Thousands in D.C. protest global loan sharks
By Lee Sustar | April 30, 2004 | Page 11
WASHINGTON--Activists from around the U.S. were joined by representatives of social movements from around the world April 24 for a spirited march against International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings here.
Ricardo Navarro, chair of Friends of the Earth International and director of the El Salvador environmental group CESTA, summed up the mood of the 3,000 demonstrators outside the World Bank headquarters with a single word: "No!" Describing the devastating impact of large dams that have displaced peasants and farmers, he said, "They can only do this if we let them. We have to say no. They talk about eradicating poverty. What they want is to eradicate poor people."
At the pre-march rally, Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told activists that even though the Bank and IMF have lost credibility, they are becoming even more aggressive. She pointed out that the Bank has quadrupled its budget to privatize water, saying, "We are winning--which is why they keep upping the ante."
The corporate takeover of water via privatization, dams and free-trade agreements--all abetted by the Bank and the Fund--was taken up by activists from India to Bolivia to Central America.
Dennis Brutus, the veteran anti-apartheid and global justice activist and poet, made the connection between the struggle against the IMF and Bank and the movement against war and occupation in Iraq, urging activists to step up efforts to oppose the U.S. killings of civilians in the town of Falluja. "The people responsible should be put on trial for war crimes," he said.
A similar point was made at a meeting the day earlier by environmental activist Rudolf Amenga-Etego of Ghana, who argued for unity between the global justice and antiwar movements. "We cannot fragment the struggle," he said at a teach-in organized by 50 Years Is Enough, a U.S.-based campaign against the Bank and the IMF. The march also included a stop at Halliburton, where speakers denounced the company's war profiteering.
Although the protest was smaller than the big rally of April 2000, it was dynamic, spirited--and showed the potential to renew the global justice movement.