Monday, December 23, 2013

Thailand: First Reports of Rice Farmers Blocking Roads

Anti-regime protest spreads across regime's own support base - rural rice farmers who have been cheated by vote-buying scam rise up. 

Image: Rice farmers from the northern province of Pichit have blockaded highway 117 in protest against the Shinawatra regime. Originally supporters of the regime, a vote-buying scheme promising them guaranteed, artificially high and unsustainable prices for their rice have left them not only dependent on government handouts, but now unpaid since October since the scheme financially collapsed. (Source:

December 23, 2013 (Tony Cartalucci) - Rice farmers from Thailand's northern Pichit province blocked highway 117 in protest against the regime of Thaksin Shianwatra and his proxy (and sister) Yingluck Shinawatra. The farmers, who were promised above-market prices for their rice, have not been paid since October and have been dealing with slashed prices since the vote-buying scheme began to collapse last summer.

The rice buying scheme has gone bankrupt, with warehouses full of unsold, rotting rice that has been declared unfit for human consumption by many of Thailand's traditional importers. Because of this, Thailand's leading position in Asia as a premier rice exporter has fallen in terms of both quality and quantity.

Having failed to sell the rice, efforts to raise capital by selling bonds has been tried - and has also failed - with the first round failing to raise even half of the money required to perpetuate the scheme. Another round of bonds is scheduled for January, but is expected to do even worse.

While the Western media continues to claim that the regime is "legitimate," "democratically elected," and widely popular, particularly among rural farmers, it is clear by now just how it got into power - through grandiose populist campaign promises no other political party was irresponsible enough to make, let alone attempt to implement.

Out of all of Thailand's population, a meager 7% identify themselves as "red," or, supporters of the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. Another 7% describe themselves as "leaning toward red." In the past 2011 general elections, according to Thailand's Election Commission (.pdf), a meager 35% of all eligible voters actually cast a ballot for the current regime. Of that 35%, with only 14%  considered "red," it appears the other 21% were bought off by the promised, and clearly unsustainable rice buying scheme.

However, the legitimacy of the regime and the grievances of protesters go beyond the rice buying scheme - but for rice farmers who believed the Shianwatra's were the "people's champions," they can now see for themselves what other protesters have been saying all along.