The Guardian May 8, 2002


Globalised resistance

by Daniel Coysh

The World Development Movement has demolished the myth that opposition to 
the corrosive practices of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank 
is the sole preserve of privileged "students and anarchists" from wealthy 
countries.

Its States of Unrest II report showed that scores of protests took 
place across 23 developing countries last year, with millions of poor 
people taking part.

Security forces in these protests killed seventy-six people, including a 
14-year-old boy, while thousands more were injured or arrested.

The research was based on official documents,published by either the IMF 
and World Bank or by the governments of developing countries.

The report traced the link between civil unrest and the impact of IMF 
economic policies.

Of the 77 episodes of civil unrest documented, 18 ended with the deployment 
of riot police or the army  often against peaceful protests.

Of the 23 countries involved, nearly three-quarters of these have IMF-
sponsored privatisation programs and over half have experienced anti-
privatisation demonstrations.

Half of the countries witnessed protests by civil service and public-sector 
workers against policies that either cut or froze wages or led to 
redundancies.

Increases in the price of basic goods and services, resulting from cuts in 
public subsidies, sparked demonstrations in over a third of the countries.

Report author Mark Ellis-Jones, who is a World Development Movement 
researcher, praised the courage of the protesters. "Millions of desperately 
poor people around the world have been brave enough to protest against IMF 
policies".

"Doctors, farmers, priests, teachers, trade unionists and indigenous people 
from Angola and Argentina to Zimbabwe and Zambia have called for an end to 
IMF-imposed economic reforms.

"They have seen the IMF continue to undermine their national governments by 
forcing countries into a free-market, one-size-fits-all blueprint of 
economic development", he added.

"At a time when links are being made between poverty, disempowerment and 
terrorism, this erosion of democratic contract is downright dangerous".

Mr Ellis-Jones rejected IMF claims that poverty reduction rather than 
opening up lucrative markets to rapacious transnationals was at the centre 
of its policies.

"We have to ask how deep its commitment goes when the world's poor  those 
closest to the policies on the ground  are its fiercest critics", he 
said.

The WDM report, summary and accompanying map is now available at 
www.wdm.org.uk

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Acknowledgement to Morning Star

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