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Germany 2007: the altermondialists and the G8

Meetings to try to understand and guide the world of the future
The altermondialist movement begins and, after the WSF in Nairobi , its International Council meets in Berlin May 29 – 31. The social movements assembly extends it to June 1st, in Rostock on the Baltic Sea, as a prologue to the June 2nd demonstration against G8 .

The G8 , representing those who claim to be the bosses of the world, will take place from June 6 to 8 in Heiligendamm, barely a few kilometers away, to discuss “Growth and Responsibility in the Global Economy – Investment, Innovation, Sustainability” and “Growth and Responsibility in Africa – Good Governance, Sustainable Investment, Peace and Security, and the Fight against HIV/AIDS.”
The events are marked by ironclad opposition: just as in 2001 when the Italian government did not hesitate to violently suppress protests in Genoa, with the result of many hundred wounded and arrested as well as one young man killed, the G8 has almost always succeeded in provoking important counter-G8 summits.
And in more difficult conditions. The proof is that the 2006 counter-summit was purely and simply reduced to silence by being confined to the Kirov stadium by the repressive apparatus in Saint Petersburg, despite the worrisome solitude of the Russian Social Forum vis-a-vis the global altermondialist movement.
The conditions are quite different in 2007: in the absence of the European Social Forum, the Counter-G8 is in fact becoming the catalyst of initiatives. Movements for peace, rights, and the environment of the continent, and of other regions, in contesting the legitimacy of the G8 to make decisions in the name of 6 billion inhabitants of Earth, present the bill.
While all over the map preparatory meetings are taking place, the Euromarches converge on Rostock: workers, people in distressing circumstances, homeless, migrants, and the modern voiceless who arrive also from other continents and travel the paths of Europe to raise awareness and call to mobilization.
The neoliberal model is a failure: based on uncontrolled and unbalanced growth and on wars, causing even the Millenium Goals to fail, sending poor countries into debt with iniquitous mechanisms of loans and bonds, it is today on the list of the accused.
Just think that over the last 5 years, the very rich doubled their fortunes, the total of which has passed from 16 to 33 thousand billion dollars, in large part due to the overvaluation of real estate prices.
In solely urban terms, the most obvious contradiction affects the poor the world over; the number of homeless and of slum dwellers is now more than one billion and should still increase by 700 million by 2020.
While freely circulating capital causes the growth of insecurity instead of human growth, liberalization and privatization are at the base of enormous wealth for a minority and poverty for the rest.
It is difficult to believe that the 2007 G8 offers acceptable responses to the debt of developing countries, a fortune of around 2,600 billion dollars. All the more difficult if we consider the resistance of the USA and even of United Kingdom to regulating the 9.000 hedge funds, a sector that, with its 1.5 thousand billion dollars, constitute the most aggressive and irresponsible forms of investment.

The question of housing and urbanism in the altermondialist agenda
In Berlin, the International Council will evaluate the most recent WSF, the first on the African continent, which provoked so many reactions and controversies. On one hand, there is the excitement of having succeeded in setting up the event in Kenya despite all the difficulties, by offering a new horizon for alternative construction. On the other, there is the local organizational machine, accused by critics of encouraging the mercantilization of the forum and the exclusion of the poor. It is difficult to foresee whether a new African candidacy would be welcome at the 2009 WSF, or if a consensus will be reached for the organization in Amazonia.
Note the irruption onto the WSF agenda of the urban and housing problematics: it was impossible to avoid the question of the 200 slums where 2.5 million poor in the Kenyan capital live “packed in like sardines.” “The altermondialist movement has been able to realize the explosivity and potential evolution of the problem» declared Cesare Ottolini, coordinator of the International Alliance of Inhabitants – “One example: with the Zero Evictions campaign we succeeded in blocking 300,000 evictions and, with the Italy-Kenya agreement on debt swapt, in designating important means for the amelioration of the slums.”
“For that, in agreement with other networks and organizations committed to the issue, and on the basis of the convergence assembly of the WSF in Nairobi , we propose to the International Council of Berlin and to the social movements assembly in Rostock that they consider the question of urban housing to be central, henceforth affecting half of humanity” – the IAI coordinator reminded us – “And with this point clearly on the agenda, supported equally by the counter-G8 workshops, to discuss how to act during thematic unitary mobilisation day, decided on in Nairobi for January 2008.”
“Now it is a question of working more seriously and of being open to the construction of a shared global space of solidarity for the inhabitants' associations and urban social movements” – Ottolini proposed – “launched at the Porto Alegre WSF, this space currently numbers more than 200 organisations from thirty countries.”
Next steps and social forums, beginning with the Social Forum of the working class neighborhoods (Paris-Saint-Denis, June 22-24, 2007) to the USA Social Forum (Atlanta, June 27-July 1, 2007).
Don't forget the World Zero Eviction Days (October 2007), during which the mobilization day of January 2008 will be politically finetuned.
Sign the Appeal for the unity of urban social movements