Cumbre de APEC - Santiago de Chile

Neo Liberal Globalization Protested In Chile
by infoshop Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004 at 4:32 PM

Police fought street battles for a second straight day today with university students protesting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile and the weekend arrival of US President George W. Bush. Protesters in downtown Santiago were sprayed with tear gas from jeeps and knocked to the ground with blasts from water cannon trucks. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Police were seen herding dozens of students onto buses and at least one drove away. Authorities gave no information on the number of protesters detained. Yesterday in the port city of Valpariso police used the same tactics to disperse scores of protesting university students.


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The clashes today occurred kilometers away from the convention centre on the outskirts of the city where the APEC conference was being held. Top ministers from the Pacific Rim started two days of talks today. Bush and other leaders from the 21 member economies gather this weekend.

About noon, students had succeeded in blocking traffic in all eight lanes of a main avenue in Santiago, causing a traffic jam. "Get out of here, Bush," shouted the protesters. "We don't want, we don't want to be an American colony," they chanted. Protesters targeted the US war in Iraq and the unfettered power of global capitalism. "Bush represents everything that we don't want. He represents violence, he represents lies and the concentration of economic power. He's the worst terrorist of all," said Alejandro Valenzuela, a protest organizer.

The Chilean branch of Amnesty International released a list of human rights violations committed in each of the 21 APEC nations.

Amnesty denounced the United States for detaining without trial more than 600 foreign citizens at Guantanamo Bay, and for acts torture against prisoners in U.S. military bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chile is criticized for the inhuman conditions of several prisons and for cases of maltreatment of prisoners by prison guards and for the lack of measures to compensate torture victims of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Russia's conduct in Chechnya represents, according to Amnesty, "a serious violation of human rights and of international laws," and the conditions of detention centers are "cruel, inhuman and degrading."

Brunei's monarch, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, is denounced for exercising a wide range of executive powers, holding the offices of Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Finance Minister and head of the police. Moreover, the Sultan is allowed to detain any person deemed to be a threat to national security or public order, through the Minister of Home Affairs. Denied the right to trial, detainees are at risk of ill-treatment and torture.

The People's Republic of China is denounced by Amnesty for the lack of attempts made "to introduce the fundamental legal and institutional reforms necessary to bring an end to serious human rights violations." Tens of thousands of people — especially the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang and Tibetans — continue to be detained or imprisoned in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association.

Thousands of anti-war and anti-globalization protesters are expected to take the streets Friday, during a demonstration called by Chile's Social Forum that will coincide with the arrival of U.S. President George W. Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao among others.. "The march will be massive, peaceful, and cheerful. It will allow Chilean citizens to come out in force to express their repudiation of Bush and the free-market globalization imposed by summits like the APEC meeting," Sara Larraín, head of the Sustainable Chile Programme, one of the groups organizing the upcoming Social Forum, stated. Martín Pascual, with the Chilean branch of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC), said the demonstration will include a diverse range of peaceful "artistic expressions," including drum music. The march, which will end in Bustamante Park in Santiago with a concert, will express the rejection of "the culture of death that criminals like Bush represent," Pascual said.

The alternative globalization movement regards APEC as one of the foremost expressions of "neo-liberal" globalization, which is why it is urging people to come out and protest the forum's 12th summit, while focusing opposition on Bush in particular, who it accuses of endangering world peace with the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government has declared Friday a holiday in the capital to reduce street traffic and has already assigned more than 5,000 officials to APEC security. The air force has also put in place a system for close air surveillance, with a series of restrictions like no-flight zones for commercial and non-commercial air traffic.

The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied reports that Bush will come to Chile in an aircraft carrier that will anchor off the port of Valparaíso, 120 kilometers west of the capital, and will stay there, being ferried back and forth to the summit meetings in a helicopter. Sources: Herald Sun (Melbourne), CBC, Santiago Times, IPS




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