The global rush to grab land and other resources

[The basic law of capitalism is “expand or die” — and quickly so, as the threat of being crushed or swallowed by competing exploiters also grows without a break.  Maximizing profits through ruthless exploitation of labor, manipulation of trade, and wholesale plunder of resources, all drive at immediate returns, and threaten and cause the destruction of the long-term survival of peoples across the planet. The article below details how the inherent malevolence of the capitalist-imperialist system, is driving billions of people in despair and into struggle against it.  — Frontlines ed.]

25 February 2013. A World to Win News Service. The planet is facing a serious food crisis. The unsustainable use of resources, from the land to the sea, due to the violent rush for profit, poses a great threat to humanity and the planet. But rivalry for control of food production and distribution under the profit-driven capitalist system is still sharpening, taking new forms and causing greater misery for the world’s people. The land-grab going on in Africa and other parts of the world is part of this trend.

Africa, whose people were kidnapped by the millions for the slave trade and ground down and bled under colonialism and since, a continent whose resources has been sacked for centuries and which has suffered so much from wars spurred by big-power rivalry, faces a new form of looting today. Corporations, private banks, pension funds and many multinational companies have grabbed fertile land all over the continent. With the connivance of corrupt and client governments dependent on foreign investment, they have secured long leases by paying as little as half a U.S. dollar per hectare per year.

Although this kind of land acquisition is far from new, there has been a spectacular jump since 2008. In the following year, investors bought or leased more than 56 million hectares in Asia, Latin America and especially Africa, roughly 15 times more land that the yearly average in the preceding half century. (Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, 24 February 2013) Continue reading

Africa: Rio+20 Summit Under Corporations’ Undue Influence

18 June 2012, Friends of the Earth (London) –press release

Rio De Janeiro — On the eve of the Rio+20 United Nations Earth Summit [1] on June 20-22, Friends of the Earth International warns world leaders that multinational corporations such as oil giant Shell have an undue influence over the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

According to a briefing released today by Friends of the Earth Netherlands [2], the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell is influencing the Rio+20 Summit thanks to senior company representatives in several corporate lobbying groups active in the Rio+20 negotiations, including: the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the International Emissions Trading Association

“It is not acceptable that companies like Shell who cause massive pollution and human rights abuses should be in the driving seat of processes for sustainable development. That is a recipe for disaster for our planet and peoples. Corporate polluters should not help making laws, they should face the law,” said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. Continue reading

On the legacy of colonialism and the struggles against oppression today

[Nearly 50 years after the death of Frantz Fanon, the author of “The Wretched of the Earth,” this essay traces his legacy and relevance in the oppressive realities and struggles today.  Nigel Gibson, the author of this essay, presents a profound review of the reality of the imperialist stamp on the countries and peoples who have won national independence–but not social or human liberation.  The thinking and orientation of Frantz Fanon contributes much to people who are inexorably driven to challenge their ongoing oppression in the so-called “post-colonial” world.  The essay is long, but deserves attention from all whose lives and possibilities are framed by these questions. — Frontlines ed.]

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50 years later: Fanon’s legacy

by Nigel C Gibson

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78860, Issue 564, 2011-12-21

When I was asked by Dr. Keithley Woolward to address the question of Fanon’s contemporary relevance, I was reminded of a blurb on the back of my recent book Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo which reads, ‘This is not another meditation on Fanon’s continued relevance. Instead, it is an inquiry into how Fanon, the revolutionary, might think and act in the face of contemporary social crisis.’ My comments today should be considered in that spirit.

Frantz Fanon

‘Relevance’ ­ from a Latin word ‘relevare’, to lift, from ‘lavare’, to raise, levitate ­ to levitate a living Fanon who died in the USA nearly 50 years ago this coming Tuesday in cognizance of his own injunction articulated in the opening sentence from his essay ‘On national culture’: ‘Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it’ (1968 206). The challenge was laid down at the opening of this year of Fanon’s 50th (as well as the 50th anniversary of his ‘The Wretched of the Earth’) which began with revolution ­ or at least a series of revolts and resistance across the region, known as the Arab Spring.

Fanon begins ‘The Wretched’, as you know, writing of decolonisation as a program of complete disorder, an overturning of order ­ often against the odds ­ willed collectively from the bottom up. Without time or space for a transition, there is an absolute replacement of one ‘species’ by another (1968: 35). In a period of radical change such absolutes appear quite normal, when, in spite of everything thrown against it, ideas jump across frontiers and people begin again ‘to make history’ (1968: 69-71). In short, once the mind of the oppressed experiences freedom in and through collective actions, its reason becomes a force of revolution. As the Egyptians said of 25 January: ‘When we stopped being afraid we knew we would win. We will not again allow ourselves to be scared of a government. This is the revolution in our country, the revolution in our minds.’ What started with Tunisia and then Tahrir Square has become a new global revolt, spreading to Spain and the Indignados (indignants) movement, to Athens and the massive and continuous demonstrations against vicious structural adjustment, to the urban revolt in England, to the massive student mobilisation to end education for profit in Chile, to the ‘occupy’ movement of the 99 percent.

And yet, as the revolts inevitably face new repression, elite compromises and political manoeuvrings, Fanonian questions ­ echoed across the postcolonial world ­ become more and more timely. (How can the revolution hold onto its epistemological moment, the rationality of revolt?) Surely the question is not whether Fanon is relevant, but why is Fanon relevant now? Continue reading

3 Songs for an Un-Thanksgiving Weekend — from one season of struggle to another

Buffy Sainte-Marie: No No Keshagesh

from the album “Running For The Drum” on Cooking Vinyl Records, http://cookingvinyl.com/

(Keshagesh means Greedy Guts. It’s what you call a little puppy who eats his own and then wants everybody else’s.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “No No Keshagesh” Lyrics:

I never saw so many business suits.
Never knew a dollar sign that looked so cute.
Never knew a junkie with a money Jones:
He’s singing, “Who’s selling Park Place. Who’s buying Boardwalk”?
These old men they make their dirty deals.
Go in the back room and see what they can steal.
Talk about your beautiful and spacious skies.
It’s about uranium; it’s about the water rights.
Put Mother Nature on a luncheon plate.
They cut her up and call it real estate.
Want all the resources and all of the land.
They make a war over it: Blow things up for it.
The reservation now is poverty row.
There’s something cooking and the lights are low.
Somebody’s trying to save our mother earth.
I’m gonna help them to save it,
To sing it and bring it

Singing: No no Keshagesh:
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)

Ole Columbus he was looking good,
When he got lost in our neighborhood.
Garden of Eden right before his eyes.
Now it’s all spy ware: now it’s all income tax.
Ole’ brother Midas looking hungry today.
What he can’t buy he’ll get some other way.
Send in the troopers if the natives resist.
Old, old story boys, that’s how you do it boys.
Look at these people; ah they’re on a roll.
Gonna have it all, gonna have complete control.
Want all the resources and all of the land.
They’ll break the law for it: Blow things up for it.
When all our champions are off in the war,
Their final rip off here and is always on.
Mr. greed I think your time has come.
We’re gonna sing it and pray it and live it then say it.

Singing: No no Keshagesh:
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can’t do that no more, (no more, no more no more) Continue reading

Climate change threatens small island states in the Pacific Ocean

One of 300 islands in the nation of Palau

Small Islands Fear Going the Way of Atlantis

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – The world’s small island states, most of which are painfully vulnerable to the ravages of climate change, have put the United Nations on notice.

Dramatising the plight of Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau warns that the 192-nation world body, which progressively kept growing from its original membership of 51 in 1945, is in danger of shrinking because some of its members may be wiped off the face of the earth.

“This chilling conclusion means that for the first time in the history of the world, we are contemplating the loss of states,” he told the General Assembly Monday.  Up to now, he said, the membership of this body has only grown with time. “How will we feel when that trend is reversed?” he asked.

Against the backdrop of a major international conference on climate change in Copenhagen next month, the world’s small island states are warning that the devastating impact of global warming is a violation of their basic human rights and poses an existential threat to their very existence.

The countries most vulnerable to the hazards of climate change include the Maldives, Timor Leste and the Pacific Small Island Developing States of Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Continue reading

Ecuador: Correa-istas slander anti-Correa indigenous as “imperialist tools”

The struggles which continue to unfold in Ecuador have opened to international view the social forces and politics that are sharply contending throughout Latin America.  See previous posts on Frontlines for more background:

Ecuador’s CONAIE and Defamation by “Journalism of the State”: Historic Organizers of Latin American Struggles Refute the Distortions Made by a US Lawyer

By Fernando León and Erin Rosa,

Special to The Narco News Bulletin,  October 12, 2010

Last September 30, Latin America observed what appeared to be the third coup d’etat of the new millennium, and upon first glance many of us believed it was possible. But with the passage of time following this event, the facts have become even more confusing. Ecuadorian social movements that didn’t support President Rafael Correa ipso facto were attacked with criticisms and falsehoods from those whose vision of the left in the hemisphere doesn’t transcend the limits of the state. Within the very nature of the attempted coup, or whatever it was, the most relevant thing emerged a few days later, with the attempted attacks against historic Ecuadorian indigenous organizations that, for strong differences over its policies, don’t support the Ecuadorian government.

Leading the charge against these indigenous social movements is US lawyer Eva Golinger, a television personality for TeleSur, a channel created by the Venezuelan government that receives additional financing from other Latin American governments. Formerly with the government-supported Washington DC-based Venezuelan Information Office, Golinger has attempted in recent days to paint a portrait of historic organizations like the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE in Spanish initials) as agents of US imperialism. In separate interviews with Narco News, Latin America social fighters with decades of experience in the field of struggles in the hemisphere told this newspaper that they found such statements absurd, unfounded, and unsupported by the supposed “evidence” offered. Among them is Raquel Gutierrez, the Mexican academic and former political prisoner who was accused (along with current Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera) of being a member of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army in Bolivia. Gutiérrez says that “tying the CONAIE with imperialism is the mother of all lies.” Continue reading

Chile: Communique from the last Mapuche hunger strikers

On October 2, most of the Mapuche political prisoners on hungerstrike in the prisons of the Chilean state announced an end to their action while the hungerstrikers at Angol prison declared they would continue. On October 7, they released another communique explaining their struggle. The following day, after nearly 90 days without eating, they ended their hungerstrike, although without signing onto any agreement with the Chilean state.

We consider this communique to be of great importance because it clearly explains how the modifications to the antiterrorist law are simply cosmetic and do not at all guarantee the completion of the demands brought forward by this mobilization. Furthermore, and most importantly, the hungerstrikers of Angol prison want to make it plain that this action did not occur as a partial claim within the juridical realm, but as a projection of the Mapuche struggle.

This is where we see that an action such as this is not a simple pressure brought to bear against the party in power, rather it reveals the substance of what is and must be the struggle by the Mapuche against the State/Capital. A struggle that, through this kind of mobilization, continuously strengthens itself and avoids a fossilization that would prevent it from taking on a larger framework, such as a struggle for self-determination. Continue reading