FREE TRADE was attacked by thousands of protesters across Britain last Saturday. Events ranged from rallies and marches to fairs. The main focus of the day was to lobby MPs to make them aware of how unfair the present trading system is to poorer countries. Many of the marchers and protesters held ‘scales of justice’ and tugs of war with unequal sides to illustrate the unfairness of the world trade system.
Tom Lunt from Christian Aid spoke to Socialist Worker from a protest in Mile End, east London. He said, ‘Big business demands small farmers in places like Kenya grow crops like French beans, which aren’t normally eaten there. Then they don’t honour the contract and farmers are left with a useless crop. The Trade Justice Movement is challenging the government’s call for the liberalisation of markets in the run-up to the World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in September.’
The protests were called by the Trade Justice Movement, which is made up of over 40 charities and non-governmental organisations including Christian Aid, Oxfam, Fair Trade and Baby Milk Action. In Nottingham between 150 and 200 people marched from the Robin Hood statue, in the centre of town, to St Peter’s Church.
John Shemeld reported, ‘Lots of people carried weighing scales with them and one man was dressed up as a fat cat – with a padded belly, bow tie and fat cigar. When we reached the church there was a mock boxing match between Javid Khaliq – the world welterweight champion – and Omar Mohhamed, aged ten. Javid told me that when he was out in South Africa, while boxing, he saw some of the effects of the unfair terms of trade and he was appalled.’
In Cardiff a fair was held in Sophia Gardens with a Caribbean steel band and folk dancing attracting up to 100 people. Around 70 people took part in a mini festival in Victoria Square, Birmingham, and around 50 people lobbied an MP in Leeds. In Brixton around 60 people took part in lobbying Keith Hill MP.
Other events included people lying on Brighton beach to mark out the scales of justice, and at Glastonbury scales were projected onto the Pyramid Stage screens.
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