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Old 04-22-2004, 03:04 PM   #1
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Jubilee USA Debt rally makes the papers! (and so did I...)

A Polite Encounter Outside World Bank
Anti-Globalization Activists Return

By Manny Fernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 22, 2004; Page A04


Protesters marked the 60th anniversary of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in downtown Washington yesterday with a cordial delivery of nearly 11,000 "birthday" cards to World Bank headquarters.

Unlike previous anti-globalization demonstrations, this one ended not in mass arrests or traffic disruptions, but in a brief, polite discussion with IMF and World Bank representatives. D.C. police officers guarded the World Bank's entrance near 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW as the two representatives in business suits chatted with several protesters. They accepted the white-mesh bags of cards, which supporters from around the world had signed to call for 100 percent debt cancellation for poor countries.

"We want to find ways to work together," said Katherine Marshall, a bank director and one of the representatives.

Such cordial relations represented a quiet beginning to what has become an April ritual in Washington: protesting at the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Yesterday's rally kicked off five days of teach-ins and demonstrations to protest the institutions, which meet Saturday and Sunday.

Four years ago this month, IMF and World Bank meetings drew roughly 20,000 activists to Washington, disrupted parts of downtown and sparked clashes between police and protesters. But times have changed. This year, organizers have adopted a less radical tone and do not expect the same numbers and intensity as they had in April 2000. They said they have been struggling to compete for activists' energy and time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Yesterday, at the "Unhappy Birthday Party," protesters said the small crowd -- estimated at 200 by one organizer -- was not a concern. What did matter, they said, was their cause: debt relief for poor nations. Activists with the Jubilee USA Network, the rally's sponsor, said the African continent alone is spending about $15 billion every year in debt service to Western creditors, including the IMF and World Bank.

"The institutions are a bit like a creditors cartel that protects the interests of the already wealthy nations at the expense of the most impoverished nations," said Marie Clarke, 28, Jubilee's national coordinator. "Their tool of domination is debt."

In 1999, the IMF and World Bank expanded debt relief efforts through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. Debt reduction packages have since been approved for 27 countries, 23 in Africa. Those countries' debts will be reduced by more than $50 billion over the next few years, a World Bank spokesman said.

But Clarke and others, who tooted noisemakers and wore yellow cone-shaped party hats in mock celebration of the 60th birthday, said the initiative has failed to do enough. Njoki Njoroge Njehu, director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network, a longtime critic of the IMF and World Bank, described the initiative as "too little debt relief for too few countries" with too many strings attached.

Organizers say they expect a larger turnout for the main event Saturday, an afternoon rally and march from Franklin Square to the IMF and World Bank buildings. The Mobilization for Global Justice, a Washington-based group that helped organize the 2000 demonstrations, is coordinating many of the activities. D.C. police officials said organizers have indicated that as many as 5,000 to 10,000 protesters may turn out Saturday, though the march permit lists only 500 to 1,000.

The demonstrations will take place on the same weekend as the March for Women's Lives, an abortion rights demonstration on the Mall on Sunday. Hundreds of D.C. police officers will be assigned to crowd control, and others will monitor activity on closed-circuit video feeds, said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. The department canceled routine leave for the 3,800-member force to ensure that commanders have enough officers, though Ramsey said he expects peaceful demonstrations both days.

"If something happens, we'll be able to respond quickly," Ramsey said. Police officials also announced several street closings and parking restrictions in the area around the IMF and World Bank buildings. Those restrictions begin tomorrow after rush hour.

Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, sent a letter to Ramsey and other city leaders urging them to make sure that the security perimeter does not prevent worshipers from getting to churches and synagogues this weekend. Ramsey said police were working with churches and other organizations to minimize disruptions.

Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.


Here's pic, with more to come...I'm on the left with yellow sign in the blue t-shirt





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Old 04-22-2004, 03:45 PM   #2
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Hey, that's awesome! . Way to go! .

Angela
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Old 04-22-2004, 03:48 PM   #3
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Old 04-23-2004, 08:32 AM   #4
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Thanks guys!

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Old 04-23-2004, 08:45 AM   #5
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Old 04-23-2004, 08:48 AM   #6
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Kewl

If I would have known I would have joined ya out there
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Old 04-23-2004, 11:04 AM   #7
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Yay Sherry!
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Old 04-23-2004, 11:30 AM   #8
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Thanks!

MG, why dont' you toss me a PM with your email? I can put you on my info list if you'd like (it's like a msg or three per month).



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Old 04-23-2004, 12:07 PM   #9
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Old 04-23-2004, 01:14 PM   #10
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Wow, that's great

for peaceful demonstrations too
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Old 04-23-2004, 01:23 PM   #11
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As we say here in Mali "I ni baara!" (literally "you and your work"...roughly, good job!)

Bono would be proud.
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Old 04-23-2004, 03:29 PM   #12
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you go girl!

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Old 04-23-2004, 05:02 PM   #13
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Old 04-24-2004, 10:16 AM   #14
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Thanks so much!

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Old 04-24-2004, 12:23 PM   #15
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