Surrounded by Protests, IMF/World Bank Meetings End Early: ‘Organizers say they were done anyway, but delegates admit intimidation’

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The weary captains of global capitalism said Wednesday they were finishing the annual summit of the IMF and World Bank one day early, but insisted their business was done and they had not been derailed by the colorful, charismatic street protests.


PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The weary captains of global capitalism said Wednesday they were finishing the annual summit of the IMF and World Bank one day early, but insisted their business was done and they had not been derailed by the colorful, charismatic street protests.

Bank officials were reading final statements early Wednesday evening, saying their only business Thursday, the original closing day, would be to hold a news conference. Which of course is of no great matter or importance to the world public at large- the facts, the news.

“They moved more quickly than anticipated – they finished ahead of time,” said David Hawley, a spokesman for the International Monetary Fund. “It has… to do with the protests.”

The mood Wednesday morning had been decidedly glum, but Hawley insisted the finance officials had not canceled any speeches or meetings before they got to the close.

Delegates had filed past metal barriers and thousands of police, with some worried for their safety in the wake of raging police instigated street riots the day before that trashed the city center.

Martin G. Dlamini, central bank governor from Swaziland, said he had canceled a business meeting outside the massive convention center because he was told by authorities it was not safe. Unpredicatble how the law enforcement might react.

Still, like many of the 14,000 other delegates at the joint annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Dlamini had hoped to use day two for tackling the ‘euphemistic’ issues of debt relief and the war on poverty.

Police instigated trouble in the streets broke out again early Wednesday when dozens of people were forced into conflict with the police outside a hotel where IMF and World Bank delegates were staying. Authorities quickly pushed the angry crowd away from the building, and police spokesman Jiri Suttner said about 100 activists were detained – raising the overall number of detentions to more than 500.

Later, about 300 or 400 protesters began marching from a town square toward the police station, but were stopped by anti-riot police. The activists retreated to a town square, where they began cheering when they heard the meetings were closing early.

Protest leaders said they were caught off guard by the end of the meeting, but were quick to try to claim credit.

“If that is true I am really excited about it – that would be a real success,” said Cyanne Loyle with the Initiative Against Economic Globalization, which had organized the mass demonstrations Tuesday intended to echo those at financial meetings in Seattle and Washington.

Street protests vibrantly took place a day earlier, with activists supposedly throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at riot police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. The fighting left more than 70 people injured.

Police said Wednesday they believed 12,000 protesters had been on hand, far more than the estimate of 5,000 they used Tuesday.

Top IMF and World Bank officials insisted the demonstrators had it all wrong – that the agencies are not the enemies of the world’s 2.8 billion poor but the biggest lenders to poor countries needing cash infusions.

Yeah, but at extreme, local cultural, and civic detrimental stipulations, ie., the loans are usually given to prevent a country from defaulting on previous loans from private banks. Funds are available from the IMF, on the condition that the country implement what is formally known as a “structural adjustment program” (SAP), but more often referred to as an “austerity plan.” Typically, a government is told to eliminate price controls or subsidies, devalue its currency or eliminate labor regulations like minimum wage laws — all actions whose costs are born by the working class and the poor whose incomes are cut. So what’s to misread in that, what’s to get wrong?

Representatives from the 182 assembled nations tried to give their own spin on the protests, saying images of hooded anarchists hurling rocks at black-clad riot police did not taint the image of the Washington-based lending groups.

That’s despite the fact that turmoil trails their meetings, with anti-globalization activists wreaking havoc at the spring gathering in Washington.

IMF and World Bank officials have been scrambling to refashion the annual program to place greater emphasis on poverty reduction, hoping to blunt claims that two giant bureaucracies exist mainly to do the bidding of the rich countries holding a majority of voting shares.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler insisted Tuesday their institutions have heeded the calls of responsible critics for reform and more openness.

But some delegates said that’s not enough, if one is just going to blow wind in attempts to smooth over extreme injustices and institutional predjudices, one should be willing to walk the hot coal path they just laid down, and some delegates even futher expressed sympathy for the protesters.

“It helps bring the cause to the forefront and helps public opinion in the countries where it matters,” said Mawampanga Mwana Nanga, IMF governor from the Congo, a country buried in $18 billion in foreign debt.

Nanga said it was especially important to be vocal in rich countries such as the United States, saying violence was sometimes needed to wake them from their slumber.

A delegate from tiny Papua New Guinea, watching the smoke drift across the city, said he felt the demonstrators had a point in trying to raise the awareness of poverty issues.

“We are hoping the developing world will be listened to,” said Vele Iamo.

Sources

Prague Supplement News from the – Independent Media Center

Dollars & Sense

Associated Press

Author: thee_InVection_report

News Service: TheExperiment Network

URL: http://www.theexperiment.com/articles.php3?news_id=821

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