Monday, 15 September 2014

Mayan People's Movement Defeats Monsanto Law in Guatemala

IC Magazine (acknowledgements to derek wall)

  Mayan People's Movement Defeats Monsanto Law in Guatemala GUATEMALA -

On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.

The demonstrations were concentrated outside the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City during more than a week, and coincided with several Mayan communities and organizations defending food sovereignty through court injunctions in order to stop the Congress and the President, Otto Perez Molina, from letting the new law on protection of plant varieties, known as the “Monsanto Law”, take effect. On September 2, the Mayan communities of Sololá, a mountainous region 125 kilometers west from the capital, took to the streets and blocked several main roads.

At this time a list of how individual congressmen had voted on the approval of the legislation in June was circulating. When Congress convened on September 4, Mayan people were waiting outside for a response in favor of their movement, demanding a complete cancellation of the law –something very rarely seen in Guatemala. But this time they proved not to have marched in vain. After some battles between the presidential Patriotic Party (PP) and the Renewed Democratic Liberty Party (LIDER), the Congress finally decided not to review the legislation, but cancel it.

 Lolita Chávez from the Mayan People’s Council summarized the essence of what has been at stake these last weeks of peaceful protests as follows: “Corn taught us Mayan people about community life and its diversity, because when one cultivates corn one realizes that there is a variety of crops such as herbs and medical plants depending on the corn plant as well. We see that in this coexistence the corn is not selfish, the corn shows us how to resist and how to relate with the surrounding world.”

 Controversies surrounded law The Monsanto Law would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies. Mayan people and social organizations claimed that the new law violated the Constitution and the Mayan people’s right to traditional cultivation of their land in their ancestral territories. Antonio González from the National Network in Defense of Food Sovereignty and Biodiversity commented in a press conference August 21:

“This law is an attack on a traditional Mayan cultivation system which is based on the corn plant but which also includes black beans and herbs; these foods are a substantial part of the staple diet of rural people.”

 The new legislation would have opened up the market for genetically modified seeds which would have threatened to displace natural seeds and end their diversity. It would have created an imbalance between transnational companies and local producers in Guatemala where about 70 per cent of the population dedicate their life to small-scale agricultural activities. That is a serious threat in a country where many people live below the poverty line and in extreme poverty and where children suffer from chronic malnutrition and often starve to death.

 The law was approved in June without prior discussion, information and participation from the most affected. It was a direct consequence of the free trade agreement with the US, ratified in 2005. However, recently the protests started to grow and peaked a couple of weeks ago with a lot of discussions, statements and demonstrations.

 At first the government ignored the protests and appeared to be more interested in engaging in superficial forms of charity like provision of food aid while ignoring the wider and structural factors that cause and perpetuate poverty in Guatemala such as unequal land distribution, deep rooted inequalities, racism, to name but a few. But soon enough they decided to act. Even though politicians claimed not to act on social demands, it is without doubt a decision taken after enormous pressure from different social groups in society.

 Criminalizing the Mayan people - again There was a great risk that the Monsanto Law would have made criminals of already repressed small farmers who are just trying to make ends meet and doing what they have done for generations – cultivating corn and black beans for their own consumption. The Monsanto Law meant that they would not have been able to grow and harvest anything that originates from natural seeds. Farmers would be breaking the laws if these natural seeds had been mixed with patented seeds from other crops as a result of pollination or wind, unless they had had a license for the patented seed from a transnational corporation like Monsanto.

 Another risk expressed by ecologists was the fear that the costs for the patented seeds would have caused an increase in prices and as consequence caused a worsened food crisis for those families who could not afford to buy a license to sow.

 Academics, together with the Mayan people, also feared that the law would have intensified already existing fierce social conflicts between local Mayan communities and transnational companies in a country historically and violently torn apart. Mayan people and Mother Earth Currently international companies are very interested in gaining control of the abundant and rich natural assets that Guatemala possesses.

There is just one problem: the Mayan people - or actually most people - in Guatemala do not agree with a policy of treating nature like a commodity to be sold off piece by piece, especially when they receive nothing in return. It is very difficult to argue that it is a rentable business for Guatemalan society as a whole, and less the local communities, when it is a rather small but powerful economic elite which benefits on behalf of the environment, nature and society.

 So what happens when the people organize in defense of their territory? The international companies call the government and have them use whatever means necessary to remove those standing in their way so they can construct megaprojects like mines or hydroelectric dams or extend monocultures in any region they see fit without much concern for those who might be affected. Last month three men were killed when police used violent force to evict a community whose population had organized itself to protest against a hydroelectric megaproject in their community in Alta Verapaz. Hundreds of police officers were sent to the area on orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mauricio López Bonilla.

 It was not an exceptional case by any means. Ongoing conflict As for the Monsanto Law, for a chilling reminder of where this was most likely headed, one need look no further than the USA: according to information from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots community for sustainable food system, Monsanto’s GMO Roundup Ready soybeans, the world’s leading chemical and biotech seed company, admits to filing 150 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.

 This has caused fear and resentment in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. It is impossible to predict how this controversy might unfold, but the reality in Guatemala today is one marked by an ongoing conflict between the government and the Mayan people, who constitute over half of the population. Nim Sanik, Maya Kaqchikel from Chimaltenango comments on the victory over the Monsanto Law: “The fight to preserve collective property of Mayan communities such as vegetable seeds, which historically have served as a source of development and survival for the Mayan civilization, is a way to confront the open doors that the neoliberal governments have widely open in favor of national and transnational corporations that genetically modify and commercialize the feeding of mankind. We have just taken the first step on a long journey in our struggle to conquer the sovereignty of the people in Guatemala.”

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group conference Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 12:00 PM to 5:30 PM and march 21st september

The new expanded, updated and revised edition of the One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet will be launched at the International Climate Jobs conference on Saturday 20th September in London.

The International Fight for Climate Jobs - For a Future that doesn't Cost the Earth

The conference is timed to coincide with the People's Climate March taking place that weekend in New York with support from American trade unions and involving British trade unionists. This is prior to the UN climate talks in NY from 23 September. The conference will involve international speakers and contributions via skype from the march organisers and British and American trade unionists on the march. We also aim to encourage climate jobs groups in other countries to hold their own meetings and conferences at this time which we can link up with.

12.00 - 1.00  Registration
1.00 - 2.30 Opening plenary: "The International Fight for Climate Jobs"
2.30 - 2.45 Break
2.45 - 4.15 Workshops:
Two lead speakers per workshop with additional invited contributors in the audience.
a) "Unpacking Climate Jobs"
b) "Building a Better Future by Campaigning for Climate Jobs"
c) "Students, Environment, and Climate jobs"
4.15 - 4.45 Networking
4.45 - 5.30 Closing Plenary: "Time to Act on Climate Change" - speakers from the "Time to Act" campaign and the protest campaign for the Paris COP talks. Followed by Q & A.

People's Climate March London

The World Leaders' Climate Summit in New York this September will be a key moment in the fight against climate change. The march organised in New York aims to be the biggest climate demonstration the US has ever seen, and over 900 solidarity events are planned globally on the same weekend.
The Campaign against Climate Change is helping to organise the People's Climate March in London along with many other organisations including Avaaz,, UKYCC, People & Planet, Operation Noah, Wake Up London, Oxfam, Art Not Oil, BP or not BP, CAFOD, UCL Students' Union, Greenpeace UK, Rising Tide...

Join the March! 12:30 pm Temple Place (Embankment) – Sunday Sept 21st

Help make it huge

Let your your friends know about it - on email, Twitter and Facebook
Get flyering! Flyers and posters are available from Fatima:
Would you like to be a steward? Get in touch with Fatima - no experience necessary.
Come to one of the regular Tuesday planning meetings

What's happening on the day?

12.15pm - Multi-faith gathering in Victoria Embankment Gardens
1pm - March sets off
1.45-2.45pm - Rally in Parliament Square
If you can’t join us in London, but want to get out and show your support, why not join one of the many other event being organised across the country.
Below are only a selection but you can check out this page for any other event near you, or to publicise your own.

The Gloucestershire Climate March
Start- 12pm, The Subscription Rooms, Stroud, GL5 1AE
They will be walking from The Subscription Rooms and ends in a rally and picnic in Rodborough: 1.5 km steep walk uphill! They will be calling on local government to commit to 100% clean energy and sharing the science around climate change
Bring a drum/ bell, bring a kite – to feel the power of the wind, and bring a picnic.

People’s Climate March Manchester
Start - 11am Piccadilly Gardens,
Frack Free Greater Manchester and the Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils and others have organisied a march through the centre of Manchester, focusing on the Labour Party Conference.
See here for more details

People’s Climate March and Gathering, Edinburgh
Starts- 1:30 with a picnic in the gardens next to The Mound, weather permitting.
The march itself starts at 2.30 regardless of weather, there will be some singing you are invited to join in with and will end at 4.30.
See here for details and updates


Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 11:00 to 17:00

Thursday, 11 September 2014

stop ISDS

What is ISDS? 

ISDS is a clause in the Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP] that will effectively hand the power to control UK legislation over to private corporations. The European Commission knows that ISDS is up against massive opposition from civil society.

The Canada/EU Free Trade Agreement is being used to sneak ISDS in through the back door at a meeting... THIS FRIDAY! 

We will meet outside The Department of Business and Skills to non-violently confront & disrupt this corporate coup d'état. 

Speakers include: 
Linda Kaucher - StopTTIP
Nick Dearden - World Development Movement 
Clive Menzies - Occupy London 

ALSO . . . URGENT! Please fill out and send this letter to say NO to ISDS in CETA

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Young Greens launch campaign to get young people organised

The Young Greens today launched their latest campaign 'Get Organised! Getting a new
generation organised and unionised!' at a joint workshop with the Green Party Trade Union Group.

Speakers from the RMT, NUS, the Students' Assembly and the Green Party discussed the benefits
of trade union membership and the need to convey these benefits to young people.

The RMT Young Members' group were keen to get into schools to talk to pupils about this as a part
of citizenship education but had found schools resistant. I suggested that theatre in education, based
on actual events such as the Grunwicks strike, could be a stimulating way of doing this.

There was also a discussion on reviving  the idea of  a School Students' Union  (something similar
existed in the 70s)  that could give  school students experience of collective organisation and

videos of the launch meeting at

Monday, 8 September 2014

Greece Solidarity Campaign - Aug 2014

Greece Solidarity Campaign - Aug 2014 

Support for SYRIZA continues to grow 

The latest polls gives SYRIZA a 8.1% lead over New Democracy (25.8% to 17.7%), with the fascist Golden Dawn holding onto third place on 8.7%. However the situation is uncertain, with16.5% undecided or not known, and another 13% intend to abstain or spoil their ballot. Taking these votes out of the equation, SYRIZA'S lead is11.5%

It looks increasingly likely the Government will not last till the next general election due June 2016. The President of State’s term in office expires in February 2015. The coalition have 153 votes out of 300. A candidate for the Presidency need 180 votes otherwise a general election is triggered within 30 days. More 
20 Sept Stand in Solidarity with the 595 women cleaners 

The year long campaign of resistance by 595 sacked cleaners has attracted mass public support in Greece, the issue becoming symbolic of of the resistance to austerity and privatisation.

Support their campaign - send a message of solidarity, help raise money, Stand in Solidarity with the 595 Cleaners from 09.30 to 11.00 morning on Saturday 20 September - outside the Hellenic Centre, 16 Paddington Street, London More 

A planning meeting to build support for the cleaners campaign is this wednesday 10 September 6.30 - 7.30, the Lucas Arms, Grays Inn Road, London. All welcome. 
Latest victory in the fight for health care

The anti austerity movement has forced the Greek Government to  address the growing crisis of the 3 million uninsured in Greece.

New rules have come in that specify that uninsured residents, currently excluded, will have hospital care without cost.  The health crisis in Greece continues, as hospitals cannot meet the basic needs of patients insured or not.  
The new future for Greece 

A feature of the anti austerity movement in Greece has been the development of networks of solidarity and alternative means of exchange -  with the growth of social markets and new forms of coop, linked to local Peoples Assemblies.

For the third year running an international Festival of Solidarity and Cooperative Economy will take place in Athens 10 - 12 October. All welcome. More. 
End tax avoidance? No, cut taxes for the rich 

The IMF has publicly criticised the Greek government for making insufficient progress on tax evasion.

In response to this the Coalition have announced a 'road map' on tax, which include plans to cut the top rate of income tax from 42 to 32 per cent and corporation tax from 26 to 15 per cent.

Austerity in Greece is shock doctrine in action 

According to bestselling author Naomi Klein, the systemic use of shock and fear by the power elites to undermine vulnerable communities is very much evident in post-bailout Greece.

From the rise of racism to the sell-off of the country's oil and natural gas resources – much of what will shape Greece's immediate future are, she argues, predictable consequences of the politics of austerity more 
Fundraising Dinner - Medical Aid for Greece Tues 21 October 
Medical Aid for Greece is holding a fundraising dinner onTuesday 21 OCtober at the oldest Greek restaurant in London - the Elysee, 13 Percy Street W1T 1DP

Delicious food with music in beautiful surroundings. Please save the date and tell other people.

Tickets cost £30.00 each. You can order your tickets from Vivianne and Isidoros at

Printed dinner tickets will be available shortly.

Sunday 21 September 2014 AAfG Musical Event 

Dalston Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Road, London E8 3AS
The event is organised for the anniversary of Pavlos Fyssas’ murder by fascist thugs (18 September 2013).  It is a joint event with the “Defend-the-Right-to-Protest” (DtRtP). Entrance fee is £5.  AAfG will donate 40% of proceeds to the Survivors of the Farmakonisi Island and 40% to Solidarity in the West of Athens.
Support the Greece Solidarity Campaign 

Greece is in the frontline of austerity in Europe and the Greek people are fighting back. The GSC organises to raise awareness, facilitate links and provide practical solidarity.

It is open for individuals to join and organisations to affiliate. Find out how. Share this bulletin and link to us on Facebook. Share this bulletin. There are many ways to get help. Get in touch and find out how.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

We need as many people as possible outside the main entrance of the V&A from *5 pm - 8 pm *on 29/8/2014 for a colourful protest with costumes and music.

Local PCS representatives at the V&A are taking their pay campaign to the

next level and targeting V&A’s late opening of the Disobedient
Objects exhibition– *‘the first exhibition to explore the powerful role
that objects play in grassroots movements for social change.’*

We need as many people as possible outside the main entrance of the V&A
from *5 pm - 8 pm *on 29/8/2014 for a colourful protest with
costumes and music.

If anyone can help please contact me by emailing*
<> or on 07788118004 <07788118004>.*

V&A staff are currently experiencing a real terms drop in wages and living
standards down 10% over 3 years. One V&A staff member told us,* "This sort
of pay cut is pushing staff at the V&A towards working poverty when London
rent prices, transport costs and the cost of food are increasing."*

You can help support the campaign by attending the protest above and by
emailing the museum’s director Professor Martin Roth and asking him to pay
his staff decent wages. To do this simply click on and share this link as
widely as possible

On 1/9/2014 V&A representatives are personally handing signed
copies of leaflets demonstrating the public’s support for a pay rise for
all V&A staff to the museum's director.

Please share this widely and show your support to help end poor pay and pay
cuts in our arts sector. 
Thank you for your support

*Kathryn Dyer*

*PCS Industrial Officer*

*Culture Sector*

National Protests at Nato Summit: No New Wars

National Protests at Nato Summit: 

No New Wars- No to Nato

Stop the War Coalition . Posted in Anti-war Events
No to Nato

60 world leaders, including Barack Obama, meet in the UK for 

the NATO Summit on 4-5 Septemberto plan their war on the 

world. From 30 August protesters will flock to South Wales for 

international actions including a national demonstration, counter 

summit, and week-long peace camp. Stop the War and CND 

have organised NO TO NATO - NO NEW WARS protests from 

30 August to 5 September. 

See the timetable of action and events below.

Transport to the national demonstration 30 August...

Saturday 30 August: Mass demonstration

March through central Newport. Assembles 1pm at the 

Civic Centre Car Park and marches around the town 

centre ending at Westgate Square for a rally.

Sunday 31 August: Counter Summit in Cardiff

County Hall, CF10 4UW View on map
Speakers include:
No to Nato speakers

Boris Kagarlitsky Russia • Joseph Gerson USA • 

Medea Benjamin Code Pink USA • Margaretta D'Arcy Ireland 

• Jeremy Corbyn MP • Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition.

Sessions and workshops: • NATO expansion • 

The drive to war and military spending • Ukraine and a new cold war 

• Afghanistan - the endless occupation • Women and War • 

Move the money • Disarmament for Development • Palestine •

 Middle East: Oil & Empire • The New Nuclear Arms Race 

• Militarisation & Science • Singing for Peace. 

Post-Counter Summit Social: A Fundraiser for Gaza
The Full Moon, Womanby Street, 

Cardiff City Centre, CF10 1BR, 

Upstairs - the Moon Club.
5pm - 8pm - snacks, stalls etc.Music from 8pm. 

Admission £5

Performers include: Stu and Reb from Dirty Revolution (Ska-Punk-Reggae)

Lynne Denman (unaccompanied Welsh singing), 

Salih Hassan (Palestinian Oud Player), Cosmo (Folk-punk), 

Novacoda (Dance), Flora Mackay (Acoustic), David Ambrose (Storytelling), 

Neta Hel (Poetry), Think Pretty (Acoustic), DJS - Love & 

Harmony Sounds, Shahid (Salsa Buena), Dave Grooveslave 

 All funds raised will go to Middle East Children's Alliance. 

Monday 1 September: Newport Alternative Summit

Newport Dolman Theatre, Emlyn Square, Newport NP20 1HY, 

10.00 - 5 pm.
Topics: Drones • Women and War • Iraq • Afghanistan • Ukraine 

• Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

Tuesday 2 September

Newport Alternative Summit continued
Dolman Theatre. 11am – 4pm - Sessions on Gaza • Peaceful co-existence 

• Victims of NATO

Wednesday 3 September

Artists and Musicians against War. All day at the Tredegar Park Peace Camp
• Kite making • anti-facial-recognition-software makeup • placard making 

• banner making • self-defence workshops • Urban Circle workshops •

 Singing peace and protest workshop • Fly Kites not Drones

Revolution Rock with Birmingham band Living Field. 

Open mic throughout the day until 8pm for poets and musicians.

Thursday 4 September

First day of NATO Summit. 

Newport Mass Action and March on the Celtic Manor where 

world leaders meet to present messages. 

Gather at 12.00, Cenotaph, Clarence Place

Cardiff No dinner of death. 

Protest World Leaders Castle banquet at 6pm 

to send a message from Wales and the world: 

Freedom for Palestine. No New Wars. 

Cardiff Stop the War Coalition and Cardiff Trades Council 

are calling for people to gather assemble Queen Street Cardiff  

Friday 5 September

Final day of NATO Summit.
Direct Actions. Street Theatre. 

Celebration party at the Pen and Wig in Newport from 6.00

Newport Peace Camp

A peace camp will be located in Tredegar Park, 

Newport, from Friday 29th August for people who wish 

to stay in Newport for the week. Basic facilities will be 

provided and the camp is recognised by the local council 

and police. Bring your own tents. The camp is asking for 

a donation of £2 per night per person. 

No to Nato - No New Wars

Wales could see its biggest protests in a generation as 

60 world leaders meet at the Celtic Manor in Newport for 

the NATO summit on 4-5 September to plan their war on the world.

Previous summits in Chicago and Strasbourg saw thousands 

protest war, austerity and global inequality. From 30 August 

people will flock to South Wales for international actions including 

a weekend march and Counter Summit, week-long peace camp, 

and protests on the summit's opening day.NATO expansion has 

created a dangerous crisis in Ukraine which threatens a regional war.

NATO's nuclear armed alliance binds Europe to US foreign policy, 

a foreign policy post-Iraq increasingly unpopular around the world. 

It is also the military alliance currently occupying Afghanistan.

War is the enemy of the poor. At this year's summit the US will 

be pressuring Western powers to increase their already huge military 

budgets at a time when poverty and inequality are soaring.The world's 

85 richest people have as much as poorest 3.5 billion. Money into war 

is money out of our communities.

In the UK, 500,000 people had to resort to food banks last year. None 

of the cuts would be necessary if the sums Britain spends on its military 

and armaments were invested in social need instead of the war machine.

This autumn the powerful will make their voices heard at the NATO summit. 

We must make sure that the voice of the millions around the world who 

need peace and justice is also heard.