The anti-war and global justice movements are growing and overlapping. The examples below were enhanced by a joint statement from the three organizers of the November protests opposing the “building of an empire based on greed, violence and power.”
World Social Forum Growing Pains
Over 100,000 people attended the World Social Forum, held January 16-21 in Mumbai, India. The Forum’s first meeting outside Brazil was somewhat more grassroots-based after criticisms of its NGO-elitist image. The Anti-War Assembly called for mobilizing for the March 20 demonstrations against the occupation of Iraq. Members of the CWI from six countries distributed over 40,000 leaflets in English, Hindi and Tamil and sold 121 copies of the CWI’s Indian newspaper. Many youth expressed more interest in the CWI’s anti-capitalist solutions than the WSF leaders’ “capitalism with a human face.”
London “Unwelcomes” Bush
On November 20, 200,000 people packed London’s Trafalgar Square to protest President Bush’s visit. This largest workday protest in British history also attracted the largest security force in Britain since World War II. London’s mayor condemned this 16 million ($29 million) police mobilization as a U.S.-demanded “exclusion zone.” An effigy of Bush was toppled, a la U.S. troops’ toppling of Saddam’s statue.
Repression Can’t Guarantee Free Trade
On November 20, roughly 20,000 people attended the main protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations in Miami. The “NAFTA on steroids” talks ended a day early with only an “FTAA-lite” agreement. Government repression, bolstered by $8.5 million from the $87 billion Iraq war chest, included a city ordinance severely restricting assembly rights, blanket searches of protesters, and unprovoked police violence, even on retirees. A pro-“free trade” businessman filming the events had a beanbag shot by police lodge under his skin near his temple.
U.S. Military Hates Spotlight
On November 21-23, over 10,000 people gathered in Fort Benning, Georgia to protest outside the gates of the School of the Americas, a combat training school for Latin American soldiers whose graduates have tortured, raped, and massacred hundreds of thousands of their own people in Guatemala, Colombia, and elsewhere. It was the largest and most diverse of the 15 annual SOA protests. Military staff responded by blaring patriotic songs and badly abusing arrestees.