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War against the US, IMF, World Bank and WTO
Freny Patel in Mumbai | January 19, 2004 11:10 IST
The struggle against world imperialism has just begun. A war has been declared on the US, rich European nations and multilateral agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation, as poorer nations together voice their grievances against the supremacy of the richest countries. Countries, which have been exploiting global wealth for the benefit of a few.
The five-day World Social Forum held this year in Mumbai, India, could perhaps be summarised in a slogan which asks for the heads of George Bush and Tony Blair. And the prize money is simply world peace. Iraqi activists and their local Muslim supporters in India, used the platform as a means to gather support against the current conflict raging in Iraq against the American government.
Chants, slogans, cries, and beat of drums all call out for a change in the prevailing world political and economic order, with activists from across the world flooding the NSE Grounds in Goregaon, a northern suburb of the metropolis.
"We are here to make a point that revolution is the only solution to the to world's problems," says Kim Snghyun, an activist belonging to the South Korea group, 'Globalisation from Below'.
The fight against world imperialism was interestingly supported by British MP Jeremy Corbyn, who declared himself to be part of the peace movement, stating his wish to see a sense of unity emerge from the five-day event against the multilateral bodies whose terms and conditions imposed on many countries are cruel and the world lives under threat of US military action.
Other developed nations also voiced their fears as post-September 11, the world is living under growing threat of war. The danger of nuclear proliferation drew closer participation of activists from Europe and the US.
French peace activist Arielle Denis hopes that the WSF will act as a platform to rage against wars and the logic of wars. She is here to gather support for the rally on March 20 - the day Washington launched the invasion on Iraq - the international day to protest against war.
Back home, 13 years since the implementation of liberalisation and globalisation in India at the behest of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has left India in ruins, feel Indian activists.
"India boasts of a food surplus of 65 million tonne, while 320 million people go hungry," points out Federation of Consumer Organisation (Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry). Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi stated: "We are here to tell everybody that absolute poverty is against human dignity, and that human rights is universal, and that the human who is hungry and suffering from war, has no dignity."
The WSF platform is not only being used to rage against wars and 'terrorist' powers of the US, the forum also threw open the conflict faced by nations which have signed free-trade agreements. Activists from cold nations like Canada are committed to radically reform the global energy policies.
Canada in the next 10 years will export more than 80 per cent of its natural gas production to the US as per the first world free-trade agreement signed between the US and Canada back in 1989.
"We signed away our energy to the US and now we cannot turn down any request from the US government or take back the agreement signed," says Maude Barlow of Canada. Cautioning other nations against signing similar agreements with the US, Barlow says: "These agreements once signed overrides our own country's constitution."
Rafel Alegra from Honduras points out that transnational organisations through WTO and World Bank are forcing the privatisation move in poorer nations in the areas of land, water and other natural resources for their advantage but at the expense of poorer nations.
"Free trade is only for multinational companies to sell their extra produce to developing countries. The alternative is agricultural sovereignty to protect our country's natural resources," says Alegra. Indian activist D Sharma fears with cheaper food coming from developed nations, "importing food will mean importing unemployment. By 2010, the number of people migrating from rural to urban India will be four times the combined population of UK, France and Germany."
Sharma is not alone in his fight against Western powers. African activists too, in their tribal outfits screamed out "Africa is not for sale!" And the solution to African problems lie in Africa.
With WTO increasingly propagating that staple food should be produced only by UK, US and large European nations, the rest of the world has been asked to produce cash crops to meet the luxury requirements of the rich nations, says Sharma."The policy adopted today is 'produce and perish' as farmers are producing but there are no buyers in countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. The governments have withdrawn from food procurement and farmers are now insecure.