Succesful Struggles against privatizationStories from the front lines The “Combo del ICE”. A Costa Rican story.
The struggle anthem. • “If they threaten with fire, don’t grow weak, if they threaten with wooden sticks, don’t grow weak, if they threaten with bullets, don’t grow weak, if they threaten with the devil, don’t grow weak.” • “’Cause the peoples heart, to his owner doesn’t cheat, and Jesus goes between the peoples, of the ones that fast and sing” • Grupo Cantares
Historical Background • 1948. Last Costa Rican Civil war. • Ended with the agreement of the mayor political parties and the church to promote social reforms and improve the peoples situation. • Several institutions were creates: Public Universities, Public Hospital, Social Security, Public Education. • Army was abolished.
Historical Background. • The ICE (Costa Rican Institute of Electricity and Telecomunications) was created as a result of the Civil War. • Purposes: • Satisfy the population needs respecting Electricity and Telecomunications. • Help with the country’s social development. • Give the services to everyone in the country
Achievements • For year 2001: • Electrification of the 97,6% of the territory. • 94,8% of the territory with Telecomunications services. • Surplus of ¢61.681.000.000 (near $176.231.428,57). • Highest levels of electrification and telecomunications coverage in Latin America • Third country in America in public telephones rate
Costa Rica, a peaceful country. • Last social movement occured int 1970 against ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America). • Apathetic population with no interes in topics regarding politics and social institutions. • 40% of abstencionism in last presidential elections.
Social Situation of the moment • Population upset with the labor of the gobernant classes. • Mayor rejection against neoliberal policies of the last goverments. • Unprotection of the poorest peoples. • Deterioration of the basic services (health, education, electricity, telecomunications, etc).
The root of the struggle. • The ICE is and Institution created by national law. • The Neoliberal goverments pretended to privatize the services with another law. • With the privatization, the subsidies to the services would dissapear.
A brief look to the new law. • Besides the enviroment deprotection, the law proyect pretended to divide the institution in two new and private companies, one in charge of the electricity sector, and the other one in charge of the telecomunications sector.
Involved parties in the struggle. • Supporting the privatization. • Governants and its families. • Impresarios. • Righty political party. • Comunications media
Involved Parties in the struggle. • Against the privatization. • Trade unions. • University Students. • High school students. • Church. • Artists. • Comunities Organizations. • Individuals.
Policy of the parties against the privatization. • Dialog search. • Avoid confrontations with riot police. • Voluntary retirement of the manifestations in case of police agresion.
The start of the movement. • March 16th, 2000: • Farmers street blocking. • Brutal police represion. • ICE trade unionists streets blockage. • March 17th, 2000: • Several trade unions made a street blocking. • Public universities get involved in the struggle. • Brutal police represion. • March 18th & 19th, 2000 (weekend). • Congregation in front of the congress.
The movement. • March 20th, 2000: • First Approval to the law proyect near 7:00 p.m. • 4 university students began a hunger strike. • Vigil in front of the congress.
The Movement. • Marzch 21st. • Bolckings in country’s main roads. • Main State institutions and universities joined the strike. • March 22nd. • Brutal Police represion against university students (remember that Costa Rica is a very peaceful country, so this images was never seen before).
The movement. • March 24th. • 500000 people march to the Presidential House (Costa Rica have 4 million habitants) • Very pacific manifestation. • Included every participating party. • March 25th to April 3rd. • Pacific road blockings continued along the country. • Hunger strike ended.
The Movement. • April 4th. • Goverment sign a negotiation agreement. • A congress study group was created. Included people of the different participating parties in the struggle. • April 18. • The Supreme Court declared the first aproval of the law illegal, arguing violations to the proceedures.
Achievements of the struggle. • Creation of Social consciousness regarding importance of social institutions. • Creation of a responsibility sense about goverments work. • Stop the privatizing plans of the goverment.
Why people get involved? • Neoliberal politics affected lots of people. As an direct consecuence of its application, unemployment grew, education and health services began breaking down. Inflation grew. • People began to feel the effects of the policies, so they had a reason to be interested in the struggle
Why people get involved? • Besides the effects in the application of neoliberal policies, corruption of the governants grew unbelievable, more than $1.624.375.000 were stolen in the last 8 years, with the consecuent effect for the poorest people.
Why people get involved? • Agreements with the IMF contained some clauses that abandoned help for the poor. • Some other clauses searched the privatization of public institutions as well as the detriment of the services. • Quick increase in life cost
Key for success • Deorganization, own life movement. • Legality declaration of the strike by the Supreme Court. • Multi-subject movement. • Pacific rebelion. • United participation of different sectors and parties. • Creation of a Social Consciousness. • Social Inspiration.
Importance of the stuggle • It remembered the people that the struggles in defense of the social and public institutions is not a struggle that can be won in 1 round. This institutions needs to be defended many times, constantly.
The struggle never ends • “There are men that fight for one day and are good, there are men that figth for one year and are better, there are men that fight for many year, and are very good, but there are men that fight all they life, tose many are indispensable” • Berthold Bretch.