Thursday, November 20, 2003
( 1:25 PM )
World of Protest
Lots going on today in the world of dissent against power-hungry nations and corporations.
LONDON: Reuters reports 100,000 turned out for the massive protest against Bush. They filled up Trafalgar Square and did a little theater:
When they reached Trafalgar Square, protesters
felled a 20-foot papier mache statue of Bush in a
parody of the toppling of a statue of Saddam
Hussein when U.S. troops swept into Baghdad.
In its top pocket was a puppet with a grinning
The BBC has the count around 150,000. It's probably barely going to strike a chord in American news media today, given that the major focus on all 24-hour cable news stations will be MICHAEL JACKSON - OH MY!!! Another item that will mostly likely barely be covered, if at all:
MIAMI: This week in Miami, the talks for FTAA - Free Trade Area of the Americas have been going on amidst some pretty regular protest, which is set to steam up today. The FTAA is the attempt of "free traders" to get all of South America into NAFTA, the agreement that basically takes away national sovreignty laws, does away with environmental and human rights requirements for workers and sets up systems where poor workers are taken advantage of and American workers are left unemployed. Not all nations in South and Latin America are cool with this and one of the major questions of this meeting was whether they'd make a strong enough united stand that it would end up like the talks in Cancun a few months ago.
For activists, this is a chance to once again try to build on the momentum begun in Seattle a few years ago. Union workers, environmentalists and other activists will gather in Miami for major protests. Already the cops (interestingly enough, led now by former Philly mayor John Timoney who waged his own personal war against protestors at the 2000 Republican Convention) are doing their best to get that nasty dissent off the streets.
According to the reports on the FTAA Indy Media site, riot police are using rubber bullets, tear gas and other weapons against the protesters. It is almost as much a mission to stay on the streets nowadays as it is to actually protest what you're there to protest. This country's new "anti-terrorism" laws allow for far more abuse of protesters than ever, and the fact that so many continue to protest these abusive "free trade" cabals gets lost amdist the talking heads' continued aghast-ness that people would even dare to disagree with the government.
Oh, and did you happen to catch this little tidbit? It's in this week's Nation:
Tucked away in Bush's $87 billion spending bill for
Iraq is an $8.5 million item for security operations
against the Free Trade Area of the Americas
protests in Miami.
So there you go. Our senators voted in secret for a bill that included millions of dollars to go towards abusing our own citizens. Just soothes the soul, doesn't it?
The main point most lawmakers, people in power and the media will miss, as always, is: The streets are on fire because something is wrong. People don't get beaten by police batons for fun - this is a very real way to show that things are not right. This mama has long been an active protester and supporter of all public street protests, and I am 100% behind my brothers and sisters of the world in London and Miami today.
If we lose the power of our voices, we have truly lost.