New York: Face Off at the WEF

Revolutionary Worker #1136, January 27, 2002, posted at

"We're calling for five days of mass rallies, of creative, passionate, and diverse actions against the World Economic Forum. Join us in building a coalition that's as diverse as New York City itself. ALL are welcome as we tell the 'Masters of the Universe' that they don't have the answers to our problems. Join us in the streets as we visualize solutions that build a better world where the people are in control."

From the statement by
Another World Is Possible Coalition

From January 31 to February 5, major capitalist executives, government big shots, and bourgeois academics and media from around the globe will converge on New York City for the World Economic Forum (WEF). Meeting in this financial nerve center of the U.S. empire, they will be plotting their plans for a "post-9/11 world."

But this international bloodsuckers' convention will NOT go on unopposed. Activists in the movement against capitalist globalization are planning a week of protests and teach-ins to challenge and expose the WEF--and to demand a different future for the world.

The WEF was originally formed in 1972. According to the New York City Indymedia, "The WEF is a private member organization comprising representatives from 1,000 of the world's largest corporations including Microsoft, Monsanto, Nike, General Motors, and, until recently, Enron.... The exclusive meeting is open to members--who pay upwards of $30,000 in annual dues--as well as selected politicians, journalists, and academics. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are both expected to be among the 3,200 in attendance. While the WEF helps set global economic and trade agendas that affect the world, the group predominantly includes Europeans and American businesses."

The WEF is an important part of the workings of the imperialist system--which causes so much poverty and suffering for billions of people worldwide. Each year the WEF meets to strategize on key economic and political issues of the international capitalist system. While the WEF is not a governmental body, it influences government policies of the major powers and their international financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. NYC Indymedia points out, "The World Economic Forum is seen by many as the corporate architects of the recent wave of economic globalization. Representatives from the WEF set the foundation for the formation of the World Trade Organization."

Until this year, the annual WEF meetings have been held at Davos, Switzerland, a plush ski-resort city in the middle of Europe. In 2000, the forum was rocked by fierce protests. For 2001, the authorities prepared a massive clampdown that the press described as the biggest security operation in Switzerland since World War 2. A thousand police and soldiers occupied the small city of Davos. Roadblocks restricted access to the city, train service was suspended, and troops at the borders stopped "suspected demonstrators" from entering the country. But hundreds of protesters were able to get through the tight security and march on the heavily guarded WEF meeting. Elsewhere in Switzerland, 1,000 people fought the police in Zurich, and there were protests in several other places. WEF spokesmen declared their meeting a success. But everybody could see that they had to turn a whole city into an armed fortress to hold their talks.

For the meeting this year, WEF organizers chose New York City as the venue. The announcement was made the day after Michael Bloomberg--the head of a large corporation and a WEF member himself--won the election as the new New York mayor.

Police Preparations

The NYPD is preparing a heavy mobilization against the protests. According to the New York Times, "While the [police] commissioner would not offer specifics on how the forum would be policed, other law enforcement officials said the Police Department's response would have to include almost military-style tactics."

On January 17, the police held a drill in Shea Stadium. According to Newsday, "During the drill, mock demonstrators--actually officers and cadets--halted a motorcade, banging on the hood of a dignitary's car and rocking it back and forth. Police used electric saws to break chains demonstrators had used to secure themselves together. Rowdy protesters were handcuffed and hauled away in a van." Before leaving office, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani threatened mass arrests, saying that if anti-WEF protesters "break the law, they will be arrested."

The authorities are also seizing on the attacks on the World Trade Center as justification to rule protests "out of order." The spokesman for the NYC police commissioner said, "Clearly in the wake of Sept. 11, New Yorkers are in no mood for any kind of serious disorder."

As part of their preparations, the NYPD has been meeting with the FBI, the Secret Service, and the State Department to make plans for a clampdown. The entire area around the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, where the WEF will meet, will be turned into a "frozen-zone"--areas under absolute police control.

Meanwhile the WEF organizers appear to be arranging things so that most of the attendees stay in the hotel and inside the "zone." The Washington Post reported that "most of this year's attendees will bunk together" at the Waldorf. And the Financial Times of London wrote, "Organizers of the forum acknowledge that they must find a way to make the Waldorf 'a magnet' to keep [the] attendees from drifting to other Manhattan attractions." The official list of attendees will only be issued just before the event, and some of the names won't be published at all "for security purposes."

Protest the WEF!

A broad mix of forces are planning to take on the WEF. There are plans for marches, teach-ins, vigils, and other activities for the week of January 30-Feburary 5. Among the groups involved are Another World Is Possible Coalition, Students For Global Justice, Anti-Capitalist Convergence, AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, and International ANSWER. The planned events include a WEF Counter-Summit and National Student Mobilization scheduled to take place at Columbia University, a pre-WEF vigil in Union Square on February 1, and a mass demonstration on Saturday, February 2.

Events are still being organized as we go to press. (More information and latest news on the protests are available online at the following websites:;;;

The CEO's and politicians of the WEF may be hoping that massive police deployment--and the U.S. government's overall repressive offensive after September 11--will enable them to avoid the determined protests that have disrupted their meetings in recent years. But the statement from the Another World Is Possible Coalition declares: "The WEF is in for a surprise! The movement for global justice is alive and well and growing, and ready to stand in the way of their five-day corporate cocktail party. We call on anti-globalization, student, immigrant, community and union organizations and all working people to join with us to protest the World Economic Forum and to pose our positive alternative to their destructive plans."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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