[smygo] Anti-IMF Protests Sweep Developing World

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Clore Daniel C

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Apr 26, 2002, 1:20:42 AM4/26/02
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Anti-IMF protests sweep developing world

World Development Movement
http://wdm.org.uk
April 23, 2002

Protest and civil unrest in developing countries directed
against the policies of the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and World Bank intensified in 2001 according to a
report released today by London-based development
campaigners, the World Development Movement (WDM).

States of Unrest II: Resistance to IMF and World Bank
policies in poor countries in 2001 documents that seventy
six people, including a fourteen-year-old boy, were killed,
and thousands injured and arrested in protests which took
place across twenty three developing countries and involved
millions of poor people.

In September 2000, on the eve of massive protests at the
Prague meetings of the IMF and World Bank, WDM released its
first States of Unrest report. It revealed a previously
undocumented pattern of protest and civil unrest in
developing countries directed against the policies imposed
and championed by the IMF and World Bank. It demonstrated
that protests against these institutions and their policies
were not limited to privileged 'students and anarchists'
from rich countries, as some politicians and the IMF and
World Bank themselves had tried to claim, but lead by the
world's poorest people.

States of Unrest II, published on the first day of the IMF
and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC (20/21 April
2002), charts this trend throughout 2001. Using official
documents, published by these institutions and developing
country governments, it traces the link between civil unrest
and the impacts of IMF economic policies. Of the 77 episodes
of civil unrest, 18 ended with the deployment of riot police
or the army - often against initially peaceful protests.

Author of the report, WDM researcher Mark Ellis-Jones said:
"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. At a
time when links are being made between poverty,
disempowerment and terrorism this erosion of the democratic
contract is downright dangerous."

"The IMF claims to put poverty reduction at the centre of
its policies but 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."

Of the 23 countries documented, nearly three-quarters have
IMF-sponsored privatisation programmes, and over half of
these have experienced anti-privatisation demonstrations.
Half of the countries have had protests by civil service and
public sector workers, aimed at policies that either cut or
freeze wages or lead to redundancies. Over a third of
countries have had demonstrations against the rising prices
of basic goods and services because public subsidies have
been removed.

For your free hard copy please email mailto:w...@wdm.org.uk
or contact us at: World Development Movement, 25 Beehive
Place, London, SW9 7QR, United Kingdom. Tel: 020 7737 6215
Fax: 020 7274 8232

- END -

Notes for editors:

1. WDM have produced a high quality full colour map to
illustrate the findings of the report. It plots the 77
anti-IMF and structural adjustment protests in 2001
documented in States of Unrest II. A high-resolution
electronic version for reproduction is available on request.
A low-resolution map accompanies the email version of this
release. The full report (in electronic and hard copy) and a
summary of the report are also available. Spokespeople from
WDM are available for interview on the reports findings.
After release the report, summary and map will be available
at http://www.wdm.org.uk

2. The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU),
participants and organisers of some of the protests
documented, can be contacted for interview on the issues
raised by the report. Roger Ronnie, General Secretary,
SAMWU. Contact tel: +27 82 2006799 or email
mailto:ro...@samwu.org.za

3. IMF loan conditions typically include: reducing
government expenditure (often leading to public-sector
redundancies; freezing salaries, and cutbacks in health,
education and social welfare services); privatisating
state-run industries; currency devaluation and export
promotion; raising interest rates to tackle inflation;
removing of price controls (often leading to rapid price
rises for basic goods and services).

4. The first States of Unrest report, published in
2000,documented protest in the ten months running up to the
IMF and World Bank Meetings in Prague in September 2000. It
catalogued 50 separate protests in 13 countries. More than
half of these protests ended in the deployment of riot
police or the army. A total of 10 people have lost their
lives, and over 300 were injured in protests against the IMF
and its policies. This report is available on WDM's website

States of Unrest II

Resistance to IMF and World Bank policies in poor countries
in 2001

Summary

States of Unrest II documents protests in 23 countries,
charting 77 separate incidents of civil unrest involving
millions of people. Estimates indicate that 18 of these
incidents ended with the deployment of riot police or the
army, with 76 documented fatalities, and arrests and
injuries running into thousands. Over a third of these
countries experienced protests directed specifically at the
IMF and World Bank as institutions.

The protesters include: peasant farmers, indigenous peoples,
the unemployed, teachers, civil servants, priests, doctors,
public-sector workers, trade-union activists and owners of
small businesses. Typically the protests are against cuts in
government expenditure, privatisation of state-run
industries, and the removal of price controls and subsidies.

Of the 23 countries documented, nearly three-quarters have
IMF-sponsored privatisation programmes, and over half of
these have experienced anti-privatisation demonstrations.
Half of the countries have had protests by civil service and
public sector workers, including teachers, doctors and the
police, aimed at policies that either cut or freeze wages or
lead to redundancies. Over a third of countries have had
demonstrations against the rising prices of basic goods and
services because public subsidies have been removed.

Selected examples from States of Unrest II country reports:

ANGOLA

The IMF "stressed the importance of adhering to a prudent
wage policy, keeping overall public spending in check." In
January public sector workers across Angola take part in a
four-day general strike over government proposals to reduce
the minimum wage.

ARGENTINA

As a condition for a $21bn loan in September the IMF demands
"primary spending will be cut... [including] an across-the
board cut of 13 per cent in unprotected primary spending,
including wages and pensions." Earlier in the year the
General Workers Confederation, calls a two-day strike at
proposals to cut public salaries by 13 per cent and cut
pension benefits. Police were deployed as tens of thousands
of workers take to the streets, blocking roads, shutting
banks and Government offices and marching on Congress. A
spokesperson, representing the Argentinean Confederation of
Education Workers said: "We are all in the same situation.
The people are all affected by these cutbacks and by
exclusion, misery and poverty. Nobody escapes." President
Fernando De La Rue admits the country's sovereignty is
"limited" due its US$128 billion debt.

ECUADOR

Through out 2001 massive protests continue in response to
extreme structural adjustment and IMF-agreed austerity
measures including a 60 per cent increase in cooking gas,
plans for eighteen privatisations in the electricity sector,
an end to state monopoly for telecommunications, and the
granting of a 30-year concession to a foreign company for
the supply of water and sewage services to the city of
Guayaquil. A peaceful march of ten thousand people in Quito
is dispersed by police and army using teargas and rubber
bullets, hunger strikes occur on University campuses, a
state of emergency is declared, and a fourteen year old boy
is one of four shot and killed as troops break up a
demonstration of five thousand indigenous people. In an
occupation of IMF offices in Quito one protester says: "We
want to expose the real culprits. The IMF-imposed policies,
carried out by the Ecuadorian Government in exchange for
more loans."

INDIA

Ten million state employees go on general strike against
privatisation plans and call for a halt to IMF, World Bank
and WTO policies, as the IMF urges that, "power sector
reform was a particular priority [along with] the
privatisation of Government enterprises, and liberalisation
of labour laws."

NEPAL

In July more than 500 protesters denounce a 40 per cent
price hike in electricity prices by the Nepalese Government.
According to a news report, the Nepal Electricity Authority
was put under pressure from the Asian Development Bank and
the World Bank to raise prices as a precondition for fresh
loans on water resource development. The IMF announces it is
"encouraged by the recent policy initiatives to adjust
public sector prices and tariffs."

PAKISTAN

In May, Pakistani Non-Governmental Organisations protest
outside the World Bank building in Islamabad with banners
saying: "IMF: International Monetary Fraud", and, "World
Bank policies: poverty elevation or alleviation?" The IMF
continues to demand "the restructuring of public enterprises
[and] accelerated privatisation."

SOUTH AFRICA

Thousands of protesters descend on Johannesburg to
demonstrate against the privatisation of the city's water
supply to French water multinational, Suez Lyonnaise des
Eaux as advocated by the IMF. The South African Municipal
Workers Union (SAMWU) complains the deal, "has not come up
with any plan to extend running water to Johannesburg's
poor."

TURKEY

Economic crisis in Turkey continues as government agrees a
massive adjustment package with the IMF including
"restructuring the banking sector, improving budget
transparency, and preparing the privatisation of state-owned
enterprises [including steel, electricity, airline and
telecom companies]." In March, unions and civil society
groups organise a protest, with thousands of protesters
taking to the streets shouting, "IMF go home!." Bayram
Meral, President of Turkeys largest union confederation
said: "The policies of the IMF and the World Bank do not aim
to help Turkey but to assure that Turkey can pay its debts
on time and in full." In November thousands attend
demonstration calling for an end to "the Governments
subservience to IMF policies."

ZAMBIA

Thousands of Lusaka City Council workers strike over
non-payment of salaries as IMF makes "firm control on public
wages" a condition of $64m loan.

--
Dan Clore
mailto:cl...@columbia-center.org

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