(eng) Let's Resist Neoliberal Policies!

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Fri, 3 Jan 1997 18:26:11 +0100 (MET)


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PRESS RELEASE, 1st January 1997

"Let's Resist Neoliberal Policies!" --------------------------------------

On this January 1st, individuals and groups have invited you to officially announce the creation of the Quebec branch of the Intercontinental Network of Resistance to Neoliberalism and undertake its first activity. The formation of the network came out as a result of last summer's Intercontinental Gathering in Chiapas, Mexico.

Today's activity consists of covering several statues with hoods in order to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the uprising of the descendants of the Mayas in Chiapas who grouped themselves to form the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (FZLN). Similar actions are simultaneously happening in Chicoutimi, Quebec, and Sherbrooke. Three years ago on January 1, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect. On the same day, the indigenous peoples of Chiapas launched a popular and armed uprising to denounce the deadly effects of the globalization of the markets which would throw into poverty millions of individuals all over the planet. More concretely, the Zapatistas called for an agrarian reform to free themselves from their dependency on large landholders and landgrabbers, for the recognition of their indigenous cultures, for better living conditions, and for a settlement of the historical and five-century old debt of the Mexican government towards the various indigenous peoples of Mexico.

Since their uprising in January 1994, numerous acts of repressions have been committed by the Mexican Army and para-military groups who went to Chiapas to protect the interests of the large landholders and the local economic elites. The Zapatistas are now calling for an end to repression and the liberation of all political prisoners detained since 1994.

AN INVISIBLE WORLD GOVERNMENT:

According to the Quebecois poet, Paul Chamberland, neoliberal policies are at a world level, nothing less than 40 administration boards of multinational enterprises which are currently destroying, if they aren't stopped, whatever political democracy may have meant. For these businessmen, democracy as we now practice it, constitute an obstacle to the free functioning of the market and would love to do away with market "irritants" such as labor laws regarding basic working conditions, enterprises' taxes, and minimal social guarantees/endowment as well as environmental norms. It is from such perspective, that these economic decision- makers are putting pressure upon sovereign states to join and take part in regional economic blocs, in concert with multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF (which stands for nothing less than Imperialism, Misery and Famine). Such process is now being promoted by certain Western governments in collaboration with the business world in each of these countries.

CANADIAN PRIVATE SECTOR PROMOTES NEOLIBERALISM

Canadian consulting firms also contributes to the promotion on a world scale of a standardized version of the economy as ruled by the unique "God" of the market. The Experco firm headed by former liberal Minister, Marc Lalonde, former president of Montreal Stock Market, Andre Saumier, and former president of the Canadian Economic Council, Andre Raynault are currently advising the Vietnamese government on how to implement a taxation scheme for the newly privatized enterprises. They are also helping the registration of private mining enterprises in Bolivia. The group assisted the Chilean government to reach a bilateral free trade agreement with Canada which was recently signed. The treaty constitutes the prelude to the admission of Chili in NAFTA. For its part, the Montreal-based Lawyers Chamber Stikeman Elliot is now orchestrating the privatization of electricity in Hungary, a small deal of 6 billions of dollars! (1).

Neoliberalism thus is nothing less, according to Paul Chamberland, "than a world system of organized and extortion crime, which has nothing to do with the supposed market principles."

NEOLIBERALISM IN CANADA AND QUEBEC

Here at home, the financing of the public deficit is now considered only an issue of management which is to be left to technocrats: economists, accountants, and taxation experts. This constitutes a serious hindrance to the democratic life of the country since these technocrats have been able to force the government to legislate an anti-deficit law. These specialists are taking away the State capacity to intervene to assist the population being left without income following the industrial relocation and the laying outs both consequence of the globalization of the market and technological changes. This globalization is provoking in the South, a massive exodus from the rural areas to the town centers and also from the South to the North where migrant workers are faced with increasing racist legislation and intermittent threats of deportation. It is to resist to these neoliberal policies that we have come together to launch our resistance network following the call issued by the Zapatistas.

In the coming months, a consultation on the impact of these neoliberal policies will be organized throughout Quebec and overseas. Within the students' community, such consultation will focus on the Second Declaration of Realidad for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism. The issue on how neoliberalism is affecting Quebec and Canada will also be discussed. An initiative of the Movement for the Right to Education (Mouvement pour le droit a l'Education, MDE) this consultation will take place mid-February in universities and colleges across Quebec. The MDE is comprised of students' associations which were very involved in the recent wave of mobilization and strikes during the Fall. The consultation is also to include questions related to education.

Other sectors (unions, popular and community-based organizations, women groups, ecologists, etc.) have also been invited to organize their own consultation and examine how neoliberal policies are directly affecting them. Each consultation will be preceded by information campaigns and debates on the impact of neoliberalism and the possible forms of resistance to be undertaken.

In summary, we are denouncing the conniving silence of the Canadian government which prefer to protect its economic interests, closing its eyes of the human rights violation occurring not only in Mexico but also in China in order to obtain profitable contracts!

We demand an end to political repression and the liberation of all political prisoners in Mexico!

We refuse the attitude of governments which obsessed by the reduction of the public deficit have given up the struggle against poverty. We reject government cuts in health, education and social welfare programs. We also reject the reform of social welfare which makes work compulsory for youth and single mothers! We demand public housing for all homeless and all in need! We object to privatization in general and specially of the water utilities!

The members of the Quebec Network Resisting Neoliberalism:

- The collective of REBELLES; - The Movement for the Right to Education (MDE); - Mexico Solidarity Network in Montreal; - Exchange Network of Progressive Groups; - CANEVAS.

(1) Journal Les Affaires, Week of Abril 13th to 19th, 1996: p.14.

Pour nous contacter: adresse electronique: rebelles@eureka.qc.ca Fax: 276-6400 Telephone: 276-1656 adresse postale: Reseau de r 660 rue Villeray est, local 34 Montreal (Qc) H2R 1J1

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