Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How Hunger Could Topple Regimes

Noong dekada 90s, naranasan ng mundo ang kalupitan ng krisis pang-ekonomya, magkakasabay na bumigay ang mga ekonomiya ng mundo lalo na sa Asia; mula sa mga delubyo't pananalanta ng tagtuyot, baha, mga sunog dulot ng El Nino weather patterns; sinabayan pa ito ng malulupit, anti-mamamayan at istriktong austerity plan na idinikta ng Interntional Monetary Funds (IMF) at mga pandaigdigang bangko sa mga bansang umuunlad o developing countries.

Nagresulta ito ng kapighatian at karukhaan sa bahagi ng mamamayan, pagtaas ng pangunahing bilihin, binansot na sahod ng manggagawa, kakulangan ng resources, lumiliit na supply ng pagkain at sikmurang kumakalam. Dahil sa ganitong penomenom, kaliwa't kanang FOOD RIOT ang yumanig sa maraming mga Umuunlad na bansa, tulad na lamang sa Indonesia, India, Mexico at Brazil. Karaniwan sa mga FOOD RIOT ay ang paglulunsad ng mga LOOTING, pagransak ng mga supermarket / groceries, fast food restaurants, paglusob sa mga kamalig- bodega, pagbabarikada sa mga lugar na pinanggagalingan ng supply at pagbibiyahe ng truck at pagpoprotesta sa mga sentrong bayan-lunsod na nagresulta ng mga labanan.
(Photo above: t
housands of people have rioted on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi; it is the country's latest outbreak of unrest over rising prices and economic turmoil, news.bbc.co.uk/.../images/_58411_trroops150.jpg)

Ang mga ganitong kaganapan ay repleksyon lamang ng matinding kabiguan at galit ng mamamayan laban sa mapang-api't 'di makataong paggugubyerno at pandaigdigang globalisasyong na sa tingin ng marami ay hawak ng mga dambuhala't mayayaman ruling elite.


Hindi totoong "ALIEN, wala sa kalendaryo o wala sa ugali ng mga Pilipino ang FOOD RIOTING, " tulad ng mga alarmistang pahayag nila PNPChief Gen Razon at Sec Gilbert Teodoro ng DND. Isang patunay ay ang LOOTING ng KADIWA (People's Store) sa Manila noong panahon at bago naibagsak ang diktadurang Marcos (1980s). Ang "aklasang bayang" pinangunahan ng mga Guerilyang mamamayan laban sa Hapon o HUKBALAHAP kasama ang malawak na naghihirap at nagugutom na mamamayan (noong 1930-40s, WW 2) ay isang malinw rin na katibayan. Ang looting ng mga kamalig-bodega, panununog ng mga taniman, kumpiskasyon ng pagkain sa mga mayayamang komprador at pagkontrol ng pagkain ang inilunsad at isinagawang pagkilos ng mamamayan kasama't suporta ng mga gerilyang bayan nung panahon na yaon, "bumango't naging popular sa masa ang mga guerilyang mga Pilipino."

Kaya lang, mukhang 'di sapat na maresolba lamang ang krisis sa bigas o ang isyu ng food shortages. Sabihin man nating may supply tayo ng pagkain sa palengke, sa groceries at suspermarket, ang problema'y kung 'di kaya namang bilhin ng mga tao, wala rin! Ang isyu ng unemployment at PURCHASING POWER ng mga manggagawa ay sabayan at kailangang ding maresolba't mabalanse. Kung mataas ang mga batayang presyo ng produkto't mga bilihin sa merkado, mataas ang singil sa pamasahe, kuryente, mataas na matrikula, gamot, babayaring tubig, upa sa pabahay at hindi maitataas ang standard of living, wa epek din!!

Kung kakarampo't bansot ang sweldo't minimum wage ng mga mangaggawa, kung ang 50-70% ng kanilang pang-arawang kinikita ay halos nailalaan lamang sa pagkain, WALA RIN!!

Dapat unawain na sa mga mauunlad na bansa, halos mababa pa sa 2 - 5% lamang ng kanilang kinikita ang naigugugol sa pagkain. Lilinawin din natin na kailanma'y hindi isyu rito ang lumalaking populasyon ng bansa (out of the question) na siyang isang dahilan ng food crisis. Sapagkat,
kung uunlad lamang ang ekonomiya, agricultural at industrial production (walang kurakot at well distributed at 'di naka-concentrate sa iilan ang yaman (500 super rich na pamilya) ng bansa, kahit magmultiply ng tatlong beses ang populasyon, kayang pakainin ang mahigit 200.0 milyong populasyong mga Pilipino. - Doy

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How Hunger Could Topple Regimes
Friday, Apr. 11, 2008 By TONY KARON
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1730107,00.html

The idea of the starving masses driven by their desperation to take to the streets and overthrow the ancien regime has seemed impossibly quaint since capitalism triumphed so decisively in the Cold War. Since then, the spectacle of hunger sparking revolutionary violence has been the stuff of Broadway musicals rather than the real world of politics. And yet, the headlines of the past month suggest that skyrocketing food prices are threatening the stability of a growing number of governments around the world. Ironically, it may be the very success of capitalism in transforming regions previously restrained by various forms of socialism that has helped create the new crisis. (Photo: U.N. peacekeepers patrol in an armored vehicle during protests on a street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Eduardo Munoz / Reuters)

Haiti is in flames as food riots have turned into a violent challenge to the vulnerable government; Egypt's authoritarian regime faces a mounting political threat over its inability to maintain a steady supply of heavily subsidized bread to its impoverished citizens; Cote D'Ivoire, Cameroon, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Indonesia are among the countries that have recently seen violent food riots or demonstrations. World Bank president Robert Zoellick noted last week that world food prices had risen 80% over the past three years, and warned that at least 33 countries face social unrest as a result.

The sociology of the food riot is pretty straightforward: The usually impoverished majority of citizens may acquiesce to the rule of detested corrupt and repressive regimes when they are preoccupied with the daily struggle to feed their children and themselves, but when circumstances render it impossible to feed their hungry children, normally passive citizens can very quickly become militants with nothing to lose. That's especially true when the source of their hunger is not the absence of food supplies but their inability to afford to buy the available food supplies. And that's precisely what we're seeing in the current wave of global food-price inflation. As Josette Sheeran of the U.N. World Food Program put it last month, "We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it."

When all that stands between hungry people and a warehouse full of rice and beans is a couple of padlocks and a riot policeman (who may be the neighbor of those who're trying to get past him, and whose own family may be hungry too), the invisible barricade of private-property laws can be easily ignored. Doing whatever it takes to feed oneself and a hungry child, after all, is a primal human instinct. So, with prices of basic foods skyrocketing to the point that even the global aid agencies — whose function is to provide emergency food supplies to those in need — are unable, for financial reasons, to sustain their current commitments to the growing army of the hungry, brittle regimes around the world have plenty of reason for anxiety.

The hunger has historically been an instigator of revolutions and civil wars, it is not a sufficient condition for such violence. For a mass outpouring of rage spurred by hunger to translate into a credible challenge to an established order requires an organized political leadership ready to harness that anger against the state. It may not be all that surprising, then, that Haiti has been one of the major flashpoints of the new wave of hunger-generated political crises; the outpouring of rage there has been channeled into preexisting furrows of political discontent. And that's why there may be greater reason for concern in Egypt, where the bread crisis comes on top of a mounting challenge to the regime's legitimacy by a range of opposition groups.

The social theories of Karl Marx were long ago discarded as of little value, even to revolutionaries. But he did warn that capitalism had a tendency to generate its own crises. Indeed, the spread of capitalism, and its accelerated industrialization and wealth-creation, may have fomented the food-inflation crisis — by dramatically accelerating competition for scarce resources. The rapid industrialization of China and India over the past two decades — and the resultant growth of a new middle class fast approaching the size of America's — has driven demand for oil toward the limits of global supply capacity. That has pushed oil prices to levels five times what they were in the mid 1990s, which has also raised pressure on food prices by driving up agricultural costs and by prompting the substitution of biofuel crops for edible ones on scarce farmland. Moreover, those new middle class people are eating a lot better than their parents did — particularly more meat. Producing a single calorie of beef can, by some estimates, require eight or more calories of grain feed, and expanded meat consumption therefore has a multiplier effect on demand for grains. Throw in climate disasters such as the Australian drought and recent rice crop failures, and you have food inflation spiraling so fast that even the U.N. agency created to feed people in emergencies is warning that it lacks the funds to fulfill its mandate.

The reason officials such as Zoellick are sounding the alarm may be that the food crisis, and its attendant political risks, are not likely to be resolved or contained by the laissez-faire operation of capitalism's market forces. Government intervention on behalf of the poor — so out of fashion during globalization's roaring '90s and the current decade — may be about to make a comeback.

Related Story:

Corruption, not population, blamed for poverty
http://www.malaya.com.ph/apr19/news5.htm

Analysis: Regime survival tops gov’t agenda by Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20080416-130629/Regime-survival-tops-govt-agenda
..........The Philippines is not far removed from this scenario of civil unrest, a contingency that has rattled the government and has driven it to avert an outbreak of violence. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made highly publicized visits to NFA warehouses to show they are filled with rice. But it’s not the visible rice stockpile that reassures. As one FAO official has pointed out, the hungry and the poor see the food stocks on the shelves but it’s the high prices that’s driving them to the streets. It’s their rebellion against food prices.

IMF warning: Food shortages can overthrow governments
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/90198/IMF-warning-Food-shortages-can-overthrow-governments
PARIS - The head of the International Monetary Fund warned Friday that soaring world food prices can have dire consequences, such as toppling governments and even triggering wars.
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