|Frequently Asked Questions
about the Inter-Continental Caravan (ICC)
Who are the Southern people coming to participate in the ICC?
Out of the 600 participants, 500 will be representatives of different Indian grassroots movements. Most of these 500 will be representatives of Gandhian farmers' movements, and there will be smaller numbers of representatives of Adivasis (the indigenous peoples of India), Fisherfolk, people resisting the construction of big dams in their regions and representatives of the revolutionary struggles in the states of Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. The other 100 participants will represent peasant, indigenous, women's and other grassroots movements from other Southern countries.
Who are the people receiving them in Europe?
A large number of organisations are working in the 'welcoming committees' set up in each country to prepare the caravan. There are organisations of all kinds, ranging from peasant organisations such as the French Peasant Confederation or the Dutch Agriculture Association to squatted social centres such as Leoncavallo in Milan, EuroDusnie in Leiden and the Reithalle in Bern, from anti-nuclear networks such as For Mother Earth to the migrants' organisations of almost all European countries, from direct actions groups such as Reclaim the Streets! to academic institutions such as the Institut Argent et Societé, from women's organisations such as Espace Femmes International to unemployed groups such as AC! Lille, from activists' support groups such as Theaterstraat to development NGOs such as CETIM, from Zapatista committees in many different cities to groups working against genetic engineering such as Biotechnologie Archief NoGen, from youth environmental groups such as A SEED to the Italian Christian peace movement. This list is in no ways exhaustive, in fact it is growing every day, and there are many people who do not belong to any organisation and are actively involved in the preparations.
What is this caravan about?
The political contents of the ICC are (in order of importance):
These contents are ellaborated in a manifesto which is being discussed by the Indian participants of the caravan. This manifesto will be the ideological basis on which they are coming to Europe, and clearly reflects the view that if the world is to survive we need a far-reaching and participatory process of political, economic and social change, a bottom-up process initiated and controlled by grassroots movements, not by governments or multilateral institutions. This is the basis on which the PGA process is taking place.
What are the objectives of the caravan?
What will the participants of the caravan actually do in Europe?
They will meet as many European as possible directly, face to face, communicate with them not through newspaper articles or video documentaries, but at the human level. They want to convey directly their understanding of the world system of governance to people of all walks of life, not just to those who are already politically active.
Many of them do not speak English, but they will use different ways to communicate with Europeans, many of which are more direct and real than language - the most important of which is action. There will be plenty of action during the caravan, action at the gates of headquarters of corporate criminals such as Nestle, Monsanto, Cargill, Novartis and Shell, action in front of multilateral institutions at the roots of misery like the WTO and NATO, action on the face of the 'global leaders' responsible for slow genocide at the EU and G8 summits. We will also have other activities, like public meetings with speakers and audience, open-air picnics, living together with farmers or squatters, press conferences, parties, video shows and so on, but action will be at the heart of the caravan.
Who came to the idea of organising such a notoriously complicated project?
The idea of the caravan was proposed by the Indian peasant movement KRRS (Karnataka State Farmers' Association), the biggest Indian grassroots movement with a constituency of approximately 10 million people (the total population of Karnataka is 50 million).
The KRRS has been since two decades struggling for comprehensive social change in Karnataka, for the ideal of the Village Republic and for sustainable and equitable policies and technologies. They proposed the ICC due to their conviction that unless people mobilise in large numbers in the countries where the global centres of power are located, their protest will continue to be ignored. They know that the destruction of their livelihood is caused primarily by global forces which can afford ignoring their protest, but cannot (yet) afford ignoring the protest of people in the North.
Their proposal was immediately picked up by all major Indian movements, since they all share the same analysis regarding the impact of capitalist globalisation and the inability of isolated action to stop it. The farmers' movements of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, Rajastan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will be represented in the caravan, as well as the indigenous peoples of several states.
Who is paying for the caravan?
The finances of the Caravan are organised in an as decentralised and participatory manner as possible. The activists from the South pay their own travel expenses to Europe (see below). Food and accomondation, as well as all the costs of local actions and publicity are borne on the local level by the local welcoming committees. The costs of travel within Europe and of co-ordination are centralised, but fundraising efforts are shared by all welcoming committees, which are still very busy asking for donations, organising concerts, applying for funds and selling t-shirts in order to gather all the money necessary to make the caravan happen (about 210.000 US$). No money for the central costs will accepted from multinational corporations, national governments, EU institutions, or political parties.
How can poor peasants and indigenous peoples pay a flight ticket to Europe?
The case of India is quite special: the European groups are preparing to receive such a large number of Indian representatives in order to make it much easier for them to participate, since their flight expenses per person will be less than one half of the normal cost of a return ticket. It is still a lot of money for the participants, people who are among the most exploited and marginalised in the world. However, these are also people who have been struggling for decades in their country on the basis of self-reliance (i.e. they do not accept donations from any source other than the constituency of their own movements), and many Indian activists have spent this kind of amount travelling around India as part of their campaigns. It was their proposal since the very beginning that they cover the travel expenses.
Does this mean that the participants of the caravan are relatively rich peasants?
No. Most of the participants own between 2 and 5 hectars. Just for the purpose of comparison, a farm in the European Union must have at least around 40 hectars to be considered economically viable (information provided by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft). And the Indian government does not pay the kind of subsidies that the EU does. There will also be some participants who will not pay for their flight (landless peasants, indigenous peoples, representatives of the revolutionary struggles) since they cannot afford it but the Indian organisers consider their presence as politically important. Their travel expenses will be shared among all the other participants.
These Indian peasant activists give enough political importance to this project as to devote large amount of resources to it - and this was one of the things that has really touched us (the organisers in Europe) and encouraged us to do our best to make this project a success. We see their determination as a clear sign of their deep understanding that they have to contribute to increasing awareness and action at a global level if they are to survive.
There are few people working against capitalist globalisation in Western Europe. Does it make sense to invest so much of this limited potential of work and resources in one single project, one single month?
We believe that the inter-continental caravan is one of these rare projects which generate much more energy than it requires. We see already that many different groups which were not working on global issues and many people who were not particularly involved in politics before are now joining local welcoming committees, because the caravan appeals to their imagination and motivates them to participate in a struggle that so far was not really theirs.
Furthermore the caravan is not conceived as an isolated project: we see it as the beginning of a long-term process of organic (i.e. not 'organised') convergence between a large diversity of organisations and individuals with similar views on social change - people who agree on the need to reclaim our lifes, challenging the current structures of power from below, and constructing alternatives controlled by the people.
Can I participate in this crazy project?
Yes! The number of people who will be physically in the caravan will be rather limited, but there are many ways to join this project - no matter whether you are in Europe or not. You can join by making information available to the press and the people in the place where you live, by organising an action in June 18 (during the days of action against financial centres), by engaging in similar activities, etc. And of course, we need lots of help of all kinds (economic, organisational, etc). Please contact the secretariat if you want to be part of this project: