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News :: Globalization
World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
On April 15 and 16, 2005 three members of the Boston Direct Action Project masqueraded as World Bank public relations representatives, with black suits, vampire fangs, and large black umbrellas. They hit the streets of Washington, DC during the mobilization against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to show “the true face of the World Bank.”
group-rally-low.jpg
World Bank Public Relations Officer Action
Boston Direct Action Project
http://bostondirectactionproject.blogspot.com
April 15-16, 2005, Washington, D.C.

On April 15 and 16, 2005 three members of the Boston Direct Action Project masqueraded as World Bank public relations representatives, with black suits, vampire fangs, and large black umbrellas. They hit the streets of Washington, DC during the mobilization against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to show “the true face of the World Bank.”

Day I – The National Mall – Friday, April 15

The vampire spokespeople, Vladimir Wolfenstein, Wilhelm Wolfentyre and Erzsébet Wolfsbane, engaged commuters on the DC Metro. They said they wanted to show the real face of the World Bank, as they flashed their fangs. A number of commuters laughed in amusement.

They insisted that Bank privatization policies and loans to dictators were all actually positive because they help preserve the current economic and social order.

They spoke in a very disparaging and dismissive way about “those people” out there protesting, referring to them as “misinformed commoners” and “misguided mortals”.

A young woman responded “In other words, the World Bank is sucking the blood out of everybody? I need to know for my people, y’all lookin’ like you undercover, like you workin’ for the Count.”

The basic functioning of the international economy was summed up by Wilhelm, who said, “As long as the upper classes, like us, are makin’ money, everyone’s happy. There’s a natural division in society.”

The vampire spokespeople then made their way around the National Mall. They stopped at museums to talk with people and pass out business cards listing anti-World Bank websites.

A man from Ghana talked about the negative effects of the World Bank in his country. He said the Bank programs didn’t end poverty and most people were still struggling. He talked about the currency devaluation after the structural adjustment programs, saying the exchange rate fell from 1 Ghanaian cidi to $1 US in the 70’s to 10,000 cidis to $1 US today.

He said, “The majority of these activities going on goes to benefit the international corporate organizations. You don’t have to go to a PhD to see the truth. The truth is on the street…Africa has all the resources it needs to develop… Africa is the richest continent on the planet. Where are the resources going?...It is just a matter of time that people in poor nations will rise and also start to do terrorist activities because there’s an imbalance.” Before leaving he thanked the group for their work in telling people the truth about the Bank.

In front of the Air and Space Museum, the vampires were surrounded by 40-60 adolescents on a field trip. A boy from Georgia whose father had been laid off asked if the World Bank supported US factories moving overseas and the loss of American jobs. Wilhelm said, “Some Americans may get laid off, may lose their healthcare and all that, but you know what, the strong survive.”

A member of the Direct Action group dressed as businessman, with band-aids on his neck covering bite marks, remarked “The more I listen to those World Bank people, the more persuaded I become. It’s a wonderful piece of work they’re doing at the World Bank. Helping people, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about helping people…and making a lot of money.”

Day II – World Bank/IMF Mobilization – Saturday, April 16th

Before the march started the vampires gave interviews with video, radio and print journalists and made impromptu presentations to groups of protesters around the rally in front of the World Bank headquarters.

When the march of about 1,000 demonstrators left the World Bank headquarters heading towards DuPont Circle the spokespeople unsuccessfully tried to stop the “misguided protesters” from marching.

As the spokespeople passed the lines of police they gave them cards and thumbs up, thanking them for keeping the rabble in line.

A man that was unimpressed with Vladimire’s presentation snapped, “They don’t wear suits at the World Bank! WE DON'T WEAR SUITS AT THE WORLD BANK!”

Towards the end of the rally the vampires were booed from the stage as they tried to persuade the crowd to support World Banks policies. The Bloodsuckers were then driven from the park by the “Rude Mechanical Orchestra“ a radical marching band <www.rudemechanicalorchestra.org>; lead by a high-kicking flag twirler.

---------------

According to the Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59447-2005Apr16.html?nav=

“Damian Sean Milverton, acting media manager for the World Bank, said the demonstrators' numbers might be dwindling because of the outreach done by the organization and the IMF to activist groups from around the world, Milverton said.”

Picture of Damian Sean Milverton wearing a suit (on left);

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NEWS/Images/group-sm.jpg
train.jpg
large-group-kids.jpg
at-capital.jpg
woman-looks-on.jpg
vlad-card-read.jpg
film-crew.jpg
close-vlad.jpg
band-chase.jpg
See also:
http://bostondirectactionproject.blogspot.com/
http://www.capedmaskedandarmed.com/

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Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
Ironically, the World Bank is the single largest source of funding for anti-poverty programs around the world.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
See a video clip of the action in this excalent <a href="http://flow.mediavac.com/ramgen/sinkers/2005/washdcApr1605.rm" target="_blank">video</a> of the IMF/World Bank protest from <a href="http://sinkers.org" target="_blank">sinkers.org</a>. The Bloodsuckers apper about 6 mins into that video. (You will need the <a href="http://www.real.com/freeplayer/" target="_blank">RealPlayer</a> to view it.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
See a video clip of the action in this excalent video of the IMF/World Bank protest:
http://flow.mediavac.com/ramgen/sinkers/2005/washdcApr1605.rm

The Bloodsuckers apper about 6 mins into that video made by: http://sinkers.org.

(You will need the RealPlayer to view it:
http://www.real.com/freeplayer/
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
Far more ironically, the World Bank is one of the biggest causes of poverty in the world, pushing "structural adjustment" programs which lead to privatization, layoffs, price-hikes for natural resources, costs for essential services like schools and health care, etc.

Then there are the mega-projects like dams that profit huge corporations and wealthy elites but not the common people in Southern countries. In places like Guatemala, they've actually been massacred to make room for those projects.

Ah, the irony...

Good action, y'all.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
Frikkin WONDERFUL!!!
this is the best street theater since the BloodBath one.
GREAT WORK people.
*Thank you*!!
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
Matt, don't forget essential services like WATER!

As part of Bolivia's world bank funding they had to privatize the water supply (Bechtel of big dig fame got the contract). There were riots, and the people won back management of the water system.

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bolivia/timeline.html

Now PBS is left of center but definately "in the system", so just imagine...
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
19 Apr 2005
Privatization is not necessarily bad. Some services, such as telecommunications, can be provided by private industry better than government-run monopolies.

Water and power privatization can be effective in some settings, but not always. It really depends on the corruption of the local government.

Basically, when you complain about the World Bank, you're really complaining about the ineptitude of third-world governments. You're arguing that they should not be loaned or granted any funds, because they are unable to manage it themselves. Maybe you're right.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
20 Apr 2005
Hmmm, I wonder about responding to an unsigned comment, but if we can keep it a discussion, here goes.

In the Bolivian case obviously the government was corrupt, else how could it allow a foreign corpororation to bring water prices up to 1/3 of the averge household income and then start killing people when the complained? I mean the "president" at the time was also the former military dictator.

I can't seem to find anything terribly recent on the Cochabamba situation but last I heard the people's collective running hte water plant was doing alright.

lets look at the options:

* let them sort it out their damned selves - bit cold hearted, but people have been surviving there for some time, where ever there might be

* give/loan the govenment money to run essential services as they see fit - some large percentage will be skimmed by greedy corrupt officials, some minor progress will be made to keep the gravy train afloat

* fund forced privatization - some large ammount will be skimmed by greedy officials in the form of bribes and kickbacks, foriegn corporations with even less interest in local affairs and local people will suck every centavo they can and Cochabamba http://www.democracyctr.org/waterwar/ happens

* fund local groups with roots and interests in the communities they serve - but that's not in the interest of multinational corporations, um I mean that's not democracy...ok this would probably have similar problems to funding national monopolies, but at least on a smaller scale.

basicly the world bank's privatize everything push is the worst of all worlds. The corrupt governments get their cut in kickbacks. The big foreign corporations just tack this on to operational expenses along with fat profits and push it off to some of the poorest people in the world.

Now I don't know the answer to all the worlds problems but this sure ain't it. Find me a counter point where third world privatization sponsored by the world bank actually improved the lives of the poor. Privatized electricity in Georgia (former solviet state not current us state obviously) sure didn't, another Bechtel deal if I recall.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
21 Apr 2005
Hmmm. Let's look at some of the World Bank's projects:
- Child Health
- Education for All
- Biodiversity
- Nutrition and Food Security
- HIV/AIDS
- Indigenous Peoples
- Gender Equality
- Access to Law and Justice
- Poverty Strategy
- Social Safety Nets
- Conflict Prevention
- Rural Markets
- Urban Housing
- Climate Change

My god. Those evil, evil bloodsuckers.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
21 Apr 2005
I see, we're not having a discussion, but i'll try one last time. Those are pretty words, lofty goals, not actions.

Name a specific instance, country, date, and project. in which these goals were well served, or mistakes like Cochabamba we redressed or even admitted.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
21 Apr 2005
Oh, you make it too easy.

How about rural poverty reduction in Brazil?

The World Bank gave over $830 million directly to rural Brazilian farmers to buy their own farmland, and to develop power and water infrastructure. 7.3 million people benefited either indirectly or directly. Over 100,000 rural jobs were created, over 600,000 homes were given access to water for the first time, and 320,000 homes given access to electricity for the first time. The bulk of this money went directly to locals, and local businesses -- not mulinational corporations.

Umm. How about AIDS prevention in India?

The World Bank put up almost $100 million that the World Health Organization used for education and AIDS prevention. Much of this was funneled into local women's programs. This money went to an international NGO, not multi-national corporations.

Third-party assessment reports of every World Bank project are publically available on the web. I suggest you read through some of them.

I can't comment on Cochabamba, because I don't know enough about the incident.
The World Bank Undermines Agrarian Reform in Brazil!
21 Apr 2005
This is from MST (Movimento de Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra -- Movement of Rural Landless Workers)

The World Bank project aims to replace the constitutionally-mandated land reform with a market-based program that will only increase poverty.

"The World Bank Undermines Agrarian Reform in Brazil. Five million families of landless workers in Brazil are entitled to land under the existing land reform measures of the Brazilian constitution.

Through a popular movement known as the MST over 200,000 families have organized and occupied idle land, receiving legal ownership and subsidized government loans. The Brazilian government and the wealthy land owners are not happy about this!

The World Bank plans to provide $1 billion to create a "land bank" (Banco da Terra) that, while claiming to support land reform, actually subverts it. The terms of the WB-sponsored plan are far worse for those receiving the land and offer a windfall for large estate owners.

In an attempt to dismantle successful resistance, the World Bank and Brazilian government are offering up this alternative mechanism. They are offering $1 billion and are beginning with a pilot project called Cedula da Terra. They hope to draw in landless families, pay cash to large landowners and then strap the families with high credit terms and no subsidies to fund their productive activies (seeds, farm equipment, etc.) They reward the landowners and penalize the poor."

Read more here:
http://www.mstbrazil.org/wbsubverts.html
http://www.mstbrazil.org/stedile0799.html
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
21 Apr 2005
Glad I tried again, that's good information.

I for one don't think the people involved with the World Bank are any worse than others, and suspect they mean well,but the blind faith in the world market produces consistently bad results.

We could probably banter example and counter example back and forth for a week, but rather let's do this. You read my propaganda I'll read yours.

I left a couple of Cochabamba related links and I see someone else has a link to a counter point on the Brazillian Banco da Terre.

In exchange I'm now reading the World Banks own report on the Bolivian Water projects (a commisioned independent report):

http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/oed/oeddoclib.nsf/DocUNIDViewForJavaSearch//$file/Precis_222.pdf

I'll admit to learning two things this report atleast make it clear privatization was a failure (though I think they should shoulder some more resonsibility for failures that impact on people's survival to this extent), and they also praised Santa Cruz's consumer cooperative water system, which I didn't know about or expect.

Your turn to look at the other side of the coin...
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
21 Apr 2005
I'm know that the World Bank is a flawed, undemocratic institution that has funded some very ill-conceived projects.

However, they have also funded a lot of good work, especially through NGOs, and have literally saved millions of lives.

I think it's rather Orwellian to call an organization that provides cheap loans, if not free grants, to third-world countries as a "Bloodsucker".

In fact, the World Bank is really anti-capitalistic. In a true free market system, it would not exist. A capitalist would prefer that private capital markets fund projects in third-world countries.

In essance, the World Bank is a taxpayer-funded socialistic institution. So, the "blood" is really being sucked from us.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
22 Apr 2005
I hope to god that "." is joking...if not he is one of the most brainwashed humans ive run into in a long while...which is saying alot...

Read "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins for an inside look at how the US and CIA uses the world bank/IMF to enslave developing nations and gain control over not only their resources but also over their governments.

He describes in detail how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
22 Apr 2005
Haha. "Cheat people by lending them more money than they could possibly repay."

That's incredibly condescending. We're talking about loans between governments, not individuals. You're basically saying that third-world governments are too inept to handle their own fiscal policy, so it's up to you to make sure they don't get taken advantage of.

Sounds a little like paternalistic colonialism.

You realize that the alternative is to let third-world countries get loans at market rates, which are by definition, going to be more expensive than what the World Bank offers. Because they are subsidized by taxpayer dollars, the World Bank and IMF are undercutting the capital markets. (Which you can argue is a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint.)

We should really be arguing for more oversight, transparency, and cost-benefit accountability. As the people funding these organizations, we should have more say in how our dollars are being spent.

To argue for the dismantling of the IMF or World Bank means that you prefer that all lending from private capital markets. That's a perfectly legitimate view if you don't support subsidizing overseas social spending. Personally, I think international development is worthwhile.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
23 Apr 2005
"."... did you read the post from Jonathan about the World Bank's subsidies in Brasil? You didn't really seem to respond to it, even though it pretty much debunked your whole point. Groups like the World Bank and the IMF give loans to countries based on conditions that are totally destructive to the livelihoods of the working class, i.e. privatization of water.

"You're basically saying that third-world governments are too inept to handle their own fiscal policy, so it's up to you to make sure they don't get taken advantage of."

Wrong. It's not the people of a given 'third-world' country that decide to implement a free trade agreement. It's the politicians. Those of us who fight against globalization are doing so because the working classes all over the world have repeatedly demonstrated that they are against it.

To demonstrate my point, let's look at Argentina in the last few years. During the 90's, Argentina received quite a few loans from institutions like the World Bank and IMF. Several years ago, their economy abruptly collapsed due to the unsustainability of the changes that they had to make in order to receive the loans. Since the collapse, the working class of that country has repeatedly shown their dedication to creating a new kind of economy, through massive protests and most importantly through the occupation of hundreds of factories and workplaces, many of which are functioning quite well today as worker-owned cooperatives.

But, you might say, if the country agreed to those free trade conditions, who are we here in the US to say that they are wrong. But there's a catch. It was the government of the country, NOT the people of the country who agreed to those conditions. And now, you might say, it's a democracy, so the choices of the government reflect the desires of the people. Wrong again. After the collapse, they went through several presidents in a short amount of time. Finally, Nestor Kirchner was elected on what appeared to be a platform of sending out the IMF and the World Bank. Throughought Latin America, leaders like Kirchner have been elected, like Lula in Brasil, etc. But they have repeatedly BROKEN THEIR PROMISES. As Nestor Kirchner once said at an economic summit with various other world leaders, "Don't worry about what I say to my people. Just look at what I do."

People all over the world are smart enough to know who's on their side and who isn't. Just look at the riots this weeks in Ecuador.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
23 Apr 2005
I don’t think "." gets it. NO LOANS ARE GIVEN WITHOUT MASSIVE STRINGS ATTACHED in the form structural adjustment programs or I guess they have re-named them now with the Orwellian "poverty reduction programs".

The majority of these loans were FORCED on corrupt leaders NOT on the people of these nations who are now paying them back.

The leaders were forces, coerced, threatened, bribed and otherwise made to take the loans that they known full well were not good for their nations, could not pay back and, would go directly to US corporations to build infrastructure for US corporations. If the leaders could not be bribed they were killed or toppled by the CIA (Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos president of Panama) are just two examples). Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is another more current example but there are many.

The impossible loans and structural adjustment policies are key to US control over the governments of other nations.

It is economic imperialism. That is the goal of these institutions so it is not that they have simplly made some mistakes, they have done exactly what they were ment to do.

I would agian ask "." to read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” or go to this link and listen to an interview with John Perkins, he is not a radical in any sense but he is very candid about truth:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/09
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
23 Apr 2005
Not to many years ago it was the far right that attacked "bankers" and international groups providing aid to the third world. Today the dinitegrating left has adopted much of the failed rhetoric of conspiracy theories and raving moonbats. Yeah, go ahead and end the World Bank. Jesse Helms and David Duke are right behind you on this one.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
24 Apr 2005
The "Don’t give charity to people that are not white Christian Americans argument."

And the "Stop using the ruse of charity to exploit the developing world and enslave their people."

…Are not the same argument. I would have thought that should be more that clear.
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
25 Apr 2005
Actually, "Socialism of Fools," the Left understood the role of banks in coordinating the relationship between firms and the capitalist state long before the "Right" stole and bastardized that analysis as a cornerstone of their opposition to only the most progressive, socialized, and cosmopolitan sectors of capital.

"One point which we might mention here only to get it quickly out of the way is that the accumulation of money capital might also be taken to mean the accumulation of wealth in the hands of bankers (money-lenders by profession), as intermediaries between the private money capitalists on the one hand, and the state, local authorities and borrowers engaged in the process of reproduction on the other; for the entire immense extension of the credit system, and credit as a whole, is exploited by the bankers as their private capital. These fellows have their capital and revenue permanently in the money form or in the form of direct claims to money. The accumulation of wealth by this class may proceed in a very different way from that of actual accumulation, but it proves in any case that they put away a good proportion of the latter."
--Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 3, chapter 30

"As banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small number of establishments, the banks grow from modest middlemen into powerful monopolies having at their command almost the whole of the money capital of all the capitalists and small businessmen and also the larger part of the means of production and sources of raw materials in any one country and in a number of countries. This transformation of numerous modest middlemen into a handful of monopolists is one of the fundamental processes in the growth of capitalism into capitalist imperialism; for this reason we must first of all examine the concentration of banking."
--Lenin, Imperialism, ch. 2

"This state of affairs prevails not only in Russia, but in every other country where Capital rules. A handful of bankers, who have the whole world in their grip, are making a fortune out of the war."
--Lenin, "Banks and Ministers"

"Behind all these cartels and trusts, as a rule, stand the enterprises that finance them, i.e., primarily the banks. The internationalisation process whose most primitive form is the exchange of commodities and whose highest organisational stage is the international trust, has also called into being a very considerable internationalisation of banking capital in so far as the latter is transformed into industrial capital (by financing industrial enterprises), and in so far as it thus forms a special category: finance capital. It is finance capital that appears to be the all‑pervading form of capital, that form which, like nature, suffers from a horror vacui, since it rushes to fill every "vacuum," whether in a "tropical," "sub­tropical," or "polar" region, if only profits flow in sufficient quantities."
--Buhkarin, Imperialism and World Economy, ch. 3
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
26 Apr 2005
I know people who have worked on development projects in sub-Saharan Africa that were funded by the World Bank. Specially, they were involved in vaccination, primary education, and womens rights programs.

Anecdotally, the individuals I know saved or improved dozens if not hundreds of lives. That was made possible by funds from the World Bank.

How many lives were saved by dressing up like vampires?
Was anything constructive accomplished at all?
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
26 Apr 2005
I personally worked on USAID founded “development” projects in south East Asia specifically on immunization, pre-natal care and vitamin programs.

No one is saying these programs do not save some lives, but as I know from first hand experience, it is not as simple as that. I wish it were but the world is a complicated place and sinister forces are at work often masquerading as charity programs.

Take for instance the privatization of water in Indonesia, where I worked, NGO’s understand that the leading cause of death in children is directly caused by dirty drinking water and/or dehydration from not having access to clean drinking water. (This is true across the world).

But were we allowed to say that? Were we allowed to call for free water right for the impoverished? Sadly we were not; in fact there is such a clement of fear that most wouldn’t even talk about it.

We known that the USAID would immediately withdraw all funding from our programs if we dared to questions the privatization of water that took that recourse away from so many and that is killing thousands of kids every year.

(Especially in South Africa where the water corporations have installed pre-paid water meters for a large percentage of the population and has helped make it a 10 year prison sentence for tampering with the meter to get some water for your family, incidentally free water for all is a right supposedly given by the ANC constitution under Mandela in that nation to all citizens…but I digress.)

NGO’s are allowed to do “charity” work so long as it does not interfere with the Neo-Liberal model of economics, which sadly either causes many of the problems or makes them worse. Unfortunatly AID through these institutions is often used as political and economic leverage over desperate nations.

Before the IMF/World Bank forced Indonesia to privatize the water systems and healthcare systems those things were a right of the people. (Along with education which now because of the same SAPs requires fees, I can not tell you how many parents I met who worked 2 or 3 jobs to try and put just one of their kids through elementary school while the others stayed home.)

Now Private NGOs are being forced to try and pick up the slack and can only provide for a small fraction of the needs of the population as the government programs are cut and dismantled in the name of growth, development and paying back loans given to dictators (General Suharto in Indonesia).

This provides the false sense that the people are being helped when in fact they are receiving through these programs only 1% of what they had before the SAPs dismantled their government's systems.

The next thing these aid programs do is a bit more subtle but no less disastrous, they serve to de-radicalize the popular movements and keep people from demanding their rights. Keeping people just barely alive, just barely on the edge of survival as major corporations profit enormously.

I don’t expect you to take my word for it, as I had to spend a year working in the slums of Jakarta to understand it, but I hope you will at least start to ask some difficult question.

I could go into farther detail but perhaps you will take the time to listen to some one far more eloquent than I. Here is the link to a speech by Arundhati Roy that described some of these issues in the context of India:

Audio Speech:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/23/1239219&mode=thread&

Transcript:
http://www.democracynow.org/static/Arundhati_Trans.shtml
Re: World Bank PR Bloodsuckers
16 May 2006
I get so frustrated. People "think" the way to protest is to dress up like idiots and act like, well, idiots. It also does no good whatsoever (it's preaching to the choir at best) but you'll never allow yourself to see that.
versia
04 Jun 2006
This is very interesting site...