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Thursday, October the 28th.

The very first evening of the caravan! Reclaim the Streets New York and the Students for a Free Tibet arranged a teach-in on corporate rule in the main building of the New York University: "Learn about how the World Trade Organization is destroying our lives and our planet in the name of profit - and what people from all over the world are doing to stop it". As well as some caravan-participants and a student of the Tibetan movement there were three more speakers: Leah Margulies, founder of the Infant Formula Action Coalition (Infact - the 25 year international consumer advocacy campaign known as the Nestle Boycott, gave a general introduction into the WTO; Doug Henwood, editor and publisher of Left Business Observer questioned the use of the word "globalization" as something we are opposed to, since we are connecting ourselves on a global level; and Ward Morehouse, President of the Council on International and Public Affairs, presented the idea of another action of Peoples' Global Action, taking place in Seattle: the Tribunal on Corporate Crime with witnesses from all over the world.

150 people turn out. And after the speeches, it is impossible to start a discussion It seems like every one of the 150 people wants to announce a different action taking place in the following weeks. "The atmosphere reminded me of a meeg I had in my local area in 1982", a German woman says afterwards. "You get the feeling something is starting. In those days it's been the peace movement opposed to the Cruise Missiles, and a year later we had hundreds of thousands people on the streets. Let's see, how many we are going to be this time!"


Later: banner-making for tomorrow


The Road to Seattle
Peoples' Global Action Cross-Country Caravan

NEWS RELEASE October 28, 1999

Anti-WTO Activists Denied U.S. Entry by Clinton Administration

Human rights activists, grassroots activists prevented from attending WTO Ministerium in Seattle,
ask "What is Clinton afraid of?"

(NEW YORK)-An international gathering of grassroots activists from around the world begins its cross-country trek today minus nine of its key member due to a decision by the Clinton Administration to deny them visas. The organizers of the trek, dubbed "The Road to Seattle, Peoples' Global Action Cross Country Caravan" blame a decision by Clinton's State Department to stifle opposition to the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerium in Seattle.

The caravan includes women and men from about a dozen countries who believe that the WTO meeting will sow the seeds for further erosion of human rights, environmental protections and health and safety standards. The caravan is being organized under the auspices of Peoples' Global Action (PGA), an international movement which believes that the WTO is fundamentally flawed, is beyond reform and must be abolished. It is because of this stance that the activists are being excluded from the United States.

Those excluded include Siwakoti Gopal and six other members of the Nepalese human rights organization INHURED as well as Badrul Alum and Pradip Kumar Roy, director of the Bangladesh' Krishok Federation.

Gopal received his degree in law in the U.S., teaches human rights and international law in Nepal. He also received endorsements for his visa application from U.S.-based organizations and Members of Congress. Despite this support, he was still denied his visa. "With these credentials, who would be allowed to enter the U.S. if not him?" asked Michael Morrill, one of the U.S. organizers of the caravan.

"They just ignored all these letters and financial guarantees," stated Gopal. "They [U.S. Embassy officials] did not even look at them. They said that they did not have to [give the visas] They were also questioning our organizations and our personal integrity. They were very abusive. It was a terrible humiliation for all of us!"

"Two weeks ago President Clinton said he was not concerned about the massive protests planned for the WTO summit," continued Morrill. "Now his administration is hard at work to keep the protest out."

Activists from India, the United Kingdom, Israel, Bolivia, Germany and Panama are already in the U.S. to begin the caravan. Among them is Mr. Sanjay Mangala who is representing a movement, which is heading the resistance against dam-projects in the Narmada Valley in India. Activists in London scaled the world's biggest Ferris wheel three days ago, attracting global attention and highlighting the money interests of transnational corporations, the World Bank and Western governments in dam building projects such as those in the Narmada Valley.

Michael Charder, who is involved with Reclaim The Streets, London said, "This action has been linked to PGA. It's only too obvious the U.S. government is afraid of our global resistance, and tries to counteract this by not allowing protesters visas."

PGA rejects the WTO and its hallmarks call for a confrontational attitude, a commitment to nonviolent civil disobedience and the construction of local alternatives by local people.




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