Inter Press Service - February 7, 2001, Wednesday


By Gumisai Mutume


Non-governmental organizations are mobilizing for their next stand against the forces of globalization, this time taking on the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which holds its annual meetings in Hawaii in May.

The protests will focus the spotlight on the little-known financial institution, which has been meeting annually behind closed doors over the last 35 years, making decisions that have affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Asia and the Pacific.

They will also focus attention on a territory that was once an independent kingdom, but which is now controlled by the United States as one of 50 states. In Hawaii, minorities continue to fight for their rights.

"Our attempt is not to shut down the ADB meetings," says Cha Smith of KAHEA, a Hawaiian environmental and cultural alliance. "We know where we live, this is not the U.S. — technically it is — but we are an occupied colony."

"We want to draw parallels with what the ADB does in Asia to what is going on here, the people have been displaced off their land, sometimes to make way for golf courses."

The ADB is a multilateral sister of the World Bank and it holds its annual board meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii from May 9-11. NGO parallel activities begin May 5.

Like the World Bank, the ADB has been faulted for pushing neoliberal macro-economic policies through structural adjustment programs and huge infrastructure projects such as roads and dams that have displaced people and harmed the environment.

Anti-debt movements also point out that more than 10 percent of the $ 800 billion in external debt owed by Asia Pacific nations is owed to the ADB. Since it came into operation in 1966 it has poured $ 112 billion into the region.

The ADB Watch — a broad coalition of groups working for economic justice in Hawaii — has put out an international alert to progressive movements across the world to "join in and create non-violent activities and events challenging globalization and the ADB's record of imposing destructive and oppressive policies and projects on communities throughout Asia and the Pacific."

ADB Watch, which is made up of non-governmental organizations in Hawaii, students, human rights activists and unions, hopes the proposed activities will "keep the pressure on" financial institutions "that perpetuate economic terrorism."

ADB Watch hopes to educate the public on specific ways that the ADB and globalization increases the gulf between the rich and poor and to unravel the "corporate myth" of Hawaii as a paradise.

"Hawaii is occupied by the U.S. military, colonized politically and economically and we face serious pollution problems," notes ADB Watch in a document calling for support from progressive movements.

"The rights of the Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians) are under serious and increasing attack by the U.S. and state governments - - and now by organized right-wingers such as the Campaign for a Colorblind America, a conservative, racist, anti-affirmative action organization."

The annual meetings of the ADB had originally been scheduled for Seattle, but that city burst out in protests at the end of 1999 when thousands of anti-globalization demonstrators targeted the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting.

With that in mind, ADB officials opted for what is generally perceived as a tourist mecca — Hawaii. Hawaii had incidentally campaigned to host the 1999 WTO meetings.

"ADB officials privately concede that they picked Honolulu because it is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by large military bases which should keep away protesters such as the 5,000 beneficiaries of their projects who appeared at their last annual meeting in Thailand," says Stephanie Fried of Environmental Defence Hawaii.

At its annual meetings last year, the ADB attracted thousands of protestors including networks of Thai farmers protesting against water user fees imposed by the bank. They demanded a halt to all ADB financing in Thailand charging that ADB loans benefited "imperialist super powers and multinational corporations."

The ADB has also been faulted for massive dam projects. Some of its largest dam and infrastructure programs stretch across six countries — Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, and the Yunnan Province of the People's Republic of China — in the Greater Mekong sub-region.

ADB studies have identified some 50 potential dam projects on the Mekong River and its tributaries. The Mekong is the world's 10th longest river, running for 4,000 kilometers.

Under pressure from activists and communities, the Korangi Wastewater Management Project in Pakistan, which was listed by the ADB in 1996, had to be cancelled.

In Thailand, the Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project, which the ADB says is intended to improve environmental quality and public health, is raising concerns among activists for flawed design, its social and environmental impact and alleged corruption surrounding it.

The project is halfway through. The ADB is providing $ 230 million of the $ 690 million required. But affected communities say it will harm marine life, the main source of food for the 40,000 people living in the area. They have demanded that it too be cancelled.

Only recently has the ADB and Norwegian and Swedish power utilities involved in the 210 megawatt Nam Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Project, completed in 1998, acknowledged that the project has had serious impacts on villagers such as declines in fish catches and flooding.

The ADB has also conceded that villages living in and around the project area in central Lao PDR, deserve compensation for their losses. As with the World Bank, the ADB says its overarching objective is to reduce poverty.

"Poverty is not immutable," Tadao Chino, ADB president told the Asia and Pacific Forum on Poverty taking place in Mandaluyong City, Philippines this week. "Public policy and action can and must eliminate poverty. This is what development is all about. This is what we, all together, are all about."

"Growing dissatisfaction with inequality threatens social and political cohesion, and casts doubts on the morality of economic reform, liberalization, and globalization."

LOAD-DATE: February 8, 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "chuck reinhardt"
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2001 4:44 PM
Subject: Fwd: [S26-global] Fwd: Next Stop for Anti-globalization March: Hawaii

short history of hawaii, the site of the next anti-globalization meeting

after king kalakaua died in 1891, queen liliuokalani tried to create a hawaiian constitution, but american business executives controlled the government. in 1998, the sugar cane planters succeeded in getting the u.s. government to annex [steal], hawaii as a possession in spite of mass opposition. as territorial citizens, the people could not vote in presidential elections. [only white americans citizens could]. and any bill passed by the hawaiian legislature, could be vetoed by the u.s. congress.


ADB Hawaii | Actions 2001 |