The Restless Margins
moments of resistance and rebellion: 1994 - 2003
1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998
>> January 1 >> The EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) declares war against Mexico, bringing its inspirational struggle for life and humanity to the forefront of political imaginations across the planet. Within 24 hours, the Mexican army responds, bombing communities and killing at least 145 indigenous people. An outraged Mexican civil society realiates with masive demonstrations calling for an end to military repression. The date of the uprising marks the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); which condemns millions of indigenous people, peasants, farmers, and workers across North America to poverty, and accelerates environmental destruction and corporate ascendance.
>> January 27 >> New labour laws set off a 24 hour general strike across Spain. Major cities are occupied by police, and riotings erupts sporadically as hundreds of thousands take to the streets. Shops, airports, and railway stations close, and tourists must fend for themselves in hotels.
>> February 3 >> Thousands of Indian villagers gather on the banks of the Narmada River to celebrate victory in their year-long campaign to halt the Maheshwar hydropower dam - the first to be built in India using private finance.
>> March >> Campaign against the M11 link road begins in earnest in London, UK, as anti-road activists team up with local people to try and defend their public space.
>> April >> Peasants from 850 self-defence committees across Bolivia to block roads and resist militarization, the result of the US demand that the Bolivian government eradicate 1,750 hectares of coca production, under threat of an international economic embargo from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Filemán Escobar of the Bolivian miner's federation points out: "The Andean world was born with the coca leaf thousands of years ago and the coca leaf and coca chewing are part of our culture.... The transformation of coca into cocaine is a problem of the industrialized countries who discovered that cocaine could be extracted. Yet we Bolivians are the victims."
>> April 5-6 >> More than 150,000 Indians protest in New Delhi against the soon-to-be-signed General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) treaty which will create the World Trade Organization. The police react to the demonstrators shooting arrows, and throwing stones and sandals by attacking with water canons and tear gas. 80 people are injured, including several police officers with arrow wounds.
>> April 15 >> The treaty establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) is signed in Marrakesh, Morocco. Trade representatives from 120 countries sign on, presumably having read its 22,000 pages which weighed in at 11,395 pounds.
>> May >> An entire street in London, Claremont Road, is squatted by activists in an attempt to halt the construction of the M11 motorway. Barricading the street transforms it into a car-free community in resistance which lasts for six month. One hundred foot towers rise from the rooftops, a network of tunnels are built beneath, nets are hung across the street, junked cars are filled with plants and used as blooming barricades. When the §3.3 million eviction takes place, 1,300 police and security guards work nonstop for four days to remove 500 residents and locked-down activists. Activists from this campaign go on to form Reclaim the Streets.
>> June >> A World Bank delegation apprasing the Kaeng Sua Ten dam in northeast Thailand is surrounded by 5,000 angry villagers, who demand that the World Bank leave. "There is no need for any more studies, because we oppose the project," they say. When several consultants return two days later, they are dragged from their car and beaten. No further delegations are sent.
>> July 8-10 >> The G7 meet in Naples, Italy. The local communist mayor insists on having grand receptions for the heads of state and force participants in "The Other Economic Summit," part of the protests which have stalked the G7 summits since 1984. Seven activists from the poorest countries of five continents send the G7 a message: "Keep your wealth. Enjoy your consumer civilization. Withdraw completely your interest, companies, investment, tourist resorts, and good humanitarian interventions from our countries. Leave us to confront ourselves and face our cultural values. Leave us to pursue our own indigenous road of self-development. It shall be hard and long. But it will be our own choices to determine it. And we will never find ourselves worse off than we are today."
>> July 9 >> Sixty-seven workers at a local McDonald's in a suburb of Paris, France pull a surprise strike, closing the store down during its busiest period. Their demands: "Respect of our right to engage in union activity, paid vacations, the right to choose our own delegates and recognition of our personal needs." Less than 24 hours after the strike begins, a contract is signed between management and the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) union. A few days later McDonald's workers in the town of Ulis walk out. In Nantes, McDonald's workers prepare a week of action with CGT trade unionists.
>> July 12 >> Four thousands United Rubber Workers in five states of the US walk out, beginning a bitter strike against Bridgestone/Firestone, the world's largest tyre manufacturer, which leads to a lock-out lasting 27 months. The workers responded to slashes in wages and benefits, and a threatened implementation of around-the-clock production with seven-day weeks and 12-hour shifts. Imaginative actions take place, including demonstrations at car races, a protest camp outside the corporate HQ, international solidarity building campaigns launched in Japan and Europe, and a successful boycott campaign. The company eventually agrees a deal and reinstates all strikers who were discharged.
>> July 20 >> One million Turkish workers stage a one-day strike to protest cutbacks ordered by the World Bank and private lending sources. The government threatens arrests, but is overhelmed by the sheer size of the walkout.
>> August 6-9 >> The Zapatistas organize the National Democratic Convention, held in rebel territory in a newly built convention centre called Aguascalientes, in honour of the 1914 site of the constitutional convention during the Mexican revolution. Over 6,000 people representing a broad range of civil society come from across the country to join the Zapatistas in planning what the government is refusing to discuss or negotiate - a fundamental reform to the Mexican state that would ensure democracy, justice, and a peace with dignity and social justice. In the opening ceremony Subcomandante Marcos expresses the wishes of the Zapatistas, saying: "We hope that the horizon will open up to that we will not benecessary anymore, we the dead since always, who have to die again in order to life. We hope... to disappear in the same was we appeared, one morning, without a face, without future. To return to the depths of history, of the dream, of the mountains..."
>> September >> Italy's infamous Tute Bianche [white overalls] movement is born, when the neofascist mayor of Milan orders the eviction of the squatted social centre, Leoncavallo, saying: "From now on, squatters will be nothing more than ghosts wandering about the city!" Activists respond humourously, dressing in ghostly white overalls and taking to the streets; riots ensue, and the squat is saved. The white overalls, symbols of the invisibility of those excluded from capitalism, spread across the world, from Finland to Mexico.
>> September 21 >> Doctors in 25 Bangladesh government hospitals walk out ove demands for higher wages, promotions and new wmployment, virtually paralyzing the public sector.
>> September 29 >> A nationwide strike is held in India called by the National Platform of Mass Organizations in protest against the structural adjustment programmes (SAP) of the World Bank and the signing of GATT (WTO). The strike affects functioning of banks, financial institutions, and public sector units across the country, and is the eight in a series of protests against SAPs during the previous two years.
>> October 2 >> Bolivian workers fight back against World Bank-ordered 'reforms,' which require that the country cuts wages of public workers and privatize the national phone system. The resulting general strike, hunger strikes, and road and rail blockades result in the government declaring a state of siege. after 23 days, the government agrees to wage demands, and backs down from privatization.
>> October 2-4 >> Eleven people scale overhead beams of a conference center in Madrid, Spain, and shower thousands of dark-suited delegates below with fake dollar bills that say "50 Years of Destruction" during the opening ceremonies of the IMF/World Bank's 50th anniversary meetings. The financial institutions face their biggest demonstrations since they were run out of town a day early in Berlin in 1988. Outside the building, a carnivalesque march of 5,000 people declare their opposition to IMF policies. Press conferences and banquets are further disrupted by infiltrating activists. The 50 Years is Enough network is founded at a counter-conference. Simultaneous protests take place in several countries.
>> October 6 >> One thousand French workers invade the Paris stock exchange, halting the billion-dollar trade in financial futures and options for the entire day, in protest against the partial sale of car maker Renault, and all privatizations in France. One huge poster reading "Sacrifies, Unemployment, Privatizations" obscures the computer screens which normally provides prices for stock options. "If we called the police there would be a complete riot," one security guard complains.
>> October 9 >> Over 100,000 people march in London, UK, against the Criminal Justice Bill, which criminalizes direct action, rave music, and squatting, as well as terminating the right to remain silent under interrogation. A diverse group takes to the streets opposing the law - festival and party goers, squattes, travelers, hunt saboteurs, anti-road protesters, and gay rights groups. The day ends with rioting in Hyde Park.
>> October 26 >> All schools in Sierra Leone are shut down as 35,000 teachers go to strike. Demanding prompt payments of salaries and allowances and a 30 per cent pay increase, teachers also demand of the military government that they repeal a decree banning the right to strike.
>> October 27 >> More than 15,000 workers in Siberia and the far east of Russia take to the streets in the first stage of a nationwide protest against falling living standards and huge salary arrears. Similar protests take place across the country, with the participation of well over two million people.
>> November 8 >> At least 40 people in masks ransack a McDonald's in Mexico City's fashionable Zona Rosa, protesting an anti-immigrant ballot initiative passed in California. Windows are broken, bins tipped over, cash registers hurled to the ground, and graffiti with messages of solidarity and anti-imperialism painted. The new law denies all social services to illegal immigrants in California, clearly showing that voters have by and large forgotten that California was stolen from Mexico (and from Native Americans before that) by force and that the definition of "illegal immigrant" is an insult to those originally inhaabiting that land.
>> November 24 >> In Beirut, Lebanon, striking dockers completely shut down the port for six days.
>> December 1 >> United States Congress approves joining the WTO without having read the treaty. Prior to the vote, an offer of a §10,000 donation to the charity of choice had been made to any congressperson who had read the entire thing and could answer ten simple questions about its contents. Not one member of congress accepted, until after the vote was postponed, and the one Republican, a "free" trade supporter, stepped forward to the challange. He answered all ten questions correctly and then held a press conference, stating that he had planned to vote in favour, but after reading the text of the agreement, he had changed his position.
>> December 2 >> Hundreds of indigenous people from Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia march in Temuco, Chile to protest against Chile joining the North American Free Trade Agreement (FTAA), decrying the ease with which multinational corporations would be able to take their land.
>> December 3 >> Police arrests thousands of people heading for a demonstration in Bhopal, India, on the tenth anniversary of the chemical leak from the Union Carbide plant that caused 7,000 deaths. As one Bhopal activist puts it, "Bhopal is not something unfortunate that is only happening to the people of a central Indian city. It is happening everywhere around the world. The routine poisoning of living systems that accompaines the storage, transport, production, consumption and waste treatment of hazardous chemicals are part of our industrial society. The silent and slow Bhopals that are happening in everyday life often go unnoticed and are seldom resisted."
bulletins & leaftlets | www.agp.org
>> January >> Wildfire wins a victory as a result of one of the most successful actions of Earth First! at Warner Creek, Oregon, US. Activists maintain a 11 month blockade of logging roads, through harsh winter snowhall, and frequent visit by curious tourists! The camp, christened Cascadia Free State, features a watchover, a moat and drawbridge, a wide variety of barricades, and frequent trainings and planning meetings for establishing other "Free States."As part of the fallout of new "salvage gogging" legislation, the forest service had plans fo log over 1,200 acres after the second largest wildfire in the region. In addition to the blockades, activists hold a thorough educational campaign explaining the ecology of fire, and the natural regeneration that will occur if allowed. The blockade ends when a presidential decree withdraws the salvage sale and the forest is allowed to continiue its cycle.
>> January 1 >> The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) becomes the World Trade Organization (WTO).
>> January 25 >> Protesting tuition hikes and education cuts, the Canadian Federation of Students take action on the Pan-Canadian Day of Action, as 16,000 students take to the streets in Montreal, and at least 100,000 participate nationwide. As a result, tuition fees are frozen in the provinces of British Colombia and Québec.
>> February 12 >> Over 1000,000 people demonstrate in Mexico City, demanding rhat the military withdraw from Chiapas, in response to the issuance of arrest warrants for 11 Zapatistas, the "unmasking" of Sumcomandante Marcos as a former philosophy professor, increased military aggression in Chiapas, and the government's breaking of the ceasefire with the EZLN. The aggression backfires, as not only do the Zapatistas fight off the Federal Army troops and retain control of most of the southern regions of the state, they turn offensive to their advantage by organizing a popular consultation of the people, or consulta.
>> April 13 >> Huge solidarity demonstrations erupt in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, following the brutal eviction of 200 workers who had occupied their elections plant and shut it down, demanding their pay back. The police attack, killing Víctor Choque, a 37-year-old construction worker, and wounding sixty others workers. The Metalworkers Union and the Union Front, which includes government employees, teachers, taxi drivers, and sanitation workers, organize a general strike.
>> April 15 >> International protests take place to mark the fortieth aniversary of the opening of the worls's first McDonald's restaurant, and to celebrate ten years of coordinated international resistance to the corporation. There are actions in at least 20 countries including Aotearoa/New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Netherlands, Germany, Finland, US, and the UK.
>> April 19 >> Following a six week strike against privatization by Bolivian teachers, a general strike is called in solidarity with them, and against the neoliberal policies of the government. Roads are blocked throughout the country and one southern province declares independence from the government. The government imposes a 90-day state of siege, and over 1,000 trade union, student, peasant, and political leaders are arrested.
>> April 24 >> The government's firing of 12,000 bus drivers and its closure of bus routes in Mexico City generates a demonstration of 50,000 people. The bus drivers, members of SUTAUR, the independent and militant Mexico City Bus Driver's union, continue their daily protest. Two days later, students seize several buses in support of the drivers and hold them for several days. The following year, after a dogged struggle, which includes countless marches, constant clashes with the police, the year-long imprisonment of 12 union leaders, several 40-day hunger strikes, and an offer from a union leader to crucify himself on Good Friday, the union becomes a worker-owned cooperative, taking control of two of the newly privatized lines, and struggeling to increase their control and regain jobs for the thousands who remain unemployed.
>> May 1 >> One and a half million demonstrate in Mexico City calling for an end to NAFTA, an increase in salaries, and declaring their support for the EZLN. The government declares a ceasefire, for the time being.
>> May 3 >> Declaring "The oil is ours," 50,000 workers at Brasil's government-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro, walk off the job over pay cuts and a plan to privatize the company. The strike is reinforced by a strike of thousands of rail workers and truckers, as well as tens of thousands of other government workers demanding higher wages and an end to privatization.
>> May 14 >> Two cars collide and block Camden High Street, a busy shopping district in London, UK. The drivers argue, and then begin smashing up the cars. Suddenly 500 people pour out of the underground station and occupy the street. The first Reclaim the Streets street party begins, challenging the privatization of public space by the car, while bringing together the spirit of carnival and rebellion, rejuvenating creative forms of direct action.
>> June >> Health care workers occupy hospitals throughout Cordoba, Argentina. Nurse Ana María Martoglio says, "We've taken over this hospital because they haven't paid us in two months and because the government has send the health-care system to hell."
>> June 1 >> About 5,000 Argentinian students surround the Congress, preventing deputies from entering, and forcing the government to postpone discussion and voting on President Menem's proposal to introduce tuitions fees for the first time. Days later, the vote is in favour of fees, and riots erupt throughout the night.
>> June 5 >> Over 3,000 people occupy the Mexico City stock exchange, protesting against election fraud in the state of Tabasco. Three hundred people arrive on foot, having walked 500 miles from Tabasco to draw attention netionwide to what has become known as "Tabascogate."
>> June 8 >> South Korean President Kim Young Sam warns unions that planned strike at the state-owned telephone company would be akin to "an attempt to overthrow the state".
>> June 15-17 >> The Halifax People's Summit in Canada, brings together international non-governmental organizations (NGO) and local networks of activists, and linking global issues with local converns. Workshops, protests, carnivalesque street theatre, and outdoor picnics prevail, while the G7 meet under extremely low security, with delegates freely walking about the city, and meeting in a Maritime Museum which features, ironically, a deck chair from the Titanic.
>> June 19 >> Workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea approved a provisional wage agreement providing for a 5.6 per vent wage increase and bonuses of three months pay.
>> July 13 >> Energy workers in Ecuador begin a long strike that threatens to halt electricy and petroleum production. The unions demand the repeal of laws restricting the right of public workers to strike. Administration buildings of the state-run companies are occupied by workers.
>> July 17 >> Some 50,000 teachers in Costa Rica strike, closing about 4,000 public schools, as well as four state universities. The teachers demand a presidential veto of a recently approved pension law. Another 10,000 state workers join the teacher's strike two days later, protesting government plans to reduce the work force. Meanwhile, the central labour union in Costa Rica prepares for a general strike.
>> July 21 >> One thousand mothers and children march in Toronto, Canada against proposed cuts in social services including changes in child care benefits which would no longer grant teenage single mothers free day-care.
>> August >> Coal miners in Ukraine go on strike for back pay, higher wages and pensions, and better medical benefits. "I haven't been paid in two months," says Aleksi Tsybin, a miner from the eastern town of Makayevke. "This is a gross violation of worker's right." The miners, who have launched sporadic strkes at some of the country's 246 mines in the past few weeks, are also demanding more control over the industry, such as setting coal prices and their own wage scale. The miners' union has warned the government that a broader strike is likely in the winter if negotiations collapse.
>> August 5 >> In a campaign to get multinational corporations out of India, the Karnataka Rajy Raitha Sangha (KRRS, Karnataka State Farmers Association), a ten million strong direct action movement of Indian farmers, manages to close down India's first Kentucky Fried Chicken outled, on health grounds. At the same time billboards belong to KFC owner PepsiCo are destroyed by activists throughout the state, while the KRRS sets up training centers in organic agriculture and seed banks. The KFC eventually reopens under full-time guard.
>> August 7 >> Oil workers in South Trinidad begin a six-week strike over wages, resulting in a seven per cent pay increase.
>> August 7 >> One hundred thousand striking teachers, state workers, oil workers, and others march in San José, Costa Rica, in one of the largest demonstrations in 25 years. Some of the strikers occupy the Inter-American Court of Human Rights after the march, saying they will remain until the government listens to their demands.
>> August 8 >> Nearly 600,000 public workers in turkey go on strike against the government's austerity programme. Three days earlier, 100,000 workers marched through the capital city, Ankara, calling for an increase in the minimum wage, higher pay, and broader trade union rights.
>> August 12 >> Nearly 1,500 landless peasants try to occupy the National Bank for Housing in Guatemala. Many are beaten by police. The peasants demand the land promised to 2,800 landless and homeless families. Lorenzo Pérez, a representative of the Guatemala Council for the Displaced, says 500,000 of the two million inhabitants of Guatemala City are displaced peasants who live in extreme poverty and are homeless.
>> August 27 >> The Zapatistas hold the first international consulta, with the participation of over 1,2 million Mexicans, and more than 100,000 people from outside of Mexico. Votes overhelmingly agree with the principal demands of the EZLN, call for a broad united opposition to struggle for those demands, and agree that women schould be guaranteed equal representation and participation at all levels of civil and governmental responsibility. In a country where the ruling PRI's own plebiscite on its economic plan only managed to achieve a voter participation of 600,000 voters in the spring of 1995, the Zapatista's success at dialogue with national and global civil society is illustrative of the will to change.
>> September 27 >> Hundreds of Honduran students clash with police during protest against a rise in urban bus fares.
>> September 28 >> More than half a million teachers in Russia go on a nationwide strike to protest against unpaid wages, low pay, and severe government underfunding of social services.
>> September 28 >> "Reclaim the Future," an alliance of Reclaim the Streets, rave activists, and the Liverpool dockers commemorate the anniversary of the dockers lock out. Activists break through fences, occupy cranes, and fly the RTS flag from the roof of the corporate headquaters. The action trigger a 24 hour strike by tug boat captains. No vessels enter or leave Liverpool, and Mersey Docks shares fall at further 14p, sespite the company's claims of continued normal operations.
>> October 10 >> During their annual meetings in Washington D.C., US, the IMF/WB are stunned by four days of demonstrations when activists from the Native Forest Network and Eart First! hang banners from a crane at the construction site of the lavish new World Bank headquaters. A crowd of demonstrators gathers on the sidewalk, heckling World Bank and IMF employees on their way to work. Five people are arrested; the two white people are released while the three people of colour are charged.
>> October 20 >> Security services disperse 20,000 Romanian students after three days of protest against Bucharest government control over education in the post-communist era. The students win a victory when the government withdraws controversial taxes on students who fail exams.
>> October 31 >> Some 5,000 people participate in a "Death of Education March" in Honolulu, US, to protest against budget cuts totaling $50 million over two years. Governor Benjamin Cayetano is shouted down by protesters while telling University of Hawaii faculty members and students that the state administration had no choice but to slash the school's budget.
>> October 31 >> Riots break out in Bryansk, Russia, as car workers demand payment for over five months' back wages. Coal miners and other workers have organized strikes and demonstrations also demanding back pay. The Russian government has accumulated massive debts to hundreds of enterprises in attempting to adhere to a budget arranged with the IMF last spring.
>> November - December >> In protest against the French government's liberalization of labour laws in an unpopular effort to reform the welfare system, five million union members and students go on strike, demanding that telecommunications and all other services not be privatized, and all other services not be privatized, and that more funding be allocated to overcrowded state universities. Hundreds of thousands take to the streets. The transport strike results in a 350 mile traffic jam in Paris. Strikes spread to Belgium and Luxembourg. The French government eventually backs down.
>> November 10 >> Protest against Shell erupt around the world, as the Nigerian government executes nine environmental activists, including writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who were imprisoned on fabricated murder charges. The activists were resisting Shell's environmental destruction of Ogoniland, Nigeria, which has resulted in the loss of agricultural land to oil wells, spillage, pipelines and blowouts. In Ken Saro-Wiwa's closing statement at his trial, he predicts that "...the ecological war that [Shell] has waged in the delta will be called to question, and the crimes of that war duly punished."
>> December 4 >> To the accompaniment of bagpipes, 500 Eart First! activists storm the largest stone quarry in England, in Whatley, Somerset, swarming over gates, scaling fences, and entering a tripod blocking the rail line leading out from the quarry. Sixty-five feet of railway track "disappear;" the surveillance system falls apart; a two-story crane pulls itself to bits; three control rooms dismantle themselves; and several digging and conveyer belts "break down." At the end of the day, the media reports that $163,000 of damage occurred, with an additional loss of production of $325,000.
>> December 13 >> Students, professors, and university staff in Managua, Nicaragua, rejecting proposed tuition hikes and administrative fees, demand that the government abide by the constitution and allocate six per cent of the national budget for university education. Riot police break up demonstrations at the National Assembly with tear gas followed by gunfire. Two students are killed, one loses a leg, and more than 60 are injured.
>> December 13 >> Members of the Machinists' Union in Seattle, US, celebrate victory with a new contract with Boeing, Inc, which finally capitulated after a strike of 34,500 workers. The picketed 69 days in almost non-stop rainstroms and sacrificed $6,000 per worker in wages.
bulletins & leaftlets | www.agp.org
>> January 1 >> During the first hours of 1996, the EZLN announce the formation of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation (FZLN), "a civil and nonviolent organization, independent and democratic, Mexican and national... A political force which does not struggle to take political power but for a democracy where those who govern, govern by obeying... Our word, our song and our cry, is so that the deal will no longer die. So that they may life we struggle, so that they live we sing."
>> January 30 >> Continuing their campaign to rid India of multinational corporations, the KRRS choose the anniversary of Ghandi's death to dismantle a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Bangalore. Its windows are smashed, furniture broken, ledgers burnt, and utensils flung into the streets. Over 100 people are arrested, and the KRRS spokesperson, Professor Nanjundaswamy, is accused of attempted murder. He uses Ghandi's words to defend his actions against property: "If you had a goods train carrying arms, blowing it up does not amount aviolent act. It would however be violent to blow up a passenger train."
>> February >> In Britain around 5,000 march against the construction of a road to bypass the town of Newbury.
>> February 7 >> Over 20,000 students in 30 cities across Canada go on strike in a national day of action against cuts in education and social programmes by the federal government.
>> March10 >> The largest gold mine in the world, located in West Papua, a colony of Indonesia, and owned by US company Freeport McMoRan, is closed down for six days by riots. The company has dug out top of a scared mountain, an act Papuas describe as "beheading our mother". More than 90 per cent of the mined mountain end up as tailings, poisoning rivers for miles downstream. The company has also been responsible for the murder and torture of independence fighters who have fought a long struggle against the company, and the colonizing Indonesian military who get rich defending the mine.
>> March 28 >> Thousands of people take to the streets in La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, demanding a raise in salaries and denouncing the privatization of Bolivia's oil fields. In Cochabamba, 250 people, most of them elderly, are detained while on hunger strike, protesting for the same reason. On the same Day in Paraguay initiate a general strike demanding salary increase of 31 per cent and calling for a referendum on the rapid privatization of their nation's wealth and resources. Meanwhile, in São Paulo, Brazil, more than 5,000 students are attacked and detained by the police while protesting against tuition fee hikes and other neoliberal policies on education.
>> March 29 >> Adding their voices to the continent-wide uprising, thousands of farmers in southern Chile block national highways in protest against Chile's imminent inclusion in the 'free' trade agreement, Mercosur, which will result in the unemployment of at least 80,000 Chilean farmers. At the same time, street vendors in Lima, Peru, confront the police and defend their right to work as the police attempt to expel them from the historic (read, tpuristic) centre. And in Santa Ana, Costa Rica, thousands protest against the installation of a waste dump in their town which would add more than one thousand tons of rubbish a day to the heap already dumped on them by neoliberalism.
>> April >> Hundreds demonstrate against the military government as a UN team tours the Ogoniland region to investigate the execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
>> April 17 >> About 1,500 families of landless peasants from the Movimento Sem Tierra blockade the highway near the town of El Dorado dos Carajas in the state of Paraná, Brazil, demanding land reform and defying the authorities insistence that the occupation of a wealthy landowners' farm nearby end. Military police, and ID tags semoved, open fire on the demonstrators. Nineteen dead men are left beside the hifhway, though survivors talk of an open grave containing women and children hidden nearby. 69 are wounded. The MST are still seeking justice. In memory of this day April 17 is henceforth declared International Peasants' Day.
>> April 18-21 >> Via Campesina, a network of peasants and farmers groups fighting globalization, meets for its second conference in Tlaxcala, Mexico. 65 different groups from 37 countries meet; they range from the Thai Fotum for the Poor, to the Brazilian Movimiento Sem Terra, to the French confédération Paysanne.
>> May 30-June 2 >> About 1,000 people from 26 European countries participate in a "Continental Meeting for Humanity and against Neoliberalism" under the banner of "Ya Basta - Enough!" in Berlin, Germany. The meeting is organized by the Mexican branch of the Berlin Research and Documentation Centre on Chile and Latin America.
>> May 30 >> Driven to desperation by food shortages fostered by the peso devaluation, drought, and the impact of NAFTA and GATT trade rules on peasant farmers, 400 women and children stop and loot a train near Monterrey, Mexico, carrying away 40 tonnes of yellow corn in buckets and plastic bags.
>> June 19 >> Large parts of the South Korean car industry are shut down as workers at Kia Motors Corp., the country's second largest auto corporation, go on strike over a wage dispute.
>> June 27-29 >> The G7 meet in Lyon, France. Eight counter summits take place and for the first time in the G-7's 21-year history, 25,000 trade unionists take to the streets, protesting against job cuts, labour deregulation, attacks on public services, and the "sinister impact of the global economy." The summit, as always more ceremony than content, costs $40 million to organize, and delegates promise next year's meeting will be a cheaper, scaled down affair.
>> July 23 >> London Reclaim the Streets occupies the M41 motorway with a 10,000 person street party. Lurking near the sound system are 20 foot high carnival figures in hoop skirts, which conceaol jack hammers busily digging up the tarmac. Trees are then planted in the fast lane.
>> July 27-August 3 >> In Chiapas, Mexico, the Zapatistas organize the first Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism. Thousands of people representing social movements from all five continents attended the seminars in the autonomous town of La Realidad, where they identify a common struggle and develop and strenthen networks of resistance.
>> August >> Enraged mothers organize an August march of more than 150,000 campesinos in the provinces of Guavire, Putumayo, and Caqueta, Colombia after aerial speaying of Ultra Glyphosate pesticides on 45,000 acres causes convulsive vomiting and hair loss among children. Colombian federales diffuse the protest with false compromises, then assassinate march organizers. The US then insists that Colombia allow it to switch to the far more poisonous tebuthiuron.
>> August 8 >> An estimated 90 per cent of all Argentinean workers honour a general strike, decrying President Menem's neoliberal policies and the IMF-imposed structural adjustment, which has privatized virtually anything of value in the country, including highways and zoos.
>> August 16 >> Riots break out in Karak, Jordan, after IMF-imposed subsidy removal results in the price of bread tripling. The king suspends Parliament when it refuses to support price hikes. Protesters also target the Ministry of Education because of drastic increase in school fees - also imposed by the IMF.
>> August 21-31 >> Active Resistance, a gathering in Chicago which coincides with the 'Democratic' Party's national convention, brings together nearly a thousand people who engage in intensive work on building sustainable communities of resistance. Police harass activists, particulary those involved in creating alternative media, make 14 arrests, and raid the site, pepper spraying participants and confiscating (and damaging) equipment and personal belongings. Yet the seeds of inspiration are sown for Indymedia and other new ways of resisting.
>> August 23 >> Three hundred Africans occupy a church in Paris in an effort to bring attention to the plight of immigrants, and to demand regular papers. The French government refuses to negotiate with them, and they are eventually evicted.
>> September >> In the ongoing campaign to save the ancient redwoods, 8,000 people gather across from a Pacific Lumber mill in northern California, US, to defend the Headwaters Forest. Over a thousand of them are arrested for trespassing before the police run out of plastic handcuffs.
>> October 1 >> The longest strike in the United States steel industry begins against WCI Steel Inc. over diminished job security and deep cuts to pensions. Eight communities in Pennsylvenia, Ohio, and West Virginia buckle under the collective loss of $5 million in weekly wages. Steelworker families in the Ohio and Mon valleys are going to food banks instead of the grocery store. Strikers target banks and financial institutions linked to the corporation.
>> October 16 >> The global day of action against McDonald's coincides with the UN's World Food Day. Actions take place in over 50 cities in 21 countries, and include distribution of the now-infamous 'Whas's Wrong With McDonald's' leaftlet. The leaftlet promotes the 'McLibel' suit, which goes on to be the longest libel suit in British history.
>> October 25 >> One million people take part in a general strike in Toronto, protesting against massive national health care cuts and the widespread homelessness exacerbated by a 50 per cent increase in evictions in the previous year.
>> November 8-17 >> The World Food Summit is held in Rome. The Hunger Gathering, a counter summit, brings together diverse groups ranging from Bangladeshi farmers to the Brazilian MST. Their work lays the foundation of protest against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Europe.
>> November 20 >> Massive student strikes in Québec City, Canada take place, demanding an end to cuts in education funding, lifting of new restrictions on loan qualifications, a tuition freeze, bans on administrative fees, and abolition of a restrictive enrollment policy.
>> November 22-25 >> Mass mobilizations against 'free' trade occur throughout the Philippines during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The authorities ban certain foreigners (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former French first lady Danielle Mitterand) from entering the country as they might cause "disharmony." The government bulldozes shantytowns to create a fantasy of technological and social wealth for delegates. Protests include a march of 130,000 which is stopped by police blockades as it heads for the summit, as well as a massive blockade of the road connecting Manila to the summit site of Subic Bay.
>> November 23 >> On the US' National Day of Mourning, also known as Thanksgiving, Native Americans converge in Plymouth, Massachusetts and bury Plymouth Rock to protest against the celebration of genocide.
>> December >> The culmination of a year-long campaign against GMOs by german eco-anarchists results in prevention of one third of all test sites nation-wide being sown, and the sabotage of many more. Squatted protest camps sprout throughout the nation's fields; the squatters experience unprecedened support from inhabitants of the surrounding villages and small towns. People from all ages and social groups give money, bring food, and live there for days or weeks at a time. One camp produces its own electricity with donated solar panels from a local company. Prior to the occupations of many of the plots, a broad coalition of activists and local citizens collected thousands of signatures in order to prevent the experiment.
>> December 16 >> Two Sanoy Universal Electric PLC buildings are torched by Thai workers after wage negotiations break down, marking a break in Thailand's record of relatively harmonious labour negotiations. Labour disputes have more than doubled since 1991, and strikes and lockouts are becoming more confrontational.
>> December 23 >> Subcomandante Marcos recives a used pipe in the mail from Denmark. A group of activists occupying the Parliament building and the office of the Minister of Foreign Relations took the pipe from the minister's desk and mailed it to the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
>> December 26-29 >> The largest series of strikes and walkouts in South Korean history, involving hundreds of thousands of workers, takes place to protest against new labour legislation that allows companies to lay off and fire workers more easily and to avoid paying overtime in a more flexible work system.
moments of resistance and rebellion: 1994 - 2003
1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997
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