This article from the Toronto Community Mobilization Network on community preparations for the G20 meetings needed to be re-printed in full. It includes a useful history of the G20, and discusses the orientation of those on the ground and their mobilizations, how localized the protests are, and how it’s not just about protesters and cops squaring of as much of the media loves to portray it.
Here is the original – please send it far and wide. Also, be sure to check out all the great work going on at the Toronto Media Coop, both now and during the demonstrations. And get involved with them if you want to be doing media work during the G20 and beyond.
Toronto’s Communities Prepare for the G8 and G20 Summits
by Syed Hussan
The leaders of the G20 countries, as well as their central bank governors, the IMF, World Bank and the EU will be in Toronto in five weeks, June 26-27, 2010. That is nearly 20,000 delegates, 15,000 armed police and 5,000 media personnel all descending to make it a very hot June weekend indeed. Gay Pride festivities have been moved but the tourists will be here as will thousands of protestors, activists and delegates. The real question is: Will Toronto’s residents and long-term social movements join them?
For Sabrina Gopaul, an organizer with LIFEmovement and Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty, the answer is clear: “Our people are hungry, they are jobless, we have few schools and lesser social services – all these attacks are a direct result of the G20 policies and we will protest against them. We have real community solutions on how to take care of each other, have good food, create economic opportunities and we will make sure that those are seen, heard and shared.”
A Brief History of the G8/G20
The first G6 Summit took place in 1975, following a smaller meeting organized by the United States in 1974. In attendance were France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This was a time of the oil crisis where oil-rich states increased the price of oil in an unsettled global economy, causing tremors in the hallways of power across Europe and North America. Canada joined in 1976 and Russia joined in 1997.
At the top of the G8 leaders’ agenda has always been international trade and managing relations between the once-colonizers and the colonized (the developed and the underdeveloped worlds). In asserting their security, the G8 places access to energy and other strategic resources at the forefront of discussions. The G8 Summit is also the place where ad-hoc consensus is reached on a myriad of issues that never make the public statement. The decisions that emerge at the G8 meetings, some formally in the Summit Declaration, and the many others as a result of side-conversations, impact how the world lives and works.
The G20 Summit established in 1999 was initially a meeting of the central bank governors and financial ministers of emerging powers and the G8, firmly entrenched within the International Monetary Fund-World Bank alliance (the so-called Bretton Woods’ sisters). The G20 is comprised of the G8 as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Korea, Turkey and the EU. In November 2008, under the weight of another financial crisis, George Bush hosted the first the first full G20 Summit where the leaders of the countries joined their finance ministers and central bank governors as well as representatives from IMF and World Bank. The G20’s central policy focus is maintaining global financial stability and the ongoing economic, military and financial dominance of the richest states and their corporations.
“The G8 is saving the banks, while ignoring lives,” said David McNally, Professor of Political Science at York University, noting the groups failure to meet the 2005 Gleneagles aid commitments. “Two years after promising $20 billion to deal with the world food crisis – a pittance compared to what they have put into banks — the G8 has delivered only one-tenth of what it pledged,” McNally added.
Resisting G8/G20 Rule
Resistance to the G8/G20 has been manifold and diverse. Organizations such as Make Poverty History and the Ottawa-based ‘At the Table Campaign’ have tried to influence the G8, hoping that they could be lobbied to take into account grassroot concerns.
Stephen Lewis in a recently released statement, called on Summit leaders to live up to their UN Millennium Goals and the promise to halve poverty by 2015. Lewis said, “This is an historic moment for Canada. We are in a position to lead the world in resolving one of the great moral issues of our time.”
“We’re calling for a breakthrough plan to tackle climate change,” said Zoë Caron, of WWF-Canada. The choice is clear for the G8 this June: lead us forward in this transformation to a clean green economy.”
Others disagree, insisting that the G20 has no business meeting.
“The G20 and G8 are meetings of the very people promoting war and environmental destruction around the world. They push people out of their homes and off their land, force many to migrate and to work in dangerous, temp jobs,” says Mohan Mishra of grassroots organization No One Is Illegal – Toronto that is involved in planning demonstrations in June 2010. “These people should not be meeting to make undemocratic decisions about our lives. People in our communities know what we need and are working to make sure that we create the world we wish to live in, the G20 leaders are simply in the way.”
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