Friday, 9 March 2012

Festival news Vol 3: 3-hour session on the Zapatista movement

Almost 3 hours lasted the session on the Zapatista movement at the Alter-Globalisation Festival this Thursday. The political sociologist at the UAM and GTA at the Uni of Essex, Rebeca Perez Leon, made a dissection of the social, political and cultural roots of the rebellion in Chiapas. Her presentation - "The EZLN and the struggle for the autonomy of the indigenous people in Las Cañadas of Las Margaritas, Chiapas Mexico" was based on her research in the pro-zapatista base las Cañadas between 2002 and 2004 and 2007 and 2008. Leon's critical approach managed to provoke unseen number of questions and comments among the 30 people who attended the talk.

Rebeca Perez Leon spoke about the indigenous communities of las Cañadas and the formation of the EZ, the zapatista army, as well as the development of the EZ, taking in consideration the positive and the negative aspects of the movement for indigenous communities. She emphasised on the role of the EZLN on facilitating the process of democratisation in Mexico and it's crucial significance for the preservation of indigenous cultural and political identity. At the same time she shared critical points based on her own research on the inability of the Zapatista commandment to establish fully horizontal approach trough the assemblies and ejidos.

Asked how does she see the EZLN in the next years and what is gonna be their role in the political life in Mexico and especially in the indigenous communities she said she believes the Zapatista movement has a really good chance to play even more significant role in the next years and solve some of the unsolved problems in the region. On the question "How do you see the ideology of Zapatismo implemented in other anti-capitalist and anti-neoliberal struggles around the world nowadays?" Leon answered:
"I think that one of the most important lessons and examples we can use is the idea of community and solidarity."

The festival committee continued gathering signatures for the solidarity letter that is going to be sent to the Zapatista communities in Chiapas through the London Mexico Solidarity Group and also handed to the Mexican embassy in London.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Festival News 2: The Food Crisis and Food Sovereignty - Esther Vivas !

In Tuesday's event on the food crisis and food sovereignty Esther Vivas, academic and activist from Barcelona, presented us with key problems brought about by irrational ecological capitalism. For Esther the food crisis was caused by the logic of capitalism, which allows for the speculation of the prices of food products, it creates a myth in the free trade agreements between developed and developing countries as core countries subsidise their own agricultural production disallowing peripheral countries their right to subsidize their own products. Furthermore, the core countries and its accomplices, the IMF, WB, WTO impose a minimisation of the role of the state, liberalisation of the economy and privatisation of public services, in effect kicking away the ladder and depriving countries of deciding what they produce and eat. As a consequence of the logic of capital the people who suffer the most are the people from the south, the small-scale subsistence farmer, the peasants, in short the nobodies of this world. This is due to a variety of reasons; colonial legacy, climate change, the ecological capitalist system and above all the neoliberal policies imposed by developed countries and their accomplices; the IMF, the World Bank and their platform of action, the World Trade Organisation. It is important to emphasise that the people who benefit the most from this unequal exchange of goods are the agribusiness, big corporations. Moreover, the pharmaceutical industry and chemical companies such as Monsanto also benefit the most from these policies because the latter provides fancy fertilizers that small scale farmers must buy for the imposed products they have to produce in order to subsist. 

Another feature that is worth highlighting in Esther’s talk is the extent to which women are encapsulated in the capitalist system, which also entails a patriarchal structure. Women own only a tiny portion of land and earn less than men in the food product chain. Furthermore, the irrational food chain model created by ecological capitalism ferments a reduction of biodiversity, not solely in developing countries, but also in developed countries. Esther presented us with example in Barcelona, her hometown, in which it was observed that the variety of apples in the region has decreased to solely 3 varieties in the region. Moreover, this type of system also had a grave effect on health as food is contaminated with hormones, vaccines. Concerning GMO food product Esther highlighted how these decrease the amount of biodiversity and the health risk it represented.

To combat this irrational ecological system Esther presented us with the radical alternative of food sovereignty, which allowed a local, direct linkage between the farmer and the consumer, so that we could control how and what we finally consume. Furthermore, she sustained that the issue on the ecological crisis should be politicised by demanding politicians, the politicians whom have no political will, to sponsor changes that people demand and which are necessary.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Festival news:

Monday, 5.03.2012

50 people at the opening of the Alter-Globalisation Festival!

Approximately 50 people attended the first event of the Alter-Globalisation Festival at the University of Essex. The talk on neoliberalism and education managed to draw paralels between the student mobilisation for free education in Chile and the resistance of the British students against the rising fees and the attemps for privatisation and comodification of the higher education.

The three speakers focused on the ideas for public education outside the neoliberal model where its social role is sacrificed in the name of the market and the needs of the big business. Carlos Gigoux, professor at the Sociology dept, made an overview of the student revolution in Chile and the educational model in the country and gave examples of resistance that can be used by the students in the UK in their struggle for a fair and accessible higher education. According to him stuents and lecturers should unite and confront the governments since this is originally a political and a systemic problem.  

Ted Benton, also from the Sociology dept, emphasized on the dangers in the marketisation of the universities and the social impact such policies can have. On behalf of the Education Activist Network, Dan Swain talked on the importance of student activism and radicalisation and shared his experience from organising anti-cuts protests, strikes and walkouts.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

We say NO!

We say no! We say no to the privatisation of our education, no to the cuts on public services, no to elitism, and no to the commodification of every sphere of life. We say no to the praise of money and death. We say no to a system, which puts a price on people and things. We say no to the liberty of money and the suicidal egoism of the powerful. We at the University of Essex resist the imposition of capital and have organised an Alter-Globalisation Festival, which will serve as an inspiration for and a springboard to strengthen the movement towards the emancipation from this system that puts profits before people.

The Alter-Globalisation Festival is intended to be a social forum to promote, discuss and exchange ideas about alternatives to neoliberal “globalisation”. It is projected to be a platform to present new forms of thought and social alternatives encompassing a wide range of political and social groups. Amongst the societies involved in the social forum are Amnesty International, Human Rights Group, EAN, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Sociology society, Food Not Bombs and the Environmental society. The forum is characterised by its plurality and diversity, is non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party. Furthermore, the aim of the festival is to foment decentralised coordination and networking amongst organisations engaged in collective action at a local and international level. More generally, the festival intends to be a social platform and not a representative body, dedicated to strengthen the offensive capacity against neoliberal globalisation and to deepen the resistance against capitalism, imperialism and oppression.

Our main events will take place from the 5th-11th of March and the topics will include:

  • Monday 5th - 6 pm: Neoliberalism and Education panel – Carlos Gigoux, Ted Benton, EAN activist (LTB 8)

  • Tuesday 6th – 6 pm: Food Crisis and Food Sovereignty – Esther Vivas (activist and member of the Centre of Studies on Social Movements in Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona) (LTB 8)

  • Wednesday 7th – 6 pm: The Right to the City – James O’Nion (co-editor of the Red Pepper newspaper) (LTB 8)

  • Thursday 8th – 6 pm: The Zapatista Movement – Rebeca Perez Leon (LTB 8)

  • Friday 9th – 6 pm:  Environmentalism (LTB 8)

  • Saturday 10th – 4 pm: Direct Action Workshop (LTB 5)

  • Sunday 11th – 4pm: Exploitation and Globalisation Workshop (LTB 5) 

We invite you to engage, discuss and exchange your ideas as well as experiences with the resistance against neoliberal globalisation in the social forum.

Alter-Globalisation Festival Committee

Friday, 2 March 2012

Opening of the Alter-Globalisation Festival!

From the student revolution for accessible higher education to the White Paper and the rising fees in the UK -
Opening Plenary + Neoliberalism and Education

"They do not own our dreams - Higher education and Student mobilisation in Chile- Carlos Gigoux (fellow professor at the Sociology dept.)
On the White Paper - Ted Benton (professor at the Sociology dept.) EAN

Come and join the opening session of the Alter-Globalisation Festival at the Uni of Essex!

Another world is possible!

Screening ¡Viva Mexico!

Great success on our screening of ¡Viva Mexico! 40 people watched the movie and listened to the talk of dr. Rebeca Breen introducing the Zapatista movement.

More about the movie for those who haven't seen it:

If anyone wants to borrow the original DVD, contact

¡Zapata Vive!