Revolutionary Worker #1156, June 23, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
On June 26-27 the leaders of the world's richest and most powerful imperialist countries--known as the "Group of Eight" or G8--will hold their annual summit in Alberta province, Canada. These global exploiters and oppressors will be opposed by thousands of people determined to make a stand against everything the G8 is about.
The G8 meeting takes place as the U.S. continues its campaign of "war without end" around the world. In a June 1 speech at West Point, President Bush declared his intention to strike first against any country in the world that the U.S. considers a "threat." And in recent weeks, the Bush administration has announced major new repressive moves that dramatically slash people's rights and strengthen the police-state powers of the government.
The rulers of the U.S. claim that this war and repression juggernaut is about protecting the people against "terrorist threats." But in reality, their actions are aimed at defending and expanding their system of capitalist plunder and environmental destruction that brings misery to billions of people around the world. In the G8 summit, the U.S. will be sitting down with other world powers to work out their common predatory interests (even as they contend among themselves for advantage among thieves).
In this light, it's very positive and encouraging that major protests will confront the G8. Brave resisters from around Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere will be coming together to demand a different world than the one the powers are forcing on the people. The protests in Canada are shaping up to be another important moment in the struggle over what future humanity will have.
The G8 Agenda
The G8 countries are the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia. Between them they control 68% of the world's economy while making up less than 14% of the world's population. And there are large and growing gaps between rich and poor within these countries themselves.
The G8 is dominated by the U.S., which also controls the various financial institutions of global capitalism--such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO)--that practically run many Third World countries. The G8 countries are also the biggest military powers in the world--with the U.S. as the top possessor of nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, and other "weapons of mass destruction."
Among the items on the G8 summit agenda are "the war on terrorism," "economic recovery," and the "New Partnership for African Development" (NEPAD). The G8 leaders are promoting NEPAD as an effort to stimulate economic growth in Africa through investment by capitalist countries. But Dennis Brutus of the organization Jubilee South Africa notes that the "essence" of NEPAD "is that Africa promises to obey all requests from the West and will submit to their demands, particularly in the area of investment. Africa will be enslaved to satisfy the demands of the West." NEPAD also seems to reflect a U.S. desire to heighten the exploitation of Africa's oil reserves. According to U.S. government estimates, imported oil from Africa is expected make up 25% of the total U.S. supply by 2015, compared to 15% today.
Protest Plansin Calgary and Ottawa
The Canadian government picked the isolated resort town of Kananaskis in the Canadian wilderness as the site for the G8 gathering. The closest city to Kananaskis is Calgary, about 90 miles to the east. The location was announced last year by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien after the massive protests against the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City and the July 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. There were powerful uprisings of tens of thousands in both Quebec City and Genoa as people dared to go up against heavy police repression--including the murder of protester Carlo Giuliani in Genoa by the Italian federal police.
The movement against capitalist globalization has developed plans for major opposition to the G8 summit. The main center of protest activity is shaping up to be in Calgary. Activists in Alberta and western Canada have been mobilizing for anti-G8 events for many months. Teach-ins, meetings, and activists traveling around in educational "road shows" have taken the message out into the Canadian heartland.
In Canada there is increasing opposition to the global role Canada is playing as a junior imperialist partner to the U.S., including in "the war on terrorism." There is also growing unrest over government cutbacks in education and health care, privatization of public services, destruction of the environment, and growing poverty and racism. Many activists see these issues as connected to the struggle against capitalist globalization.
The unity statement for the Alberta protests says in part, "We reject the dehumanizing and anti-democratic system perpetuated by institutions like the G8. We reject a world vision where people, natural environments and culture are only valued as commodities to be exploited for profit. In order to eliminate the oppressive power of authoritarian structures, we support bold and creative actions that respect the natural environment and human safety."
Protest plans include community marches in Calgary, a people's summit teach-in, convergence centers, festivals of resistance, Critical Mass bike rides, vigils, and fasts. A range of people and organizations are mobilizing, including trade unions, global justice activists, environmentalists, religious and spiritual groups and individuals, and anarchists and revolutionaries.
A call for anti-capitalist actions against the G8 is being circulated by the Calgary Anti-Capitalist Collective (CACC) and Anti-Capitalist Edmonton (ACE). These two groups are calling for an anti- capitalist convergence June 21-28, a party in opposition to a party held for G8 delegates by the City of Calgary, and a day of affinity group actions on June 26 in Calgary together with other organizations.
Exciting plans are also developing for protests in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, in solidarity with the Alberta protests. The Ottawa actions are being organized in opposition to capitalist globalization, war, and domestic repression. Some of the same groups that organized the Quebec City protests are involved in this effort, called "Take the Capital!" There are plans for highway caravans that slow traffic on roads leading to Ottawa, snake marches in downtown Ottawa, Critical Mass bike rides, a "No One is Illegal, March of 1000 Flags of Resistance" action, and a march on the U.S. embassy.
The call for the march on the U.S. embassy says, "Led by the U.S., the G8 have decided to ensure continued poverty, injustice and people's oppression through economic, political and military war. In Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iraq, Colombia, Nepal and Palestine, the U.S. and its client states are waging offensives under the name of the `war on terror,' but their first--if not only--targets are the people." The march is also targeting the new "anti-terrorist" bills in Canada that attack immigrants, refugees, oppressed people of color, and basic democratic rights.
The Canadian authorities, no doubt in consultation with the U.S., have mounted a huge security operation in preparation for the Alberta summit. Surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank systems, F-18 fighters, helicopters, ground and air sensors, several thousand Royal Canadian Mounted Police and municipal police, and as many as 5,000 Canadian military troops are being mobilized for the summit. The soldiers and police will patrol a 6.5 kilometer security zone around the summit and be deployed in surrounding areas.
The authorities have worked hard to try to intimidate anti-G8 activists and scare away broader mass support. The Calgary Herald quoted Canadian Brigadier General Senton saying, "We are very serious... We have lethal weapons, and we will use force if there is a serious threat."
The authorities have tried to use "terrorist threats" as a justification to crack down on protests. The Calgary press has been full of stories about the supposed threats faced by people in the area from terrorists using chemical and biological weapons or "dirty bombs." According to the Calgary Herald , "[Brigadier General] Senton said terrorists could very easily use `peaceful' protesters as a cover to slip into Kananaskis... Given that threat, Senton said he is very concerned that his soldiers might mistake a protester for a terrorist if there is a confrontation in the dark, forested environment of Kananaskis."
Activists had planned a "solidarity village" festival of resistance where up to 15,000 protesters could camp out near the G8 summit site in the Kananaskis area. But the activists have been denied the use of land for camp sites. Officials refused to allow solidarity village organizers to use either provincial parks or Calgary city parks, claiming this would be in violation of government regulations. Solidarity village organizers continue to try to find spaces for smaller scale encampments in the Calgary area.
Authorities are preparing a clampdown on the Canada/U.S. border as well. According to an RCMP spokesman, people trying to cross the border with "tools of civil disobedience"--including gas and ski masks--"will be interrogated and denied entry" into Canada. The spokesman told the reporters, "We don't need a reason to deny somebody access to our country."
In the face of the clampdown, spirits are high for the people's opposition in Alberta and Ottawa. The G8 protests will be an important time for advancing and spreading the struggle against this system's war, capitalist globalization, and repression.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)