Weekly News Review

5th December, 2003

EU to finance destruction of Spanish environment


Despite massive opposition from environmentalists, the European Commission's Environment Directorate this week decided to support a hugely environmentally destructive Spanish water transfer scheme - called the Jucár-Vinalopó - in the south-east of the country. Caving into political pressure from the unsavoury bunch of neo-Phalangists currently in control of the Spanish government, the Commission is to use taxpayers’ money to fund the transfer from the Ebro river southwards.


The Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP) consists of two principal components: a new transfer of 1050 cubic hectometres of water per year from the Ebro river basin to the river basins of Catalonia, the Júcar, and the Segura, and in the South a "pack" of 889 public water works (reservoirs, water transfers, etc.). The Ebro River transfer is currently under evaluation by the European Commission for possible infringement of EU environmental law.


The Jucár-Vinalopó water transfer is one of the transfers listed in the Spanish National Hydrological Plan Law. It will result in massive amounts of water being transferred from the Júcar river over 67 kilometres to the area of Murcia, Alicante and Benidorm, where the water will be used for urban (tourist) consumption and irrigation. The transfer is part of the Ebro  scheme, but the Spanish government presented it as an independent project, to avoid the environmental evaluation of the Ebro project.


The transfer scheme will have disastrous effects on the environment and will set a dangerous precedent in EU structural fund use as it infringes the EU’s own laws and stated policies. The plan - which will cost EU taxpayers more than Euros 80 million - is expected to be rubberstamped and funded this month by the European Commission's Regional Directorate.


Paloma Agrasot of WWF Spain said that "Contrary to what the Spanish government claims, this is a plan which experts agree is clearly aimed at supporting the Ebro transfer. We simply say that getting taxpayers money through the backdoor to subsidise another major water transfer which is still under evaluation, is a dangerous precedent and a bad example to give to future EU member states.”


Chavez vs. The Free Trade Zombies: Greg Palast reporting from Caracas

“It's as if they were locked in a crypt for the last ten years. The finance ministers of every Latin American nation last week signed on to a resolution in principle to join the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the hemispheric expansion of NAFTA. The walking corpse of Argentina's economy was there, as well as the long-deceased body of Ecuador and several other South American nations whose economies were long ago murdered and buried by the free trade and

free market nostrums of the World Bank and the IMF. Yet on they came. Stiff-legged, covered in rotting bandages, the official zombies marched to Miami to pledge, one and all, to sign on

for their next dose of free market poison.  Every nation but one: Venezuela, the single and solitary nation to say "no thanks" at Miami's treaty of the living dead economies.” Read the rest at www.GregPalast.com.


Civil Disobedience On Trial


“While Attorney General John Ashcroft has toured America defending the PATRIOT Act and its encroachments on freedom, his Justice Department has extended this campaign by pressing disturbing criminal charges against Greenpeace. The case arose off the coast of South Florida when Greenpeace activists boarded a ship carrying wood unlawfully harvested from Brazil.

They held a banner that said, "President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging."  The government's action is unprecedented: prosecuting an entire organization for the free speech-related activities of its supporters. If the prosecution succeeds, peaceful public protest—an essential American tradition from colonial times to the civil rights movement and beyond—may become yet another casualty of Mr. Ashcroft’s attack on civil liberties.”  The idea that “prosecuting an entire organization for the free speech-related activities of its supporters” would be news to, for example, the Communist Party of the 1950s, the Socialist Party of the First World War period, the IWW, and a host of workers’ organisations, African-American civil rights groups, and many others. Nonetheless, this article by John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA, is well worth reading at http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/9522

More on the Bush junta’s coup d’etat


“As the year ends, 2003 will be remembered by future historians as the year the pretense of democracy in the United States ended. Since the 1940s, conservatives have accepted the assumption of economist Joseph Schumpeter that democracy in a mass society existed of little more than the following: the adult population could vote; the votes were fairly counted; and the masses could choose between elites from one of two parties. With the most recent revelations about the 2000 Bush coup in Florida disclosed in the shocking stolen Diebold memos, the Bush family has signaled that an authoritarian right-wing dynasty is the future course for American

politics. The Sunday, November 12, 2000 Washington Post, buried on page A22, the smoking gun of the Bush family’s CIA-style rigged "demonstration" election in Florida: "Something very strange happened on election night to Deborah Tannenbaum, a Democratic Party official of Volusia County. At 10 p.m., she called the county elections department and found that Al Gore was leading George W. Bush 83,000 votes to 62,000 votes. But when she checked the county ’s Web site for an update half an hour later, she found a startling development: Gore’s count had dropped by 16,000 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate had picked up 10,000 ... all because of a single precinct with only 600 voters."  Read the rest at



Environment activists threatened in Amazon: Your help needed

Three hundred loggers from Porto de Moz in the Amazon surrounded the Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise earlier this week, and local forest activists were threatened with attacks that sent them fleeing for sanctuary.

The protest and threats were aimed not only against Greenpeace, which has been exposing illegal logging in the region, but against the Brazilian Environmental agency (IBAMA)'s attempt to enforce the laws of Brazil as well. In an action a few days ago our activists discovered a barge full of illegal logs in a remote riverside harbour. Activists painted "Crime" on 6,000 cubic metres of logs, and marked the area with yellow tape as a "Forest Crime" scene. Inspectors from IBAMA, the Brazilian Environmental agency, are currently active in the region. Inspectors working along the Transamazonian highway were trapped in their hotel last week when they were surrounded by 300 armed loggers.

Loggers were provoked to protest by a local radio station, saying they were "cowards" if they didn't chase Greenpeace out. The radio station is owned by the mayor of this small town, who also controls the largest logging operation in the region.

There are two things you can do to help with this extremely urgent and dangerous situation.

First, send a letter to Brazilian president Lula da Silva asking him to support his own government officials and local citizens:


Second, make an urgent phone call or send a fax to your local Brazilian embassy. There is a list of Brazilian embassy information here:


"Listen to the Refugee's Story: How UK Investment Creates Refugees and Aslyum Seekers"

…is the title of a new book

co-published by the Ilisu Dam Campaign Refugee Project, The Corner House and Peace in Kurdistan

The vast majority of refugees today flee conflict, or social or economic oppression. In many cases, British companies, taxpayers and the government directly and indirectly support the human rights abuses that accompany British investment and policies abroad. Many of these abuses ultimately force people to flee their homes and then their countries.

This publication includes stories, poems and drawings from refugees and asylum seekers, including Kurds, Colombians, Afghans, Nigerians, Burmese and Somalis, about why they have been forced to flee their countries. The book highlights broader links between enforced migration and global economic processes, poses key questions about trade and development policies and corporate accountability, and addresses the effects of the current "war on terrorism" on different communities.

The book is now on The Corner House website home page (www.thecornerhouse.org.uk) in both PDF format, complete with illustrations, and as a straightforward html document for reading on screen.


The book will be launched at a special party to be held at the Halkevi Community Centre,

92-100 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 on Thursday 18 December 2003 from 7pm onwards.  For more details, contact cornerhouse@gn.apc.org



Report on racism in Britain: The 2003 Annual Report of the Institute of Race Relations is now available for download as a pdf file (640kb) from: http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf/annual_report2003.pdf