Madagascar: The New Land Grab

aa-transJust when colonialism was considered dead and buried, along comes neo-colonialism in its latest guise. Allied with its close relatives globalisation, free marketeering and lack of transparency, it is currently launching a new offensive on the disempowered population of this continent. Kwame Nkrumah, along with others in the post-colonial Pan Africanist movement, coined the term ‘neo-colonialism’ to describe continued access to the resources of less developed nations, by both national and private interests allied to wealthy nations. He warned against the continued impacts of colonialism if the risks inherent to neo-colonialism were neither addressed nor dealt with. Read More


landgrab-game-boardThe Biodiversity-NGO GRAIN describes in a report how a host of nations – China, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others – have been scouring the globe in search of arable land to buy or to lease for the production of crops for food or biofuels. What attracts attention is not just the amount of land involved – some of the deals involve more than a million acres – but the logic underlying the transactions. For this is not land that is being primarily acquired to produce crops to sell on the world market or to feed the local population. These crops are to be sent back to the nation that has acquired the land. Using its economic clout, the investing nation is taking over land – and, with it, the soil fertility and the water that are needed to cultivate crops – so that its people back home can have food to eat and fuel to put into their cars. Read more at a GRAIN page that brings together various articles, links, news and blog posts.

Privatization Kills

Mass Communist Bloc Privatization Led To Surge In Male Deaths: Former Eastern Bloc countries that swiftly and massively privatized their state assets in the early 1990s, leading to a surge in unemployment, recorded a consequent wave of male deaths according to a recent study published by The Lancet.

The consequences hold stark lessons for China, India and other countries mulling reforms of their state sector. Between 1991 and 1994, male deaths in Russia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, where intense, fast-track privatization took place, rose 42%, coinciding with a 305% increase in unemployment, its authors say.
At the other end of the scale, Albania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia – where either privatization was more cautious or the social safety net was stronger – saw a fall of 10% in male mortality and only a 2% rise in unemployment. The probe focussed on the death rate between 1989 and 2002 among men of working age in post-Communist economies in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
To avoid distortion, the investigators filtered out trade and price liberalization, income change and historical levels of health. They found that swift, massive privatization of assets was generally correlated with a lightning rise in unemployment and a sharp increase in mortality among men aged 15-59. High alcohol consumption among jobless men could explain much of the increase in deaths, they believe.
In addition, in the old Communist system, many employers provided extensive health and social care for their workers, and these services were lost upon unemployment or were cut back or scrapped upon privatization. Economies that took a more gradual approach to selling state assets suffered far fewer casualties among their adult male population.
But there were also important exceptions. Some countries where massive privatization took place were able to withstand the shock well, thanks to support networks provided by churches, unions and other groups. In countries where 45% or more of the population were members of at least one such social organization, mass privatization didn’t increase mortality, the researchers found.
“Great caution should be taken when macroeconomic policies seek radically to overhaul the economy without considering potential effects on the population’s health,” says the study. “As variants of rapid reform policies are being debated in China, India, Egypt, and several other developing and middle-income countries – including Iraq – which are just beginning to privatize their large state-owned sectors, the lessons from the transitions from Communism should be kept in mind.” The study defined rapid, massive privatization as the disposal of at least 25% of large state-owned enterprises to the private sector within a two-year period.

The authors are David Stuckler of Oxford University and Lawrence King at the University of Cambridge, both sociologists; and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an expert on health in the former Eastern Bloc. Full text available for payment at The Lancet

Manifest for the recovery of common goods of humanity (WSF 2009 Belem)

Manifest for the recovery of common goods of humanity

The enclosure movement in England during the 15th and 16th centuries limited the access to land and its benefits to its owners, thus making it inaccessible to the public as it had been traditionally. This initiated the process of the privatization of common human necessities. Subsequently, the world was ruled under the logic of the capitalistic system of production, in which everything can be transformed into money, and industrialization engendered mass production. The process of privatization, linked to an unrestrained mercantilization, aggravated greed and competition.
As a result, nowadays, the human civilization is in crisis ; one that could inevitably lead to the destruction of the human species on Earth. With the endurance of the most aggressive aspects of modern societies: the growth of social inequalities, consumeristic frenzy, destruction of nature, militarization of international affairs, the confiscation of public power by the market and productivism, the violent appropriation of the natural resources, and democracy retrogress

On one hand, in the schizophrenia of our times, the production of arms is an endless source of profits; destructing the environment is how economic growth is attained; the pharmaceutical industry obtains astronomical gains by only making their products available to those who can afford to pay their exorbitant prices; the control of the production and selling of seeds is death to small farms because of the debt they incur; The creation of money as an instrument to make exchanges easier is privatized by banks that, even when showed as the heart of a casino economy, speculative and unlinked to the real economy, are reinforce by governmental medicines to the running financial crises.

On the other hand, the knowledge that would allow parcels of the population the access to solutions for their problems is not made widely; the preservation of the forest, necessary to the continuity of life on the planet, is considered an obstacle to progress; scientific research has not served in the struggle against endemic diseases that decimate entire populations; discoveries and useful advancements to human development become inaccessible, protected by blindly defended patents and author’s rights; large agricultural productions with unknown environment effects spread throughout the earth to supply enough fuel to keep the wealthy minority at their standard of living.

The World Social Forum of 2009, at Belem – Pará, Brazil, is happening at a very special moment in time. It is a time when neo-liberal globalization, boosted by financial movements, unfettered by public control and legitimized by the ideology of the free market fails spectacularly.

The moment is also very special because simultaneously, the whole world is emerging into a new consciousness built on the premise that there are resources that under no circumstances could be privatizatized and mercantilized, by the fact that they are common goods and should be available to all human beings and nature itself.

The undersigned of the present Manifest, released in the World Social Forum of 2009, call all citizens of the world and their organizations to engage in the struggle for the deprivatization and demercantilization of these goods, as a flag raised by all of Humanity.

Everyone in their various locations and on their respective battle grounds, must assume the spirit of cooperation,which is essential to human life, and mobilize themselves in order to :

  • amplify and nurture the new consciousness that is emerging;
  • offer support towards the efforts of the organizations that launch themselves to the defense of rivers, land, seeds, knowledge, science, forests, seas, wind, communication and intercommunication, culture, music and other forms of art, public services such as education, health, sanitation, money, ancestral wisdom;
  • fortify the endeavors of their own organizations, mutually reinforcing themselves, in the campaigns and initiatives proposed and developed towards these objectives
  • The undersigned of this Manifest pledge to exhaustively act to recover, for the common use of their fellow human beings, in co-responsibility and under social control, all of the goods and services necessary for life.

    Financial Crisis’ Impacts on Public Services and PPP

    PSIRU researches the privatisation and restructuring of public services around the world, with special focus on water, energy, waste management, and healthcare. It produces reports and maintains an extensive database on the multinational companies involved and on the financial crisis’ impacts on public services and PPP.

    The first paper examines the impact of the economic crisis on public services, including government reponses and implications for companies operating in public services. Download Economic crisis and public services – note 1 December 2008

    The second paper focusses on credit squeeze and recession, which are combining to make PPPs almost impossible to finance, anywhere in the world. Traditional government borrowing and procurement can still be used to implement infrastructure programmes. Download Crisis note 2: A crisis for PPPs? January 2009

    This core database is financed by Public Services International (PSI), the global confederation of public service trade unions.

    Nearly 500 enterprises privatized since 2003 in Algeria

    Some 447 enterprises have been privatized in Algeria since 2003, making the Treasury obtain some 1.4 billion euros, declared Thursday the Algerian Minister of Industry and Investment Promotion Hamid Temmar.
    “The revenue from the sale of public enterprises under privatization is estimated at 137 billion dinars (1.37 billion euros),” said Temmar, quoted by the APS news agency. “These recipes involve the privatization of 447 public enterprises during the period from 2003 until the first quarter of 2008,” said the minister, answering an oral question in the National Assembly. According to Mr. Temmar, these privatizations have allowed the preservation of 40,000 jobs and the creation over 19,000 new jobs.” The Algerian government has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to privatize the state enterprises, which are too weighty to manage, except those so-called “strategic” or “of sovereignty” such as the oil company Sonatrach, electricity and gas Sonelgaz and railways.
    Source: ennaharonline