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Grassroots Globalization Fact Sheet

CorpWatch
March 22nd, 2001

Globalization does not only happen from above. Public opposition to corporate-led globalization is on the rise world wide. Grassroots movements and communities around the world are increasingly working together to stem the tide of corporate-led globalzation. At CorpWatch, that's what we mean when we refer to "grassroots globalization."


Activists Take to the Street

  • In 1999 more than 50,000 people take to the streets in Seattle in overwhelmingly non-violent protests against the WTO, which is effectively shut down for a day. These protests, combined with a strong stance by developing nations, causes the WTO talks to collapse.

  • During 2000 and into 2001, Seattle-inspired protests bring people into the streets to protest the other institutions that form globalization's infrastructure: The World Bank, the IMF, and the World Economic Forum (see protest chronology below).


Activists Take to the Internet

Advanced computer and communications technology facilitates corporate-led globalization. But activist groups also use the Internet to build grassroots globalization.

1980s: Greenpeace establishes one of the first global communication networks for its international staff.

1990: The Association for Progressive Communications is born, creating a global network of activist groups online, well before the web is in vogue.

1994: The day NAFTA comes into force, the Zapatista rebellion emerges in Chiapas, Mexico. Using the Internet to communicate their message, the Zapatistas emerge not only as advocates for indigenous rights and democracy in Mexico, but also as global critics of "neoliberalism" and globalization.

1996: CorpWatch is established and quickly becomes a leading Internet portal for progressive information on transnational corporations and globalization.

1997: Activists, coordinating a global campaign through the Internet, force the OECD to shelve plans for a Multilateral Agreement on Investment, which would have opened up the global economy to corporate investment beyond that contemplated in the WTO agreements.

1999-2000: Coinciding with the anti-globalization protests a series of on-line Independent Media Centers spring up to cover events from Seattle to Prague.


The U.S. Congress Responds to Grassroots Pressure

  • In 1997 and again in 1998 activists organizing in the United States successfully pressure Congress to defeat "fast track" negotiating authority for international trade and investment agreements.

  • In 2000 a bipartisan US Congressional Commission concludes that the World Bank is unsuccessful in achieving its avowed mission of alleviating global poverty. The Meltzer Commission urges that most of the Bank's lending activities be devolved to the regional developing banks.


Public Opinion Is Shifting

In 2000, Business Week conducts a poll, finding that:

  • 72% of Americans say business has too much power over too many aspects of American life.

  • 74% of Americans say big companies have too much political influence.

  • 95% of Americans agree that US corporations owe something to their workers and the communities in which they operate-and should sometimes sacrifice some profit for the sake of making things better for their workers and their communities.


A Condensed Chronology of Protest

October 1993: More than 500,000 people protest the Uruguay Round of GATT-the precursor to the WTO-in Bangalore, India.

September 1995: Tens of thousands of protesters rock the World Bank Annual meeting in Madrid.

November 1999: More than 50,000 people use non-violent tactics to shut the World Trade Organization Ministerial meeting down for a day in Seattle, USA. Protests continue for five full days. The talks collapse.

January 2000: Thousands protest a gathering of corporate CEOs and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

April 2000: Twenty thousand people take to the streets in non-violent protests against the World Bank and IMF in Washington DC.

April 2000: Massive, nation-wide protests against water privatization in Bolivia force American corporate giant Bechtel to withdraw from the country. Plans for privatization are put on hold.

May 2000: A peaceful demonstration calling for debt relief and an end to IMF conditions ends in violence and arrests of 63 protestors, including 15 church leaders in Nairobi, Kenya.

September 2000: Thousands blockade and effectively shut down the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Australia.

September 2000: Nine thousand demonstrators participate in mainly non-violent, colorful protests at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting in Prague, Czech Republic.

November 2000: More than five thousand people participate in a colorful protest in front of the global climate negotiations in The Hague, Netherlands, calling for decisive international action on global warming.

January 2001: Thousands of non-violent protestors are attacked by police at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

January 2001: Designed to counter Davos, the World Social Forum draws thousands of people representing 120 countries to workshops, plenaries and peaceful marches in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

January 2001: The WTO announces its next meeting will take place in Qatar-a country known for its repression of public dissent.

January 2000-January 2001: Crops are uprooted in Europe, India and Brazil in various protests against the globalization of genetically engineered food.

February 2001: After two weeks of massive, nation-wide demonstrations and an activist occupation of the IMF offices in Quito, Ecuador, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) claims victory as the President of the country bows to their demands to lower gas prices and subsidize poor rural sectors.

February 2001: Hundreds of protestors are attacked by police at the World Economic Forum meeting in Cancun, Mexico.