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 by Theresa Wolfwood


From: member of the board of Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group and director of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation

January, 2000


I was just giving a closing presentation at a meeting of Diverse Women for Diversity on the Tuesday after the big demonstration against the WTO in Seattle. My final remarks were about the connection between trade agreements and militarization, using Chiapas as an example. The peasants of Chiapas understood that NAFTA would destroy their communal land ownership and their self-sufficient agriculture when they rose up in armed rebellion. In 1997 I was hiking in the hills of La Selva in Chiapas with the community leader of the village where I was a human rights observer . As we talked Mexican military helicopters buzzed us - helicopters made in USA, with engines made in Canada. Just as I was describing in 1999 this connection between trade and militarization, a woman rushed into the hall, ran up to the stage, grabbed the mike and announced "Martial Law has been declared in Seattle." - America had come home.

America came home to its own, educated, mainly white young people, who were demonstrating non-violently against the WTO in Seattle streets while the world watched. Police, National Guard, hundreds of plainclothes police and special military, and agents provacateurs turned on courageous, self-disciplined people who peacefuly opposed the dictatorship of corporate-ruled secretive and powerful international alliances. I saw Niketown vandalized while the police stood by and watched; the few, probably including paid provacaturs, who committed acts of property damage, were not arrested.

For decades the people world over have been victims of the military might of the USA and other miniority world bullies . From Cuba to Angola, from the Mayan jungles to the streets of Jakarta, from Iraq to Columbia, peaceful innocent people have been the object of the brutal force of USA power, the bomb and the buck working together. Now we know a little of what millions of others have learned from the school of hard punishment for all those who challenge the global hegemony of corporate power. Governments and their media talk about "democracy" but when the people demand it - out come the guns, the tear gas, the bombs and the poison.

Finally the analysis and experience of majority world workers for peace and social justice also came home to America. We learned from millions of people who have risked their lives and freedom to resist military and corporate domination in the last fifty years. We learned to form small democratic groups with solid bases in community, rather than big hierarchical groups who lose touch with grassroots and soon become coopted and charmed by the corporate elite who manipulate them and call them "responsible". As our social movements grow in numbers, sophistication, communication, and effectiveness, we will have to anticipate the attempts to weaken us. We can expect campaigns against us based on denial, smear tactics, lies, divide and conquer, cooption and pay-offs, infiltration and flattery with the bestowal of a few crumbs. In Seattle the "good NGOs" were given official observer status, while grassroots groups met and demonstrated in public. Watch out!

This new strength of citizen groups from everywhere was richly evident not only in the streets, but in the dozens of packed meetings happening in churches and halls for a week in Seattle while the WTO itself faltered and failed to make new agreements. Majority world delegates to WTO, usually ignored and dismissed by the big players - USA, EU, Japan and Canada - were united in their opposition to new rules that would destroy local economies; they were heartened by the support of all those thousands who converged in Seattle to tell the world: "The WTO has got to go, the people came and stole the show". Placards like "Turtles and Teamsters, United At Last" showed how many groups are connecting and building new awareness and sharing strategies for future actions.

Opposition to WTO agriculture policy was an important part of international resistance. Corporate control is the major threat to global food security.Market mammies in the villages of Cameroons ordered their representative to tell the WTO that " we have our own food, our own voice and our own agriculture policy " and they don't want those big companies controlling their agriculture. Mexicans told us that the average income of Mexicans had declined 40% since NAFTA (see how prophetic the EZLN was?) and Mexico's small farmers go broke as cheap US corn is dumped there. Beautiful banners told us that GMO corn kills monarch butterflies that travel annually from Canada to Mexico - and what else do GMO crops kill? GMOs and patent laws are destroying subsistence agriculture that feeds over half the world's people.

At a day of s and demonstration on Food and Agriculture, Nettie Weibe of Carlyle SK, spoke movingly of the destruction of the Canadian family farm. As farms are forced into monoculture with seeds, fertilizers and herbicides, processing and marketing controlled by a few global corporations, our family farms and our culture are being eroded like our top soil. She said that the Canadian government is not a victim, but a major power of TNC dominated agriculture. Her words were echoed by Monica Opole of Kenya who said that corporate agriculture there leached not only the soil of Africa but the culture of communities.

We were inspired by the "Cremate Monsanto" movement in India, democracy movements in Indonesia and Guatemala, and the peasants of Central America and the Philipines who fight for their land,save their seeds and practise traditional ecological farming. We learned of new studies that show that large single crop farming is not as productive as small scale mixed farming! Corporate, chemical monoculture does not feed the world. When we listened to activists from the majority world we sensed their power and determination -giving lie to the criticism that minority world groups impose their values on others! All the big chemical and mechanized farms are sudsidized in USA and European Union, food is dumped internationally, driving small farmers off their land and into cities as their farms are seized by banks and big corporations.

But it is not only big agriculture that is subsidized and protected. The military industry has a special status in every trade agreement. In NAFTA the military corporations are exempt from any rules that forbid special national treatment of industries. Canada and the USA continue to subsidize and promote military production. Our govenment just started a new $30M program to help arms sales abroad. We continue to subsidize companies that contribute handsomely to political parties, like Bombardier, a major donor to the Liberal Party. If any level of government in Canada wants to encourage development and fund local employment, they can't do it - unless they develop a military industry. That NAFTA condition was built into the MAI, and in all WTO plans for "free market trade" military industries are excluded.

Miltary equipment made in Canada ends up in Mexico, Indonesia, Chile and many other countries directly and through our export of parts and equipment to USA and is used against our friends in their struggle for dignity and independence.

We must unplug our nuclear power and related war and toxic industries, we can support new renewable energy technologies and conservation and disempower the military. Nuclear energy has always been the benign "respectable" front for nuclear weaponry, but they are inseparable. We have to stop all nuclear development. As we continue to be threatened by nuclear war preparations we have to integrate our work for the environment and peace. War preparations leach our social programmes, let our government off the hook of its responsibilities to citizens and divert our resources to death industries. And if our land and water is contaminated by nuclear poison, organic foods won't save us. While the holiday season was upon us, the Canadian government signed another ten year contract with the US military for the use of Nanoose Bay as a maritime weapons testing range. So US nuclear armed and powered ships will continue to use Canadian waters and threaten our lives. The government says we need that agreement for our "security". But our government also sold off the CNR to a US rail company. It would seem that having our major transport system in the power of a foreign company is not a threat to our security.

We know we live in a society that worships consumerism but what about our love affair with violence and militarism? It is not just our biased trade agreements but the forces of globalization and our immersion in a culture of war that we must confront and change.

While our civil services cut back and have hiring freezes, the Armoury in downtown Victoria has a permanent "Now Hiring" sign. As rural peoples in the majority world are driven from their land - because of failing cash crops , cheap imports and landlords who convert to mechanized farming - women are forced to support their familes in globalized employment - in sweatshops, domestic servitude and the sex trade. Young men, unemployed and angry, are ripe for militarization. Modern warfare is based on the greed of the increasingly rich defending their privilege from the poor - increasing in number and poverty as complicit governments support corporate rule. When national governments fight their neighbours or their own people who demand justice, it is this growing disposable population of desparate young men who are brainwashed and forced into the killing business, for the sake of salary and status, and do the dirty work of killing and dying for the elites. So-called "Rogue States" are not oppressive dictatorships like Burma and Indonesia, but countries that will not obey global corporations. These are the states, like Serbia and Cuba, that are punished by embargos and military intervention. Watch Columbia and Venezuela where indigenous peoples' land claims threaten oil companies.

Globalization and militarization are inseparable mutant twins. NATO bombed Yugoslavia into being a permissive environment for the global drug trade of foreign armed thugs; and for access to oil pipelines and the once state -owned mines by big powerful corporations. After a war that destroyed Iraq's social infrastructure and killed thousands of civilians, nine years of economic sanctions have killed a million and a half people, mainly children. Many are suffering the results of poisoning by depleted uranium used in bombs and missiles. Canada enforces a trade embargo that prevents our farmers from selling grain to Iraq - once a major customer.

We live in a constant state of war preparedness,as Canada joins the USA in new dangerous space wars plans. That $6.6B that we have committed to Arctic war projects would go a long way in our education system. Then maybe Canadian professors would not need to accept USA and Canadian military research contracts. Imagine if our universities were funded so well that dispensing machines on campuses sold local fruit juice as well as or instead of one brand of sticky sweet brown syrups? What professor defends "freedom of choice and expression" when it comes to the corporate buy-in, of not only dispensing machines, but classrooms, teaching materials, research and industry "chairs" of teaching? University groups can publicize corporate takeovers in education while campaigning for proper public funding.

We need more agriculture for the local market, and urban links with rural produces, like the brown box programs. The greater our local organic non-GMO sales, the less power the TNCs have. Monsanto (the company that gave Vietnam Agent Orange, and now its cousin, Roundup) is slipping on the stock market; people's rejection of Bovine Growth Hormone, GMO's and the Terminator Seed have damaged their sales and image. But look what's coming! Monsanto is now getting into GMO trees. ( all supported by various levels of government) . Just because we don't eat forests does not mean our environment and lives will not be damaged. We act now to save our land, water and forests for future generations.

Activist groups, inspired by Seattle, are starting a GMO-free Canada campaign. There are lists of GMO foods to boycott and talk to retailers about - mainly soy, canola and corn products. The University of Victoria has developed a GMO potato. UK activists stopped the sale of GMOs in their supermarkets, we can too.

The WTO and its buddies like NATO and OECD won't go away after even a week of spectacular demonstrations and speeches. What these events do is alert the world to the dangers of globalization while the bureauocrats and executives retreat to their fortresses to plan their next assaults on our freedoms. As we saw the failed MAI incorporated into the WTO, the failed WTO plans will be incorporated into the newest scheme -the Transatlantic Economic Partnership. This TAP will combine NAFTA, the EU and Free Trade of Americas Agreement into a new form of corporate rule. So from Seattle we must to bring home that inspiration and knowledge we gained and to start working against TAP.

More than anything we need to create a culture of peace and justice at home in solidarity with those who struggle in much worse conditions than we have in Canada. Turn off the TV and invite some friends in and find out what disturbs them. We know that smiling face on TV is selling us lies and apathy! Plan an action! As the posters in Seattle said, "We need Clean, Green Fair Trade, not 'Free Trade.' " Carry on the spirit of Seattle. We lost our innocence there, but we gained solidarity and direction! The real civil society cannot be bought off with bits of funding and fancy lunches, while the government bemoans we have no leaders! We are all leaders! Strategy workshops at Seattle showed us how to stop the World Bank and IMF in their impoverishment of the majority world; British activists shared their success in making supermarkets go GMO-free. There is no lack of direction for social activists to follow.

We need to root out the culture of violence in our own society. Let's stop the glamourization of violence in media, entertainment,toys and video games We can stop the takeover of education, starting at the elementary level, by corporations who present a bland, passive, consumption -orientated version of teaching and learning. The United Nations has declared 2000 as International Year for the Culture of Peace -an idea whose time has come! Why don't we respect our UN commitments as much as we adhere to trade agreements? Let's expose our government's complicity in war preparations and corporate domination. We can take over governments, starting at the local level. We have to see that creating a culture of peace, justice, ecology and cooperation is our real work as we resist globalization and militarization. In Victoria there are plans for a major peace event when NATO meets here in 2001. There is no turning back or resting on one success. Seattle was one milestone in our life's work. As the Zapatistas say, " We Want a World with Room for Many Worlds".

La Lucha Continua!


International Network on Disarmament and Globalization, 405-825 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1K9 CANADA, tel: (604) 687-3223 fax: (604) 687-3277,

Emanzipation Humanum, version April 2000, criticism, suggestions as to form and content, dialogue, translation into other languages are all desired

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