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Flags representing the participating nations wave outside the International Media Center in Toronto,  Ontario during the G8-G20 Summit June 24-27. (Photo by HB Meeks/Tell Us USA)


From Detroit to Toronto: Global Social Activists vs. G-20 Summit Leaders

By Karen H. Samuels/Tell Us USA

TORONTO, ON (Tell Us USA) - It’s a tale of two cities and different perspectives on solutions to the world economic crisis. As leaders from industrialized and developing nations assemble for the G20 Summit in Toronto, global activists at the US Social Forum meeting in Detroit are taking a dim view of the gathering in Ontario.

On the one hand there is the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance that held a news conference at the US Social Forum meeting at Cobo Hall. The Alliance brought together speakers from Mexico, Canada and South Africa to discuss grassroots solutions to address failed economies. The group will publish recommendations at the conclusion of the US Social Forum.

Then there are the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G-20 who will discuss bank taxes, trade balances and propose remedies to the global economic crisis without, say the activist leaders, the voice of the people.

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance speakers talked of the G-20’s failure to fulfill commitments made at their last summit in Copenhagen. A report on their progress in meeting goals earned at “D” grade for “Overall Performance on Behalf of the Poorest Countries”. As the debt crisis worsens, the Alliance is attempting to educate people on how the structural aspects financial systems controlled by developing nations impact their economic prosperity.

Commoditization of Africa's food systems has been a launching point for trade agreements and is causing angry and great distress according to Liepolla Pheko, representing the Trade Collective of South Africa. As a result of commoditization, Pheko says, there have been food riots across the African continent, something not seen in almost a generation. “We have seen structural adjustment programs, redefined as “Poverty Reduction Programs” but the effect is still the same. It’s a disinvestment in public spending, disinvestment in health care, divestment in education, disinvestment in public housing.” The net effect said Pheko is that people on the edge of the economy are left out in the cold.

Since first meeting in 2008, the G-20 has attracted protests and demonstrations in every host city, Toronto is no different. The dissent according to the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance is “against a body that enriches the elite at the expense of women, children and poor and working class people around the globe.”

The security employed during summits is costly; Barb Dolan, Vice President of Canada’s Communication Energy and Paperworkers Union, speaking on the Alliance panel said at least one $1 billion is being spent on fencing and barricades to cordon off downtown Toronto. This type of containment further isolates leaders from the people in the eyes of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance leaders.

Editorial Note: The G-20 also overlaps the G-8 gathering in Canada; both international summits were formed out of economic crises. According to Wikipedia the G-8 “emerged following the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent global recession”. The G-20 was “created as a response both to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, and a growing recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussions and governance.”



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