(by Nathan Burchfiel, April 15, 2005, CNSNews.com) – Cue the protesters: In what’s become an annual rite of spring, an assortment of leftist-activists have launched a weekend full of demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which are holding meetings in Washington, D.C.
In past years, the protests have been marked by violence and arrests.
A group called the A16DC Collective — A16DC stands for April 16 in D.C. — has been holding events in the week leading up to the meetings, with more serious protests planned as the institutions’ spring meetings get underway.
Protesters want the World Bank and IMF to cancel the debts of poor countries, stop requiring poor nations to adopt policies that prevent money from being used for social programs and disease treatment, and to open their board meetings to the public and media, according to Basav Sen, a spokesman for the Mobilization for Global Justice, one of the groups sponsoring demonstrations.
Anti-IMF/World Bank groups say the organizations are responsible for perpetuating poverty in Third World countries. They say the organizations are more concerned with making money and helping U.S. corporate interests than with helping poverty-stricken nations.
Brian Kruglak, a member of the A16DC Collective, told Cybercast News Service that the World Bank and IMF are targets for protesters because “while they claim to do good, … in reality they only hurt developing countries, never allowing them to truly develop.”
He said the recent election of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to be the president of the World Bank created “a very uncomfortable feeling” among protesters. Kruglak dubbed Wolfowitz “a war criminal” for his involvement in planning Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The protests began Thursday with an Art Against Apathy show and legal training for protesters who will likely have to deal with police during more energetic protests.
Thursday was dubbed “Glue the City Day” by A16DC. According to the group’s website, “When superglue dries in locks, it’s a real pain in the ass to get them open.”
Kruglak told Cybercast News Service that the name of the day is up for interpretation. Some protestors might see it as a call to glue the locks of companies that “are either associated with the IMF or World Bank, [or] they just violate human rights and environmental rights.”
“That’s how I personally read it,” Kruglak said.
A16DC said Friday’s theme is “Play in Traffic Day,” when protesters will be enouraged to “disrupt the normal flow of things.” Events include a mass bike ride on city streets.
The A16DC website tells protesters to take Saturday’s “Brick the Banks Day” “as you will.” In the past, some protesters have been arrested for throwing bricks through the windows of banks and other businesses in symbolic opposition to capitalism.
The website includes a list of “Places We Don’t Like,” which it describes as “institutions of capitalism that … promote poverty, racism, sexism, environmental destruction, and the concentration of power in the hands of the leaders of a few countries.””
Among the list of more than 60 addresses are several branches of CitiBank, almost two dozen Starbucks coffee shops, one dozen McDonalds restaurants, two Gap clothing stores and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Kruglak defined the list as “companies in our city who are … violating human and environmental rights both on a national and a worldwide scale as well as a local scale for that matter.”
He said the list was created for people coming into the city for protests to inform them of names and locations of companies “that they may or may not be interested in.”
“It comes off as a hit list,” Kruglak said, “but officially I can’t say that.”
Kruglak put the responsibility on the companies to protect themselves from action by changing their methods. “If you were a socially responsible corporation,” he said, “people wouldn’t be having to take the actions that they need to take in order to convince you otherwise to stop.”
Kruglak said he recognized the negative public image violent protests give to the anti-World Bank and IMF demonstrators.
“As a result of that violent image both portrayed by the media and by activists, a lot of people … don’t feel safe at an IMF or World Bank rally,” he said. He added that he’d like to see both the media and protesters work to change the image.
Metropolitan Police were not available for comment but they have announced plans to close several streets around the World Bank and IMF headquarters and activate a network of closed-circuit security cameras to keep an eye on things.
Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.
1. What is the World Bank’s mission? (For information from their website, click here.)
2. Why was the International Monetary Fund (IMF) established? (For the website, click here.)
3. Why are activist groups protesting against the World Bank and IMF?
4. What 3 things do the protesters want the World Bank and IMF to do?
5. Is destroying private property an effective way to protest? Explain your answer. How about disrupting traffic?
6. Do you believe the accusations against the World Bank and IMF, or do you need more information to make an informed decision? Remember to read up on both sides of the issue before making a decision. (In addition to the WB and IMF websites, check out the protester website: click here.)
7. Will the companies targeted by the protesters change because of the protests? Explain your answer.