Over 10,000 people have marched in Nice to protest against the upcoming G20 summit. The crowds, angry with the financial system and invigorated by the global “Occupy” movement, demanded governments focus on people more than corporations.
The G20 summit will kick off on Thursday further down the coast in Cannes, and the host, France, says it wants this summit on its picturesque Mediterranean coast to reflect the importance of emerging nations in the world.
But as the financial situation worsens in both the US and European Union, the leaders may find it even harder to ignore the outcry this time, when more and more people now realize that economists always spot self-interest behind such noble claims.
“The pledge to involve more rising economies is really to convince those rising economies to put more money on the table, to bail out the unsustainable currency union of Europe in the first place,” a Brussels-based economist Pieter Cleppe explains.
Developing countries, which saw the West quick to back civil unrest among their population, now see those same Western countries coming down hard on public movements in their own back yard. Anti-war activists cry double standards.
“The primary powers within the G20 – United States, Germany, Britain and France – the real dominant economic and military powers – they want to show a world order, a system of states, that still has stability, but in fact there isn’t stability,” Brian Becker of the ANSWER anti-war coalition told RT. “This summit is an attempt to put a shiny face on what is, really, a failed system.”
A massive security operation is launched around the present G20 summit venue. Access to the whole area is heavily restricted, and protestors’ every move is being followed by helicopters and armed police.
John Graham, a former diplomat at the US Embassy in Libya, says Western leaders cannot continue to just block out criticism.
“This whole idea that they can simply ignore popular protests against what’s happening could come back to bite the leaders of the G7 and the G20,” he said.
Some add that this protest is different from summits of the past. With Belgium’s Dexia the latest Western bank to get bailed out with public money, growing numbers here worry there is something fundamentally wrong with the current set-up.
“We have, basically, a financial system where corporations and financial institutions are able to write themselves favorable legislation, quid pro quo via corporate lobbyists,” says Edward Murray, an author from Seattle.
As for now, police roadblocks bar demonstrators, getting from Nice to the nearby town of Cannes, where the G20 is taking place. But it is becoming ever harder to stop world leaders hearing the voices of protest.