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Reports and Commentary on the anti-WTO Protests from YFIS Members

Just what the title says!

From Comrade Matt D.

My Comrades,

As the onslaught of WTO protesting unfolds but a few miles away from me, I think of all the individuals out there, facing pepper spray, police with batons who would just love a reason to beat them within an inch of their lives, arrest, and even tear gas...Most of them fighting, not for themselves but for the good of the people, and for the good of the world and environment as well. My reason for sending you all this message is quite simple, I wish to air my beliefs on this situation. On a physical Level the WTO represents the power of world trade (to be more specific the power of the United States of America to lord over world trade and exploit it) But on a deeper level, the WTO represents the true face of Capitalism, and the amount of people in Seattle alone that are speaking out against it proves that the reign of Selfishness and Greed is soon going to be over.

Look at these protests as a taste of things to come, a small piece of the unrest that society is now coming to feel as more and more they realize that the existing system does not work. These unfolding protests should give us all hope, that someday we...part of the voice of Socialism in the world will be able to create a utopia based on human rights and equality. But none of this can come to pass if we stop the protesting with the end of the WTO conference. I’m not saying stand outside the Whitehouse freezing your butt off and chaining yourself to the gates until they disband the WTO, because lord only knows how stubborn the whole lot of those idiots are... I’m saying preach the ideals Socialism, in your neighborhoods, in your schools, and anyplace else you can find a willing ear, because only by spreading the word, can we increase the chances of providing the world, in our lifetime with what it truly needs... A globally united government of the people, for the people that will listen to the voices of the masses, and refuse to exploit the working class...Just keep this in mind next time you hear someone slam Socialism, and you want to bite your tongue in fear of non acceptance...Don’t stay silent, instead open your mouth up and speak the truth, a message long overdue that the world needs to hear, before it destroys itself.

Matt D.

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From Comrade David G.Comrades,

I am absolutely overwhelmed and greatly motivated by the success of the anti-WTO protests in Seattle. I never thought I would hear of such protests in the USA in my life, and yet here they are already beginning!

Even more astonishingly, Americans are protesting against the anti-democratic global capitalism of the WTO, and its devastating effects on labor and the environment. Americans, who are the least exploited of all of the world’s exploited workers, are still rejecting the system that allows *any* exploitation, and in the face of violent police retaliation, no less.

Each and every one of the more than 50,000 (according to the capitalist news media) protesters is a true revolutionary hero. They all have my deepest admiration and greatest thanks for their courage and endurance. For every protester there, thousands more of us across the nation and world echo their sentiments.

In a meaningful way, I feel ashamed that, being in Washington DC and not having the money for airfare and hotel costs, I could not afford to join in the protests in Seattle. If there are going to be any follow-up protests on the East Coast of the USA, comrades, please do spread the word where and when they will be held.

Also, to spread more knowledge, although President Clinton has stated that he "sympathizes" with the protestors, he still allows his OTR (Office of Trade Representatives—a group of corporate-controlled capitalists) to meet in secret to plan US trade policy, because he does not want the details of American corruption and corporate welfare to become public knowledge. Well, since we know it’s secret, we know it’s undemocratic, and can’t be serving the interests of the working or middle classes.

Comrades, let us all contact our government representatives in opposition to the secretive and exploitative WTO, and continue the non-violent civil disobedience protests around the USA and the World. I can feel that this movement is the beginning of something special that will change all of our lives for the better.

In Solidarity,

David G.

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From Comrade Alex G.I’m sitting here in Vancouver with mixed emotions, on the one side I am elated by the impact the WTO protests have had. Around the world now, nobody can say that Americans (& Canadians) are right-wing, stupid or apathetic. The most prominent symbol of corporate rule has been cancelled for one day and thier agenda has been replaced by something far better. On the other hand I know my friends were there with the riot cops, tear-gas and rubber bullets. I’m going to a downtown Vancouver demo at 7pm, I hope they are on the bus and I see them there and all is OK.

Now we must prepare for the backlash. Already they have declared a state of emergency with a 7pm curfew. In effect they are declaring war on the 1000’s of people still on the streets. I wont be surprised if there are going to be examples of agent provocatuers that are used as an excuse by police and media to crack down and slander.

We must not let this happen and we must build from even this partial victory. In Vancouver we have a small group of organized YFIS’ers and we get together regularly for Marxist discussion groups. We should get together with our comrades in Seattle on a regular basis and organize and discuss to move forward (one month here, next month there). Please if you live in the area can you email me so we can meet as a group.

Yours in solidarity,

Alex G.

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From Comrade Astrozolt

I was at the WTO protest today... and I will give everyone a more elaborate explanation of what happened later because right now I can not concentrate at all (I just got pepper sprayed and tear gassed today).  They were out of control with the tear gas and everything..... but the protest was basically succesfull. We delayed them from meeting for a few hours by preventing delegates from entering the trade center. The battle is not over, similar protests will go on wednesday. I hope you will understand it’s kinda hard for me to think at the moment, i’ll report more intelligently soon enough,

Astrozolt

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From Comrade Jason F. in response to the message from Comrade M. Davis

Yes, that is one of the problems in the world today (asides from Capitalism, heh). People are active in protest, and plenty of people are willing to take part in mass actions. However, they view these events as completely uncorrelated and cannot connect them, and stop whenever the time is appropriate to do so. Instead of the AFL-CIO protesting quite frequently and using a general strike or something to get worker’s demands met, they simply use this as a time to make their members feel that they are doing something proactively. They tie it all together with an odd nationalist component; I remember reading that the head of the Steel Workers Union leading the protesters in a riot against "Cheap Chinese Commie Steel". Saying that Good American Workers (that old rhetoric, honest "Americans") are being layed off because evil China can produce steel cheaply and the government doesn’t do anything to protect the American steel workers. First of all, they use that old fashioned nationalism to take the anger away from the actual US government, but direct it at "outsiders" who are eager to destroy "the American Dream" or what have you. It’s sick, these protestors carried signs such as "No WTO Deals for China: Bad for America" and for some odd reason "Religious Freedom for Vietnam NOW!" Guess that was thrown in just to pay part to some anti-communist thread; they mostly threw their support to Pat Buchanan.

The whole point is that even well educated experts in fields such as medicine, "human rights" etc. can’t correlate the facts together either. They see each event that happens as a tragedy, it’s a tragedy that hundreds of millions of people starve in Africa. And that needs to be changed. But, to them, it’s not a component of global imperialist capitalism, it’s simply a problem. They advocate reforms and food aid; but don’t even attempt to say that the problem is not caused by "tribal warlords", but by putting profit before people. And these experts, the people who could understand it all, would thorougly tell you that Marxism is worse than this, because of the previous thing we were talking about, disposition towards it despite having no knowledge of the facts. And as long as organizations only protest at events, things will continue. Think of every day as a protest: not in so much as a march or a demonstration, but a chance to protest when someone asks a question or doesn’t understand something.

Jason F.

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From the Associated Press - Iowa Governor caught in protest

SEATTLE (AP) - Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, trapped in a screaming mob as he headed to a World Trade Organization meeting, was dragged to safety by bodyguards as protesters pummeled a state trooper bending over Vilsack to protect him.

"It was a little bit more frightening than the earthquake I was in," Vilsack said in a telephone interview. "You could see the faces of people screaming at you."

Vilsack found himself in the middle of a deadly earthquake in September while on a trade mission to Taiwan. He was caught up Tuesday among protesters trying to halt a conference of the 135-nation World Trade Organization.

The governor said neither he nor security aides were injured, but he was shaken by the events.

In the interview, Vilsack said he was accompanied by an Iowa Highway Patrol trooper, who routinely provides his security, and by two officers provided by Washington state authorities.

They were headed for the WTO session by car but found the road blocked by protesters.

"The auto route wasn’t going to work, so we decided to walk," Vilsack said. He said the crowd initially showed no inclination toward violence, until his contingent was in the midst of the demonstrators.

"We got right in the middle of them, and people started screaming," Vilsack said. A trooper moved to protect Vilsack, the governor said.

"He was hit, he was kicked, he was punched," said Vilsack. "He was punched and kicked as he draped himself over me."

The other troopers pulled Vilsack from the crowd, and he was hustled back to his hotel room.

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From Comrade Kris M. in reply to: From the Associated Press - Iowa Governor caught in protest

These are the faces of those who have been pushed too far by capitalism’s uncaring decadent greed, exploitation and disregard for the international worker as well as the planet. These are the faces of those social conscious workers and students who have taken a stand against the continuous plague-like scourge of capitalism. Those screams of protest are from those workers and students who have realized that the bourgeoisie and the system they represent are a threat to the working class internationally.

This is indicative of the general fear that the bourgeoisie feel towards our collective action, the collective and self preservatory actions exhibited by the workers and students in Seattle and around the world as many have come together across nationalistic lines to recognize our collective international situation in the world and how it is inhibited and threatened by capitalism.

I was watching the bourgeois news on NBC and they actually showed, for about 20 seconds, a group of protesters who were holding up a sign that said, "If you think that the WTO is bad wait until you hear about capitalism." There are more of us out there than they like to think and this scares the living shit out of them as shown above by the remark by the bourgeois Governor of Iowa.

The protesters were able to delay the opening of the WTO meeting and this can only be seen as inspirational to the workers of the world.

The police have, not unexpectedly, acted as a tool for the controllers of capital and the exploiters of the international workers. The police, at the behest of the bourgeoisie, have used violence in order to curb the protests of the workers in Seattle. They will not succeed in taming and subjugating the workers and students. The only thing they will succeed in doing is showing their true colors and their general disregard for the workers. According to Laura Livoti a journalist for the National Radio Project she was violently attacked by a police officer while interviewing some of the protesters. "She was then sprayed directly in the face with pepper spray and was blinded for 15 minutes until an activist medic treated her. Said Livoti:

"Despite the fact that the officer clearly knew that I was a working member of the press, he attacked me."" It should be mentioned that the police have used tear gas as well as rubber bullets against the protesters.

The police in Seattle have said that anybody who does not have legitimate business in downtown Seattle will be arrested. In order to quell the anger of the protesters the Governor, Gary Locke, has called in the National Guard. The bourgeoisie will do whatever it takes to protect their interests even if that means going against the interests of the majority and exploited working class.

I am inspired by my fellow workers and students in Seattle!

Kris M.

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From Comrade Megan

Hello there...I would have to completely agree with Zoe about the backlash of the media (which we all know sucks!) I went just for the day yesterday from Vancouver to Seattle to march in the (peaceful) protest. I was overjoyed to be surrounded by so many different people united in just opposing the WTO. While I was not directly tear-gassed, pepper sprayed or shot at, it was good to see people standing up to the police and defending what they believe in. The march we went in was attended by many labour groups, socialists, people dressed as sea turtles, anarchists, fathers, the "raging grannies", topless women, environmentalists, Santa Clauses, church groups, librarians...people fighting for so many different causes and I would have to call it a success.

About the media, I was upset at it for two reasons: first of all the lack of coverage on the march and the fact that 40,000+ people were organized to walk through the streets of corporate-land (It was shocking the amount of Gaps, McDonalds, Niketown etc. we passed). To me that was significant and should have at least been mentioned in every story. Secondly we shouldn’t have been referred to as "freaks" and "hoodlums" and even just "people getting in the way" It is the people who wanted so bad to get into the WTO conference that were the freaks :) But we at least deserve some recognition as people defending what we believe in.

Oh well, I think we accomplished something and I hope that the rest of the week goes well and that we continue this beyond...at least we opened a few people’s eyes and I handed out YFIS pamphlets :)

Megan

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