Working together from the ground up to build convergences and struggles to live well on our planet in 2012!
To international networks on the WAI Liaison Committee:
International Alliance of Inhabitants
Habitat International Coalition
WAI Joint Organization Committees
LOCOA - Leaders and Organizers of Community Organization in Asia
Dear friends and comrades,
The list of evictions and acts of violence towards defenders of housing and land rights is so long in early 2012 that we cannot ignore the urgent need for appropriate and, therefore, joint responses at a local, national, regional and global level by all inhabitants’ organisations and networks, social movements and support organisations, both now and throughout this strategic year.
Tens of thousands of people have already lost their homes and land or are under threat of losing them in Nairobi, Accra, S. Paulo, Kathmandu and Phnom Penh, a list that only takes account of the most recent and severe cases of eviction. There are millions of other evictions ongoing, including those caused by megaprojects and megaevents as well as the inability to pay housing costs because of the global economic crisis, particularly in the United States and Europe.
The neoliberal system is, in fact, untenable for the majority of the population and the environment. However, it is still difficult to muster adequate forces, capable of resisting and building fair alternatives to the model imposed by financial imperialism.
Therefore, it is essential to strengthen the convergences of struggles tested during the WAI in Dakar and the World Days in October 2011 , which yielded mostly positive feedback for us all. In particular, based on the joint World Habitat Days 2011 blog , even with partial data (not everyone published), there were 73 events in 23 countries on all continents, 46 of which the IAI contributed to in 20 countries with the participation of several tens of thousands of people. They were initiatives to raise awareness and launch struggles that had a positive impact and in some cases produced important results. Notably, joint anti-eviction committees were created in several territories, beginning to consolidate the consensus emerging from the survey regarding the proposal to form "Joint Anti-eviction Task Forces" (1,021 ‘Yes’, i.e. 97.2%, versus 30 ‘No’, i.e. 2.8%).
At the same time, 258 inhabitants’ organisations and other supporting organisations signed the WAI Dakar Declaration , underscoring the increase in the willingness to converge. Building on these solid foundations, after the Days we continued with joint action on several levels, thus trying to help overcome a number of delays caused by those who appeared to have chosen other priorities.
In more concrete terms, the New Wishes for 2012 we sent to everyone, United in solidarity, we fight together and build the Urban and Communitarian Way , to living well on our planet! helped to open joint spaces.
In particular, during the Thematic Social Forum (Porto Alegre, January 2012), we took this dialogue further by organizing the workshop on “The Urban and Communit arian Way and Zero Evictions Campaign” with the participation of all the major inhabitants’ organizations and networks in Brazil and Latin America, as well as by contributing content to the Declaration of Social Movements Assembly .
For these same reasons, together with all those who have continued to work together in the spirit of convergence, we are in the process of developing other joint initiatives to launch debate and action on all continents, both on a local level and targeting the next global events (People’s Summit – Rio+20, 20 – 24 June 2012; Urban Social Forum – World Urban Forum, Naples 1 – 7 September 2012) .
Using this approach, which favours the sustainable dynamics of inhabitants’ organisations, we are working with several partners on the international level, particularly in Italy and Naples, to prepare for the Urban Social Forum next September.
So we are pleased to see that HIC and No-Vox have also decided to mobilise and write a text in preparation for Naples, as long as it can be viewed as an open contribution to the same convergences of dialogue and direction.
However, considering this proposal as the call behind the USF and a reason to send “volunteers on a mission” to Naples from the top down and from abroad would only cause misunderstandings and obstacles with regard to a "political colonialism" of the type practised by certain NGOs who prioritize financed projects over community struggles and dynamics.
Dear friends and comrades,
Naples is a border town, where inhabitants’ organisations are fighting a real war against the camorra, which represents the interests of the criminal bourgeoisie, and not only on a local level. This is an extra reason to respect their actions and work together on content, proposals and campaigns, abandoning any approaches that appear to be failing.
Therefore we would like to propose a Skype chat for the WAI Liaison Committee (possibly before Friday 17/2/12) with the following agenda:
- solidarity with struggles against evictions and in support of housing rights activists;
- calendar of joint initiatives of inhabitants’ organisations and urban social movements in 2012 (People’s Summit-Rio+20, USF-WUF, Days in October, etc.);
- check on the WAI Liaison Committee participants and joint working methods and tools;
We look forward to working more closely with you, expanding the dialogue and collaboration with all concerned inhabitants’ networks, counting on the understanding and support of supportive organisations, and to hearing your comments and proposals. Ciao in solidarity.
---------------------- Cesare Ottolini IAI Coordinator www.habitants.org ----------------------