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Huge Protest Expected At Seattle WTO Meet

Patenting nature, the introduction of GE foods, further trade liberalisation and the cutting of tariff's and subsidies are on the agenda of next month's World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Seattle. Tens of thousands will protest. John Howard reports.

It is the worst nightmare for supporters of globalisation. Hundreds of protest groups, tens of thousands of political activists from around the world, plus Fidel Castro and the Mexican Zapatista revolutionaries, will gather in Seattle next month for the biggest protest against global cartel capitalism ever held.

The demonstrations during the summit meeting of the WTO from November 30 to December 3 are being labelled "the apocalypse" and US authorities are nervously considering how to defuse the tension at an event the world will be watching.

"It will be an historic confrontation between corporate rule and civil society," said Mike Dolan, field director of Global Trade Watch.

Every day new groups, from French farmers, to trade unions, to human rights groups, to radical Christian organisations, register their intention to join the protest activities where the world's most powerful decision-makers will meet.

Preliminary demonstrations offering a taste of what will happen next month have been taking place this week in Seattle.

Around 5,000 government and company delegates from 150 countries will attend the official event. Bill Gates of Microsoft and Phil Condit from Boeing are heading the host cities delegation.

People with grievances ranging from the sweatshop workers of Mexico and Asia, to the small farmers from India, see the WTO meeting as their last chance this century to register their dismay at the globalisation and cartel capitalism of world economies, which they claim has already had a disasterous impact on the economies of weaker countries.

British environmental activists, who are considered some of the most experienced in the world, have been helping to train some of the American groups.

In the past few weeks representatives from Reclaim the Streets, which was involved in organising the "Stop the City" protests in London which ended in riots, have been holding workshops on direct action and mass demonstrations.

In some countries, notably France, public donations for protest groups to attend the Seattle demonstration are said to be skyrocketing and it is rumoured that some financial support for activists to attend is also coming from government's who have seen their economies devastated by globalisation.


ends

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