Two Lalit Public Forums have now been held, one in Richelieu at the Village Hall on Monday 10 April and the other at Riviere Noire Village Hall on Wednesday 19 April. They launch a series that are part of the Lalit campaign to put political pressure on the Government not to submit to private sector demands, which aim at making the working people of the country pay the price for the economic crisis caused by the private sector.
In the face of the collapse in sugar prices, the sugar oligarchy wants to make its companies more profitable, and the Government's "Road Map" goes along with this. Their idea is to invest in destroying jobs. That's their idea of getting out of the crisis.
Lalit's campaign, outlined in turn by Laval Yves, Lindsey Collen, Kisna Kistnasamy and Rajni Lallah at the two forums, is first and foremost to mobilize people to demand that investment be used to create, and not to destroy, jobs. In particular, Lalit is mobilizing people to stand up and demand that the European Union money be used for creation of employment, and not for its destruction.
Secondly, speakers emphasised, Lalit is mobilizing people to demand a proper unemployment benefit. In past economic crises, whether in the 1930's or 1970's, workers rose up behind political demands and won victories. But at that time, workers were not as heavily indebted as they are today. There was also enough land around houses that people could get a few vegetables and leaves for leaf soup. There is no longer land for this, nor for animal rearing, which cushioned people from poverty. Unemployed people would go out and harpoon fish. This is now illegal.
Thirdly, the Lalit speakers demanded that prices be controlled. One way to do this is for the Government to take back control of foreign exchange out of the hands of the private sector, which provokes constant rupee devaluation.
Fourthly, Lalit speakers said that workers should get access to agricultural land. Instead of just sacking workers with compensation, they should be allocated an arpent of land on lease to plant diversified crops on a collective basis together with others who get the same land.
Fifthly, Lalit speakers outlined the economic demands that Lalit has developed, which will be the backbone of our long-term campaign. (See article on 15 demands).
In both Forums, half of the time was allocated for general debate. In Richelieu the debate was particularly lively.
Both Village Halls are in very good condition now, after the return of Village Elections following Lalit's campaign against the banning of village elections.