|This article appears in the August 24, 2001 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
by Scott Thompson
People's Global Action
[PDF version of this article]
People's Global Action (PGA)
PGA c/o Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
377 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Days before the Sept. 28-29, 2001 biannual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington, D.C., People's Global Action will be holding a conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to plan how to disrupt events in Washington, D.C., as well as to carry out global protests and terrorist action. The significance of this meeting cannot be underestimated, as PGA is the umbrella under which all of the world's major narco-terrorist, landless, indigenist, and "Black Bloc" anarchist gangs have been assembled.
PGA has been involved in every "global day of action," since the birth of the new terrorism. As PGA-linked events have grown vastly in size and violence, a recent editorial by Michael Albert, on behalf of the PGA, entitled "Resurrect the R-Word," calls for a shift toward "revolution": "To argue that capitalists will freely forsake the economic violence is utopian.... We have economic violence. We want economic liberty. The difference is transformative. We need the R-word.... We can't win what we won't even name. We can't orient today's reforms to furthering tomorrow's victories if we refuse to define what tomorrow's victories might be. Blind strategy is no strategy at all. Resistance is good. But to get to liberation, in speaking, writing, thought, and actionresurrect the R-word."
U.S. intelligence sources have affirmed, and EIR has corroborated, that the PGA is one of the "central coordinating tools" for a minestrone of organizations involved in the new terrorism, ranging from narco-terrorist organizations like Colombia's FARC, to the reborn Autonomists and anarchists that practice "Black Bloc" (see box) terrorist tactics, to an anthropologist's dream-world of "indigenous" organizations, notably including the Zapatistas (EZLN) of Mexico's southern Chiapas state.
The Cochabamba Agenda
Apart from the global day of action around the forthcoming Washington, D.C. IMF/World Bank meeting, the agenda for the Cochabamba conference includes plans for the PGA to enter a phase of "sustained action"a euphemism for terrorist acts. One of the focal points for such "sustained action" is opposition to Plan Colombia, which is ostensibly a major North American intervention to carry out a "war on drugs" in Colombia (the Plan Colombia is actually not a serious anti-drug policy, as EIR has reported; see, for example, speech by Gen. Harold Bedoya (ret.), in EIR, March 24, 2000). Undoubtedly, despite its pleading poverty in its goal to have 70% representation from the Third World, the PGA's coffers will be stuffed by the narco-traffickers and their terrorist allies. Combatting Plan Colombia was also the subject of a meeting in November 2000 of the representatives of the Andean and Central American regional organization of the PGA.
Other suggested targets of "sustained action" to be taken up at Cochabamba include stopping "the execution of transport megaprojects such as the new interoceanic canal, mega-harbors, finishing the Pan-American road, etc."
Cochabamba will be the third international conference of the PGA. It will start with a "grassroots" tour through Venezuela, as well as Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The agenda is set by a group of "convenors" selected at the preceding conference. Among the Cochabamba convenors are:
- CONFEUNASSC-CNC (Confederación Unica Nacional de Afiliados al Seruo Social Campesino-Consejo Nacional Campesino), an Ecuadoran peasant movement that has ignited several uprisings;
- MJK (Movimento de la Juventud Kuna), a Panamanian indigenous people's movement that sparked several actions over the Twentieth Century, and won autonomy for the Kuma people;
- FNT (Frente Nacional de Trabajadores), a trade union federation from Nicaragua that includes Sandinista central and other unions;
- ONECA/ODECO, the organization of escaped slaves in Ibero-America, who formed societies in the rain forest in most nations there;
- Aoteoroa Educators, the training branch of the inter-tribal Maori independence movement in New Zealand, called Tino-Rangatiratatanga;
- Krishok Federation, a federation of peasants and landless agricultural workers from Bangladesh, which has been fighting for decades against the "Green Revolution," as well as against mega-projects, such as dams and levees, that might save hundreds of thousands of lives from flooding;
- MONLAR (Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform) from Sri Lanka;
- Ya Basta! One of the main Autonomist Zapatista-support networks, based primarily in Italy, which has conducted protests against NATO involvement in the Balkans, for rights for illegal immigrants, and held global days of action against the globalization of Europe.
- At present, North America is represented by acting convenorsthe Tampa Bay Action Group and the Convergence of Anti-Capitalist Struggles (Convergence des Luttes Anti-Capitalistes)which will be replaced, once the conference has convened. Rainbow Keepers, a network of radical anarcho-ecologist action groups in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics in Asia, is the acting convenor for Eurasia. At present, there are no convenors from Africa and East Asia, a matter which will be taken up at Cochabamba.
Origins of the PGA
The PGA had its origins in a sequence of events in 1996 and 1997. The first event was the Zapatistas' call in 1996, via e-mail, for an encuentro (encounter) of select activist organizations around the world, to meet in specially constructed arenas in the Chiapas jungle, to discuss common tactics. Six thousand people turned up for the several-day-long discussion.
In August 1997, the European Zapatista support network called for a Second Meeting for Humanity and Against Neo-Liberalism, in El Indiano, Spain, which it had planned with the Zapatistas during the 1996 encuentro. Participants included: the Landless Movement (MST), of Brazilian peasants, a potentially armed insurgency organization, which is tied to the Colombian FARC and carries out land occupations; and, for India, the Karnataka State Farmers Union (KKRS), which has run a "cremate Monsanto" campaign, burning fields of genetically modified crops. French farmer activist José Bové, who gained notoriety by destroying a McDonald's restaurant during protests in Paris, also attacked a Monsanto plant in Brazil, before suddenly appearing as a major voice in the Hemispheric Free-Trade Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, despite a Canadian security all-points bulletin to apprehend him.
Immediately after the meeting in El Indiano, representatives from activist and terrorist organizations of North and South gathered in the same spot, to plot direct action against the Second Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO, which was going to take place in May 1998 in Geneva, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), and to establish communication and coordination among those who wanted to continue those actions against other free-trade agreements and institutions. This was the origin of the PGA, which held its first international conference on Feb. 23-25, 1998, in Geneva's "alternative culture" centers, with representatives from 300 movements in 71 countries, and all the continents.
The PGA Swings Into Action
The first major PGA-linked action was on May 16-20, 1998 against the Group of Eight Summit in Birmingham, England, and the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, a day later. Apart from direct action at these events, there were over 65 demonstrations in 29 countries. In India, several hundred thousand farmers demonstrated, while in Geneva, 10-15,000 people from all over Europe and other continents carried out three days of the heaviest rioting ever seen in that city.
At a meeting of the convenors' committee in Finland in September 1998, the second international PGA conference was programmed to take place in Bangalore, India, several months before the Third Ministerial Conference of the WTO, in Seattle, Washington. At this meeting, the convenors endorsed two large projects.
One project was an Inter-Continental Caravan for Solidarity and Resistance, from May 22 to June 20, 1999. This brought together representatives in Europe from 450 movements from the Third World, with the majority from India, but also including: the MST, Zapatista support groups from Mexico, and the Process of Black Communities from Colombia. The Inter-Continental Caravan met with a wide variety of organizations in over 12 European countries. Actions included taking over the Aviano, Italy air field for one day, during which the NATO bombing of Serbia was stopped, and on June 18, the caravan ended up in Cologne, where the G-8 was then meeting.
The second project was a global day of action against financial centers, on June 18, 1999. The June 18 operation (www.j18.org.) was most notable in the City of London, where a march of nearly 10,000 people (partly from the Luddite organization Reclaim the Streets) rapidly degenerated into a riot, in which 42 people were injured and damage was estimated at millions of dollars. The activities were not confined to London; cities in North America and continental Europe also were involved, and in most cases financial districts were targetted for protests and terrorism, while 10,000 attacks were made upon businesses by computer hackers.
In August 1999, the second PGA international conference took place in Bangalore. According to the PGA's own history: "At Bangalore it was decided by unanimity to redefine it [the PGA] as an anti-capitalist network...."
Already before the Bangalore conference, when the WTO announced that it would hold its third summit in Seattle, various groups from Vancouver to Los Angeles (several of which had participated in earlier global days of action) formed the Direct Action Network (DAN), which adopted the principles of the PGA. DAN announced its intention to block the opening of the WTO Summit in Seattle, where a major failure in intelligence, given the pre-history of actions, left the police totally unprepared for the new terrorism that emerged there on Nov. 30, 1999.
Some 10,000 activists, many adopting the tactics of the "Black Bloc" (see box), managed to block all 13 accesses to the summit, and they were joined by hundreds of young trade unionists, who took part in the direct action, despite AFL-CIO rules to the contrary. Simultaneously, demonstrations occurred in 60 cities around the world.
Since that time, PGA-linked global days of action have become larger and more violent. For example, despite little news attention at the Sept. 26, 2000 IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague, the rioters held the upper hand. Czech organizations that had participated in previous global days of action issued a call that was seconded by the PGA convenors, and 15-20,000 demonstrators took part, coming from as far away as Spain, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Greece. As the PGA official history gloats: "On S26, the opening day of the summit, 15 to 20,000 demonstrators besieged the assembly for hours. Delegates attempting to leave were injured and finally evacuated to the underground. The second day many preferred to stay in the safety of their hotels, while the remainder voted to cancel the third day of the meetings." The new terrorists were able to do this, despite 11,000 police having been deployed.
For more of the events that PGA took part in, see the timeline in this Feature.