we are everywhere

the irresistible rise of global anticapitalism

The Restless Margins 1998

moments of resistance and rebellion: 1994 - 2003
index | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998

\\ 1998 //

>> January 17 1998 >> The Global March against Child Labour kicks off in Manila, Philippines with over 10,000 participants, largely children. One march continues for 14 weeks, passing through several Asian countries and hosting educational forums. Many of the marchers regroup in Geneva in June for the annual conference of the International Labour Organization.

>> January 18-19 1998 >> In Stockholm, Sweden, activists from Action for Social Ecology severely damage four road building machines, temporarily stopping the construction of the southern link road. The link is a part of a large road building project that has extreme environmental impacts. After much hard work in the courts and on the streets, the road project is canceled.

>> January 30 1998 >> In a dramatic midnight announcement the Indian government orders work on the Maheshwar dam to stop. The site of the enormous hydropower project has been occupied for three weeks by up to 8,000 demonstrators from 2,200 families In 61 villages whose homes would have been submerged by the reservoir. Resistance to the Narmada Project had been ongoing. The people demanded a complete halt to construction warning that they intended to launch a major campaign against the project if it was not halted by 31 October that year. People from all over India hail the importance of this victory, seen as not only the first milestone in the fight against the destructive development symbolized by dams, but as an important symbol in the on-going struggle against economic globalization.

>> February 4 1998 >> In Brussels, Belgium, Bill Gates, the Microsoft CEO, receives a cream pie in the face while on his way to give a talk on education. The action, carried out by the International Pastry Brigade, gives light to the fact that the richest man in the world has standards higher than can be met by Belgium's renowned patisseries. In what is sure to become an international scandal, Gates is overheard complaining that the pie "didn't even taste that good."

>> February 23-26 1998 >> A network called People's' Global Action Against Free Trade and the WTO is born at a meeting of about 400 people from all continents in Geneva, Switzerland. Inspired by work done at the Zapatista encuentros, PGA's intent is to coordinate global days of action, and to link activists worldwide through face-to-face meetings and improved communication channels.

>> March 1998 >> Three thousand Nepali protesters demand an end to child labour in the country as part of a global drive to highlight the situation of the world's 250 million child workers.

>> March 23 1998 >> A battle against a new uranium mine in Australia's tropical Kakadu National Park in Jabiluka kicks off when 9,000 people protest in three major cities. Weeks later, two people chain themselves to machines while 50 more enter the site. A blockade is established, and the Mirrar Gundjehmi people, who are the aboriginal land owners and are working closely with environmental activists, vow to prevent development of the mine until the project is abandoned.

>> April 1998 >> The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), negotiated by the 29 rich nations that form the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in a bid to open up the world for "free" trade is postponed after a vigorous international campaign by anti-corporate activists.

>> April 1 1998 >> Hundreds of health care workers, in Tameside, England, defy their union and go on strike against pay cuts, saying, "We realized in the first few weeks of the strike as we traveled round the country that this wasn't just happening to us... Everywhere you go, it's privatization and slashing wages."

>> April 22 1998 >> Construction begins again illegally on the Maheshwar dam in Madhya Pradesh, India, and over 4,000 people penetrate police barricades to stop it. Despite sweltering heat, police block the protesters' access to clean drinking water and shelter, forcing people to drink oil-contaminated river water. That evening, police arrest 1,200 people. Hundreds more return the next day and are beaten, charged by horses, sexually harassed, and 800 more are arrested. They are replaced by surges of new protesters who, in their determination to prevent the dam's construction, set up seven continuous blockades of the key entry points to the construction site.

>> April 27 1998 >> Half a million Danish workers go on strike (ten per cent of the population) demanding an extra week's holiday and a 35 hour work week. The strike lasts ten days and virtually shuts down heavy industry, transportation, construction, and even newspapers. It ends with a weak compromise between union leaders and the government.

>> May 1998 >> For 250 miles, a shipment of high-level radioactive nuclear waste running through Germany meets numerous demonstrations as 10,000 activists along the way blockade train tracks with cars and their own bodies in an attempt to stop what's referred to as "mobile Chernobyl". Many residents living along the route are relocated, and some areas are enclosed by fences. Some people lock themselves to the rail tracks, and eventually police are forced to pull up the entire section of track and lay down a new one. Throughout the length of the transport, people resist riot cops with water cannons, dogs, and the military police using up to ten helicopters at a time. Though the shipment eventually reaches its destination, the anti-nuke movement is regalvanized.

>> May 2 1998 >> Hundreds of thousands of peasants, agricultural labourers, tribal people, and industrial workers from all regions of India take to the streets of Hyderabad to reject neoliberal policies and demand the immediate withdrawal of India from the WTO, against the backdrops of a growing wave of peasant suicides.

>> May 5 1998 >> The indigenous Maori in Aotearoa/New Zealand arrive in Auckland after walking 375 miles to increase awareness of and resistance to the MAI.

>> May 15-17 1998 >> GDA Global Street Party

>> May 21 1998 >> The Indonesian government falls after insurrection against the Suharto dictatorship and the country's IMF-dictated austerity policies. Police kill six students.

>> May 27 1998 >> Korean unions hold a general strike against the global rule of capital, denouncing the IMF and MAI.

>> July 6 1998 >> A 48 hour work stoppage entitled the Peoples' Strike Against Privatization takes place across Puerto Rico, protesting against the privatization of the state telephone company. The country is brought to a standstill as the largest demonstration in the island's history shuts everything down, including shopping malls and the airport.

>> July 27-August 25 1998 >> One thousand indigenous people from the Pemon, Karina, Arawaco and Akawaio tribes join together to roll massive logs onto the only highway connecting Venezuela and Brazil. The move reinforces their determined resistance to a proposed 450-mile long electrical transmission line that will rip through their rainforest homeland, particularly damaging the Imataca rainforest, a nine million acre natural reserve. Twice the size of Switzerland, Imataca is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife including jaguars, bearded bluebells, marmosets, and the world's largest eagle, the endangered harpy. After 11 days, the national guard violently disperses the encampment, and bulldozes the crops of nearby villages. Yet the blockades continue for over a month and the government eventually concedes.

>> July 30 1998 >> In Chile, hundreds of indigenous Pehuenche people blockade access to the construction site of the World Bankfunded Ralco dam of the Biobío River, thus enforcing the 1993 Indigenous Law which requires written consent from all 400 Pehuenche that would be displaced by the dam. Nicolasa Quintremán, whose family has owned and lived on the same land for 500 years says, "The only way I'll leave here is dead." Riot police tear gas the blockade, and arrest four people, and the government concedes, demanding that construction be halted until resolution of the dispute is found. A constant vigil is established at the dam site to ensure that the order is obeyed.

>> August 1998 >> Fifty children aged between seven and thirteen launch a hunger strike in New Delhi, India to protest at being forced to work as bonded labourers in carpet factories.

>> August 5 1998 >> Ten thousand people take to the streets in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, protesting against privatization of the nation's largest telecommunications company.

>> October 1 1998 >> The streets of La Paz, Bolivia are quiet except for squads of trade unionists patrolling to enforce a general strike in the city. Public and transport workers form the core of the mass protest against rising telephone, water, and electricity prices. Unions blame the price hikes on large-scale privatization of public services in 1994, and community groups threaten to seize the water and power companies if prices don't drop.

>> October 1 1998 >> In Ecuador cities grind to a halt and schools shut down in a general strike against the IMF austerity package that has triggered currency devaluation, and 400 per cent increases in energy prices. 12,000 police and military troops are deployed in Quito alone, and a bomb explodes outside the US embassy. During clashes, four people are killed and over 90 arrested.

>> October 1 1998 >> In Peru, following demonstrations against president Fujimori's pro-IMF policies, hundreds storm the presidential palace, looting the storage room of the presidential guard and painting the walls with graffiti. Thirty people are arrested and marches the following day demand their release.

>> October 7 1998 >> "Mr. Friedman, it's a good day to pie!" says Special Agent Apple of the Biotic Baking Brigade, as he flops a coconut cream pie in the face of Milton Friedman, neoliberal economist extraordinaire. Friedman is in San Francisco, US, at a conference he organized on privatization of public education. As the agent is dragged away, he is heard shouting, "When it comes to defending the Earth from the scum of the corporate universe, the pie's the limit!"

>> October 18 1998 >> Activists in the Earth Liberation Front Network reduce North America's largest ski operation in Vail, Colorado, US to ashes, causing $26 million in damages, in order to halt expansion of the resort. The 12 miles of planned roads and 885 acres of clearcut would decimate the last and best remaining lynx habitat in the state.

>> October 30 1998 >> World Trade Organization Director-General Renato 'Rocky' Ruggiero gets lemon pied at a London, UK, conference on trade, investment and the environment. Three members of the People Insurgent Everywhere, or PIE division of the Biotic Baking Brigade catch Rocky by surprise, calling out references to landmark WTO rulings: "That's a present from the dispossessed!" Sploosh! "And that's from the turtles!" Sploosh again. "Are you bananas Mr. Ruggiero?" Splat! The adrenalized trio disappear into the West End crowds, shouting, "We are everywhere!" while Rocky sulks back indoors.

>> November 1998 >> A massive internet campaign against the MAI convinces the French government to withdraw, leading to the total collapse of the negotiations and sending a wake-up call to business elites. Lasting results of the campaign include a global network of connected activists primed for the next battle: that against the launching of a new round of 'free' trade negotiations at the upcoming WTO ministerial in Seattle.

>> November 1998 >> In an impressive nationally coordinated action, crops in over thirty UK GMO test sites are destroyed in over a dozen cities on the same night.

>> November 23 1998 >> Following the October pieing of Monsanto's CEO, Robert Shapiro, Operation Privatize This! is launched in Berkeley, US in the form of a vegan pumpkin pie to the face of Douglas G. Watson, president and CEO of biotech giant Novartis. According to BBB Special Agent Tarte Classique, the pumpkin pie symbolizes the estimated 60 per cent of food on American tables for Thanksgiving which will contain genetically- engineered products. At the same time, UC- Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoof receives a banana cream pie to the face, for the "strategic alliance" he has contracted with the other biotech giant, Monsanto. Agent Cow Pie remarks, "We speak pie to power, and send this epicurean treat to His Honor the Chancellor with love from the BBB."

>> November 28 1998 >> Operation Cremate Monsanto begins in the village of Maladagudda, India, with the destruction of the first test site of Monsanto's genetically modified cotton. Mr. Basanna Hunsole, owner of the field where an illegal genetic experiment is being conducted without his knowledge, local peasants, and members of the KRRS, together uproot the genetically modified plants. Afterwards, all the plants in the field are set on fire. "We send today a very clear message to all those who have invested in Monsanto in India and abroad: take your money out now, before we reduce it to ashes," declares the KRRS.

>> December 1998 >> Responding to a call by Mon refugee Buddhist monks, Thai activists begin a three month occupation of the proposed route for the Yadana gas pipeline, which, after slicing through Burma's rainforest, is heading for neighbouring Thailand. Oil company's Unocal and Total contracted the Burmese portion of the pipeline with the Burmese military junta, which instituted a scorched-earth campaign along the pipeline route, relocating and destroying entire villages. For three months, construction is stopped, but eventually police move in with construction crews and disperse the crowd with water cannons, arresting 50.

>> December 7 1998 >> A unusual coalition of lockedout steelworkers, members of the International Workers of the World, the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers' Union, and Earth First! successfully blockade a ship in Tacoma, Washington, US. The ship belongs to MAXXAM Corporation, whose subsidiaries, Kaiser Aluminum and Pacific Lumber, are responsible for locking out 3,000 steelworkers and logging old growth forests, respectively. Some people picket the port, others lock onto a conveyor belt, and a flotilla of small boats blocks the waterway. Most dramatically, braving 75 mph winds, activists hang suspended over the water with a banner, blockading the entry to the dock. Members of the ILWU refuse to cross the picket and when the ship does dock, it remains unloaded for several days as the port's conveyor belt has been mysteriously damaged to the tune of $50,000. "[CEO] Hurwitz Cuts Jobs Like He Cuts Trees," reads the banner above the climber's bodies.

>> December 9 1998 >> School is definitely out for the kids of Greece: pens and note books are exchanged for petrol bombs and face masks as a wave of mass demonstrations hits 44 cities and 10,000 schools are occupied. Pupils and teachers join forces to oppose legislation which links education directly to fluctuations of the economy with a torrent of actions resulting in imprisonments and a hunger strike. The occupations last for several months, despite massive repression.

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moments of resistance and rebellion: 1994 - 2003
1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998