ATTAC CADTM Morocco: 20 years of struggle for another possible Morocco – one of social and environmental justice, of dignity and freedom

23 December 2020 by Omar Aziki


 In which background was ATTAC CADTM Morocco born?

Global situation

The 1990s were marked by a rise in struggles against the neoliberal globalisation which was unrelenting after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A series of global networks were then set up such as the CADTM (Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt) in 1990, the international peasant movement La Via Campesina in 1993, the World March of Women at the end of the 1990s, Jubilee South in 1999, and then ATTAC from 1998. The blocking of the WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

(World Trade Organisation) summit in Seattle by 40,000 protesters in November 1999 was one of the first large-scale anti-globalisation demonstrations. These movements converged in the creation of the World Social Forum in 2001. The latter allowed the convergence of various struggles and demands (debt cancellation, food sovereignty, women’s liberation, taxation of financial transactions, etc.) towards a global understanding of the domination of capitalism and its destruction of our planet, the development of alternatives for another possible world and the coordination of protests, in a spirit of consensus, against the international financial institutions (World Bank World Bank
WB
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

, International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
, World Trade Organisation, etc.) and the imperialist powers (USA, European Union, etc.).


National situation

It is in this global background of mobilisations that ATTAC Morocco was born as an association. The first discussions between activists from different backgrounds were initiated in the early 2000s and a first assembly towards the creation of ATTAC Morocco was organised in Rabat in July 2000 despite harassment by the authorities. [1] The first national congress was held on 14 and 15 July 2001 in Casablanca. The association received its legal receipt on 29 March 2002. After three years of organisational crisis, the local groups, which have never stopped their work of building and supporting struggles, particularly against the privatisation of public services (Yaacoub El Mansour in Rabat, Lydec in Casablanca, urban transport in Agadir...), managed to hold an extraordinary congress in December 2005 that was a qualitative step towards the construction of a popular education association oriented towards action and the strengthening of alliances with other struggle organisations such as unemployed graduates, trade unions, popular protest co-ordinations and many other initiatives on various themes (migration, human rights, etc.).

In 2006, ATTAC Morocco joined the CADTM network (Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt, which became the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debts in May 2016). This membership was concretised in the statutes of the fourth national congress held on 29 January 2012 and the name of the association then became ATTAC CADTM Morocco.

This was the time of the management of the monarchical transition facilitated by the so-called gouvernement d’alternance (“Government of Change”, 1998-2002) instituted by King Hassan II, who died in July 1999. The monarchy tried to mitigate the extent of the period known as the “Years of Lead”. The liberal policies of opening up the economy already contained in the structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

IMF : http://www.worldbank.org/
programme (1983-1993) continued. It should be noted that during these 10 years of the SAP, Morocco experienced three major popular uprisings (June 1981, January 1984 and December 1990) mostly composed of young people, which attest to the brutality of the austerity policies on wage earners and the poor sections of the population.

Morocco hosted the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) Conference held in Marrakech from 7 to 15 April 1994, which consecrated the signing of the founding act of the WTO (World Trade Organisation). In addition to the trade in goods governed by the GATT, the WTO covers trade in services and intellectual property and includes new procedures for settling trade disputes. Morocco became a member of the WTO on 1 January 1995. A free trade agreement was signed between Morocco and the European Union on 26 February 1996 and entered into force on 1 March 2000. It concerned the progressive elimination – over a decade – of customs duties on industrial products between the two signatories.

The privatisations of public enterprises and establishments which had been initiated in 1993 expanded. Those of public services, under the provisions of the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), were initiated through the first experiences of “delegated management” of drinking water supply and liquid sanitation in urban areas:

  • In 1997 in Casablanca it benefited Lydec, the Moroccan subsidiary of the Lyonnaise des Eaux of the French multinational GDF Suez, now called ENGIE group.
  • In 1998 in Rabat it benefited Redal, a Moroccan subsidiary of the French multinational Veolia.
  • In Tangiers and Tetouan in 2002 it benefited Amendis, also a subsidiary of Veolia.

The “delegated management” contracts cover urban bus transport, household waste collection services, management of public waste dumps, etc.

A vast programme of liberal reforms in the education sector was initiated with the adoption in 1999 of the “National Charter for Education and Training”. In addition, a decree of 30 March 1999 put an end to free health services.

These privatisations of public services led to a rise in popular protests against rising prices and poor quality of services.

The initiators of ATTAC Morocco were therefore from the outset at the heart of the effects of liberal globalisation on our country and sought to enrich the reflection, on the basis of experiences of resistance at world level, on how to enlarge the social movement in Morocco and which forms of organisation to adopt in order to improve the balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. of powers against neo-liberal offensives.

 At the heart of social struggles

ATTAC Morocco has from the outset been actively involved in the great social struggles that Morocco has experienced during the decade 2000-2010, such as:

  • The struggle of the National Association of Unemployed Graduates in Morocco ANDCM (2000-2006).
  • The fight of the people of Rabat against the increasing water bills (2002-2003).
  • The struggle of the workers at the Imini manganese mine in south-east Morocco, which led to the acquittal of the six trade unionist miners which had been sentenced to ten years in prison at their first hearing (2003-2004).
  • The protests of the population of Al Hoceima against marginalisation (2005).
  • The movement of inhabitants of Tata for free health services (2005).
  • The struggle led by the population of Sidi Ifni (2005-2008) for social demands including the implementation of development projects to create employment for young people.
  • The fight of the local co-ordinations against price increase (2006-2008), when more than 70 co-ordinations had been created throughout the country.

These struggles have been subjected to repression and arrests. In Sefrou, the uprising of the population on 23 September 2007 against the rise in the price of basic products was savagely repressed, resulting in 150 injured and 40 arrests. In Sidi Ifni, after several violent interventions against the popular mobilisation which began in May 2005, the army and the police launched an assault on 7 June 2008 to quell the uprising with systematic abuses (rape, robbery, beatings, etc.) and more than 300 arrests, including several members of the ATTAC Ifni group and its general secretary Bara Brahim. On 15 June 2008 ATTAC Morocco initiated a national solidarity campaign to lift the blockade of the city.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco participated in various national and international solidarity campaigns against the repression and criminalisation of social struggles in our country.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco was part of the February 20, 2011 movement born in the context of the revolts and popular uprisings in the Arab region/Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since the end of 2010. All popular social strata took to the streets to demand social justice, dignity and freedom. It was a profound denunciation of the system of appropriation and concentration of wealth under the “new reign”. The sustained pace of the application of neoliberal policies, as decided by the authorities together with the international financial institutions, favoured the emergence of new billionaires in a rentier economy, to the detriment of most of the popular strata whose economic and social conditions continued to deteriorate. The local groups of ATTAC Morocco joined body and soul in the popular marches and sit-ins in their regions (2011-2012).

Triggered in October 2016 by the violent death of a fish seller in a dump truck, the Hirak (popular protest movement) of the Rif in northern Morocco is situated in this new context of social struggles opened by the movement of 20 February 2011. Despite the fierce repression, it lasted almost two years. Around 400 people were convicted and the main leaders received sentences of up to 20 years in prison. ATTAC CADTM Morocco took part in the big march in the city of Al-Hoceima on 23 July 2017 which was violently repressed as well as in other national marches in solidarity with the Hirak (on 8 July 2018 in Casablanca, on 15 July 2018 in Rabat, on 21 April 2019 in Rabat). It published a book in Arabic entitled “Hirak Rif, a heroic popular struggle for freedom and social justice” (2018). 1,200 copies were quickly sold out. ATTAC Morocco also made a documentary film on the subject entitled “Death Over Humiliation”. [2]

The Hirak of the Rif initiated other popular mobilisations, notably the Hirak of Jerada (a mining town in Eastern Morocco) which was triggered in 2017-2018 by the accidental death of two men looking for coal in an abandoned shaft. 17 people were sentenced to between two and four years in prison after taking part in this protest movement.

In several cities and towns in the country, there were several social protests. These struggles challenged once again the “development model” based on a capitalist logic. The majority lives in misery, unemployment and precariousness while a minority linked to the sphere of power accumulates huge amounts of wealth. Civil liberties are constantly violated and struggle organisations are harassed. The feeling of Hogra (humiliation) is widespread among the youth, who no longer have confidence in a system of social injustice and political despotism. The citizen boycott campaign of consumer products marketed by a few billionaire families in Morocco [3] is one of the new forms of citizen protest. This campaign, initiated through social networks, has met with great success. ATTAC CADTM Morocco has supported this initiative which constitutes a continuity of the popular protest movements and could open up other perspectives for the social movement in Morocco. [4]

Since its beginning, ATTAC CADTM Morocco has been organically linked to social struggles in Morocco and has largely contributed to the development of popular education tools against the domination of capital and alternatives for social and environmental justice.

 For the abolition of illegitimate public debt

The issue of public debt was always at the heart of ATTAC Morocco’s action. External debt has been one of the main causes of the colonisation of the country by French imperialism since 1912. Combined with the extension of free trade, it fuelled the structural backwardness of the economy. In 1956, independence was accompanied by a commitment by the monarchy to pay the debts of the colonial period. It was assisted by the international financial institutions (IFIs) from the early 1960s onwards through a series of loans while it imposed a state of terror that lasted until the end of the 1990s. From 1978-1980, Morocco was no longer able to repay its debt service Debt service The sum of the interests and the amortization of the capital borrowed. , and in order to benefit from debt rescheduling Debt rescheduling Modification of the terms of a debt, for example by modifying the due-dates or by postponing repayments of the principal and/or the interest. The aim is usually to give a little breathing space to a country in difficulty by extending the period of repayment and reducing the amount of each instalment or by granting a period of grace during which no repayments will be made. , it embarked on the structural adjustment programme dictated by the IFIs (1983-1993) which was to usher in an era of liberal opening and greater integration into the international market. Total public debt did not decrease but rose instead from 56% of GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
in 2008 (global crisis of capitalism) to 87% in 2019.

At the beginning of the 2000s, the action of ATTAC Morocco in relation to public debt focused on campaigns against privatisation:

  • Of the two large companies managing the reclaimed agricultural land SODEA and SOGETA (2003-2006), of the post office (2007).
  • Of drinking water from the Ben Smim natural springs (2007-2009).
  • Of public services such as health, education, urban transport, etc.

The finance law was also a subject on which ATTAC Morocco worked and against which it protested in collaboration with the National Association of Unemployed Graduates in Morocco (ANDCM). Debt and austerity policies accentuate the state deficit, reduce the budgets of the social sectors and freeze jobs in the civil service. They increase unemployment and precariousness.

From 2010 onwards, debt has become a main theme in the reflection and intervention of ATTAC CADTM Morocco. A campaign was launched in October 2010: “Let’s be realistic, let’s demand the impossible: let’s stop debt repayment!”. In April 2013, ATTAC Morocco launched its call for an audit of the Moroccan public debt, [5] followed by a first international seminar on debt in May 2013 with the participation of Moroccan academics and international experts, in particular members of the international CADTM network, as well as several representatives of progressive Moroccan organisations.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco benefited from the expertise of the CADTM International network and was inspired by its long fight against debt. Through its responsibility in the CADTM international secretariat, [6] which it shares with CADTM Belgium since the CADTM World Assembly held in Bouznika in May 2013, it has been able to forge links with resistances around the world, develop analyses of the debt system in globalized capitalism and put forward alternatives.

The fifth national congress of ATTAC CADTM Morocco, held on 28 February, 1 and 2 March 2014 in Rabat, defined strategic priorities. Public debt was considered a central issue alongside the so-called free trade agreements with major Western powers. These are the two instruments of imperialist domination.

In April 2014, ATTAC CADTM Morocco organised the second edition of the international seminar on debt and the international financial institutions (IMF and World Bank). The seminar consisted of two parts: the first was on debt and international financial institutions and the second was entitled “the debt audit, a democratic necessity”.

The third edition of the international seminar on debt and alternatives was held in Tunis in December 2015 to support the launch of the initiative to create a debt truth commission in Tunisia. It was followed by the fourth edition in November 2016 which focused on the bill aiming at establishing a debt audit commission which had been submitted to the Tunisian parliament. The link was made between the debt issue, free trade agreements and liberal austerity policies.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco considers the debt system as a mechanism of domination and plunder. In its call for an audit of the public debt, it has put forward its proposed alternative and its methodology: “The debt deprives us of our political, economic, social, food and environmental sovereignty. It is linked to the country’s strategic choices dictated by the international financial institutions, endorsed by a parliament without popular legitimacy, and implemented by a puppet government. No economic, social or human development is possible without breaking out of the infernal circle of debt. For all these reasons, an audit of the Moroccan public debt is essential... It is the right of Moroccan citizens to demand accountability. This democratic demand is the basis for creating a culture of public accountability and for establishing instruments for monitoring the country’s strategic choices. This campaign will be an opportunity for a broad-based popular mobilization against the debt and its catastrophic effects on our country. To achieve this, we call for:

  • The creation of a committee for the auditing of the public debt composed of trade union organisations, left-wing parties, human rights organisations, unemployed graduates, feminists and young people, academics, economic and legal experts, MPs, etc. and all the components of the Moroccan population that refuse the diktat of debt. This committee will also be made up of international experts who have already taken part in audit experiences around the world.
  • A moratorium on the repayment of the Moroccan debt until the audit is completed and its results are made public.
  • The repudiation of debts deemed illegitimate or odious by the audit, especially those borrowed during the Years of Lead”.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco has coordinated with the different organisations of struggle in Morocco to concretise these proposals for an alternative to debt. But very little progress has been made. It will still take a long time of popular education.

The public debt is an instrument for carrying out a very harsh offensive against the economic and social rights of workers and the poor sections of the population. For ATTAC CADTM Morocco, the fight against austerity policies (reduction of social budgets, reduction of subsidies for the main basic consumer products, dismantling of public services, etc.) is part of the fight against the debt system. [7] In November 2017, it organised a national seminar on debt and education. This seminar came in the context of the state’s offensive against free education and towards the generalisation of fixed-term contracts in this sector. ATTAC CADTM Morocco accompanied the struggles of contract teachers (2016-2019) and participated in forms of solidarity against their repression. The 15th session of its spring university held in Marrakech in April 2019 was devoted to the assessment of the neoliberal offensive on education and the struggles of the co-ordinations of contract workers.

 For the cancellation of illegitimate private debts

ATTAC CADTM Morocco has developed a work of solidarity with and accompaniment of the struggles of microcredit victims (2012-2017). Indeed, victims of microcredit – most of them being women – took to the streets in 2011-2012 particularly in the south-east of Morocco (more than 4,500 women) to demand their refusal to pay exorbitant interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
(30 to 40% and sometimes more) and to denounce the exactions of microfinance institutions. ATTAC CADTM Morocco organised a national solidarity campaign in March 2012 and then an international campaign in April 2014, which resulted in November 2016 in the acquittal of Amina Morad and Nasser Ismaïni, respectively president and vice-president of the “Association of people’s assistance for social development” (the organisation of microcredit victims) who had been sentenced to one year in prison and heavy fines. Microcredit, as part of illegitimate private debts, has become an axis of work and reflection within ATTAC CADTM Morocco and the CADTM global network. ATTAC CADTM Morocco published a book in Arabic (2016) and French (2017) entitled “Microcredit in Morocco: when the poor finance the rich. Field study and analysis of the microcredit system”. [8] Several analyses are published on the websites of ATTAC CADTM Morocco and CADTM, which also organised several international, regional and national seminars in Africa and South Asia to consolidate political education, share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. experiences and study alternatives against microcredit and illegitimate debts.

In its study, ATTAC CADTM Morocco summarised its analysis as follows: “the microcredit market is not a tool for fighting poverty, and beyond the rhetoric, it is not part of its objectives. The logic of its operation, namely to lend money in order to make a profit Profit The positive gain yielded from a company’s activity. Net profit is profit after tax. Distributable profit is the part of the net profit which can be distributed to the shareholders. , leads to a further impoverishment of the poor, through the transfer of a significant part of their income to the financial market Financial market The market for long-term capital. It comprises a primary market, where new issues are sold, and a secondary market, where existing securities are traded. Aside from the regulated markets, there are over-the-counter markets which are not required to meet minimum conditions. . Thus, it is the poor who largely finance the banking market. The logic of profit, which is the driving force behind the operation of microfinance institutions (MFIs), is in contradiction with the logic of the fight against poverty. The insertion of millions of poor people into the financial markets, and in particular the banks, is accompanied by the application of usurious interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. rates… It therefore seems necessary to us to stop the activity of MFIs and to open an investigation into the forms of looting and exactions committed by these institutions against their clients. We support all struggles of victims in defence of their rights, in particular the movement of microcredit victims in Ouarzazate which is demanding the cancellation of the payment of microcredits because most of them are illegitimate and illegal”. This notion of illegality linked to contractual flaws is explained in the study.

As with the citizen audit of public debt, citizen and social mobilisation is needed to investigate the various forms of looting and abuse committed by microcredit and consumer credit institutions and banks against their victims, and to scrutinise the illegitimate and illegal grounds for cancelling the private debts of poor households.

 Against free trade agreements, which are colonial agreements against peoples

The fight against so-called free trade agreements was also one of the strategic priorities of ATTAC CADTM Morocco. Our association denounced the pressure of major imperialist powers such as the European Union but also the USA, which also concluded a free trade agreement with Morocco that came into force on 1 January 2006, as well as the danger of this generalised opening of the markets on our popular and food sovereignty.

Morocco has signed a panoply of free trade agreements (FTAs) with various countries in the Global North and Global South. This opening of the Moroccan economy to international competition is officially presented as an “opportunity for Morocco to integrate globalisation and allow Moroccan companies to access international markets”. With this ambition, the Moroccan state becomes the regional “champion” of free trade. The negative results are quite obvious: external imbalances in the country, erosion of the Moroccan industrial fabric, increase in unemployment, food dependency, etc.

This is why the issue of free trade agreements is central to the future of Morocco and the living conditions of Moroccans, and ATTAC CADTM Morocco attaches great importance to breaking the silence surrounding this issue, to presenting elements for reflection and alternatives on this subject, and to advancing initiatives to raise awareness and joint action.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco published a book in Arabic (2015) and French (2016) entitled “Free trade agreements and Morocco: colonial agreements against the people” [9] and held a national conference on the impact of free trade agreements: “STOP ALECA” (October 2015). The ALECA in French or DCFTA in English (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement) is the new generation of FTAs that the European Union has been negotiating with Morocco (and other southern “partners” such as Tunisia, or Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in Europe’s “South”) from 2010-2011 to harmonise the Moroccan legislative and regulatory framework with that of the EU, to further protect investment and intellectual property, to broaden competition in public procurement and to deepen the already well advanced privatisation of public services.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco organised an international seminar on FTAs in Casablanca on 1 October 2016, which concluded with a call that summarised our basis for analysis on this issue: “Free trade agreements (FTAs), whether bilateral or multilateral, are all designed to secure the profits of big business. They drain resources, public services, farmers’ farmland and destroy the environment. They destroy jobs, reduce wages by making workers compete one with another and increase unemployment. They increase big business’ stranglehold on the countries of the Global South especially by accentuating their structural dependence on food, finance and technology. They flood the markets of the latter with subsidised products from the Global North, destroying their already fragile productive fabric, the quality of which is a source of great mistrust. They are strengthened by the mechanisms for resolving disputes between investors and states, which give the former more exorbitant power over states and peoples. The people are left resourceless by the payment of debt servicing and the policies of massive destruction of social rights that ensue. The burden borne by women is particularly oppressive and inhuman”. [10]

On 15, 16 and 17 December 2017, ATTAC CADTM Morocco organised a North African seminar on free trade agreements, agriculture and food sovereignty under the slogan: “No to colonial agreements, for the defence of people’s sovereign right on their agricultural, food and environmental systems”. The seminar was held in Agadir, Morocco, with the participation of activists from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. [11]

These initiatives are part of an intense work of popular education by ATTAC CADTM Morocco to denounce the FTAs, propose perspectives for struggle and strengthen the bonds of solidarity between the peoples of the Global North and the Global South. At the level of Morocco, ATTAC CADTM Morocco contributed to the collectives against these agreements.
These collectives are today on stand-by or no longer exist.

 Facing the ecological and climate crisis, building resistance and thinking about alternatives

The ecological crisis is only one facet (the most catastrophic) of the crisis of capitalism and civilisation in which the world finds itself today.

At the level of Morocco, the environmental situation is intimately linked to the domination of world capitalism but also to the political and economic choices of the regime. The very real and factual effects of climate change exacerbate already existing problems from which the most deprived suffer, such as poverty, exclusion, undernourishment, unemployment, discrimination against women, etc. These victims are often far from being responsible for these changes, hence our demand for climate justice.

Our country, as well as those of the MENA region, is the very symbol of this injustice since, at a time when this region of the world is among the least polluting, it is and will be among the regions most affected especially by extreme phenomena of drought/floods which will particularly affect agriculture.

The vision of ATTAC CADTM Morocco in the face of the ecological and climate crisis is summarized in our programmatic platform adopted by our fourth national congress held at the end of January 2012. It was updated at the fifth congress held in early March 2014 and was entitled: “The environmental situation and green projects in Morocco: protecting profits under the pretext of protecting the environment. What are our alternatives?”.

In December 2015, ATTAC CADTM Morocco drew up a report on the situation of climate justice in Morocco. [12] This was in the context of the 21st United Nations Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris (30 November - 12 December 2015) where anti-globalisation and environmental activists organised activities to denounce the lack of financial means and political will of the world’s major decision-makers to stop global warming. The publication of this report also marked the beginning of the preparation of activities for the counter-summit of the COP 22 in Marrakech, which was to be held from 7 to 18 November 2016.

We are fighting to unmask the true face of green capitalism and the hypocrisy of the rulers and big capitalists who seek above all and as always the maximisation of their profits. We have introduced the notion of extractivism to fully understand this violent race of capitalists for mineral, fossil and agricultural resources. We claim the ecological debt contracted by the industrialised countries towards poor countries because of past (colonialism) and present (neo-colonialism) plundering of the latter’s natural resources. It is through the analysis of the debt system, extractivism and their interdependence that we think about the transition towards a world of social and ecological justice that requires a total break with the dominant mode of production, distribution and consumption.

At the national level, we’re trying to open a debate on the future of energy and food in our country and demand public management under popular control. An eco-social management that favours the most ecological solutions and at the same time allows the majority of Moroccans to have access to these resources.

In addition to analysis and awareness-raising work, we support the struggles against extractivism and the destruction of the environment by capitalists.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco participated in all forms of solidarity with struggles that had an ecological dimension and were oriented against extractivism:

  • In Ben Smim, a village west of the town of Ifrane, against the privatisation of their natural water source (2008-2010). Each time the protesters were repressed and 12 of them have been prosecuted in the courts.
  • In Imider, located in south-east Morocco, against the Imiter Mining Company, which operated their silver mine, the largest in Africa, plundering the wealth of the tribe, destroying water resources, and poisoning the air, land and groundwater table with mercury and cyanide. From July 2011 until 2019, the villagers heroically occupied Mount Alban to keep closed a water valve that fuelled the mine. In 2014, the movement was violently repressed and there were many taken to jail, the last of whom were released in late 2017-early 2018. [13]
  • In Beni Oukil, near Oujda, (2014-2017) against a project of extractivism (gravel quarry) which destroys the environment, agricultural activities, part of the historical memory (Jbel Dchira mountain) of the villagers, as well as their living, health and safety conditions. They too were repressed and activists are being prosecuted in the courts.
  • In Safi against the project to build a thermal power station (2014-2017) when the city is already experiencing serious industrial pollution from the large phosphate complex responsible for the degradation of the environment, of fishing resources and of the people’s health. This coal-fired power generation unit using seawater has several dangerous consequences for the region’s ecosystem. The power plant was eventually brought into operation at the beginning of December 2018.
  • The struggle of the Oulad Sbita tribe in Sidi Bouknadel in the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra region, against the seizure of more than 800 hectares of their land by Addoha, a real estate speculation company. The Soulaliyat women (more than 400 families) were fighting for the preservation of their collective land and family agriculture (2014-2017).
  • The struggle of the Soulaliyat community of Sidi Ayad (Midelt region) against the monopolisation of their collective land and natural resources after the state set up a project to install a solar power plant called “Noor 4” on an area estimated to be more than 4,500 hectares. Small farmers and families dispossessed of their land, water and grazing land organised several protests (2017-2019) which were suppressed. Oba Mimoun Said, a militant who is a symbol of these struggles, was arrested twice in a row: in April 2018 he was sentenced to 4 months in prison and in April 2019 he was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

In November 2016, ATTAC CADTM Morocco organised an international conference on “climate justice” in the context of COP 22 in Marrakech to give visibility to these ecological struggles, to broaden solidarity and to exchange on alternatives that bring solutions that the official conferences deliberately ignore. The conference also laid the foundations for closer collaboration with activists from other Maghreb countries and the African continent in order to enable a coordinated climate movement across the region and the continent.

It should be noted that this conference marked a rupture with a liberal current of Moroccan civil society co-opted by the regime. ATTAC CADTM Morocco withdrew from the “Moroccan Coalition for Climate Justice” and denounced this current which dominated it and which tried to limit this ecological awakening by orienting it towards green capitalism, climate initiatives proposed by government institutions and the private sector, and by distancing it from the real debate on climate justice linked to that on political, economic and social choices that perpetuate the destruction of the environment. ATTAC Morocco then engaged in the Democratic Network to Accompany Cop22 (REDACOP22) with several human rights associations and organisations as well as trade unions. This network aimed at building a democratic ecological movement in Morocco, independent of the political and economic powers in our country and of international donors, based on the mobilisation of the real victims of environmental damage. [14] Unfortunately, this network ceased to exist just after this mobilisation linked to COP22. Ecological and climate awareness in our country is still in its beginning phase and requires a long effort of education and construction.

 For food sovereignty in Morocco

Sovereignty means the people’s right to define their own agricultural and food policies without the intervention of external institutions or the flooding of the local market with foreign products at low prices. Sovereignty also implies people’s participation in determining the agricultural policy of their countries and in the implementation of agrarian reforms. Food sovereignty is based on the priority given to local agricultural production and people’s basic food needs, and the guarantee of free access to seeds and the right to protect their national products. Food sovereignty is the opposite of the industrial system of food production responsible for the destruction of natural resources and the climate that threatens farmers and the lives of millions of people.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco was engaged in a study project on food sovereignty in Morocco (2018-2019) in order to start reflecting on a possible alternative to the productivist and agricultural export-based model. This study aimed at establishing a diagnosis of neoliberal policies in the agricultural sector in our country and highlighting the multiple effects of this model on peasantry, agricultural workers, subsistence crops, food quality, and the environment. It was based on field surveys in the main agricultural areas of the country. The results were presented, discussed and improved during regional meetings with the different actors involved in the agricultural sector. [15]

ATTAC CADTM Morocco was one of the main initiators of the North African Network for Food Sovereignty which was constituted in July 2017 in Tunis. [16] This network initiated national co-ordinations in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt in order to broaden reflection in the MENA region, share experiences of struggles (of farmers, agricultural workers, fishermen, etc.), and develop concrete alternatives.

 Feminist commitment

The strengthening of a feminist approach to capitalist and patriarchal globalisation represents the main axis of the feminist commitment of ATTAC CADTM Morocco. This vision was born out of the subordinate situation of women in a society where they are the most exposed to all forms of discrimination, the latter being reproduced at all levels. This oppression is reinforced by neo-liberal policies that further weaken women’s access to the rights to education, health, work, retirement, land, housing, food, inheritance, and abortion.
A women’s committee was set up in 2013 within ATTAC CADTM Morocco to help deepen the analysis and develop the feminist commitment of the association whose principles are contained in the political charter of CADTM International (guaranteeing women’s self-determination, which they claim through their struggles for emancipation from the reigning extractivist, imperialist, capitalist and patriarchal system; effective eradication of inequality between men and women in all matters, through such approaches as positive discrimination and popular education) [17] and its organizational charter (respect for the principle of gender equality in representative bodies). [18]

This committee drafted a resolution on women which was adopted by the fourth national congress held in early March 2014. This resolution analyses the conditions of women in the crisis of the neoliberal phase of globalised capitalism and the different forms of oppression inherent in patriarchy. It sets out the reasons for the necessary actions towards women both at the internal level of the association and at the level of struggles and solidarity at the national, regional (MENA) and international levels.

In 2018, the women’s committee published a book entitled “Women in Morocco in the era of globalisation”. Its French version is ready to be sent to the printers before the end of 2020.

The women’s committee of ATTAC CADTM Morocco has played a very important role in solidarity with the struggle of women victims of microcredit (2012-2017), and in raising awareness through the presentation of the book on microcredit in several cities in Morocco on the issue of microcredit as a tool for impoverishing the poor, especially women, for the benefit of financial capitalists.

The feminist commitment of ATTAC CADTM Morocco is more generally to be seen in a permanent effort to give more visibility to the role of women in:

  • Popular struggles and mobilisations in Morocco opposing neo-liberal policies of austerity, privatisation, abandonment of public services, extractivism and land grabbing. ATTAC CADTM Morocco encourages the active participation of women in these struggles and, through the participation in the latter, seeks to broaden and strengthen women’s struggles.
  • The different activities and actions of the association: workshops, political education seminars, thematic workshops of the spring university and the youth camp, etc.
  • The bodies of ATTAC CADTM Morocco and in endorsing several responsibilities. The participation of women within the association has increased, is much more dynamic and women have managed to gain self-confidence. In spite of this, much effort still needs to be made to achieve real gender equality and break the influence of the surrounding patriarchal system.

The activists of ATTAC CADTM Morocco are part of the coordination of feminist struggles of the CADTM network. They have participated in international activities and seminars on “women, debt and microcredit” held in Africa (Benin in 2011, Morocco in 2014 and Mali in 2017). Together with their CADTM comrades, they have acquired militant expertise on:

  • The impact of debt and microcredit on women, particularly in Africa and South Asia.
  • The mechanisms by which the debt system affects women.
  • The specificities of women’s indebtedness.
  • Women’s struggles in Africa and South Asia and the alternatives that some of them are building.

The acquisition of this expertise can only make sense if it is put at the service of the people, in a dynamic of popular education geared towards action.

 Integration into the global dynamic of social movements and of CADTM International

ATTAC Morocco was involved in the process of the Moroccan Social Forum by contributing to its first edition held in Bouznika in December 2002, and the second in Rabat in July 2004. There, activists of ATTAC Morocco defended the fighting spirit, democracy and consensus that are defined in the charter of the World Social Forum. Unfortunately, the Moroccan Social Forum was eventually taken over by a liberal current in Moroccan civil society that is trying to channel social struggles into a logic of submission and mediation with the authorities. This current has been able to find partners of the same nature in the Maghreb countries through the Maghreb Social Forum. It also has a presence on the International Council of the World Social Forum and has participated in emptying the WSF of its militant content.

The responsibilities of ATTAC CADTM Morocco within the international secretariat of the CADTM, which it shares with CADTM Belgium since 2014, enable a consolidation of the association’s commitment within the CADTM global network and open great possibilities for the development and expansion of its actions at the international, regional (MENA) and national levels. In addition to political positions, declarations and press releases on behalf of CADTM International, ATTAC CADTM Morocco contributes with CADTM Belgium to international political education sessions on the issues of debt, international institutions and alternatives to the crisis of patriarchal and productivist capitalism. More particularly, it is tasked with:

  • The strengthening of CADTM’s activities in Africa and particularly their development in the MENA region through the Arabic website [19] and translations into Arabic of CADTM’s work and analyses.
  • The relations with the World Social Forum process.
  • Establishing synergies with global activist movements and networks: La Via Campesina, World March of Women, Global Attac, Global Campaign to Stop Corporate Impunity, Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people, etc.

This insertion in the global dynamic of social movements and of CADTM International has also played a very important role in the international solidarity campaigns with social struggles and against repression in Morocco.

 The migration issue

ATTAC CADTM Morocco has integrated the migration issue in its actions and collaborates with several organisations working on this issue (Anti-racist Group for the Accompaniment and Defence of Foreigners and Migrants (Gadem), Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), etc.), but also with migrant structures, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa (Council of sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco, etc.). The latter, since the 2000s and particularly from 2005-2006, have been victims of Moroccan police violence supported by the European Union’s outsourcing policy in the forests near Ceuta and Melilla and other cities in Morocco, which have resulted in dozens of deaths, physical and sexual assaults on children and women, hundreds of arrests, people being driven back to desert areas, etc.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco participated in several forms of solidarity and activities:

  • A world march against unemployment and in defence of migrants in 2002 in Tangiers.
  • An international meeting on the migration issue held in Tetouan in November 2005.
  • A meeting in Chefchaouen on migration and human rights in April 2006.

In May 2010, the ATTAC groups in the North of Morocco organised a seminar on the issue of migration which combined experiences in the field and reflection in order to make progress in the formulation of proposals and perspectives. [20]

The migration issue is also part of the association’s internal activities and education.

“There is no doubt that neither walls nor weapons can solve what the media call the migration crisis, because it is part of the consequences of the neoliberal policies imposed for decades on the people of the world... Radical solutions for the people of the Global South consist of putting an end to:

  • The plundering of resources and armed confrontations.
  • The debt system which today functions as a mechanism for pumping wealth to the banks.
  • Free trade agreements that violate people’s sovereignty and accelerate the appropriation of resources for the benefit of multinationals.

In the meantime, there is an urgent need to respect migration and asylum rights and agreements, and to set up a reception and integration mechanism that allows the creation of links with a human dimension and with respect for dignity”. [21]

The strategic priorities of ATTAC CADTM Morocco (public debt, private debt, the so-called free trade agreements, climate justice, food sovereignty, feminist commitment, and insertion in the global dynamics of social movements and of CADTM International) are linked to a global analysis of the specificities of backward capitalism in our country, its dependence on imperialism and the despotic nature of political power. They are articulated in the popular education work of ATTAC CADTM Morocco, its actions on the ground in synergy with struggles and social mobilisations and in its alternatives. Hence our demand for popular sovereignty as part of a global process of breaking with the debt system, unequal exchange, dependence and the institutions of capital. We support and coordinate with all organisations, coalitions and movements that act for the satisfaction of human rights, social and environmental justice, feminism, freedom, dignity and internationalism.

The monarchy has tried to contain the demands for political and social reforms of the great movement of popular protest triggered on 20 February 2011 by granting a “new” constitution. ATTAC CADTM Morocco refused to participate in the consultations organised by the regime on this constitution (April 2011) and called, along with other social and political organisations, for its boycott (June 2011). It is a constitution that enshrines despotism with its mechanisms of looting and corruption. It adheres to the neoliberal principles of the IFIs, which accentuate the country’s dependence and indebtedness and generalise austerity, privatisation and precariousness. Opposing voices are stifled and public freedoms (right of expression and organisation) are flouted. A democratic constitution will not be a godsend of those in power. It will be the fruit of a long social and political struggle and a civic process that is the work of those below.

Morocco hosted the World Forum on Human Rights in Marrakech from 27 to 30 November 2014. ATTAC CADTM Morocco, together with other social and political organisations, boycotted this forum which was held in a context of systematic repression. Through this forum, the government wanted to restore its image and expose a sham of the rule of law.
During the regional and communal elections of September 2015, ATTAC CADTM Morocco joined a collective of civil society associations which presented a programme entitled: “100 measures for socially equitable local authorities”. The aim was not to participate in the elections, but to open a debate on a real electoral programme that should emanate from the people and put forward demands concerning democratic management, social justice, solidarity-based economy, defence of the environment, etc. Unfortunately, it did not have any echo. In fact, these elections were nothing more than a masquerade. They served to legitimise a sham democracy.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco has always been harassed by the authorities, many of its activities have been banned and several of its activists have been prosecuted and imprisoned. It was most recently the case of Omar Radi, an investigative journalist, who has been imprisoned since 29 July 2020 awaiting trial.

Since 2002, the Ministry of the Interior refuses to renew the association’s legal receipt. This deprives us of the right of access to public halls such as community centres, to open a bank account, etc. Our complaints against this decision have been filed after each national congress for 6 years (2012-2018) without the administrative court ever giving us justice.

ATTAC CADTM Morocco continues its struggle. Hundreds of activists have contributed to its struggle at the local, national, regional and international levels. The results of these 20 years should inspire the younger generations who are engaged in resistance for another possible Morocco, for social and environmental justice, dignity and freedom.

 Horizontal democratic functioning

Inspired by the debates in the anti-globalization movement and its experiences, the first groups of ATTAC CADTM Morocco rejected the vertical hierarchical structure of traditional organizations. They adopted a horizontal democratic functioning. The orientations and strategic choices of the association emanate from the local groups through the national coordinating council, which is the highest decision-making body after the national congress. The national council is made up of representatives elected by the local groups. Only the national secretariat as the executive body is elected by the congress.

The groups of ATTAC CADTM Morocco face many obstacles in trying to anchor themselves locally. The influence of ATTAC CADTM Morocco does not translate into an expansion of its membership. The association’s strengths are still modest, but its concrete actions on the essential themes described above within the popular strata that are victims of neoliberalism and despotism constitute a promising potential.


1 December 2020
Aziki Omar

Member of ATTAC CADTM Morocco’s national secretariat and of CADTM International’s twin hub international secretariat.

Many thanks to Fatima Zahra El Belghiti, Larbi Hafidi, Youness El Haboussi, Jawad Moustakbal and Claude Quémar for their review.


Translated by Nathan Legrand




Footnotes

[1This first assembly towards the creation of ATTAC Morocco was initially set to take place at the then National School of the Mineral Industry (Rabat School of Mines), but eventually had to relocate to the premises of the Espace associative after the authorities had banned the first venue and had the Rabat School of Mines surrounded by police in order to prevent activists from entering.

[2ATTAC CADTM Morocco, Death Over Humiliation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfC5cXMwSIM

[3The boycott targeted milk products from the Société Centrale Laitière, a subsidiary of the French multinational Danone, Sidi Ali mineral water made by the sparkling water company Oulmès, a subsidiary of the Holmarcom group belonging to the Bensaleh family, and fuel from the Afriquia petrol stations belonging to the Akwa group of the Akhannouch family.

[4See (in French) ATTAC CADTM Morocco, “Mémorandum : ATTAC CADTM Maroc soutient le boycott citoyen de produits de consommation commercialisés par des grands groupes capitalistes”, 21 June 2018: https://attacmaroc.org/fr/2018/06/21/memorandum-attac-maroc-soutient-le-boycott-citoyen-de-produits-de-consommation-commercialises-par-des-grands-groupes-capitalistes/

[5See (in French) ATTAC CADTM Morocco, “Appel pour un audit de la dette publique marocaine : Pas de développement sans annulation de la dette”, 7 April 2013: https://www.cadtm.org/Appel-pour-un-audit-de-la-dette

[6Motion for a twin hub International Secretariat for CADTM International: https://www.cadtm.org/Motions,9189

[7See (in French) ATTAC CADTM Morocco, “Maroc : Auditer la dette pour l’annuler”, 21 September 2018: https://www.cadtm.org/Maroc-Auditer-la-dette-pour-l-annuler

[8The French version of this study is available in PDF format: https://attacmaroc.org/fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ATTAC-Maroc.Etude-microcr%C3%A9dit.-PDF.pdf

[9The foreword of the French version of the book is available here: https://attacmaroc.org/fr/2015/05/15/attac-maroc-un-nouveau-livre-sur-les-accords-de-libre-echange/

[10See (in French) the final declaration of the seminar: https://www.cadtm.org/Declaration-finale-de-la

[11ATTAC CADTM Morocco, “Final declaration of the Maghreb seminar: ‘Free trade’ agreements and food sovereignty”, 2 January 2018: https://www.cadtm.org/Final-declaration-of-the-Maghreb

[13See (in French) Omar Moujane, Luiza Toscane, “Maroc, l’histoire d’une lutte : « Le mouvement contre la mine d’Imider dure depuis plus de 40 ans”, 24 January 2019: https://www.cadtm.org/Maroc-l-histoire-d-une-lutte-Le-mouvement-contre-la-mine-d-Imider-dure-depuis

[14ATTAC CADTM Morocco, “COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco: What strategy for the social movements facing climate change ?” 15 September 2016: https://www.cadtm.org/COP22-in-Marrakech-Morocco-What

[15Introduction of the study: ATTAC CADTM Morocco, “For food sovereignty in Morocco”, 24 November 2019: https://www.cadtm.org/For-food-sovereignty-in-Morocco

[16See the website of the North African Network for Food Sovereignty: https://www.siyada.org/en/

[17See the Political Charter of CADTM International in its version provisionally amended by the International Council that was held in Liège in September 2019: https://www.cadtm.org/Here-are-the-proposed-amendments-to-the-CADTM-Political-Charter-http-www-cadtm

[18See the organizational charter of the CADTM International: https://www.cadtm.org/Organizational-charter

[19See the Arabic version of the CADTM website: http://arabic.cadtm.org/

[21Lucile Daumas, former member of ATTAC CADTM Morocco who worked a lot on this issue, in theory as well as in practice.

Omar Aziki

is a member of the national secretariat of ATTAC CADTM Morocco and of the shared international secretariat of CADTM.

Other articles in English by Omar Aziki (5)

Translation(s)

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