Philippine Banana Farmers:
Their Cooperatives and Struggle for Land Reform and Sustainable Agriculture

From FoodFirst,
by David Bacon, © 2020

PANABO, DAVAO, PHILIPPINES (8-31-19) – Workers harvest bananas in the field of the DARBCO cooperative in the Mindanao city of Panabo. Denmark Aguitas catches the bunnch of bananas on his shoulder as it’s cut from the tree, and carries it to the cableway where it’s hung from a hook and then pulled to the packing shed.
Copyright David Bacon

Thirty years ago many banana workers in the Philippines made a radical change in their work and lives. They transformed the militant unions they had organized to wrest a decent living from the multinational corporations that control much of the world’s food production. Instead of working for wages, they used the country’s land reform law to become the owners of the plantations where they had labored for generations.

It was not an easy process. They had to fight for market access and fair prices against the same companies that had been their employers. But they developed a unique organization to help them, that provided knowledge and resources for forming cooperatives. Twenty years ago FARMCOOP and these worker/grower cooperatives defeated the largest of the companies, Dole Fruit Company (in the Philippines called Stanfilco). As a result, today the standard of living for coop members has gone up, and workers have more control over how and what they produce.

FARMCOOP became the source of everything from financial planning and marketing skills to organic farming resources and political organizing strategy. FARMCOOP then developed an alliance with one of Mindanao’s indigenous communities, helping it start its own coops that combine the use of local traditions with organic and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

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Seattle – Something Greater Yet to Come

By David Bacon
The Progressive, December 4, 2019

This story was originally published by the Pacific News Service as “Seattle – Something Greater Yet to Come” on December 1, 1999.

Those who marched or stood or sat in the streets of Seattle this week made history, and they knew it. And like the great marches against the Vietnam war, or the first sit-ins in the South in the late 50s, it was not always easy to see just what history was being made, especially for those closest to the events of the time.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and police sweeps, the object of incessant media coverage, are the outward signs of impending change — that the guardians of the social order have grown afraid. And there’s always a little history in that.

Poeina, a young woman sitting in the intersection at the corner of Seventh and Stewart, waiting nervously for the cops to cuff her and take her away in her first arrest, knew the basic achievement she and her friends had already won: “I know we got people to listen, and that we changed their minds.” It was a statement of hope, like the chant that rose Tuesday from streets filled with thousands of demonstrators as the police moved in — “The whole world is watching!”

The Seattle protests put trade on the roadmap of public debate, making WTO a universally recognized set of initials in a matter of hours — what it took a year of debate over NAFTA to accomplish.

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Condemn the Coup Against Evo Morales and Bolivia!

CCDS JOINS THE WORLD COMMUNITY IN DEPLORING THE MILITARY COUP IN BOLIVIA: CALLS ON CONGRESS TO CONDEMN THE OVERTHROW OF THE ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF EVO MORALES

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), along with nations and movements in solidarity with the people of Bolivia everywhere, condemns the violent military/police coup carried out against the elected government of Evo Morales. President Morales reelected for a fourth term days ago was forced to resign his position on November 10, 2019. Other government officials were also forced to resign and supporters of the coup have been rampaging in the streets, burning and looting. It is said that President Morales’ house has been damaged as well. He was forced to flee to Mexico.

Morales, President since 2006, is the first indigenous leader ever to be elected President of Bolivia. In his thirteen years in office, the percentage of those living in extreme poverty (mostly indigenous people) has declined by half, social services have been expanded, and key industries nationalized  while the country has experienced growth rates twice that of any Latin American country with only modest inflation. During his tenure in office, political decentralization empowering indigenous villagers was initiated while a modern economic and political infrastructure has been created.

As a successful national participant in the so-called “Pink Tide,” Bolivia has stood for national independence and sovereignty and against ruinous neoliberal policies prescribed by international financial institutions. It has expanded international ties with nations everywhere. For example, It has signed agreements with China to facilitate development of its valuable lithium resource (a key component of cell phones, electric cars, and other new technologies).

As more information about the coup appears it seems clear that the United States has encouraged and assisted in the military coup, with Senators Rubio and Menendez playing key roles.

We denounce President Trump’s statement in support of the coup and further threatening the overthrow of the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua. We call on Members of Congress to join with Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar in condemning the coup. All presidential candidates must also take a stand. Thus far only Senator Bernie Sanders has done so. Continue reading “Condemn the Coup Against Evo Morales and Bolivia!”