rn: Beyond Seattle: April 16, Wa. DC


Jan Slakov

Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2000 23:32:04 -0800
From: Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
Subject: APRIL 16: For those who wish they could have been in Seattle.

For those who wish they could have been in Seattle.

Busses will be travelling from all over, including Canada.

All sorts of direct action is planned, including physically shutting the
conference down, as was done in Seattle.

for more info see www.a16.org
[list additions:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 15:25:37 -0500
From: ACERCA <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••

WE CALL ON those who rallied in Seattle against the World Trade
Organization, and those who supported them, to come to Washington in
April.  In Seattle we contributed to the collapse of a dangerous
attempt to control the world's economy and resources for the benefit of
corporations and the wealthy.  That was an exhilarating, landmark
victory.  But of course it was just a beginning. The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are the architects of the world
economy, and spawned the WTO.  In Seattle, the heads of the three
institutions issued a joint statement saying, "The IMF, the World Bank
and the WTO Š will continue to work together closely, under our
Cooperation Agreements to help increase the coherence of economic

We must make our demands for economic justice heard.  We are bringing
thousands of activists to Washington for the IMF/World Bank Spring
Meetings (April 16-17, 2000).  Finance ministers from around the world
will be in Washington to ratify their plans for the expansion of elite,
corporate power.  We need to share the spirit of Seattle with them. 


50 Years Is Enough Network
1247 E. Street SE
Washington, DC  20003
202 544 9355

202 544 9359 Fax

Email:  •••@••.•••


What are the IMF and World Bank?

The IMF and World Bank have been empowered by the governments
which control it, led by the rich countries of North America, Japan,
and Western Europe (the "Group of 7," which holds over 40% of the votes
on their boards), with imposing economic austerity policies in the
countries of the so-called "Third World" or "global South." Once
Southern countries build up large external debts, as most have, they
cannot get credit or cash anywhere else and are forced to go to these
international institutions and accept whatever conditions are demanded
of them.  None of those countries has emerged from their debt problems;
indeed most countries now have much higher levels of debt than when
they first accepted IMF/World Bank "assistance."

The IMF/World Bank conditions - "structural adjustment programs" -
force Southern countries to promote sweatshops, exports to rich
countries, and high-return cash investment. The resulting increase in
international commerce - corporate globalization - led to demands by
corporations and investors for ways to lock in their privileges and
protection against the perceived danger of governments seizing assets
or imposing new regulations.  The WTO was the answer to those demands,
an institution whose secret tribunals can overrule national laws if
they are found to violate the rights of corporations. 

The World Bank is best known for financing big projects like dams,
roads, and power plants, supposedly designed to assist in economic
development, but which have often been associated with monumental
environmental devastation and social dislocation.  In recent years,
about half of its lending has gone to programs indistinguishable from
the IMF's: austerity plans that "reform" economic policies by
suffocating the poor and inviting corporate exploitation.  

Although the IMF finally got some of the criticism due it with the East
Asian financial crisis (where it imposed austerity programs on South
Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand), the two institutions continue to be
the chosen tools of the political and business elites for ruling the
global economy, and run, to one degree or another, about 90 Southern
countries' economies.  These countries are forced to adopt policies
even more committed to deregulation and withdrawal of government from
insuring public welfare than those in the U.S.  Considering how
impoverished many of these countries were to start with, the effects of
these policies have been predictably devastating.  We may read
sometimes about the "successes" of "emerging market" economies, but the
wealth being generated goes to very small segments of the populations,
and much of it ends up in the North.  The great majority of the people
of the South are enduring increased poverty, decreased access to basic
services, and decreased control over their own economies.

How -- and why -- do the structural adjustment programs (SAPs) that the
IMF & World Bank impose create conditions that multinational
corporations desire and that devastate most people in the Southern
countries?  A look at the most common SAP conditions show how economic
"advice" is used to maintain the interests of the wealthy at the
expense of continued suffering for the bulk of the people.


IMPACT ON ELITE (Corporations, Investors, Wealthy)      


Cut Social Spending:  Reduce expenditures on health, education,

[IMF claims it is now making sure such spending goes up, but often it's
to put in place systems to collect fees.]       

* More debts repaid, including to World Bank and IMF.   

* Increased school fees force parents to pull children -- usually girls
-- from school. Literacy rates go down.

* Poorly-educated generation not equipped for skilled jobs 

* Higher fees for medical service mean less treatment, more suffering,
needless deaths.

* Women, already overburdened, must provide healthcare and caretaking
for family members. 

Shrink Government:  Reduce budget expense by trimming payroll and

* Fewer government employees means less capacity to monitor businesses'
adherence to labor, environmental, and financial regulations

* Frees up money for debt payments      

* Massive layoffs in countries where government is often the largest

* Makes people desperate to work at any wage

Privatization: sell off state-owned enterprises: factories, mines,
telecommunications, electricity, water  ( Invitation to corruption, as
enterprises are sold to friends of government officials at bargain

( Bargains for corporations, which take advantage of "fire-sale"

( New owners bust unions, impose harsh conditions

( Layoffs / unemployment

( Raise prices & fees for services, even basic ones like water and

( Reduce provision of services where not profitable 

Increase Interest Rates: to combat inflation, increase interest charged
for credit and awarded to savings       ( Investors find country a profitable
place to park cash, though they may pull it out at any moment   ( Small
farmers and businesses can't get capital to stay afloat.

( Small farmers sell land, work as tenants or move to worse lands.

( Businesses shut down, leaving workers unemployed

Eliminate Regulations on Foreign Ownership of Resources and

* Multinational corporations can purchase or start enterprises easily

* Countries compete for foreign investment by offering tax breaks, low
wages, free trade zones

* Once in the country, corporations can turn to WTO for enforcement of

* Control of entire sectors of economy can shift to foreign hands

* Governments offer implicit pledges not to enforce labor and
environmental laws.

Eliminate Tariffs: Stop collecting taxes on imports; these taxes are
often applied to goods which would compete with domestically-produced

* Allows foreign goods easy access to domestic markets

* Makes luxury items cheaper for those in the country

* Allows country to comply with WTO agreements  

* Makes it harder for domestic producers to compete against
better-equipped and richer foreign suppliers

* Leads to closure of businesses and layoffs

Cut Subsidies for Basic Goods: Reduce government expenditures
supporting reduced cost of bread, petroleum, etc.       

* Frees up more money for debt payments 

* Raises cost of items needed to survive

* Most frequent flashpoint for civil unrest


IMPACT ON ELITE (Corporations, Investors, Wealthy)      


Re-orient Economies from Subsistence to Exports:  Give
incentives for farmers to produce cash crops (coffee, cotton, etc.) for
foreign markets rather than food for domestic ones; encourage
manufacturing to focus on simple assembly (often clothing) for export
rather than manufacturing for own country; encourage extraction of
valuable mineral resources      

* Produces hard currency to pay off more debts

* Law of supply and demand pushes down price of commodities as more
countries produce more, meaning guaranteed supply of low-cost products
to export markets

* Local competition eliminated for multinational corporations

* Increased availability of low-cost labor      

* Law of supply and demand pushes down price of commodities as more
countries produce more, meaning local producers often lose money

* Best agricultural lands devoted to cash crops; poorer land used for
food crops, leading to soil erosion

* Food security threatened

* Women often relegated to gathering all food for family while men work
for cash

* Makes country more dependent on imported food and imported
manufactured goods

* Forests and mineral resources (oil, copper, etc.) over-exploited,
leading to environmental destruction and displacement

So Why Do Countries Agree to SAPs? 

SAPs are anti-democratic in more than one way.  The institutions
are correct in saying that the plans are formulated in part, and agreed
to, by the governments.  But the government officials involved are
usually limited to the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank, usually
among the most conservative, Northern-educated, and wealthy members of
the government -- in other words, those most likely to agree with IMF
economics and benefit from the policies.  In many cases even they feel
coerced into going along with IMF/World Bank demands. If they don't
cooperate, the consequence can be a complete cut-off of credit because
other lenders follow the lead of these institutions.  

With such unpopular policies, it is the rare government that can "sell"
structural adjustment to its people, especially after 20 years of
similar failed policies.  The slogan "short-term pain for long-term
gain" sounds hollow when people have heard it for a whole generation. 
SAPs encourage instability in democratic countries by forcing elected
governments to institute measures that de-legitimize them.  Indeed, the
IMF prefers dictatorships to democratic governments, because dictators
can more successfully impose SAPs. And once the rules are in place the
WTO extends the attack on democracy by overruling any regulations that
corporations claim interfere with their right to profits.

The fact that institutions based in Washington and largely controlled
by the U.S. Treasury Department have been starving peoples around the
world for two decades is a scandal.  That people in the U.S. are barely
aware of the fact is a disgrace.  

In April we have the opportunity, building on the momentum of Seattle,
to alert the people of the U.S. and deliver a strong message to the
Finance Ministers who plan to meet at the IMF's headquarters to tighten
their grip on the global economy.  We will be doing so in solidarity
with the peoples of the countries controlled by the IMF and World Bank,
to claim for all people, including those in the North who know the
dangers of the powers given the WTO, the power to make the economic
decisions affecting their lives.  

Organizations planning for the April 16 mobilization include: 50
Years Is Enough Network; Alliance for Global Justice; Essential Action;
Rainforest Action Network; Direct Action Network; Global Exchange;
Campaign for Labor Rights; ACERCA; Center for Economic Justice; Quixote


Action for Community & Ecology in the Rainforests of Central America

POB 57
Burlington, VT  05402  USA
(802) 864-8203 Fax

Email: •••@••.•••


 ACERCA is a project of the Alliance for Global Justice

         and a member of the Native Forest Network

Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
"This is not about cops. This is about corporate greed." 
 - a WTO protester, as the police advance on peaceful demonstrators

"We are going to have either fascism or democracy.  If you sit on
the sidelines it will be fascism."
 - Richard K. Moore