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Guest Opinion: Capitalism's Wall of Shame


by Joe Carolan

In 1989, the capitalists heralded the collapse of the Berlin Wall as the triumph of freedom and democracy over Stalinist dictatorship. 20th April 2001, a decade later, and they hide behind a Wall of Shame, using stormtrooper riot cops to club, teargas and rubber bullet the forces of democracy.

George Bush and his fellow governmental cronies of North and South America cower behind a three metre high, four kilometre long wall of concrete and wire, as clouds of tear gas choke the air. The whole downtown of a city is sealed off and declared a "no protest zone", echoing to the bangs of teargas and plastic bullet guns.

The leaders of 34 American countries were besieged in the Canadian city of Quebec, as 30,000 anti capitalist protesters blockaded the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit. The FTAA is nothing short of the enlargement of an American economic empire, which will put all American economies from the Arctic to Argentina under the control of mostly US multinational corporations. Environmentalists, trade unionists and anti capitalists united and fought on the streets for two days, to demonstrate their opposition to the FTAA's drastic attack on environmental and labour rights.

Protestors targetted their anger against the Wall of Shame, succeeding several times in tearing it down and physically destroying it.

In scenes reminiscent of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it was covered with banners, grafiiti and people raging for democracy. However, this was not Berlin, this was North America. Every time the wall was breached, the protestors suffered the blows of night sticks and water cannon. However, the opposition was so intense that the opening of the summit was delayed for over an hour.

Solidairty protests were held in cities all over North and South America.

In the financial district of São Paulo, the largest industrial city of South America, paramilitary riot police were unleashed against an anti capitalist protest in front of the Central Bank of Brasil. Injuries were serious, many demonstrators were billy clubbed into the ground, and there were over 60 arrests. The cop repression has enflamed debate in Sao Paulo, where the left wing PT (Workers Party) has just come to power.

The protests against the FTAA show that the anti capitalist movement that disbanded the WTO meeting with the Battle of Seattle is now spreading to other countries like Brasil and Canada.

Resistance itself is globalising, as environmentalists, human rights campaigners and trade unionists make the links that we do not face seperate, single issues. The democrat revolutionaries of the 21st century have identified the common enemy- the global free market that exploits workers, pollutes our planet and condemns millions of people to hunger, sickness and poverty. Their walls of economic shame will fall as surely as the Stalinists wall did in Berlin.

We need to take the spirit from Quebec onto the streets of Aotearoa this Mayday. In Auckland, activists are targetting the Chamber of Commerce, haunt of the hated Business Roundtable at 4pm. Around the world on May 1, activists inspired by the events at Quebec, Prague and Seattle will take to the streets. Join the mvement, and globalise resistance!

Joe Carolan is a writer for Aotearoa's SOCIALIST WORKER

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