WB on Prague

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Thu Aug 17 10:40:42 PDT 2000

[from the World Bank's daily clipping service]


In order for a dialogue between participants in the forthcoming annual meetings in Prague of the IMF and World Bank and opponents of globalization to take place, it is crucial that no false information be used, the Ceska Tiskova Kancelar (Czech Republic) reports World Bank Vice President for External Affairs Mats Karlsson urged. Theatre and humor are good things, but they should be based on facts, Karlsson said, commenting on the Initiative Against Economic Globalization (INPEG)''s plans to protest problems connected with IMF and WB activities.

The news comes as Reuters reports that the US State Department said yesterday Americans should consider deferring non-urgent travel to Prague late next month because of the potential for violence from the protests against the Bank and the Fund. Although local officials are working to minimize any disruption, "Americans may wish to exercise prudence and to consider avoiding non-urgent travel to Prague during the second half of September," the State Department said in a public announcement. Czech authorities estimate that as many as 20,000 demonstrators may be present before and during the institutions' annual meetings on September 26-28, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal notes that the same activists that protested against the WTO ministerial meetings in Seattle last year and against the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in April are protesting at the US Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles. But in Los Angeles it is a different story. Gang members protesting police brutality have joined vegetable-eating environmentalists protesting logging. Hippies are marching with welfare moms. Free-trade foes are marching with the self-described "radical anarchist clown bloc."

"We're all connected," said a fifth-grade schoolteacher who was out demonstrating yesterday. "The reason the Cuban people have been suffering from a US blockade is the same reason why my fifth-graders have no social-studies books, and there's so much police brutality, and Mumia is on death row, and health care has been cut."

Alas, says the story, too many disparate themes do not a coherent protest make. And that incoherence may well be the one factor that prevents this outpouring of grievances from ever becoming a true mass movement.

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