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Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2001 in the Bangor (ME) Daily News
Gated America
Washington, D.C., is a city of monuments. Now, a new monument is going up in the nationís capital; not to commemorate heroism, but to concede failure.

Also See:
D.C.'s Answer to IMF, World Bank Protests: Miles of Chain-Link
Washington Post 8/30/01

Big Fence Planned To Curb Protests
Washington Post 8/17/01
It is a fence ó 9 feet high, 21/2 miles long. It will enclose 220 acres, including the White House, chain link topped with razor wire and costing $2 million. The purpose of this dreary installation will be to keep globalization protesters away from globalization promoters during the Sept. 29-30 meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. What the fence doesnít stop, meeting organizers hope the 6,600 police officers ó about half being brought in from outside the district ó with their $29 million security bankroll, will.

The alternative to this wretched excess would be, of course, for the IMF and World Bank to stop looking for ways to separate themselves from those with concerns about globalization and to begin taking those concerns seriously. The concerns are genuine ó despite massive amounts of what ap-pears to be activity, the two organizations have little to show for their efforts to alleviate the persistent poverty, disease and lack of education that plague too many people in too many countries.

Itís not as though the IMF and World Bank had no inkling that economic globalists cannot practice political isolationism. The demonstrations that erupted during the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999 should have been their first clue. The massive protests during the Genoa summit this summer of industrialized nations and the shooting death by police of a protester should have set off an alarm.

The IMF and World Bank had their chance to begin closing this rift. The series of pro-tests at earlier meetings gave them ample opportunity to assess the various protesting organizations and to ascertain which were there merely to make noise and which had something to say.

One organization clearly among the latter is the D.C.-based Mobilization for Global Justice. That organization put forth a reasonable proposal last Tuesday for how the upcoming meetings could be opened to include dissenting voices. After giving the proposal all of two daysí consideration, the IMF flatly rejected it Thursday, saying the journalists and favored nongovernmental organizations allowed into the by-invitation-only meetings provide all the openness the meetings need. Presented with a solution, the IMF chose to embrace the problem.

But why seek a solution when the taxpayers of the United States ($16 million) and of the District of Columbia ($13 million) are providing a private security force to protect the status quo? For their money, those taxpayers will get a see-through Berlin Wall right here in America and the city that stands for freedom and democracy the world over will be transformed into a gated community.

©2001 Bangor Daily News


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