion, such as this political field, must have among their ethical duties, to recreate the living and exemplary memory of those human beings who dedicate all their time, their work and the most beautiful human ideals to the liberating cause. of the oppressed and excluded peoples. Equally evoke the unforgettable memory of those who have given their lives, in fulfillment of tasks related to this beautiful cause.
IMPORTANCE AND MEANING OF THE NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLES AGAINST THE INTENDED GLOBALIZATION - THE COLOMBIAN CASE.
Before contextualizing the social and armed conflict that Colombia has been experiencing for five decades, due to the violent scheme of exclusion and capitalist development imposed, and analyze the very probable exacerbation of this undeclared civil war, as a consequence of the shameless North American intervention through the so-called Plan Colombia -which tends to become an Andean Regional Initiative, as a strategy clearly linked to the forthcoming FTAA declaration-, I wish to raise two antagonistic and concrete considerations around the so-called globalization and a brief reflection on the current stage of capitalism: (First consideration ): The neoliberal phase it is the wildest period in capitalist history. In the current stage this system has reached the maximum extreme of power and economic greed, increased by its political desire to dominate the world ... The globalization that capitalism poses to us, widens inequalities, poverty and social exclusion, while aggravating the deterioration of the earth and the backwardness of humanity.
(Second consideration): Today, more than at any other time, the challenge of the excluded peoples must be the deepening and articulation -possible- of all the struggles of resistance and national liberation ... The liberating cause of the oppressed and excluded must be the unifying element of the best dreams, with the aim of overcoming the perverse challenge imposed by the imperial opulence of capitalist power:
the challenge of the peoples - our challenge - is to stop the globalization of poverty and sadness, despotism and impunity.
We are witnessing a time when the insolence of the richest has no limit. The dominant power determines the factors of development and progress according to criteria of material value, the main basis of which is money and increased profits. For this system, the important thing is that the economy works well, regardless of the impoverishment, the social situation and the dignity of the majority of human beings.
"It is the logic of the contemporary capitalist system, a system that alienates and imposes on humanity a mode of survival that elevates the value of money to the grotesque form of a God, while commodifies happiness, eliminate solidarity, value beauty through stupid reigns and catwalks, it poisons air and water in the name of progress, destroys cultures and denies the worldview of peoples. A mercenary power that intervenes, subdues and bombs where it pleases, in the name of democracy and freedom. "
Never before has so much wealth been produced and wasted on the planet. Never have there been so many exiled beings on earth, subjected to loneliness, violence and hunger, without job options, denied and excluded. According to estimates and research by the United Nations, it is stated that at least 30 million people currently suffer from forced displacement.
It is pertinent to mention that 3 million of these exiles are Colombians.
In Colombia, the forced displacement of the population is systematic and responds to a violent and calculated strategy, favored by the corrupt oligarchs and landowners who hold political power.
Since the middle of the last century, when more than 200,000 people were murdered, mostly peasants, in struggles instigated by the heads of the traditional political parties - Liberal and Conservative - in order to consolidate power and wealth, a disastrous period known in the history of Colombia as VIOLENCE, caused the forced displacement of two million peasants. Since then, displacement has been a calculated and permanent strategy to expand the latifundio and exile the peasants from the productive zones.
In the last decade and within the framework of neoliberalism, this criminal strategy has intensified. In the last twelve years, slightly more than 3 million people have been victims of violent displacement, the product of paramilitary massacres or pressured by the effects of poverty and massive food imports. Most of the displaced lost their land to powerful landowners frequently linked to drug trafficking.
The latifundio is one of the fundamental pillars of political power in Colombia, so it is not unusual that a good part of the main spokespersons of the Colombian Establishment have been and are landowners.
This exclusive, backward and lackey political class of the gringo empire, protected by a huge military, police and paramilitary apparatus, a shameful goddaughter of drug trafficking, co-financed by powerful local and transnational industries, and blessed by leaders of the Catholic Church such as Pedro Rubiano Sáenz, is the proud representative of neoliberal "progress". These prophets of rage and wealth are happily preparing to define their foreseeable successors for the next electoral contest in 2002, among the most delusional defenders of the war, today emboldened with Plan Colombia.
The main candidates -Horacio Serpa, Alvaro Uribe Vélez, Nohemí Sanín, former General Serrano, among others- They stand out for being staunch followers of the Yankee consumerist and globalizing creed.
For being the maximum defenders of AUK and of the Andean Regional Initiative, and as lackeys as they are friends of war, they constitute a real danger to the yearnings for peace, social justice and the validity of human rights, not only in Colombia but in Latin America.
Both the democratizing process that Venezuela is going through, as well as the popular movement of Ecuador and Brazil, must take measures against the warmongering arrogance of the Colombian oligarchy, which without any modesty defends the macroeconomic policies imposed by the United States through the International Monetary Fund. -
IMF-, the World Bank - BM-and the World Trade Organization - WTO-. The Colombian oligarchy constitutes a spearhead for the AUK.
It should not be surprising that the US, in close alliance with the Colombian rulers, intends to convert Plan Colombia into a Plan with continental characteristics through the Andean Regional Initiative, in frank contradiction with the broad Colombian social and popular movement that works for peace, defends the process of dialogue with the insurgency, and opposes the neoliberal measures that mercilessly affect the population, especially the poorest sectors.
While millions of Colombians demand decent work, health, education, housing and public services, the government puts public companies up for sale, showing off the social and strategic heritage of the State. In a true plan of hostilities against the people, education passed 70% to private hands. With the closure of hospitals and the crisis of social security, health has moved away from the population, to the point that today it is a shameless business. Likewise, another labor reform is being forged, worse than the one carried out by the first neoliberal government in the early nineties, with which It is intended to increase working hours and reduce wages, implement hourly employment, eliminate all benefits and social guarantees, that is, totally precarious the little that remains of work.
They are the visible results of the new stage of capitalist accumulation called globalization. In it the International Banking, the IMF, the WTO, and other organizations that function under the aegis of the gringos and some European countries, They are determining the future not only of Colombia but of humanity.
It is a time when science and technology scratch the stars and map the human genome, launch satellites and invent intercontinental missiles of mass destruction, or the most sophisticated computer gadgets, but while that happens, hundreds of children living in Black Africa or in the suburbs of Latin America, die from malnutrition or lack of vaccines, in the worst case eaten by flies, oblivion and starvation.
It is the destiny that capitalist globalization proposes us, a world of invisible but insurmountable borders for beings mired in poverty, while transnational capital travels without any impediment all the corners of the planet. For this system, the inhabitants of the south or the so-called third world must be excluded and treated as third-class citizens.
The Berlin Wall fell, but invisible and huge walls were raised that separate the peoples from their own land, just as it happens with the Kurdish, or with the criminal isolation that Israel and the United States advance against the people Palestinian. In the Strait of Gibraltar the English, the Spanish and the sharks celebrate with the boats moroccan. The electric mesh and the gringo gunmen, massacre on the Mexican border the "Illegal" Latinos they are after the "American dream". The cloaks of silence that stifle the validity of political conflicts framed in the popular desire for independence and sovereignty are powerful, as in the cases of Ireland, Chechnya or of country Basque.
Only impunity is globalized, not justice. That is why it is not surprising that while CNN shows the American space shuttle as it rises and falls from the sky - supposedly for the "progress" of humanity - a simple truck loaded with food does not go up to the steepest and most impoverished neighborhoods on the slopes of Cali.
On the outskirts of Cúcuta, a city where poverty, unemployment, paramilitaries and repression by the police reign in the invasion neighborhoods, hundreds of children herd donkeys and mules loaded with containers with undrinkable water, a precious liquid that residents buy from the cardboard and tin hovels, where the aqueducts and sewers of neoliberal "development" do not reach.
At least 3.5 billion people -more than half of the world's population-, they live in misery. Today, more than ever, the capitalist thesis is being revalued, that "free competition" and the globalization of world trade bring benefits for the population in general. The results of this perverse policy are other:
First) Work becomes more flexible, exhausted and deteriorates.
Second) The social gap between the rich and the poor is growing scandalously.
Third) The endless voracity of transnational capital increases like a spiral.
Bedroom) Nature's marvelous environmental riches are mercilessly destroyed, putting our very survival at risk.
North American arrogance, like that of the world capitalist power as a whole and its combination of symbols and forces such as: - NATO, Pentagon, DEA, CIA, World Trade Organization, Wall Street, International Monetary Fund, etc. - they believe they are invulnerable, infallible and without limit. So it implies George Bush in his first address to the State Department and the Pentagon, as President of the United States, where announced that its weapons and "control procedures" "will be more deadly and effective than ever". His imperial words constitute a real threat to world peace, and a clear provocation for the peoples who fight for their sovereignty, for their independence, and freedom.
In this context the struggle for the true validity of human rights, the natural culture of peoples, for national identity, independence and liberation, constitute an organized response against the globalization of despotism, sadness, poverty and impunity. It is up to us to reflect on the possibility of articulating a good part of these popular struggles against capitalism. As Cuban President Fidel Castro says, "we must globalize the struggles for a democratic peace with social justice."
The appearance of new mass movements, of those that you are part of here in Italy, and your impressive protests against the globalization of capital and consumption, are a new and important expression of popular struggle.
The huge social mobilizations in Seattle, Prague, Davos, Washington, Quebec and especially the last one here in Italy, in Genoa, where more than two hundred thousand people said NO TO GLOBALIZATION, led by workers, women, the unemployed, students, progressive sectors of the churches and political parties, who with one voice oppose the precariousness of work, unemployment, scarcity, excessive consumption, transgenic foods, to environmental pollution and the production of weapons, they constitute a beautiful cry of hope.
It is a veritable torrent of struggle and resistance, which presupposes an interesting revival of popular protests in Europe and the US.
In Latin America as well, and particularly in Colombia, the workers' and rural struggles embrace the most diverse manifestations of the social and popular movement. In our country, the very heterogeneous movement in favor of peace stands out, whose main activity is oriented to defend the peace process and the political solution for the social and armed conflict that Colombia is experiencing.
We cannot forget that the revolutionary and armed insurgency in Colombia is an integral part of the popular movement in opposition to the dominant system, and constitutes, as several guerrilla commanders of the FARC-EP have reiterated, "the optional path of those to whom the State denies any opportunity to fight legally. "
The criminalization of the popular struggle in Colombia is easily verified: half of the trade unionists who are murdered in the world are Colombian. The most dangerous place on earth to work in defense of human rights is Colombia. In this country an average of 30,000 crimes take place annually, of which according to data from human rights organizations, at least 25% are for political reasons.
A case that touches the human conscience is the practical extermination of the Patriotic Union - U.P.. legal political movement, founded in 1985 thanks to a peace and ceasefire agreement between the government of the day and the FARC-EP. The Patriotic Union was subjected in the years following its founding, to the most intense bloodbath in the Western Hemisphere against a political party and its affiliates. More than 4,000 sympathizers assassinated in terrifying collective massacres, and hundreds of selective crimes directed against councilors, mayors, deputies, congressmen and presidential candidates of this political force.
The genocide against the Patriotic Union, which continues today against the survivors, considerably removed the possibilities of a concerted peace in Colombia, and increased the belligerence of the guerrilla groups. Despite the FARC, within the framework of the current peace process, they have launched a new proposal for a political movement; It is now a clandestine party, which, as the facts show, is the only way to protect the lives of its supporters. The new alternative is called the Bolivarian Movement for a New Colombia.
The panorama for the political participation of democratic forces of the left in Colombia is practically impossible. The threat of right-wing sectors looms over this possibility, which do not consider any change in the country's social and political structure necessary or viable. On the contrary, they believe in the military victory over the guerrillas, in the imposition of neoliberal policies, and they dream of breaking the peace process.
The outlook points to a worsening of the war. The neoliberal labor reform, extreme privatizations, unemployment, unlimited corruption and events such as the increasing rate of kidnappings, forced disappearance of opposition leaders, the intense armed confrontation, the escalation of arms, repression and poverty, cast a shadow over the future of the country.
COLOMBIA PLAN, ANDEAN REGIONAL INITIATIVE AND FREE TRADE AREA FOR THE AMERICAS: NEOLIBERAL PHASE OF WILD CAPITALISM IN LATIN AMERICA.
The United States, which is not alien to this situation, has designed a strategy to intervene more directly in the Colombian social and armed conflict. It is about Plan Colombia, a comprehensive and genuine manifestation of contemporary imperialism. This Plan contains a high dose of political, economic and military intervention, but cleverly presents itself as a humanitarian plan to defend the supposed "Colombian democracy" and combat the new world threat: drug trafficking. ".
With Plan Colombia, the Colombian army and police are rapidly transformed into a powerful war machine. 80% of the first part of North American "aid" (about 1,300 million dollars) is represented in sophisticated radars, spy planes, 30 Black Hawk war helicopters and 75 Huey UH1H reartings, training and financing of 5 new battalions until reaching 52,000 professional soldiers who will join the more than 150,000 existing troops, for a total of close to 320,000 people linked to military, intelligence and security issues.
The gringos present themselves to the world as the enemies of drug trafficking and they intend a crusade against this serious scourge, only that it takes place outside their borders. They ignore that their crusade should be directed against the tax havens that operate in the financial center of Wall Street. They ignore the production of chemical inputs in their factories, and turn a blind eye to the more than 25 million drug users who roam their streets.
Plan Colombia constitutes a trap, which in the background hides the North American interest in consolidating a model of hegemonic accumulation of finance capital and transnational corporations in Colombia and Latin America. In reality, it is a lifeline for the battered and corrupt Colombian institutions, characterized by ignoring human rights and being an unconditional ally of the economic policies of the gringo empire.. It also constitutes the spearhead of Yankee interventionism in this region of the world.
The American academic and linguist Noam Chomski says that Colombia has the worst record of human rights violations in the Western Hemisphere. It should be added that Colombia subscribes the largest number of approved international agreements regarding their defense, but at the same time, it is the third largest recipient of US military aid in the world, without accounting for Plan Colombia.
It is not surprising then that the Americans have enthroned their cynical crusade against drug trafficking in Colombia. To justify this goal, the gringos intentionally confuse the coca and poppy crops with the same drug, and the impoverished peasant growers of these plants, with seasoned drug traffickers.
Placing the coca and poppy crops on the same plane, with drug trafficking, is truly silly. These plantations are crops incorporated into the subsistence peasant economy. The peasants were launched into that production due to social and economic circumstances beyond their control, and therefore they are not illicit crops.
Neoliberal globalization has too many peasants in the world. The coca and poppy growers, in my view, constitute a form of peasant resistance… If other crops are neither viable nor possible, the peasants turn to a product that allows them to continue practicing what they know: cultivating the land. For the imaginary of the peasantry, coca and poppy crops are still a fruit of the earth.
However, the peasantry wants viable alternatives to transform this economy and its reality, for which it proposes the realization of a democratic and comprehensive agrarian reform. The coca grower has created the National Peasant Coordination of Coca and Poppy Growers - COCCA-, an organization that seeks to establish policies for substitution of crops, through social programs of manual, gradual and voluntary eradication of coca and poppies.
COCCA brings together some 400,000 coca growers engaged in the struggle for agrarian reform. Its spokesmen indicate the need to separate two realities: drug trafficking and coca and poppy crops. The first is a phenomenon consubstantial to capitalism, while the second is the product of the injustices of capitalism, which in Colombia combines large estates, violence, and anti-agrarian policies against the peasantry.
Despite knowing this reality, the US insists on implementing Plan Colombia, even guiding its application at a more regional level, with the so-called Andean Regional Initiative. This is a blatant way of extending Plan Colombia to much of Latin America. To initiate this purpose, the United States has made a first disbursement of 676 million dollars to Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Panama and Venezuela.
The militaristic Plan Colombia and the Andean Initiative hide a real purpose: to create and guarantee the ideal conditions for the imposition of the Free Trade Area for the Americas. It is no secret to anyone that the gringos and their transnationals NEED, to guarantee their current stage of expansion and maintain a competitive level against Europe, the huge market that a Latin America without borders means for their financial capital.
The sophistry of progress constitutes the main strategy of the International Banking and of the United States, to impose the FTAA. Except for the strong criticism of the Cuban government and the objections of the Venezuelan government, the other states of Latin America, assuming the role of vassals, have applauded the FTAA proposal.
The international rejection of the intensification of the war in Colombia through the Yankee intervention and its Plan Colombia, and the alleged geostrategic extension of imperialism through the Andean Regional Initiative, sister strategies of the FTAAIt must become the unifying component of the political struggle of the oppressed and exploited peoples of Latin America.
To oppose Plan Colombia, the FTAA and the Andean Regional Initiative, is to oppose against the hegemonic and militaristic globalization of neoliberal capitalism.
Before ending my presentation, I want to fix several considerations around the reality of Colombia and the struggle for human rights, which may also contribute to understanding what is happening here in Europe:
- The serious social and armed conflict that we suffer has deep roots in the systematic violation of human rights throughout our history. But the violation of human rights, and social inequalities are not an endemic evil in Colombia, they are in the political and economic system that predominates in the world ... Capitalism.
- We suffer in our days, an undeclared convergence between neoliberal capitalism and representative democracy (in Colombia, bipartisan party-party is understood). Under these conditions, human rights are not possible or viable, on the contrary, they are a contradiction for the system, therefore, then, a commitment to the defense of human rights is not coherent, without at the same time assuming an attitude of opposition against the system of capitalist domination.
- To face the challenge imposed by the globalization of capital, voracious consumerism, and the savage environmental destruction of our planet, it is necessary to understand that today we are facing one of the most fruitful moments to fight for the validity and fulfillment of human rights in a multicultural and indivisible way.
It is necessary to seek paths of unity and articulate as much as possible, all the struggles of the peoples for their sovereignty, respect for culture, identity, true democracy and national liberation. Hope and dreams for a better world must be globalized.
AGAPE INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL CAMP - Prali (TO) - Italy August 19-26, 2001
 The exhibitor is human rights defender and researcher on the agrarian issue in Colombia. Works with the National Agricultural Trade Union Federation - FENSUAGRO, and with the National Peasant Coordinator of Coca and Poppy Growers - COCCA.
 Free Trade Area of the Americas
 This paragraph and a good part of the text contain excerpts from a lecture by Luis Alberto Matta, read at the Forum Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, current affairs and challenges in Colombia, organized by the Lumen Gentium Catholic University Foundation, in the city of Cali, on May 27, 2000.
 According to data published by the National Peasant Council - CNC-, by the Central Unitary of Workers - CUT- and by various popular organizations for the defense of human rights, it is stated that from the end of the eighties, when Colombia was led by Virgilio Barco and later by Cesar Gaviria Trujillo towards the neoliberalization of its economy and its politics , Food imports have risen to 700%, which today represents about 8 million tons of products annually, previously cultivated by our peasants, seriously affecting the peasant economy and our food sovereignty. At the same time, an impressive wave of privatizations has occurred to this day, unemployment and poverty have grown disproportionately, and hundreds of popular leaders who opposed the regime have lost their lives in selective assassinations.
 Colombia suffers in the XXI century the domination of a characterized feudal regime, in relation to the exaggerated concentration of land in few hands. 80% of the best lands have been usurped by 1.5% of owners. FENSUAGRO - National Agricultural Trade Union Federation, bulletin published in November 1999.
 City in southwestern Colombia, located about 380 km from the capital Bogotá.
 Colombian city, located in the northeast of the country on the border with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.