April 16-17 Protests Target World Bank and IMF in DC
People vs. The Global Rip-Off
Revolutionary Worker #1050, April 16, 2000
"The last time opponents of global capitalism confronted the ranks of domestic law enforcement--in Seattle Nov. 30 to Dec. 3--the results were clouds of tear gas, volleys of rubber bullets and the makings of a mass protest movement whose energy and appeal have surprised even some of its organizers. Round 2 is scheduled for April 16 and 17 in Washington.... Both sides are immersed in preparations. The region is about to take a ringside seat for a turn-of-the-century spectacle: Arcane economic institutions now spark as much outrage in some people as the Vietnam War, civil rights and nuclear weapons did during the storied demonstrations of yore."
From Washington Post- April 2, 2000
The whole world watched last November to December as tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Seattle to oppose the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the crimes of capitalist globalization. This month, protesters are targeting two other key imperialist economic institutions--the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The "Mobilization for Global Justice" is bringing the movement against the IMF/ World Bank into the streets of the command center of the U.S. empire, Washington, D.C. There are plans for mass protests and direct action against the semi-annual meeting of the IMF/World Bank.
The IMF and World Bank have played a major role for the past 55 years in enforcing imperialist domination of Third World countries. (see "World Bank and IMF: Banking on Misery," p. 6) These financial institutions basically run the economies of 90 oppressed nations. Their Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) force debtor nations to make massive cuts in government services, produce more export crops instead of food to feed their people, and open up the economy to greater control by foreign investors. SAPs are supposed to help poor countries out of debt and onto the road of self reliance. In fact, these programs have worsened the debt the Third World owes--while private banks and the World Bank make enormous profits.
The IMF and the World Bank are controlled by the major powers, especially the U.S. So it is very fitting that people are converging on Washington, D.C. to denounce and expose these bloodsuckers in business suits who cause so much poverty and misery for billions around the world.
The D.C. protests (dubbed A16) start on April 8 with a week of various events and activities. Organizers are doing training for direct action protests, media outreach, and education about globalization and IMF/ World Bank. Other events during the week include a protest against the School of the Americas (which trains military officers from Latin American countries in counter-insurgency and torture), a mobilization by Jubilee 2000 (an international coalition of religious and activist groups calling for cancellation of Third World debt), and conferences and teach-ins on various topics.
And on Sunday and Monday, April 16-17, there will be rallies and protests at the IMF and World Bank. The Mobilization for Global Justice says: "The finance ministers and international bureaucrats who shape the world economy to make the rich richer and the poor poorer need to know that Seattle was not just a bump on their road to global domination. What we asserted at the WTO must be repeated to the rulers of the global economy. We must make clear, again, that the people's movements of the world will not stand idly by while those holding power continue to impoverish and oppress the majority of the world's peoples and ravage the earth's environment and resources while enriching themselves and corporations."
In the days leading up to the WTO protests in Seattle, you could feel the excitement building as people poured into town. At the Seattle Direct Action Network (DAN) headquarters, youth and others from up and down the West Coast and beyond gathered to check-in, hook-up, discuss strategy and experiences, and make plans. Many who were in the streets in Seattle--and others who were inspired by what they saw and heard--are now headed for D.C, and they are promising to "bring the spirit of Seattle" to the U.S. capital. An organizer at the D.C. office of Mobilization for Global Justice told the RW, "Everyone on the East Coast who couldn't make it to Seattle is organizing for this. We're feeling like this is what we've been waiting for. We're thrilled by the momentum. We're feeling like the corporations had the last century and this one's ours."
Buses and car caravans to D.C. are being organized from many cities on the East Coast and other areas, including Tennessee, Indiana, Chicago, Wisconsin, Canada, San Francisco and Seattle. Activities in connection with A16 are being planned in over 70 U.S. and Canadian cities as well as internationally. People from the Philippines, India, Chad, Cameroon and other countries are expected to join the A16 protests.
The Police Forces Prepare
A report just released by the Seattle Police Dept. admitted they were "outmaneuvered and overwhelmed" during the WTO protests. The report discusses how the protesters used walkie talkies and police scanners to position their forces in response to what the cops were doing.
The D.C. police, FBI, Secret Service and the highest levels of the U.S. government have been making intense preparations for A16. The Executive Assistant Chief of the D.C. police, Terrence Gainer, declared that the cops will be ready to prevent a repeat of the Battle of Seattle.
The Washington Post reported on April 2: "Some [law enforcement agencies] were in Seattle to observe the demonstrations and have been gathering intelligence since. Now, 60 D.C. police officers a day take a course at a Lorton training center to build a force of 1,500 for the demonstrations. They are watching videos of how Seattle police lost control, and practicing scenarios such as how to handle 5,000 protesters trying to block Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Hundreds of officers from local and federal agencies also will be standing by....
"One recent Thursday morning at the Lorton training facility, police officers and some U.S. Secret Service agents assembled for classroom training and field drills. The officers wore old riot helmets and carried batons while they practiced marching in formation.... D.C. police purchased $1 million worth of riot gear for the event, including helmets with neck protectors and arms, chest and shin guards. In addition to service weapons, officers will carry gas masks, and some will bear arms that shoot rubber bullets or can deliver tear gas."
A Broad Alliance Against Capitalist Globalization
The Battle of Seattle brought forth new alliances--uniting young radical streetfighters, longshore workers and other trade unionists, environmentalists, Filipino anti-imperialists, students, revolutionary Vietnam veterans, farmers and others--against the monopoly capitalists and their police enforcers.
The A16 protests are being called by a large coalition of groups, many of which sponsored the Seattle WTO protests. Some of the main sponsors are: 50 Years Is Enough Network, Direct Action Network, Ruckus Society, Rainforest Action Network, Just Act: Youth Action for Global Justice, Alliance for Global Justice, and Jubilee 2000 Afrika Campaign (USA). Dozens of other social and economic justice, direct action, progressive religious, environmental, Third World solidarity, anti-war, anti-imperialist, anarchist, youth, student and union groups have also endorsed the action. The coalition is broadening quickly, bringing together maybe even a broader grouping than the Seattle actions. In recent days the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers of America endorsed the permitted mass protest on April 16.
Among the forces organizing for these actions, there are many different political views on the IMF/World Bank, globalization and what must be done to change the current situation. Some view the way forward as reforming the system from within. Many are into "direct action" to create a new world by a massive movement of the people and a change of consciousness. Others see that the system is unreformable and that revolution is needed.
One of the main forces behind A16 is the 50 Years Is Enough Network--a coalition of 205 organizations "dedicated to the profound transformation" of the World Bank and the IMF. 50 Years carries out exposure about how the IMF/World Bank intensifies global inequality and massive hardship in the oppressed nations.
Jubilee 2000 is composed of many different groups internationally, and it has been endorsed by figures such as Bono of the rock group U2 and the Pope. Their stated purpose is to work for canceling the crushing debt owed by poor nations to the rich countries. Jubilee exposes some of the life-stealing problems caused by Third World debt, such as poverty and lack of health care and sanitation. The solution they promote is to use public pressure and lobbying with governments, including negotiations with the major powers, to create a more "democratic" and "transparent" economic system. The demand for cancelling Third World debt is not in total contradiction to some of the moves being made by the imperialists. The U.S. government has cancelled and rescheduled some Third World debt in the past--as a way of staving off mass unrest in the poor countries, as well as laying the conditions for continuing the exploitation of these oppressed nations. This is why a proven enemy of the people like U.S. President Clinton has spoken favorably about the goals of Jubilee 2000.
Also converging on D.C. will be delegates of the People's Assembly (PA), an anti-imperialist globalization organization founded by Bayan from the Philippines. PA held an important conference and march during WTO. Another very important element in the Battle of Seattle was the role played by thousands of determined youth who refused to back off in the face of police brutality and repression. Many student organizations from all over are mobilizing for A16.
Another important aspect of organizing activity for A16 is among Black people and other oppressed nationalities. A spokesperson from the Alliance for Global Justice told the RW: "People can see very clearly that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Certainly for people of color we can see that--because we often bear the brunt of the burden of helping the rich enrich themselves. But that's not only people of color but also working people and poor people regardless of their race."
Supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party will also be in the streets of D.C. There is much that revolutionary communists unite with in this growing opposition to imperialist globalization. We share in the vision of a radically changed world--without the immense inequalities, oppression and environmental destruction under today's system. We hate the way everything is commercialized in this dog-eat-dog society--to ensure that maximum profit is squeezed from every human being and interaction. We boil with outrage at the corporate empire-builders and cold-hearted government officials who commit countless crimes every day--from causing unnecessary deaths of millions of children around the world to mindlessly polluting the earth's forests and seas.
Maoist revolutionaries truly believe that "It's right to rebel" against these crimes. And we see that those who hold the planet in their greedy grasp will only be swept away by the most intense forms of struggle. Our common hope lies in defeating the corporate and government forces of world imperialism through revolution--in every country--and taking the first historic steps toward a liberated global society.
The capitalists claim that they are triumphant, that there is no future but theirs. But the world is full of people who have no future under this system. As the IMF and World Bank meet in Washington, D.C., A16 will be an opportunity to take a strong stand against the global rip-off and send a strong message that people want a very different future.
Read the RW for coverage of the D.C. protests. Reports from the Battle of Seattle are available online at rwor.org
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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