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Sunday Morning News

Anti-Globalization Protesters March Through Washington During IMF and World Bank Meetings

Aired April 16, 2000 - 8:00 a.m. ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour with mass protests and mass arrests in the nation's capital. Protesters are out in force again this morning vowing to disrupt today's opening meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Hundreds of anti- globalization protesters were arrested yesterday during the march through downtown Washington.

We go now live to CNN's Bob Franken with the latest -- Bob.


I am at the Ellipse in Washington, where the legal demonstration is scheduled to start about three hours from now. Already a few of the people who've come in from all over the country, probably the world, are straggling in to set up their protest. But there has already been what we call an illegal demonstration this morning when a large group of people a few blocks from the World Bank and IMF just sat down and blocked the street. And very quickly the police moved in.

We've already heard sirens screaming throughout the morning. We don't have figures yet on any arrests, but the organizers of all this, if you can say that it is organized, have promised that we're going to have at least two days of this.

They are, of course, here to demonstrate against the World Bank and IMF, saying that they are really instruments to help the corporations, that when they go into a country and provide money to Third World nations they put on such onerous restrictions that they benefit the corporations at the expense of the poor people. And there's a wide range of protests that involve everything from corporate favoritism to keeping the poor down to pollution problems. It's the wide range of protests. We had a preview of it in Seattle.

But the difference in Washington, D.C. is that the police have been preparing for this for weeks. Wherever you look, you see officers walking around in body shields. Many of them say they feel like they look like Power Rangers. There are helicopters overhead, sirens. The police have been trying to intimidate the protesters a little bit. Yesterday they arrested 600 of them near the World Bank and IMF and today it looks like it's going to be a very long day -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Bob Franken live from Washington will continue, of course, to follow this story.

Also, there is a huge disparity between what the World Bank says it's accomplishing by lending money to the poor countries and what the protesters say is really happening. The key question is whether the lending institution is actually helping or hurting poor people in developing countries, like Bob Franken said.

Now joining us to sort out all the details live from -- our World Bank spokesperson is Caroline Ansty. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it, chief spokeswoman for World Bank.


PHILLIPS: On the note of what Bob Franken just said, Caroline, tell us how you respond to the protesters who think that basically the World Bank is just helping corporations and not the people in these poor countries, it's actually at their expense.

ANSTY: Well, I'd like to just comment on one of the earlier points made in the introduction, which is that there are people here from all over the world. I really don't think that's correct and I think that's a misinterpretation of who's on the streets. I don't believe there are many people on the streets who live on less than $1 a day, which is the number out there in the world, there are 1.3 billion people who live on less than $1 a day and we're here to serve them.

But talk, turning to your other point, I think that there is a great deal of misunderstanding out there. If you look at what's happened, in a number of countries in East Asia, remarkable progress has been made from getting kids in school, literacy, maternal mortality, infant mortality. Progress is being made over the last generation.

The problem is that population growth and in particular the scourge of AIDS, which now affects over 23 million people in Africa, has set back, reversed many of the gains we've seen in life expectancy, in poverty, in morality over the last 25 years.

PHILLIPS: Caroline, let's talk about the issue of debt relief. Advocates of this argue that poor countries pay interest on these debts and that's at the expense of health and education spending. How do you respond to that and what type of policies may be created or could be created to deal with debt forgiveness?

ANSTY: Well, in fact, there's a great misunderstanding out there about the flows into Africa. More money is flowing into Africa than is flowing out in terms of debt relief and that's very important misinformation that's out there. But we are involved in the HIPIC (ph) initiative that was launched in 1996 and under that initiative the debt will be heavily reduced for over 30 countries. It will amount to $50 billion. And the bank's contribution to that will be about $12 billion. That's a lot of money.

Our point is that you must reduce the debt, certainly. We want to break the chains of debt. There's no question about that. But we also must break the chains of poverty and to do that you have to ensure continuous flow of funds. If all the money is used up in debt relief, there will be no funds to fund poverty issues, education, health.

We also want to make sure that when debt is reduced, the benefits go into spending, into poverty, health. And that's what we're doing with a program we have called The Poverty Reduction Strategies where we've put the country in the driver's seat. This is not development top down imposed from Washington, as some of our critics say. This is putting the country in the driver's seat, giving country ownership, talking to civil society on the ground. This is a very important new initiative which isn't things...

PHILLIPS: Sure, Caroline, I understand all of this. But you keep talking about misinformation and misunderstanding but there are hundreds of thousands of protesters that are coming out. Are you saying that all of these people are misinformed?

ANSTY: No, some of them have legitimate concerns and we have met with a number of protesters all week, as we do in the course of our work. We wrote to 300 NGO representatives asking them to come in, have dialogue. We met with 50 of them earlier this week to talk about debt, to talk about the comprehensive development framework. Fifty percent of all our projects are country assistance strategies done in consultation with civil society.

So we recognize concerns. We recognize that there is fear about globalization. I think it's a very real fear. You've seen Seattle, you've seen Davos (ph). We understand there'll be demonstrations around the G7 in Okinawa, around the social summit, the U.N. social summit. We understand that these groups will try and close down Wall Street.

There is fear about globalization. I think a lot of it is a legitimate concern about the fast moving global economy. Our line is that we see tremendous opportunities in a globalized economy, opportunities for getting vaccines, maybe an AIDS vaccine, for solving globally the issue of water. But there are risks.

We have acknowledged those risks. We produced a paper yesterday on the benefits and the challenges of globalization. We need to look at how countries open up to the globalized economy. We need to put in place safety nets. We need to have transitional measures.

And so I think we want debate with legitimate groups who we sit down with all the time. We want debate. It's hard to debate with anarchists.

PHILLIPS: Yeah, and we will be covering that debate and the meeting.

Caroline Ansty, chief spokeswoman for the World Bank, thank you very much for joining us.

ANSTY: Thank you. MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The debate, and the meeting, as we said, are the focus of our coverage today. Hundreds of people arrested yesterday. More demonstrations expected today, even more on Monday.

CNN's Kate Snow is a part of our team covering this raucous meeting and the reaction to it in Washington -- Kate?

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, it's already started. This morning as of about 6:00 A.M., they said there were about 500 protesters out here. I would estimate there are more out here now. Take a look over my shoulder, you can see some of them lined up. We are only about one block away from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund's front door. In fact, I can see the door from here in that direction, but we've turned the camera around to show you the police perimeter that's been set up right behind us here, Washington, D.C. police among other police jurisdictions from counties and federal police out here, as well.

They're guarding the perimeter. They're all dressed in riot gear. Behind them, a line of protesters that you can see over my shoulder. They have their arms all linked together. They had said they were going to be out here and, indeed, they did show up early this morning at a site nearby here, Washington Circle. There was a group of hundreds of protesters rallying earlier today.

They are all fighting against what they call the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, what they call capitalism, global capitalism. They say the World Bank and IMF are responsible for not treating the poor of the world well enough.

Now yesterday, some of these protesters started with some impromptu rallies on the street much like what you see behind me now and many of them were arrested last night, about 600 arrests made by police last evening because they were parading without a permit.

Well, they're parading without a permit again now this morning behind me. But police say that they are prepared to let them do this, let them demonstrate for now, as long as things don't get out of hand, Chief Charles Ramsey of the Washington, D.C. police saying this morning that as long as they're just chanting and singing and playing their bongo drums, everything's fine. If they start becoming too raucous, if they start trying to approach this police line behind me, then that's where the problems ensue.

Indeed, that is part of what happened last night, this protest you're watching now from yesterday, when they started to congregate on some city streets that hadn't been blocked off from traffic and so they were impeding traffic. They were on the street without a permit. They started to get, to move towards the police officers and that's when the arrests started. Most of the people last night arrested charged with parading without a permit. That's a minor charge. They were held overnight at various locations throughout the city and we understand many of them were to be released this morning unless they didn't give their names. If they were saying Jane or John Doe and refusing to give their names, then the process would take a little bit longer and so they wouldn't, perhaps, be out of jail today.

And we expect potentially thousands more people today here in Washington, D.C. It remains to be seen exactly how large a crowd. The police are certainly on guard and certainly prepared -- Miles, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Kate Snow live from the world finance protests, thank you. We'll have more on that later.



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