Together we can’t!

A non-male or non-heteronormative politician has to go through all the closed gates, through windows, purify their intentions to serve the cause without attempting to question and subvert the political and societal structures, which were bread by the patriarchy. It is wildly feared that such politicians will turn the world into Babylon. Out of many fears, this particular one is the least irrational. Indeed, questioning systems that stink can and will amplify voices that were never heard, unravel the languages that we didn’t even know existed.

Politicized marginal groups have always looked up to progressive, leftist movements, which have accommodated many of us. Leftist movements have benefited from being inclusive, from being somewhat representative of minorities, but soon realized that within the modern over-simplified political milieu pluralism can confuse voters. With nationalism on its raise, the left decided to shift the paradigm from embracing diversity to dismissing it. Emerging popular movements claim the knowledge of what people are and what people want. Their policies are relying on post-material white-collar concerns and populist anti-establishment mobilization. This sometimes translates into abandoning very little progress that we’ve made in the battle against patriarchy in number of domains of our social and political life. The new popular approach is bizarrely post-gender, therefore, criticisms for single-man leadership are being instantaneously delegitimized. Guess what, we may have battles to win for working class and ones who are struggling, but sometimes it takes more than just a man with a fabulous long hair to represent us all.

This issue goes even farther than representation. Analyzing the rhetoric of these movements, it seems to me that the only identity they find really hard to let go is the national identity and when national flags are waved, all non-male and queer people see is dozens of cheap fabric tinted in monochromatic color of patriarchy. That color is very last decade and please, don’t try to make it happen again in 2016! Let it go!

We as Greens, who have strong affiliation with eco-socialist ideas and somehow contextualize ourselves within the history of leftist movements, have come a long way to understanding that sustainable future is not going to become a reality anytime soon, if we do not commit to gendering democracy. We understand that we are facing serious problems with representation and the measures need to be practiced heavily. Do we?

Green parties in some countries go in coalition with the popular leftist movements for the sake of electoral success. Fair enough. Now the question is, how do we ensure that these partnerships are not another Pandora’s box?

/Gio Megrelishvili

Project Manager at the Federation of Young European Greens

Gender Studies master programme graduate 

La Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional en la Agenda Política de Guatemala – Food and nutrition security in the political agenda of Guatemala

(eng translation below)

La problemática alimentaria de Guatemala está determinada, en la última década, por la desigualdad social, que mantiene al 59%  de la población en condiciones de pobreza y en situación de vulnerabilidad alimentaria.

El importante informe del Relator Especial sobre los Derechos a la Alimentación Jean Ziegler en 2006 destacaba a Guatemala como el país de América Latina con mayores niveles de desnutrición crónica y expresaba su preocupación del no cumplimiento del objetivo 1 de los ODM. Esta preocupación de Ziegler se cumplió. La última encuesta ENCOVI, indica que la pobreza en Guatemala ha pasado del 51.2 por ciento en el 2006 a 59.3 en el 2014 y la extrema pobreza del 15.3 a 23.4 por ciento.

Al tratar los problemas centrales del país en la Agenda Nacional Compartida -construida por partidos políticos en el año 2002- se expresaba claramente los compromisos en la Agenda Política, indicando la necesidad de promover la generación de un nuevo modelo económico incluyente, basado en el crecimiento con equidad, en los recursos y posibilidades del país, su riqueza cultural y su biodiversidad, entendiendo la necesaria subsidiaridad como una responsabilidad del Estado, y como un derecho de la sociedad.

Sin embargo los cambios ofrecidos no se han sido cumplido. Un estudio realizado al programa Hambre Cero del último gobierno (2012-2015) concluía que dentro de sus debilidades para alcanzar el objetivo estaba, la no búsqueda de cambios estructurales en el país, que permitan verdaderamente combatir la pobreza y la desnutrición.

En Guatemala el 2% de la población es propietaria del 65% de la tierra, el modelo económico excluyente, no promueve el acceso a los medios de vida, especialmente a la tierra en propiedad o en alquiler, así como la calidad y acceso a otros recursos naturales y ambientales. Por el contrario, se ataca a los dirigentes y activistas de las comunidades en sus territorios, con el impulso desde el gobierno de un extractivismo autoritario. Así como la erosión de los activos genéticos del país, con políticas alimentarias y agrícolas, favorables al uso de recursos genéticamente modificados, convertir a la diversidad biológica del país en mercancía, sin salvaguardar el derecho de los pueblos indígenas  y campesinos a usar y controlar las semillas nativas. Ademas el uso insostenible del agua con sobre explotación y contaminación de las fuentes, con impactos terribles en la alimentación.

Para cumplir con el objetivo 2 de las ODS sobre combatir el hambre y lograr la Seguridad Alimentaria, Guatemala requiere de acciones políticas concretas que incluye la necesidad urgente del desarrollo de mercados internos competitivos, que generen empleo e ingresos y aseguren la existencia de alimentos que se puedan comprar.

Urge de la aprobación de la iniciativa Ley de Desarrollo Rural Integral, para que los próximos gobiernos lo puedan implementar. También urge del fondo verde internacional de CC para Guatemala, que aporte a la agroecología, la conservación de suelos, el mejoramiento de las condiciones productivas y la calidad de vida del interior del país, así como el fortalecimiento de la promoción de las energías nuevas y renovables.

A la vez requiere de la implementación de proyectos de inversión social que sean efectivamente equitativos hacia la población de escasos recursos, con transparencia, combatiendo el clientelismo político y la corrupción.

 

/Matilde Bajan

Project coordinator at CEMAT; Centro Mesoamericano de Estudios sobre Tecnología Apropiada 

 

Food and nutrition security in the political agenda of Guatemala

The last decade, the food-related problems of Guatemala has been determined by social inequality, which holds 59 % of the population in poverty and vulnerable to food insecurity.

The important report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, stated in 2006 that Guatemala is the Latin American country with the highest levels of chronic malnutrition and expressed concerns of the non-fullfilment of Goal 1 of the MDGs. This concern of Ziegler was justified. The latest survey of ENCOVI, indicates that poverty in Guatemala has risen from 51.2 % in 2006 to 59.3 in 2014 and the extreme poverty from 15.3 to 23.4%.

To deal with the central problems of the country, it was in the ‘Shared National Agenda’ (built by political parties in 2002) clearly articulated the commitments made in the Guatemalan Political Agenda. It indicated the need to promote the creation of a new inclusive economic model, based on growth with equity of resources, capacities, its cultural richness and biodiversity – understanding the necessary subsidies as a state responsibility, and as a right of the society.

However, the offered changes have not been fulfilled. A study of the Zero Hunger program (a program by the previous government, 2012-2015) concluded that within their weaknesses to achieve the objective was the inability to find structural changes which would have enabled a real combat of poverty and malnutrition.

In Guatemala 2 %of the population owns 65% of the land. This exclusive economic model does not promote access to livelihood, especially land owned or rented, as well the quality and access to other natural and environmental resources. On the contrary, it attacks leaders and activists of communities with a boost of authoritarian extractivism from the government. The erosion of the country’s genetic assets is a consequence of the country’s food and agricultural policies which are favorable to the use of genetically modified resources, making the country’s biological diversity merchandise, without safeguarding the rights of indigenous peoples and peasants to the use and control of native seeds. Furthermore, the unsustainable use of water means exploitation and pollution of the sources, with terrible impacts on nutrition.

To comply with objective 2 of the SDGs – combating hunger and achieving food security, Guatemala requires concrete policy actions that includes the urgent need for the development of competitive domestic markets, that would generate employment and income and ensure the existence of food to buy.

This urges the adoption of the Law of Integral Rural Development so that future governments can implement it. It also urges the international Green Climate Fund to support Guatemala, which contributes to agroecology, soil conservation, improving production conditions and the quality of life within the country as well as strengthening the promotion of new and renewable energy.

At the same time Guatemala needs the implementation of social investment projects that are transparent, combating political patronage and corruption and are effectively equal to the population with scarce resources,

 

/Matilde Bajan

Project coordinator at CEMAT; Centro Mesoamericano de Estudios sobre Tecnología Apropiada 

Divest now!

Divestment is a process on the opposite side of investment. It implies withdrawal of stocks, bonds or investment funds from fossil fuel companies. At the same time divestment is a powerful political tool to point out core problems, to target perpetrators rather than users/victims and to point out necessary changes of the financial system.

Throughout history there have been several divestment campaigns that contributed to changes in sectors they had targeted. For ex. campaigns against military actions in Darfur[1], Tobacco industry[2], etc.  Perhaps the most famous example was the Divestment campaign as regards the Apartheid system in South Africa[3].

Concerning Divestment from fossil fuels, the argumentation is built around 3 arguments:

  1. Moral argument – To illustrate it, the best way would be to quote Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org: “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage”. To reach the Paris climate goals, up to 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves have to remain in the ground.
  1. Democratic argument – is applicable to investment funds over which citizens should have ownership. Pensions funds, Universities, Local authorities and city/municipal governments, etc. These investments must be transparent and citizens must have a say in the way money is used. If we elect local governments on bases of their political programme we must ensure that their investments with public money are also following the same political line. Having said that, as so many elected politicians on different levels pledge their support and will to combat climate change, one could expect huge amounts of public funds to be divested from fossil fuel industries any time soon.
  1. Financial argument – If a vast majority of fossil fuel reserves will not be used due to strict climate policies, fossil fuel companies (and their shares) will lose value dramatically. Therefore, foresighted investors are already backing out of fossil fuel investments, not (only) for moral reasons, but because of the financial risk these investments are bearing.

Divestment is not only about stopping or slowing down damaging processes. The potential of divestment lies in the fact that financial means remain at our disposal to invest them in sustainable activities/industries. Investing in a development of renewable energy will never be easier than in times when we divest public and private money from fossil fuel industries.

The real power of divestment is in the fact that it delegitimizes the fossil fuel industry and that it expands a notion of political participation to finances and raise the demand for full transparency and accountability of the ones we elect to govern.

At the end, it is important to mention the campaign Divestment from Fossil fuels[4]. It is clear that the world energy supply cannot continue on its fossil basis and that complexity of climate change needs to be tackled through different means. One thing we can do is to demand, among others, our municipalities, our banks, our universities, our pension fund, our churches, and our insurances to divest from fossil fuels. Divest now!

/Vesna Jusup 

Works with member relations at the European Green Party secretariat 

Former project leader at Cooperation and Development Network of Eastern Europe 

 

[1] http://fpif.org/divestment_ending_the_genocide_in_darfur/

[2] https://www.nsra-adnf.ca/cms/file/files/NSRA%20MLT%20Divestment%20Fact%20Sheet%20Dec14%20final2.pdf

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disinvestment_from_South_Africa

[4] https://europeangreens.eu/fossilfree2016

The Return of Rwanda’s Exiled King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa – a pillar to achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Roi kigeli

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda recently called upon the Rwandan Government to help bring back the exiled last Rwandan King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, who was overthrown in 1961 and currently lives in the United States of America. The king’s return is a key factor for achieving sustainable peace and stability as well as several Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).

SDG Goal number 16 states: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Before colonialism, the Rwandan monarchy ruled for at least 1000 years, people lived together without racism and ethnic divisions. The king was the supreme leader for all his people. Wars fought were only for conquests but not against his people.

However, things changed with colonialism and by the end of 1959, the Rwandan society was deeply divided alongside ethnic lines and several people were killed, so many others were forced into exile. The king was eventually overthrown in 1961 and a republic was proclaimed, then independence granted on 7th July 1962. Continued animosity and ethnic divisions marked the following years after independence and by April 1994, those divisions culminated into the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, where almost one million lives were killed in just 100 days.

After the genocide, many people believe that the return of the exiled king would be a key factor in consolidating unity and reconciliation amongst Rwandan people. It is well known that during the monarchy period, people never killed each other due to ethnic differences, they embraced each other, inter-married and life went on. Similarly, many Rwandans believe that the return of the exiled king, would be a good omen for the country. The king would be expected to play a big role in unity and reconciliation of his people. This would mark the real beginning of sustainable peace and stability thus fulfilling SDG goal number 16.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has taken a hard decision to demand the Rwandan government to help bring back the exiled king. This decision is in line with the party’s policy on resolving the persistent refugee problem. The party resolved that in order to completely end the refugee problem, the exiled king should be assisted to return to his country. DGPR believes that his return will be the exodus of the return of all remaining Rwandan refugees and it will be a pillar for bringing sustainable peace and security to Rwanda and the great lakes region.

The Rwandan government has been requested to recognize the exiled king as a former head of state and provide him with all the privileges that are guaranteed by law for a former head of state. The king cannot come back as an ordinary citizen. He represented Rwanda before the UN and he also requested for independence.

The party finds it difficult for the country to achieve sustainable development and social justice for the Rwandan people when the issue of the exiled king is still unresolved. It would be hard for Rwanda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) when peace and stability is not guaranteed.

/ Frank Habineza

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President African Greens Federation

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA