Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* ERIC TOUSSAINT: “THE SOCIAL FORUM, UPON CONTACT WITH A REALITY AT BOILING POINT, HAS PRODUCED A POSITIVE CHEMICAL REACTION.”
By Sergio Ferrari, Eric Toussaint, CADTM
Assessment after the World Social Forum in Tunis 2013
The World Social Forum (WSF) wound up its ninth centralized edition on Saturday, 30 March in the Tunisian capital with a significant quantifiable end result. More than 50,000 participants, almost one thousand activities of many kinds; an opening march on Tuesday the 26th that brought out 25,000 people and a tightly-packed closing march in solidarity with the Palestinian people. “A very positive forum” according to the analysis of Belgian historian and activist Eric Toussaint, coordinator of the Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (Comité pour l’Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde – CADTM) member of the FSM International piloting committee since its inception.
Question: What were the most important aspects of this new edition of the WSF?
Eric Toussaint: There was a strong Tunisian presence in many activities. For example, we observed this in the workshops and activities on the debt. Also in the Social Movements Assembly on Friday the 29th. The great interest youth and social movements showed towards this initiative was obvious. This is a very positive aspect of our evaluation.
Q: Does this mean that the WSF comes out of this Maghrebi session strengthened ?
E.T: No doubt about it. WSF has been going through an obvious crisis for some years now. In particular, its International Piloting Committee, as a facilitating body, has faced huge difficulties finding a new dynamic. At the same time, the Social Forum indisputably remains the only worldwide arena and framework where social movements can meet. In this sense, in the absence of an alternative, the WSF remains very important. Since Tunisian and the region’s civil society remain actively mobilized, this is a breath of fresh air and renewal for this international occasion. The Social forum, in coming into contact with a society in movement, in ebullition, has produced a chemical reaction; a very interesting interaction that we have observed during this edition.
Q: According to your assessment, holding the WSF in a country and region in turmoil could also be a future antidote against any risk of institutionalizing this global occasion…
E.T: Precisely. We could imagine an upcoming edition of the WSF in Egypt if a group of organizations there proposed to host it. In fact, Egypt is experiencing a completely electric situation with a trade union movement proportionally stronger in the industrial sector than in Tunisia, with a peasantry hard-hit by the World Bank’s neoliberal policies and land privatization; but social explosions could take place in other parts of the world and different scenarios are imaginable.
Q: How can the difficulties and the sort of paralysis faced by the WSF International piloting committee be unblocked?
E.T: I don’t have these solutions. I see that a series of forces on the committee want to continue to play this role. Tunis teaches us that a certain point we have to free the terrain and make way for new forces. The CADTM will continue to be a member of the International committee, there are very interesting and dynamic players within it, with whom we collaborate closely. We also know that there is a series of very institutionalized forces that manage the Social Forum “Brand” according to their interests.
Q: Despite all this, you think that we should continue to strengthen it?
E.T: Without a doubt the WSF is useful. We can see, as happened here, that a very positive dynamic is developing independently of operational problems.
Q: Within this optimistic assessment, what are the negative aspects that emerge from this edition?
E.T: USAID was among the organizations that set up stands. It is a US cooperation agency present in all destabilization operations around the planet. It is an instrument of US government international policy. This organization has no reason to be at the Forum. This is cause for concern, all the more so as it involves a violation of the 2001 Charter of Principles. So I understand the participants who ejected this organization from the perimeter of the El Manar university campus where the Forum was taking place.
We have also seen – just as happened during the earlier 2011 Social Forum in Dakar – that the Moroccan monarchy sent a hundred or so individuals paid to pose as members of non-governmental and social organizations. Some of these were police, whose mission was to prevent anyone from raising the demand for an independent Sahrawian State We saw that in Dakar, and it happened once again on Friday the 29th at the social movements assembly… Provocateurs linked to the Moroccan regime swarmed the floor in an attempt to prevent any reference being made, in the Social Movements declaration, to the necessary solidarity with the Sahrawian people. This was another negative aspect, though it was not the WSF’s responsibility. In particular, we have to find ways of defending Moroccan activists who have the courage to speak out for the democratic right to national sovereignty.
Sergio Ferrari, from Tunis
Translated by Marie Lagatta and Mike Krolikowski
* REPORT: GOLD MINING IN CHALKIDIKI – PART 1: GREEK GOVERNMENTS IN THE SERVICE OF MINING COMPANIES
By Mariniki Alevizopoulou, BorderlineReports
The controversy over gold mining in Chalkidiki, a province of rare natural beauty in northern Greece, is dominated by the specter of far-reaching, long-term environmental destruction. However, dubious political machinations between Greek Government officials and private companies, scandalous agreements against the interests of the Greek State, and a violent police crackdown on locals who protest against the mines, also hang over this deeply divisive issue. Now, we learn that Eldorado Gold, the main investor, has a cunning plan to solidify its investment: It will use Article 107 of the Greek Constitution, on the protection of foreign capital. And the Greek Government is ready to dance to the company’s music. Yet, the question remains: Will the investment be overall beneficial to Greece? The evidence at hand suggests it will not.
A few days ago, after an attack by masked intruders, who destroyed machinery at the gold mining site, the Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal: “This kind of act cannot be tolerated. Greece is a modern European country, and we will at all costs protect foreign investment in the country”.
So, it appears that Canadian multinational Eldorado Gold, one of the biggest mining companies in the world, is winning the battle so far, having found a staunch ally in the Greek Government. This is hardly news. Greek Governments have supported the interest of mining companies for decades. The company has made assurances it will make “every effort possible” to protect Chalkidiki’s unique nature. In any case, according to the investment’s supporters in the Government, in the Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece), and in most Greek Media, environmental concerns should not be made into such a huge issue: even if the environment suffers to a point, they say, that’s a fair price to pay for such an investment, which will bring much needed development to crisis-laden Greece.
But is this the case? Both the evidence at hand and the history of gold mining in Chalkidiki contradict the view of the investment’s supporters. They rather show that Eldorado Gold’s investment won’t be all that beneficial to Greece – at least within the terms the Greek Government appears so eager to offer. It will certainly be beneficial to the company though, which is poised to take advantage of a reserve estimated to be worth 13bn euros. […]
* KOSTAS VAXEVANIS: GREEKS READ THE FOREIGN PRESS TO FIND OUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN GREECE
Source: Guardian UK
Kostas Vaxevanis, the editor of Hot Doc, the Greek magazine which published the ‘Lagarde list’ of alleged Greek tax avoiders, faces a new trial on a charge of breaching private data. He says that Greek journalism has been compromised by its corrupt owners who have got too close to the politicians it should be exposing
* A LINE OF DEMARCATION THROUGH THE EUROZONE IS TAKING SHAPE
Everyone learned a lesson from the “bail-in” of the Cypriot banks: Russian account holders who’d laundered and stored their money on the sunny island; bank bondholders who’d thought they’d always get bailed out; Cypriot politicians whose names showed up on lists of loans that had been extended by the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank but were then forgiven and written off. Even brand-new Finance Minister Michael Sarris who got axed because he’d been chairman of Laiki when this was going on. His lesson: when a cesspool of corruption blows up, no one is safe. And German politicians learned a lesson too: that it worked!
“With the Cyprus aid package, it was proven that countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland, if they stick together, are able to push for a strict stability course,” Hans Michelbach told the Handelsblatt. The chairman of the finance committee in the German Parliament and member of the CSU, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, called for deeper collaboration of the triple-A countries in the Eurozone “to strengthen the confidence of citizens and investors in the common currency.”
There are still five in that euro triple-A club: Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Luxembourg. “It would be good if we could also convince Luxembourg to participate more strongly in this stability collaboration,” he said. It would be in the best interest of Luxembourg as major financial center, he added. A reference to Luxembourg’s precarious status, as Cyprus had learned, of being a tiny country with outsized banks that it could not bail out by itself. […]
* THE CONFISCATION OF BANK SAVINGS TO “SAVE THE BANKS”: THE DIABOLICAL BANK “BAIL-IN” PROPOSAL
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Is the Cyprus Bank “Bail-in” a “dress rehearsal” for things to come?
Is a “Savings Heist” in the European Union and North America envisaged which could result in the outright confiscation of bank deposits?
In Cyprus, the entire payments system has been disrupted leading to the demise of the real economy.
Pensions and wages are no longer paid. Purchasing power has collapsed.
The population is impoverished.
Small and medium sized enterprises are spearheaded into bankruptcy.
Cyprus is a country with a population of one million.
What would happen if similar ‘hair cut” procedures were to be applied in the U.S. or the European Union?
According to the Washington based Institute of International Finance (IIF) (right) which represents the consensus of the global financial establishment, “the Cyprus approach of hitting depositors and creditors when banks fail, would likely become a model for dealing with collapses elsewhere in Europe.” (Economic Times, March 27, 2013).
It should be understood that prior to the Cyprus onslaught, the confiscation of bank deposits had been contemplated in several countries. Moreover, the powerful financial actors who triggered the bank crisis in Cyprus, are also the architects of the socially devastating austerity measures imposed in the European Union and North America.
Does Cyprus constitute a “model” or scenario?
Are there “lessons to be learned” by these powerful financial actors, to be applied elsewhere, at some later stage, in the Eurozone’s banking landscape? […]
* CYPRUS BAILOUT INSIDE INFO? 132 COMPANIES PULL OUT OVER $900mn IN DEPOSITS
One hundred and thirty-two companies reportedly had inside knowledge of Cyprus’ impending levy tax as they withdrew deposits worth US$916 million in the run-up to the bailout deal.
The companies withdrew their savings in the two week period (between March 1 to March 15) leading up to the rescue deal that enforced heavy losses on wealthy depositors in Cypriot banks, according to Greek newspaper Proto Thema.
Shortly after this the EU ministers and the IMF hammered out a 10-billion-euro (US$13 billion) bailout agreement with Cyprus, which included a one-time tax on deposits held in Cypriot banks.
In the meantime all banks in Cyprus temporarily froze the amounts required to pay the tax on their clients’ deposits and stopped all transactions while the government negotiated the details of the agreement.
The companies on the list withdrew their deposits in euro, USD, GBP and Russian rubles and later transferred to banks outside of Cyprus. The total amount withdrawn comes to US$916 million. […]
READ / LIST @ http://rt.com/news/cyprus-companies-withdraw-money-218/
* THE LESSON FROM CYPRUS: EUROPE IS POLITICALLY BANKRUPT
Over the past week, Europe, or rather the present EU leadership, has done damage to itself it will never be able to repair.
It seems to escape everbody, but that doesn’t make it any less true: people from Portugal to Spain to Italy to Greece to Cyprus and Ireland are worse off today than they were when they first adopted the euro. Moreover, their economies are all getting worse as we speak and projected to plunge further. The once highly touted blessings of the common currency are by now lost on most of southern Europe; for them, the euro has been a shortcut to disaster.
Until Cyprus, the EU had always maintained two prime objectives (and spent €5 trillion over 5 years to prove it): keeping all members in the eurozone, and guaranteeing all bank deposits under €100,000. These objectives exist from now on only in words. Brussels has threatened to both grab deposits of small savers and throw Cyprus out of the monetary union. Two watershed moments in one.
The membership of the European Union, the subsequent introduction of the euro and the seemingly endless flow of credit that came with these “privileges” provided the region with a temporary illusion of increasing wealth and new-found prosperity. Today it knows that none of it was real, or earned; it was all borrowed. It’s time to pay up but there’s no money left. It needs to be borrowed. From the European core and its banking system.
The EU’s financial scorched earth strategies have left its Mediterranean members with highly elevated unemployment rates, fast rising taxation levels, huge cuts to pensions, benefits and services and above all insanely high debt levels, personal, corporate and sovereign. And now, as ironic as it is cynical, their savings. The only thing that keeps the nations from going bankrupt is more debt, largely in the form of ECB loans. […]
* DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? – ANONYMOUS