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Press Release

BRICS MUST TAKE LEGITIMATE AND CONVINCING STEPS TO DEFEND PEACE, PLANET AND PEOPLE'S INTERESTS: URGES PEOPLE'S FORUM
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People's Forum on BRICS held in Goa develops a declaration for heads of state attending the 8th BRICS Summit
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GOA, 14 October 2016: The People's Forum on BRICS that took place in Goa on the 13th and 14th of Goa witnessed several social movements and civil society formations, representing the people of at least 10 countries, make a declaration towards the official 8th BRICS summit in Goa.

The declaration has urged upon the BRICS nations to look at issues of Social, Economic and Environmental justice and has reminded the BRICS leadership of a time of an unprecedented crisis facing humanity and nature.

The forum has emphasised the threat that several democracies across the world are facing from reactionary and imperialist forces and has in particular drawn attention to the coup in Brazil that has overthrown a people's government. The representatives also noticed with great concern the state repression of people's movements and student’s protests in countries including India and South Africa.

The declaration also points out the massive levels of ecological destruction that is taking place around the world, led by corporations and in collusion with the state. Goa, the site of the summit is ironically at the receiving end of this destruction.

The Forum also pointed out the teetering world economy that is on the verge of another financial meltdown resulting in stocks and currency market crisis in many of the BRICS countries. The longer-term crisis of capitalism is evident in the marked slowdown in international trade, in declining global profit rates, and in business disinvestment, especially evident in the three BRICS which have negative or negligible GDP growth.

The world’s workers are losing rights, farmers are suffering to the point of suicide, and labour casualisation is rampant in all our countries, with the result that BRICS workers are engaged in regular protest and wildcat strikes, of which the strike by 180 million Indian workers inspired the world on 2 September;

On the social front, the threat to our already-inadequate welfare policies is serious, especially in Brazil’s coup regime but more generally across the BRICS where inadequate social policies are not providing adequate safety nets;

The commodification of public services is causing misery, such as in South Africa where university students are fighting hard for a fee-free, decolonised tertiary education;

Everywhere that people’s movements have made countervailing demands – such as democracy, peace, poverty eradication, sustainable development, equality, fair trade – the elites have co-opted our language and distorted our visions beyond recognition. Many of our leaders are hopelessly corrupt, and so when BRICS spin-doctors claim that their work in Goa will “build responsive, inclusive and collective solutions,” we have spent two days looking beyond the pleasing rhetoric and have found a very different, harsh reality.

In short, whereas we criticise the way world power is created and exercised, the BRICS leaders appear to simply want power sharing. To illustrate, the BRICS New Development Bank is working hand-in-glove with the World Bank; the Contingent Reserve Arrangement empowers the International Monetary Fund; and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank serves mainly corporate interests – and all these financial institutions lack opportunities for adequate civil society monitoring and participation.

As a result, the Forum has raised constructive critiques of BRICS in our plenaries and workshops. But beyond the analysis, we understand that only people’s power, across borders, can make change. Some of our most successful struggles – such as access to life-savings medicines or ending apartheid – required international solidarity. This Forum found many routes forward for cross-cutting BRICS internationalism in various sectors.

For example, the Forum recognises the need for a just solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the principles of international law, and condemns the US-backed aggression and the Pentagon/NATO doctrine of regime change. The Forum reaffirmed its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against colonialism and occupation, and we endorse Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against apartheid Israel, including opposition to Israel’s attempted export of its unsustainable water and agricultural technologies to BRICS countries. The social movements and progressive unions and formations who gathered at the Xavier’s Centre for Historical Research, Goa declared their intention to win their demands for social, economic and environmental justice. The victories that many of the movements have won already on multiple fronts – such as halting numerous multinational corporations’ exploitation, gaining access to essential state services, occupying land and creating agricultural cooperatives, and generating more humane values in our societies – give the Forum the momentum and optimism. In 2017 and beyond, the BRICS People’s Forum will reconvene, and redouble our efforts with new-found allies from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

peoplesforumonbr...@gmail.com

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BRICS is fast turning into a free market ploy to loot natural resources: Medha Patkar
Abhilash / 19 hours ago

img_9827-001A two-day long People’s Forum on BRICS kick started today at the Xavier’s Centre for Historical Research, Alto Porvorim Goa.

The opening plenary, chaired by renowned women’s rights and environmentalist activist Norma Alvares, saw eminent social movement leaders from the BRICS region addressing a gathering of over five hundred people from at least 10 countries around the world.

Several speakers recounted and emphasised on the fact that BRICS was formed to challenge the imperialistic and hegemonic nature of institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. When the five countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa came together to form BRICS, it was done with an intent to bring about social justice and equity in these countries that was home to over 50% of the world’s population.

Yet, even as the governments of these nations come together for their 8th Summit in Goa, it is a matter of serious concern that BRICS is following a path that is opposed to its foundational principles by increasingly aligning with capitalist and imperialists forces of the world.

Speaking in the opening plenary that deliberated on the CRISES THAT PEOPLE FACE – WHAT IS BRICS’ RESPONSE? – noted Indian activist Medha Patkar commented that BRICS has failed to challenge the hegemony of imperialist states. She accused that in all these countries, private corporations are increasingly taking control of democratic institutions and overriding people’s participation in crucial decision-making processes. BRICS has done little to advance social justice and equity in these countries. She reminded the audience that India, despite being the largest democracy in the world, is also a sight where the poorest and the most marginalized people are continuing their struggle for social justice, dignity and identity. People have been kept outside of the decisions that are taken on their behalf for their development she accused.

Mincing no words, she accused BRICS of turning into a Free Market Ploy, that serves the interest of big capital. BRICS is no more interested in the annihilation of caste or in the welfare of its people, she said. The question of gender equality and justice is not a priority for BRICS anymore. Even if the governments of BRICS nations have started co-opting the language of the civil society and social movements during Summits like these, they end up as just words and are never implemented once the summit is over. It is fast turning into an institution that serves the interests of the elites in developing countries.

Most of the speakers, who spoke at the event emphasised on the need to build solidarities of communities in the BRICS countries and the need for the civil society in these countries to set a people’s agenda that can overcome the consumerist and destructive agendas of capital.

Maria Luisa Belo, representing the feminist movement in Brazil, spoke about the threat that democracies across the world are facing today. She also commented on the overturn of democracy and the coup orchestrated by the country’s elites and imperialists countries. The new government that came through the coup has already taken anti-people measures, she said. Maria, in her speech, read out the demand of the feminist movements in Brazil that is calling upon the world’s institutions, including BRICS, to come up with a people’s agenda to defeat patriarchy and poverty. She emphasised on the need to build an alliance of social movements in all these countries to make this a possibility.

Trevor Ngwane, who led several workers’ struggles in South Africa and also an academic, recounted the extreme levels of inequality that exists in the South African Society. He called for a pan -African unity and expressed his doubts over South Africa representing the voice of Africa all by itself.

Dorothy Guerrero, while commenting on China spoke about the urban-rural divide that exists in the country. She rued the steps taken by the Chinese authorities in curtailing migration from the rural to urban, while doing little to improve the country side. She spoke about the increasing corporate control over people’s resources – leading to massive protests by people in the countryside, led mostly by the peasants. Yet, the news of such resistances rarely make it to the global media.

Several people’s representatives from Goa also made presentations at the end of the plenary, which included, Sabina Martis, Caroline Collaso, Fr. Maverick, Favita Dias and Thalmann Pereira. Most of them spoke about the massive loot of natural resources that is taking place in Goa. They also spoke about the negative impact of corporate led tourism on small businesses in Goa and the ecological damages being inflicted. The speakers also pointed out at the atrocities being committed on women, Dalits and Adivasis in the state, while attempting to appropriate resources.

Soon after the opening plenary, the assembly held several simultaneous workshops that addressed issues of Food Sovereignty Nutritional and Agrarian Crisis, The Nuclear Power Push in BRICS countries, Parliamentary Oversight on New Development Bank and IFIs, Palestine: Building solidarities in BRICS, BRICS banks – and what does it mean to people, Energy Democracy and Labour Perspectives, Corporate Loot of Natural Resources and Alternatives from BRICS countries.
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