Global Street Party, 16 May 1998 - report

Geneva

Saturday 16 May - Geneva - Switzerland

Geneva Street Party Defies World Trade Organisation

In defiance of the upcoming WTO ministerial conference here, about four and a half thousand protesters today took to the streets to join in on today's global street party, taking place in over thirty cities throughout the world.

The sun reflected off brightly coloured costumes and flags as the marchers wound their way through the wealthy streets of one of the world's richest cities. Anarchists amongst the crowd took advantage of the opportunity to vent their fury on banks, jewellery shops and local branches of MacDonalds. Windows were smashed, paint bombs hurled and anti-globalisation slogans graffitied.

What had been a low police presence changed to a riot police blockade as the marchers neared the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation. A tense standoff ensued before speeches from international representatives present, refocussed peoples energies. Professor Swamy from the Indian Karnataka State Farmers Association declared an uncompromising message, 'The WTO kills people, we must kill the WTO'. Moments later a mercedes limousine was turned over sending a flutter of diplomatic papers into the air.

At 8pm tonight the street party was still raging at one of the main crossroads overlooking lake Geneva, with revellers determined to keep the party going all night. The event signals the start of a host of actions scheduled for the coming days when heads of state are due to gather to 'celebrate' the 50th anniversary of the GATT/WTO agreement.


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