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News ::
Photos of World Bank/IMF protest, Latin American Solidarity Conference report. (english)
15 Apr 2003
A conference was hosted by the Latin American Solidarity Coalition last weekend in DC. It began Friday eve with speeches, including a stem winder by Vernon Bellecourt of AIM, followed by a full slate of workshops on Saturday (with a break for the anti-war march), and a protest on Sunday against the policies of the World Bank and IMF. (article 3)
Participants in Saturday’s conference chose from a large selection of workshops. The workshops covered a broad range of topics, addressing conditions in numerous Latin American nations and regions, as well as the global economic policies that detrimentally affect those areas. The contributor of this post attended workshops on Mexican indigenous communities, the struggles of unionists in Columbia, and the social/political situation in Venezuela. While not wholly unfamiliar with any of these topics, he came with away with more detailed information, as well as a deeper understanding and appreciation of the topics discussed. Two of the three workshops attended were presented by natives of the countries being discussed, in their native languages (with simultaneous translations).
One realization that resulted from attendance, was that what the U.S. military is doing in a dramatic fashion in Iraq, the global economic powers are accomplishing insidiously in Latin America and elsewhere.
Sunday’s World Bank/IMF protest march was not as well attended as the previous day’s peace demonstration. Apparently many of the people and groups who so vocally opposed US military domination on Saturday, do not make the connection between American military domination and the global economic domination of the multi-national corporations, as represented by the World Bank.
The march, while more sparsely attended, was hardly lacking in spirit. It originated in Malcolm X park, and made several stops along the way to the World Bank, including the US Chamber of Commerce and a local Taco Bell (in support of the CIW campaign.) At the Taco Bell, a hip-hop performance by Over-The-Counter Intelligence featured an infectious original composition with the tag line “We’re Gonna Boycott Taco Bell!”.
Many protestors became visibly angry as the march approached the new “security” fence at Lafayette Park that (further) separates the citizenry from their “leaders” in the White House. Chants were raised of “What does fascism look like? This is what fascism looks like!”, with fingers and flags pointed behind the fence at the police in full riot gear, who were either protecting the fence, or else being protected by the fence, it was hard to tell which.
The march paused for a second rally before approaching the WB/IMF. There were more speakers and music, including the afore-mentioned hip-hoppers and an excellent performance by David Rovics, who brought the crowd to it’s feet.
Before proceeding, an announcement was made from the stage that “immigrants and other at-risk individuals, please remain here”, as the remainder of the protest was the most likely portion to result in arrest. The march then left the park and went down a street into what could only be described as a pen, created by the police for the occasion, as DC police chief Ramsey looked on from the sidewalk. Once the marchers were well inside the trap, I mean pen, a line of officers ran across the lone access street behind the protestors, effectively trapping the marchers within. Apparently more interested in intimidation than additional class action law suits- the DC police have a suit pending against them as a result of mass arrests at similar protests last September- the line was not held indefinitely, and soon protesters began to trickle out. Unlike the previous day, and in spite of the fact that empty prisoner-transport buses were sited in the area, there were no reports of police violence or arrests on Sunday.