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Time is up for World Bank, IMF and the current systems of Global Finance

By Zainal Arifin Fuad and Jeongyeol Kim - La Via Campesina, October 14, 2018

Responding to the 2018 Annual meeting of World Bank and IMF that is taking place in the Indonesian island of Bali this week, La Via Campesina – the global peasant movement comprising 182 peasant and indigenous peoples organisations from 81 countries – has called upon all social movements of the world to denounce these institutions and come together to build an alternative to the current system of global finance.

In a communique released on the World Bank website on 13 October on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting in Bali, the Development Committee has once again admitted to rising debt levels, but in the same breath believes in the “crucial role of international trade for economic growth, job creation and sustainable development.”. It is this double speak that exposes the business-as-usual attitudes of these organisations. The International Trade and Global System promoted by World Bank, IMF and most recently WTO has only exacerbated poverty instead of alleviating or eradicating it. Yet what the proponents of neo-liberal capitalism seem to believe in is “more of the same” policies with two ounces of ‘disruptive technology’ added to it.

“Time has come to build a people’s banking system based on principles of solidarity, trust, mutual respect and co-operation, which can replace the current system of International Financial Institutions. These institutions such as World Bank, IMF, ADB and most recently the New Development Bank are all working to further advance the grip of capitalism and neo-liberalism on this world. All they do is serve the interests of their financiers, who are desperate to expand their markets. A majority of the people in this world are sunk in debt, while wealth remains in the control of a few. None of these institutions have any legitimacy left to represent the needs and interests of peasants, workers, indigenous people or fishers. They must go! ”, said Kim Jeongyeol from the Korean Women Peasant Association and International Coordination Committee member of La Via Campesina.

“This week (12 October) we complete 526 years since the European invasion and colonisation of Americas. It is ironical that in this week, new colonisers such as World Bank and IMF are holding a meeting to further advance their neo-liberal agenda”, reminded Angel Strapazzón from MNCI Argentina and La Via Campesina. Argentina has just been issued a record $50 Billion credit line by the IMF, with strict conditions to cut public investments, social security expenses and wages in the country. Peasants of MNCI, La Via Campesina had joined thousands of workers to resist and condemn this move last month.

“Seven decades is too long to be operating with such impunity. All they do is loan us some more and take out a lot more. Fincancialisation of nature, which means forcefully grabbing our land, lakes, rivers to be sold in packages to Transnational Corporations has deadly consequences for our communities. How could we think of dividing our oceans and selling them? Well, IMF and World Bank have found ways to put a price on nature, speculate and grab. If we need a secure future, these institutions and the interests they represent must disappear!” said David Calleb Otieno of the Kenyan Peasants League and La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa

“An alternative is possible. We need strong local, national and international campaigns to dismantle the current architecture and replace it with a system of cooperative banking and solidarity trade. A system that is meant to help a country in need, without any intent to exploit its people or drill out its natural resources. We don’t need an International Monetary Fund. Instead what the world needs is an International Solidarity Fund! That process must begin now. Social movements around the world must realise that the injustice we face can all be traced back to this hyper-globalised system where a few multinational institutions, financed by select few countries and billionaire philanthropists decide how national and local public policies must be written and implemented.”, said Zainal Arifin Fuat from Serikat Petani Indonesia and an ICC member of La Via Campesina.

While joining a People’s Forum organised by Gerak Lawan– an alliance of social movements and civil society organisations – to chart the course for a World Beyond Banks, peasant delegates of La Via Campesina actively shared instances of land grabbing, ocean grabbing and criminalisation of peasant struggles with activists from around the world. They also popularised the UN Declaration for Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas among the social movement activists who were present at the forum. Peasant delegates also shared about organised resistances that are ongoing in countries such as Timor Leste, Thailand, Kenya, Cambodia, Malaysia, France, Indonesia, South Korea, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, Argentina and Sri Lanka led by peasant women and men to take on these forces of global capital. They further emphasised on the need to build a global movement for Food Sovereignty in our territories to counter the project of neo-liberalism.

“It has to be a movement equally led by peasant and indigenous women who face the double oppression of poverty and patriarchy.”, insisted Claude Girod from Confederation Paysanne and Via Campesina European Coordination. The need to build food sovereignty and popular peasant feminism in our territories was emphasised by La Via Campesina in multiple forums during the People’s Forum.

“Local peasant markets must be revived, strengthened and protected against the assault of trade liberalisation. We must build a trade system that respects the right of people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods, upholding their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. This cannot come from World Bank or IMF who are here to keep capitalism alive” said Baramee Chairayat from Assembly of the Poor, Thailand

“Free Trade Agreements, whether bilateral, regional or multilateral are the tools to allow neo-liberal project of privatisation, deregulation and trade liberalisation to take roots in our countries. We can only fight it by building protection mechanisms that defend our Rights as peasants. Our campaign for a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People working in Rural Areas is a stepping stone in that direction, to realise a world beyond the banks. The Declaration will become an important tool to uphold and promote Food Sovereignty and to resist the attack of the current Global Trade System built by WTO with active support from IMF and World Bank”, added Zainal.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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