Lacy MacAuley

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a home for my pen, projects, and passions

g20 summit update: “Alternatives to the G20” summit

In a luxurious beach resort on the West Coast of Mexico, presidents and finance minsters from the “Group of 20” countries plan to meet inside a fortified security barrier to strategize over financial decisions that impact us all. The people of the world have to suffer the G20’s actions, but meetings are held in secret. I’m here in Mexico to join the resistance outside the G20 summit.

“We have to fight together globally – to fight the corporations and the government,” said Armando Robles of UE Local 1110 at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago, USA. The union’s inspiring shutdown their factory in 2008 has given way to the prospect of a worker-controlled cooperative in place of a mega-corporation. He was speaking at the Alternatives to the G20 conference in Mexico City, June 14-15, organized by the coalition Our World is Not For Sale. “We see it in the US, we see it in Wall Street, we have to fight all over the world. We need solidarity.”

Reasons to hope are everywhere in Mexico City. The Alternatives to the G20 conference brought together people from a variety of NGOs and movements from Colombia, Peru, Russia, the Philippines, Canada, Germany, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, India, Spain, the UK, the United States and others. Mexico City events also put people from the Indignados movement in Spain and the Occupy movement in the United States and the UK in touch with the inspiring local student movement, “Yo Soy 132.”

The conference included panels on the illegitimacy of the G20, the financialization of nature, global agriculture challenges, capital flows, and more.

An overall longing for justice is coursing strong in Mexico, as is an opposition to the neoliberal economic model – the type of economic model that tells Mexico it must lower trade barriers, promote foreign investment, and all the things that greedy corporations want countries to do so they can continue to exploit them. Many Mexicans boldly state that “Mexico is anti-neoliberal.” This has given me hope.

A lot of the conference participants have drawn strength in the past year from the social movements that have rolled like a wave over the world in the past year. Because of my passionate involvement in the Occupy movement in the US, I was placed in a group that included two wonderful women from the Indignados Madrid 15 movement, Susana and Pepa, and a wonderful occupier from Occupy London, Shimri. Together we participated in several speeches and panel discussions, including an expansive and energized talk on the future of social movements, a press conference with Mexico City reporters from some of the largest news outlets, and a wonderful speech that we gave to students with the “Yo Soy 132” group at the [University]. The “Yo Soy 132” student movement, focused on bringing integrity to the Mexican presidential election in early July and bringing honesty to the media, has been inspiring young people and students in this country. They were incredibly inspiring.

Many in the Mexican student movement “Yo Soy 132” are concerned that the movement will end after the election. This is a common concern among movements that are focused on a single event (often enough, this is a common problem to local coalitions who organize against large mobile summits like the G20). We talked to them about how they are using the political moment created by the G20 to talk about one of their core issues: neoliberalism and the direction that global institutions like the G20, the IMF, the World Bank and others are bringing the world. We helped them strategize on how to use Twitter, something that Susana in Madrid has been developing.

After a chaotic metro light rail ride from the university deep into the downtown financial district with about a dozen of the students, we joined other Mexico City activists to symbolically shut down the Bank of Mexico. Protesting on the outside as many members of the media recorded the event. I was able to take the microphone for a moment to let everyone know: “On September 17, I marched on Wall Street in downtown New York. I’m happy to be here with you all to symbolically shut down the Bank of Mexico, the G20, and neoliberalism!”

Young activists stretched a long piece of butcher paper across the doors of the bank, then spray painted “CLAUSURADO,” CLOSED. We sat on the sidewalk for a time as two trucks of police (possibly late to the event?) came, looked, and left. Somehow we wound up across the street in the elegant restaurant and mini-mall complex that bequeathed Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man and a Mexican, with his fortune. Over coffee, we conferred on the Twitter strategy and made their brand new Twitter handle, @132antineo, focused on neoliberalism.

The Mexican students were crackling with electricity. In their eyes was the hope that will save the planet. Through the commotion of the day, we were all able to share our hopes, our visions, and our inspirations. I believe that it is the gleam in the eyes of these young people – youth who are not interested in working within or inside the G20 or other institutions that oppress them, but interested in building a better world on the outside of these institutions that will overpower these systems in the end.

The second day of the conference there was a meeting to discuss the need for solid organizing in between summits, and in a way that recognizes the G20’s illegitimacy.

On Friday afternoon there was a massive march from the Monumento del Revolucion, Monument of Revolution, to the Zocolo, the city center. I got a nice tour of Mexico City just heading from the site of the “Alternatives to the G20” conference to the protest. Walking up the Calle de Reforma, I started to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I looked to my left and saw why. There was the Mexican Stock Exchange right in front of me.

The march was about 5,000 strong by the time it ended. Many people were focused on the upcoming election, chanting against a return to the previous, conservative political party, PRI: “No one vote for PRI!” During the march I cheered along, as well as “No se vende! No G20!” Not for sale! No G20!, which rhymes in Spanish. Once we arrived at the Zocolo, the Indignados/Occupy movement group was represented by Susana, who gave the final speech of a huge rally.

In the evening, we headed out with several of the “Yo Soy 132” students. Several hours of dancing ensued, and two bottles of good Mexican tequila were finished. As Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution!”

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