Anti-Captialist Youths Challenge the IMF in Montreal

Hundreds demonstrated outside the Montreal’s Sheraton Center beginning Oct. 23 to protest the G-20 economic summit. They charged that the IMF kills 19,000 children everyday.

Hundreds demonstrated outside the Montreal’s Sheraton Center beginning Oct. 23 to protest the G-20 economic summit. They charged that the IMF kills 19,000 children everyday.

First in Seattle, then Washington, then Prague, now Montreal. Once again the youths of a major city clashed with the International Monetary Fund and the so-called free-trade forces.

In a militant but mostly peaceful demonstration Oct. 23, hundreds of protesters expressed their anger at the Group of 20 conference scheduled to begin the following day in Montreal.

The crowd–mostly students–chanted in French and English and danced to drums in front of the Sheraton Centre, site of the conference.

A few students threw paint and eggs at the hotel, and a plate glass window was broken.

According to the G-20 Web site, “In Sept. 1999 in Washington, D.C., the finance ministers of the Group of Seven (G-7) leading industrialized nations announced the creation of the Group of Twenty (G-20). This new international forum of finance ministers and central bank governors represents 19 countries, the European Union and the Bretton Woods Institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank).”

The G-20 include both major imperialist powers and oppressed countries. They are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

One protester told the Canadian Broadcasting Co. evening news, “The G-20, the IMF and their policymakers require violence. The very policies they implement are violent by nature. The fact that 19,000 children die each day in the Third World because of IMF restructuring policies–I think that is violent.”

Police provoked the protesters to lash out. They pushed the crowd back and chanted, “Move, move, move,” to the menacing beat of their billy clubs smacking their shields.

The cops were clearly prepared for the situation they created, having worn riot gear all afternoon. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the cops, who responded with a gas that choked the young crowd.

But the standoff wasn’t over yet. Riot police, backed up by the cavalry, repeatedly charged into the crowd to move the protesters off the major street they were occupying.

While the protesters would fall back, moments later they would surge forward to continue their action. Some pelted the cops with rocks and pieces of a fence they were dismantling. One cop was injured and seen limping away with the support of two other riot police. Two other cops were also reported injured.

Several protesters were aided by medics, mostly for the effects of the gas. Thirty-nine were arrested. The demonstrators marched away, vowing to return the following day. Bigger, louder protests were expected at the conference opening.

While the protest here was much smaller than those recently held in Seattle, Washington and Prague, there was a high degree of militancy. People expressed fierce opposition to the cruelties of the so-called free trade system being forced on the poor of the world by the United States, Canada and the other imperialist powers.

Not surprisingly, Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin, the conference chairperson, refused to come out of the hotel to meet with the protesters.

Author: Josina Dunkel

News Service: Workers World News

URL: http://www.workers.org/ww/2000/montreal1102.html