Peoples Resistance against Militarization around the Globe

2006-01-30 00:00:00

“We need to understand where imperialism comes from in order to deconstruct it.” stated Ana Esther Ceceña, professor from the Universidad Autónoma de México, as she and 6 other panelists from Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Palestine, Quebec and Argentina took to the stage to address the issue of Imperialistic Strategies, Militarization and Resistance of the People at the sixth world social forum in Venezuela.

“Imperialism is not invincible, but it will not fall easily” stated Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Asamblea del Poder Popular (Assembly of Popular Power) from Cuba. Alarcon, who is also the ex-Cuban ambassador to the United Nations, charged that the United States government has waged 47 years of economic, military and propaganda warfare against his country. Furthermore he revealed that just as the US had a systematic plan for the expropriation of peasant lands, workers homes, and communal properties in Iraq, they continue to expand their brand of terrorism around the globe. He likened the US government to a tiger that keeps its claws out menacing.

Soccoro Gomos, president of Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos e Luta pela Paz (CEBRAPAZ) and member of the World Peace Council (Brazil) referred to the USA campaign of militarization, preventive wars, proactive wars, and major aggressiveness in international politics as an offense against the democratic rights of people. According to Ceceña, imperialist strategies do not always appear under the guise of militarization. They also appear in the form of anti-terrorism laws, troop mobility laws, and others”. For example, “the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) use various strategies to punish and weaken national governments in order to force open opportunities for privatization. “There are many policies which weaken states. For example she related that the WTO relates often to countries either as ruly, disciplined and organized or as poorly governed, undisciplined, unruly countries in need of domestication. “It happens that a great many strategic resources, petrol in particular, lie in these so called unruly countries”. “While people have risen in resistance in these countries, the task is difficult, because North American imperial strategies have also submerged weaker nations in corruption and narcotic trafficking”.

In Palestine, citizens are facing direct consequences of an ongoing brutal military occupation where they are subjected to systemic violence, discrimination and terror. “Who can stop this?” asked Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign referring to both the US colonial war in Iraq as well as to Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime in Palestine. “They are building walls. They are carrying on this apartheid at a time when everybody is taking walls down”. He noted that Israel historically has supported many dictatorships. “They were the only country that did not boycott the apartheid regime in South Africa and they have supported occupations in Eastern Europe”. Juma described how Palestine was first colonized by the British in the First World War and promised to the Zionist movement thereafter. “In 1948 the Nakba –the massive dispossession and ethnic cleansing campaign, began. This resulted in the displacement of approximately 800,000 or two thirds of the Palestinian People and the complete destruction of 450 villages. 10 years later Palestinians began to organize their resistance to fight for the human right to be recognized as a People” 57 years after the Nakba, it continues. Palestinians are denied equal citizenship within the Israeli constitution; whole villages are denied recognition and prohibited from developing critical infrastructure such as water and sewage. The access to land ownership, education and work is divided along ethnic lines, as it was in the apartheid regime in South Africa. Furthermore Palestinians are routinely massacred by the Israeli army and left to die in the streets as ambulances are held up at Israeli check points and stopped from performing life saving missions.

All around the globe war, military occupation create large scale destruction and suffering. The particular effects of militarization of women were described by Michele Asselin, President of the Quebec Federation of Women, who spoke in the name of the World March of Women:

“Militarization raises the incidence of violence in all its forms: feminicide, genocide, imprisonment, sexual slavery, deportation, forced asylum, and rape.” Asselin emphasized “in all armed conflicts, aggressors rape women to obtain merit. Women are used as weapons of war. Women are humiliated, dishonored, demoralized and used as propaganda means and as symbols of victory. When we talk about war and sexual violence it obliges us to take note of the position of women in all countries. Nowhere in the world are women equal with men”.

The violence doesn’t end when wars stop. Asselin noted “Armed conflict leads to more prostitution, AIDS, increase in cancers, spontaneous abortions, as well as malformations of fetuses. There have also been many cases of returning soldiers assassinating their spouses” There is also the other aspect of fiscal responsibility. “When states finance war and militarization”, charged Asselin “they do so at the expense of the health, services and educational budgets, weakening all of these areas as a result.” Asselin assured that the WMM “rejects this world of poverty and exclusion, intolerance and exploitation and proposes to construct another world where integrity, diversity, and the rights and freedoms of all are respected.” The World March of Women became renowned in 2000 when they organized a global movement taking 1,000,000 signatures to the UN, to the World Bank as well as to many national governments calling for an end to poverty and violence against women, as well as to ensure a fair distribution of the planet's wealth between rich and poor and between men and women. The movement has included over 6,000 grass roots groups in 160 countries. In 2004 in Rwanda, the WMM met to ratify the Charter of Humanity calling for the adoption of five fundamental values necessary to change our world. These include: equality, liberty, solidarity, justice and peace. For the World March, the road to peace lies in ensuring that “racism, injustice, exploitation, religious and ideological fundamentalism, discrimination and intolerance” are defeated.

For Alarcon the march to the dreamed of world is already in play. Speaking about the particular Latin American context that surrounded this forum, he said, “This forum is particularly special, it is not just about trying to design ideas, projects, or to dream of a better world” This forum is now meeting when real alternatives are in the works in the region. In Mar de Plata, Argentina, for example, the people rejected and defeated ALCA. For the first time various countries have stood together. ALCA was rejected by Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. In the region we are seeing indigenous people, Amayra, Quechua speakers, taking on key leadership roles.”

For Gomos, “neo-liberalism is now facing a profound crisis, as progressive forces are showing that it is possible to create obstacles to the advance of imperialism.”

All of the panelists pointed to the need to continue to build linkages based on solidarity in order to come up with strategies to counter terrorism and to create sovereign and colonial free nations not only in Latin America, but around the world.