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Girodivite - n° 58 / novembre 1999 - Politica, economia, globalizzazione

Protesta anti-OMC a Amsterdam

comunicato stampa diffuso da Ya Basta!

On Monday, November 15, some twenty activists occupied an ancient ship in
the harbour of Amsterdam, in a symbolic protest against the WTO. The ship
is a replica of "The Amsterdam", which belonged to the company VOC (United
East Indian Company). The VOC was a dutch trading company in the 17th
century and made huge profits from trade with Asian countries. It can be
considered as the first multinational. Most of the beautiful canal-houses
tourists love in Amsterdam were financed with VOC-profits. The activists
wanted to make a symbolic comparison between the VOC and the WTO.

This is the press release (sorry for the imperfect translation...)

WTO opponents board VOC-ship

Today, November 15, activists from different organisations, united in the
actiongroup MAYDAY, hung a huge banner with the text "Stop the WTO" between
the masts of the VOC ship which lies in the harbour of Amsterdam. It is a
protest against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its upcoming
conference in Seattle. The action is a prelude to larger actions which will
take place on November 30, when the third ministerial conference of the WTO
takes place.

The activists reject the "free" trading system which is propagated by the
WTO. This system is supposed to increase prosperity in all countries of the
world. In reality, it is a system of winners and losers. The rich countries
and their multinational corporations reap the fruits of "free"trade, and it
leads to increasing differences in wealth within countries and between
countries. Just like in the days of the United East Indian Trading Company
(VOC), everything is aimed at making bigger profits from trade and

The activists reject a new negotiating round in the WTO, the so-called
Millennium Round. They demand at least a moratorium on the proposed
extension of WTO power. They also want a comprehensive evaluation of the
functioning of the WTO. This point of view is shared by countries like
India, Pakistan, Egypt and more than a thousand organisations in the world.

The WTO claims to be a democratic organisation. In fact, poor countries and
civil organisations have no real influence on WTO policy whatsoever. The
final negotiating results are prepared behind closed doors by politicians,
civil servants and representatives of multinational corporations.

In trading conflicts, economic interests always prevail. Because of this,
food security, the environment, public health and working conditions remain
threatened. For example, it is doubtful if in the Netherlands we will still
have the possibility in the future to ban the import of hormone meat or
genetically modified "frankenstein" food. Or if it is still possible to
"lable" wood which is produced in an environmentally sound way.

The activists of MAYDAY will also participate in the worldwide actionday
against the WTO on November 30. In Seattle and tens of other cities in the
world there will be direct actions in protest agains the WTO and the unfair
"free" trading system it promotes.

End of press release.

Released online: November, 1999

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