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The Party Ends Early. Victory to the Protesters?

StorySeptember 28, 2000
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The headline this morning on the wires reads: "Battle-weary capitalists wrapped up their global money summit a day early." With a tense but calm atmosphere on the streets of Prague, delegates from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were scheduled to finish their joint annual meeting today, but late yesterday they finished up, saying their business was done. [includes rush transcript]

Guest:

  • Julie Light, the managing editor of Corporate Watch.

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TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And this news from Prague, the headline this morning on the wires reads, "Battle-weary capitalists wrapped up their global money summit a day early." We turn now to Prague with Julie Light, managing editor of Corporate Watch based in San Francisco, but she’s in Prague.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Julie.

JULIE LIGHT: Thanks, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, do the protesters consider this a victory, the cutting by a day of the World Bank-IMF meetings?

JULIE LIGHT: Absolutely, I think people here are very aware of the fact that the bank is affected by what has gone on over the last week here by the demonstrations, by the meetings they’ve been having with NGOs. They’ve begun to even adopt some of the rhetoric about alleviating poverty. And what activists here are telling me is that the important thing now is, even as James Wilson, from the head of the bank, talks about 20 percent of the world controlling 80 percent of the resources, that they want to see real changes, concrete changes. They want concepts like the ecological debt brought into the debate — who owes what to whom, as the North has plundered the South for years. How can it be that the South owes so much to the North?

AMY GOODMAN: And Julie, what about the protesters who have been arrested? What’s happening with them? How many are in jail?

JULIE LIGHT: There are 500 confirmed, and organizers are telling me that they suspect the number is much higher. They’ve been sent to a prison about 50 miles from here, towards the German border. They say women have been strip-searched by male officers, people have been chained to walls and beaten, that they’ve been handcuffed, thrown down stairs. They’ve been pushed into cells, crowded into cells, denied food, water and, most importantly, access to legal representation and a phone call that they’re all entitled to.

AMY GOODMAN: And what has been the response of, well, Václav Havel, the head of the Czech Republic, known for his own dissidence over the years?

JULIE LIGHT: Well, there’s been silence. They can’t get this into the Czech press, and very little into the international press. That’s the frustration that a lot of the demonstrators are feeling now. They’re dispersed. They closed down the convergence center. Little demonstrations are popping up in different places all over the city. And the police are, even with permitted allowed demonstrations, dispersing people. And they’re very frustrated that they can’t get the message out about what’s happening to the people detained by the police.

AMY GOODMAN: Julie Light, I want to thank you for being with us, managing editor of Corporate Watch based in San Francisco, in Prague right now for the protests against the World Bank and the IMF, which have just wrapped up their meetings.

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