[McLibel] France, Anti-Globalisation Groups Line Up For 'French Seattle'

From: mclibel@globalnet.co.uk
Date: Thu Jun 29 2000 - 13:45:25 GMT

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    Forwarded by the McLibel Support Campaign

    Published on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 by Agence France-Presse

    Anti-Globalisation Groups Line Up For 'French Seattle'

    PARIS - The trial this Friday of farmworkers leader Jose Bove for dismantling
    a McDonald's restaurant brings France into the front line of a burgeoning
    international grass-roots movement opposed to the mounting forces of
    globalisation.

    Millau, the southern town on the river Tarn where the trial is to be
    held, has already been dubbed "Seattle-on-the-Tarn" ahead of the expected
    arrival of up to 50,000 Bove supporters protesting against the variety of
    perceived ills symbolised by the double-arches of the worldwide fast-food chain.

    Bove and nine farmworker colleagues are charged with breaking into a
    worksite at Millau last August and taking apart a McDonald's restaurant
    then under construction.

    Their action was targeted at what they see as the damage to the rural
    economy represented by the fast-food culture, not to mention the offence
    to French culinary traditions.

    But Bove's Peasant Confederation and their numerous allies fit into a
    developing trend in which the power of multinational corporations and
    international bodies to govern people's lives is being challenged at the
    grass-roots.

    The scale of the protests provoked by globalisation of the world economy
    was highlighted at last November's World Trade Organisation summit in
    Seattle, where demonstrations by tens of thousands of protestors contributed to
    the breakdown of top-level talks aimed at establishing a millennium round of
    trade terms.

    Since then, similar demonstrations have taken place in Washington for
    the World Bank/IMF annual meeting in April, in London to mark May Day on May
    1, in Bangkok in February during a UN trade conference, and in Geneva last
    weekend for a world summit on social development.

    Though the number and nature of the groups involved have varied from one
    protest to the next, the informal coalition pitted against the power of
    corporate enterprise embraces trade unionists, religious leaders,
    environmentalists, farmers, consumers, human and animal rights
    activists, peace advocates, artists and anarchists.

    Their strategies involve rallies, marches, prayer services, alternative
    conferences, street theatre, boycotts, blockades and
    counter-demonstrations of every kind.

    Groups such as the Ruckus Society in the United States, Britain's
    Reclaim the Streets, the Direct Action Network or People's Global Action have
    all taken to the streets to make their various points.

    In broad terms their argument is that increasing poverty, low wages,
    cuts in social services, sweatshops, global warming, deforestation and genetic
    engineering form part of a planetary system "based on the exploitation
    of people and the planet" and that international corporate finance is the
    primary villain.

    French participation in the anti-globalisation movement has focused on
    agriculture, the environment, nuclear waste and the threat to French
    culture represented by the Multilateral Agreement on Investment.

    There is the same profusion of special-interest groups in France as
    elsewhere, though few have taken to the streets to the same extent as
    their British or US counterparts.

    The best-known organisations are the 40,000-strong French Peasants
    Confederation, of which Bove is a leading member, and ATTAC, a
    broadly-based civic group militating for the introduction of a "Tobin tax" on
    cross-border financial transactions, named after the US Nobel prize-winning
    economist
    James Tobin.

    Several leading figures in the international anti-globalisation movement
    will be heading for the south of France to lend their support to Bove
    and his fellow defendants.

    They include Lori Wallach, the US jurist who helped organise the
    anti-WTO protests in Seattle, Susan George, the Franco-American president of the
    Globalisation Observatory, Indian ecologist Vandana Shiva, and the
    former European Union negotiator at GATT trade talks Paul Tran Van Tinh.

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