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) hugoles@yahoo.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.