G8 - Berlusconi`s Elaborate Mousetrap
G8: Berlusconi’s Elaborate Mousetrap (english) by Steven. 8:05pm Sun Jul 1 ‘01 (Modified on 5:59am Mon Jul 2 ‘01) email@example.com
The G8 conference in Genoa promises the same confrontations between anti-globalisation protesters and police as seen in Sweden last month. How have the wealthiest nations, and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi in particular, arranged for this to be the last meeting accessible to protesters? As the media reports gather in number, see how traps are being laid to silence dissent. G8: Berlusconi's Elaborate Mousetrap As news stories accumulate in anticipation of the G8 economic summit in Genoa 20-22 July, ranging from the London Times predicting protesters using 'medieval warfare' ( http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,3-2001212433,00.html ) to Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi promising to barricade the entire city ( http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=79652 ), followers of the anti-globalisation movements concern themselves more with what will follow Genoa. Plans for 'floating summits' conducted on secure cruise-liners at sea, or in remote places like Qatar (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,510431,00.html ) seem outrageous spy-thriller solutions. These alternatives suggest an even worse turn for democracy as well. Were the world's political and economic leaders to gather in Qatar, a state well-known for its human rights abuses, even those on the fence politically would see what injuries are tolerated and encouraged by the world's wealthiest nations in their own interests. The media's been through this type of summit before. The coverage will be sensationalistic, with tallies of police injuries, talk of stand-offs and 'anarchist' riots, comparisons with Gothenburg, Quebec, Nice, Prague, and Seattle. Prime Ministers will deplore the violence, and say this is not the way to change the standing order. The only curious contingency is whether the Italians will have use for the 200 bodybags they've ordered for the summit ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1400000/1400554.stm ). So how has Silvio Berlusconi set up a mousetrap for the many dissenting voices opposed to the G8? He has invited representatives from 49 of the poorest states, and 'moral' spokespeople, including Nelson Mandela, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and Rigoberta Menchu, the Nobel peace prize-winning human rights campaigner from Guatemala (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/globalisation/story/0,7369,514216,00.html ). Berlusconi's foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero, explains: "The denunciation of these problems [world poverty, economic equality, etc] is not, however, the exclusive right of those who come to Genoa to protest." Ever so subtly, the governments of the G8 are trying to co-opt the protesters' voices and arguments, and the plan is devious and just a little bit brilliant. There will be violence in Genoa. Perhaps a small enclave of true anarchists will insist on property damage. They will likely be joined by agent provocateurs under orders of the Italian government and police forces (see Barcelona's IMC: http://barcelona.indymedia.org/ for eyewitness accounts of police instigation of violence). But it won't only be the economic fat-cats like Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi denouncing the mayhem. We will hear Nelson Mandela regretting such a happening and be told over-and-again that, despite the generous efforts of the Italian government to include dissenting voices and marginalised countries, all anti-globalisation protesters are hell-raisers out for an 'anarchists' carnival' (as Blair put it) and general kicks, with no interest of these oppressed countries in mind. Never mind that Berlusconi's invitation is a media gesture. This is the man who owns over 90% of all television media in Italy, and pressured opposition voices to resign from the state television network RAI (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4190266,00.html). We will hear that the leaders of the wealthiest nations invited their opposition into the debating chambers in a grand gesture, only to be met by the same violence seen last month in Sweden. Convening in Qatar will seem sensible to the public, as will further police brutality toward protesters. The members of the G8 will not only have co-opted the growing tide of voices confronting their actions, they will also have put on a convincing front for isolating themselves from normal democratic intercourse and accountability.