'TENS OF thousands of people plan to turn the nation's capital into a melting pot of dissent.' That is how the Washington Post describes the anti-capitalist mobilisation set for Washington DC in the US in two weeks time. 'We are planning large scale, well organised, high visibility actions to protest at the IMF/World Bank meetings on 29-30 September,' says the Movement for Global Justice, one of the leading groups behind the protest.
The 300,000-strong demonstration in Genoa in July against the G8 summit has had an impact. The police are planning a nine foot high steel and concrete fence to seal off around 50 blocks of the city.
This reflects the panic among the leaders of the global institutions at the mobilisations they face every time they meet. They have already reduced the annual meetings from a week-long conference to two days.
RAMI EL-AMINE, a member of US anti-capitalist group Left Turn, spoke from Washington to HELEN SHOOTER.
'THE POLICE have clearly been attempting to play on the so called violence of the protests at Genoa. They are playing all sorts of games about what areas will be included behind the security fence.
There is constantly something in the news about the protest. But they ignore the real issues and instead show clips of battles with the police. But it might be working to their disadvantage. There is a lot of local sentiment towards the protests here, and the momentum around the mobilisation has grown.
There are many events going on in the lead-up to the IMF and World Bank meetings. The Movement for Global Justice has sent out an action framework giving an idea of this.
An immigrants' rights march will kick the whole thing off on Tuesday 25 September. This shows the protests are likely to be a lot more racially diverse. On Saturday the call to 'open up' the IMF/World Bank meetings includes a plan for wake-up calls at the delegates' hotels from 3am. Latin American solidarity groups are planning marches to the White House in the day against the economic and military intervention in those countries.
On Sunday 'Another World is Possible' actions are planned, with feeder marches from around Washington DC. The AFL-CIO union federation and other groups are planning a mass march and rally on the Sunday afternoon.
The organisers are saying there could be 50,000 people on the protests, and the AFLCIO says it can mobilise 20,000 members. All the local unions in the AFL-CIO in Washington DC were due to meet this week. They invited the Movement for Global Justice to the meeting.
The unions plan to contact members by going round door to door and phone banking-setting up a room with lots of phones to ring people up to get them to the rally on the Sunday. Now the campuses have opened, the momentum is growing.
There are very good Green Party members locally who have organised quite a bit for Washington. Ralph Nader's increased public profile recently has given confidence to Greens on the ground. Some 40,000 people protested in Washington in April last year at the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
Local organisations report there are around twice as many people involved in this mobilisation.'
We'll be there
AN ARTICLE in the Washington Post on Wednesday of last week gave a taste of who is mobilising for the protest. They include Jen Cohn, a medical student who is helping set up health clinic tents for protesters suffering from dehydration or any potential injury from the police.
'Pete Capano, a leader of the electrical workers' union, is only one of the many labour organisers coming to Washington for the protests,' says the article. Capano took a 12-hour bus ride to Quebec in April to protest at a summit of trade leaders. His 16 year old daughter marched alongside him.
The Washington Post concludes, 'There is no stereotypical globalisation-buster. Those who rally against the gatekeepers of global finance are as likely to wear wedding bands as they are to wear nose rings.'
Join the debate here
AS THE protests get under way in Washington many people in Britain will join a conference in London organised by anti-capitalist group Globalise Resistance. There will be debates, workshops and rallies. The speakers include high profile Italian activist Vittorio Agnoletto, from the Genoa Social Forum.
He was one of the main organisers of the Genoa protests, and is now seen in Italy as the leader of the country's successful protest movement. Also speaking will be Luca Casarini from the Italian White Overalls Movement. Oscar Olivera, one of the key leaders of the anti water privatisation protests in Bolivia, is also due to speak at the conference. Other speakers will include:
John Leach from the RMT union executive, journalist Gary Younge, John Rees, Tony Benn and Green Party chair Penny Kemp, who will join a debate on 'Resisting McLabour-how do we reverse the corporate takeover?'
John Pilger, Paul Foot, a Daily Express journalist and an Indymedia activist will discuss 'Controlling the message-the media and the movement'.
Lindsey German will lead off a discussion on 'Women and the new global economy'.
Other debates include 'The future of the movement', 'The 1960s: learning from the battle last time', 'Star Wars: the arms trade and the new imperialism', 'WTO, World Bank, IMF: is reform possible?', and 'Climate change: how can we stop catastrophe?'
Globalise Resistance is offering an alternative to New Labour's conference the following day. The counter-conference will include a live link-up with the Washington protests.
Globalise Resistance counter-conference, 29 September, 10.30am-5.30pm, PoNaNa (Hammersmith Palais), Shepherd's Bush Road, and Riverside Studios. Tickets £12 waged, £6 unwaged.