Spain, Sevilla: Counter summit or Forum?


From A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

1) In the autumn of 1999, the mass media coined a new expression now used throughout the world: the antiglobalisation movement. Since then, thousands of people have tried to interrupt or stop the official summits of the regional and world institutions of capital. These Counter-Summits, from Seattle to Genoa (July 2001) have been characterised by:

a) direct action through blockades;

b) a variety of voices, groups and actions;

c) an anti-capitalist rejection of globalisation; and

d), self-managed and independent actions.

2) This movement promptly gained worldwide "sympathy", due to which the establishment spread two coarse and generalised criticisms in order to justify its repression and the return-to-normality: the violence around these Counter-Summits and the lack of alternatives. In February 2001 in Porto Alegre, with the self-interested support of local PT government, the 1st World Social Forum took place. No Summit had been held in that city, so this Forum was presented as an encounter of the Left and its social organisations, offering alternatives to the forum of the influential and powerful who annually hold their meeting in Davos around that time of the year.

The rich meet in the North and the poor in the South, due to the need to respond to the criticism against the lack of alternatives. The Forum was set up as meeting point for debate (conferences, plenary sessions, workshops, ...) instead of action. Just a few peaceful demonstrations are organised to let off steam. The alternatives of the Social Forum are varied, but they all have as a backbone the goal of enlarging the welfare state -with all that that implies- through democratic control of economic State policies, and against neoliberal strategies. This year, in the 2nd Social Forum of Porto Alegre, the elderly remains of Social Democracy (or Social Liberals as they like to call themselves) took part in the Forum with the desire to sail through political waters with one foot in Davos and the other in Porto Alegre.

3) In the Counter-Summits of Gothenburg and Genoa, organised repression caused hundreds of arrests, numerous injured protestors, attacks against the organisational structures of the movement, and the murder of Carlos Guliani by the hands of the Carabinieri. These actions of repression gave the governments the excuse to focus debate on the violence of the movement. The most moderate sectors became especially virulent in their criticisms against violence, using public tribunals to criminalise the wicked malice of destroying windows and traffic signs.

11th September gave the imperial powers an argument to incorporate a great amount of fear in both militants and society at large. A decade of "happy globalisation" was closed, giving turn to States-at-War, declared by all States against terrorism, dissidence, social resistance, and against all of us, since we are not fully transparent against the eyes of our Big Brother.

4) The Genoa model was quickly discarded in the assemblies that prepared the Spanish Counter-Summits during the first six months of 2002. Blockades against UE summits were discarded from two points of view:

a) Sectors willing to drop the use of direct action against the summits in favour of large peaceful demonstrations that, in theory, help to obtain electoral, political or social results for the organisations that negotiate with the State in different ways.

b) Collectives that reject the blockades as absolutely foreseeable actions, wagering instead for "surprise", using the lack of prevision as a weapon of social struggle, decentralising direct action in the elected cities in order to break the speeches and sense of peace which summits are supposed to provide.

Seeing what happened in Barcelona (March 2002), position A) has won. To this end, Sevilla follows the "Barcelona" model, and is preparing a Social Forum instead of a Counter-Summit. All of this implies a consolidation and normalisation of the antiglobalisation movement: the criticism against anti-globalisation "violence" is nothing else than a rejection of direct action. But there are alternatives, another 'possible' world where globalisation can rule, under the shouts of AGAINST, ANTI and NO directed at this world that does not let us live (not even badly).

5) The program of activities of the Forum has been publicly negotiated with the regional government of the PSOE [Socialist Party] that has been in power the region of Andalusia over the last twenty years. Just like in Porto Alegre, the local government has decided to provide local infrastructures as well as financing the activities of the Social Forum of Sevilla.

The powerful mass media group, PRISA (a chain of local newspapers, the national newspaper "El PaÌs," national television "Canal Plus," national radio stations "El SER," as well local TV and radios) is taking charge of broadcasting the entente between the antiglobalisation movement and the autonomous government of the Socialist Party (PSOE).

President Chaves is midway between Davos and Porto Alegre. He is the co-host of a EU summit presided by the government of Aznar, his political enemy, against whom he is financing the Forum whose demonstrations will erode the PP.

The route of the major demonstration of 22nd June is of little importance: the demo is scheduled to take place after the Summit has finished. The island of Cartuja, designated as a meeting point and sleeping area is an enclosed island subject to police blockades. All of this has been negotiated. In addition to that, a single spokesperson has been approved, and guarantees have been made to assure order in the demonstrations, and peace in all activities.

Anyone who would like to check the above, can consult the library of the Spanish newspaper, El PaÌs, over the last two months in its "Autonomias" Section on Andalusia. This can be done very easily through Internet visiting:

To the surprise of many, the spokespersons of the regional government, town halls and provincial delegations (public bodies all administered by the PSOE) are not people linked to the institutional Left, but are instead ecologists, members of alternative syndicalist movements, and of tiny extreme left splinters. Social Democracy knows very well where to look to find public credibility in this negotiation.

Sevilla will be a Forum instead of a Counter-Summit. Direct action, self-management and anticapitalism have been reduced to the hollow rhetoric of banners. Although there may be surprises, the political goals of the General Strike of 20th June promise to give a wide and united presence to the officialist European Trade Union Confederation demonstration in Sevilla. The General Secretaries of CCOO and UGT (Spain) and CGIL (Italy) have already announced their presence. This provides a breath of fresh air for these trade unions which have lost credit in the eyes of young precarious workers. Likewise, it is a gift for the Socialist Party (PSOE) of Almeria which demanded the expulsion of illegal immigrants and whose national campaign in Spain is against public insecurity, and for supporting families and reducing taxes. More of all the same: more Fortress Europe.

6) We wish to inform our sister anarchist organisations about this situation, and to make a few proposals. In the first place, we support the call to Sevilla next 21st and 22nd of June. In the early evening of 21st June the March of Social Resistance will enter Sevilla, passing through working class quarters [and this is where we will be.]

In second place, we feel that a red-and-black block in the demonstration of the Forum has the purpose of giving publicity to a few colours and nothing more. The block will march in a demonstration that passes through the streets of Sevilla after the UE Heads of State have already left the city. Nevertheless, there is still time to organise, as in Brussels, an autonomous and independent demonstration with space for all the diverse libertarian and rebellious strains.

The demonstration could take place on Saturday 22nd in the morning. While the Forum debates alternatives, the libertarians would be on the streets. It would allow the organisations that want to attend the demonstration of the Forum to do so.

Finally, in the event that this demonstration cannot be held, with regards to the libertarian meeting that the CGT is organising, we propose that it be held in one of the public squares in Sevilla and never inside the enclosed area previously assigned to us by the powers that be.

Dear friends and comrades, after Sevilla we will have to carefully analyse the role of Forums (especially the European Social Forum) and the possibilities that they have as of today in the social intervention with antiglobalisation movement.

By the Coordinating Committee of Red Libertaria Apoyo Mutuo.
Madrid. 18th May 2002. Apdo 51575, 28080 Madrid, Spain


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