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
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
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
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
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
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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