Prague The Calm Before The Storm
In a few hours participants of Peoples Global Action (PGA) several movements and organizations from around the globe will converge with a wide array of autonomous groups, students, trade unionists and socialists to challenge the hegemony of corporate power exercised through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The words of reform on not on the lips of those that are taking to the streets of Prague.
Things have started early in Prague. A few hours ago the Norwegian delegation was blockaded inside the Norwegian Embassy. Police were unprepared and were paralyzed while the event unfolded on Norwegian territory.
Tonight, Prague, save for the Norwegian blockade, is a quiet city. It is the calm before the storm. There is anticipation and energy in the air. Police roam the streets of Prague (in the downtown core there are police on every street corner). They are also planted in front of many U.S. based fast food outlets proving that to the state, U.S. based fast food pushers have obtained sacred status while life itself has become little more than a commodity to be traded on the stock market, Meanwhile, the parents of Prague schoolchildren have been told to sign a form that commits them to sending their children out of the city for the day. Children are being temporarily exiled to the countryside.
There has been an effort to isolate the protestors as if they are in Prague to attack the people of this historic city. While suits dine in expensive hotels, enjoy fine mails and are driven around in black limousines, we cook together, share our love and prepare for the next round of struggle.
There have been many debates here. The growing resistance does not go unnoticed by either side. Every place the ministers of capital meet they are being challenged. New friends are made and new alliances developed.
Protesters are not here for instant gratification or fashion. There is a level and depth of communication in the streets that reaches beyond the notion of “just another protest”. Those in Prague are defying capitalism itself and laying the bricks on the road to its demise. We are not beggars.
We are not making “requests”. The failures inherent in capitalism are obvious. No longer will we accommodate them or be victims of greed.
The Indian farmers are protesting against the agriculture sector that has been opened up to the corporations. About 1500 agricultural commodities (including milk!) are being imported. The cultivators have been marginalized. Representatives of the National Alliance of Peoples Movements
are raising their voice of protest against this and the World Bank’s forestry project, which has resulted in dividing and displacing the tribal communities. These are the examples of the designs of the World Bank and IMF that are now in alliance with the umbrella organization World Trade Organization (WTO). With transnational corporations as their tentacles they are strangling the natural resource based simple living communities of tribals, farmers and fishworkers in India. According to Medha Patkar of the NAPM “the killing of the Bretton Woods Institutions only can eliminate neo-liberal and neocolonial economics and politics. People’s struggles here in Prague are indeed weaving a new alternative peoples politics and stand for a decentralized equitable, sustainable and self reliant economics”.
The World Bank leant money to allow the ill-planned mega-project of Sardar Sarovar in the valley of Narmada. Later it withdrew “leaving behind a mess of a half built dam with no land for rehabilitation for thousands of families and no truthful environmental or economic appraisals” said Rehmat of Narmada Bachao Anbolan (NBA).
Those who think the global days of protests are misguided or the only game in town delude themselves. These are not matters of instant gratification but long term struggle.
From the flooding of traditional farmlands in the Narmada Valley in India, the wretched horrors of Plan Colombia to the destruction of aboriginal culture we no longer believe in this system.
The convergence centre is full of activity. Banners, puppets and noisemakers are being produced at a furious pace. Anti capitalists from Italy (1,000) strong have refused to turn back and were finally admitted to the Czech Republic.
Today we shared our struggles. From the landless peasants movement of Brazil (MST), the dockworkers of Seattle to the powerful Maori of the Tino Rangatiratanga movement of Aotearoa (New Zealand) are expressing a common sense of justice. Tomorrow, we act.
Please forgive the frantic pace of this unedited document – it is in the sprit of truth and solidarity that it finds you.
From Prague we give you a cry of rebellion and celebration. It is one more step on the path to liberation. Join us. The struggle continues.
In solidarity, Dave Bleakney Somewhere in Prague, September 25, 2000