- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2001

Young people like Michael Goegheghan scare the living daylights out of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Mr. Goegheghan, who will hit the streets this week during a meeting of North and South American leaders in Quebec, is not stockpiling bricks to throw at police, nor is he mixing Molotov cocktails.
Instead, the 25-year-old with long brown hair and an impish grin recently stood at a blackboard in a basement science classroom at American University in the District, leading a small group of people in a seminar called "The Free Trade Area of the Americas for Beginners."
The FTAA, as it is known, will top the agenda in Quebec on April 20 and 21, he pointed out. The dozen students and local activists attending the talk admitted they know little about the proposed free-trade zone between Alaska and Argentina.
Methodically, Mr. Goegheghan and another activist, Nisha Anand, 24, walked them through a smartly crafted two-hour presentation that was part lecture, part group activity. Far from dwelling on generalities, the activists covered such obscure points as "performance requirements," the rules governments sometimes impose on foreign investors.
Then Ms. Anand turned a page on a large flip chart. It made an explosive charge: The FTAA "favors corporate and investor rights over people's rights" and "fuels scapegoating and attacks on working people."
"The FTAA steps on a lot of toes," Mr. Goegheghan said confidently. "It gives me hope that we can stop it in Quebec."
Activists like Mr. Goegheghan and Ms. Anand are the muscle of the anti-globalization movement that has turned meetings on international economic policy into a continuing test of wills between police and demonstrators.
The protesters, who warmed up last week for Quebec with demonstrations outside the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on 17th Street NW, are a crazy quilt of causes: environmentalists, advocates for the Third World, labor activists. Some, like the League of Radical Toy Airplane Pilots, stand for mischief and not much else.
In the past two years, they disrupted meetings of the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Organization of American States. Protesters, some of them violent, helped bring a December 1999 meeting of the WTO in Seattle to a screeching halt, and the movement shows no sign of ending.
The ragtag movement has its own vocabulary and internal factions, and funding from small donations and liberal foundations.
But the movement suffers from a major fissure over a central issue since Seattle: the use of violence to achieve its aims. As it moves to Canada this week, the group hopes to make "Quebec" French for "Seattle."
The city of 500,000 people on the St. Lawrence River began its campaign to host the meeting before the debacle in Seattle and soon will be home to 6,000 delegates from 34 countries and perhaps three times as many demonstrators. Canadian security forces, including the famed "Mounties," came to Washington to learn how the Metropolitan police handled protests last year and are nervously bracing for violence.
Mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier, worried that Quebeckers will be choking on tear gas before the week is out, last month asked the Canadian government to cancel the meeting.
"This is not the summit we wanted to have," Mr. L'Allier said. "I would probably say no if asked again."
To minimize the risks, authorities have erected a 12-foot metal-and-concrete barrier around Quebec's old city walls. There, inside the 18th-century "Citadelle" that once shielded French troops from English invaders, President Bush and other leaders will determine how quickly free trade will come to the entire western hemisphere.

Professional protesters

The core of activists who keep the movement alive are professionals, though they lack the spit and polish the term implies. These idealistic young people may not know quite what they want, but they can marshal impressive organizational skills that would be welcome in any political campaign, if they had any interest in traditional politics.
The activists who arrived at American University last month on a converted Greyhound bus are part of Call to Action, a loose collection of activist groups that hit the road for six weeks to drum up support for the Quebec protests. They sleep and eat on the bus, which has been outfitted with a kitchen.
The Call to Action caravan, which wound its way from Oregon to the East Coast in February and March, is a model of frugality. It was formed by a potpourri of groups like the Ruckus Society, which trains activists in "direct action" tactics, and Forest Ethics and the Rainforest Action Network, two environmental organizations.
Each group contributed staff and resources for a moving teach-in that would try to generate interest on college campuses in globalization issues, as well as a hodgepodge of other topics, including women's rights, racism and prison reform.

Reform, not revolution

Boston-based United for a Fair Economy is typical of another type of organization involved in protests, one that spends time developing the opposition line on globalization.
The group was founded in 1995 to draw attention to economic inequality but has become active over the past few years on globalization issues, according to Mike Prokosch, an activist with the group. When Call to Action needed written materials for its seminars on trade, it turned to him.
At 52, Mr. Prokosch's causes have changed with the times. He worked as a typesetter and graphic designer before hitting the protest circuit in the 1980s to fight the Reagan administration's anti-communist policies in Central America. With the end of the Cold War, that bogeyman disappeared, and Mr. Prokosch picked up on economic issues.
For him, protests like the ones in Quebec give activists like himself a chance to be heard.
"These demonstrations create teachable moments," he said. "People hear what we're doing and they want to know about it."
Some professional activists still have faith in the system and see lobbying politicians as the crucial fight. Mike Dolan, deputy director of the Washington-based Global Trade Watch, recently moved to San Francisco to spearhead efforts aimed at members of Congress from the West Coast.
The trade group, which is part of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, was founded after passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. The gravelly voiced Mr. Dolan, 34, is a former field director for the California Democratic Party whose wife trains activists in "direction action" tactics.
Equal parts drill sergeant and progressive intellectual, Mr. Dolan spent much of 1999 in Seattle helping to orchestrate what remains the high-water mark of the movement. He has no problem with nonviolent resistance but looks for reform, not revolution, in Washington.
"For me, the political horizon remains the U.S. Congress," he said.
Financially, Call to Action, United for a Fair Economy and Global Trade Watch all operate on shoestring budgets and live by the grace of sympathetic left-leaning foundations. According to the groups' financial statements, there is no shadowy sugar daddy keeping them afloat, as their opponents have claimed.
One of Call to Action's component groups, the Ruckus Society, received $50,000 in 1997 for its environmental causes from media mogul Ted Turner's foundation.
United for a Fair Economy gets roughly 75 percent of its yearly $1.75 million budget from a variety of organizations, like the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, a group that backs many liberal causes. Global Trade Watch shares a budget of $10.9 million with five other organizations. Its donors include liberal institutions, but also well-known names like the Rockefeller and Ford foundations.
These organizations will share the stage in Quebec. Local groups have radical, sometimes anarchist, leanings and do not condemn members who engage in violence.

Radical politics

The Quebec-based Summit of the Americas Welcoming Committee known by its French acronym, CASA is openly hostile to all forms of what it calls "the growing tentacles of capitalist globalization," and some members consider themselves anarchists.
The group has roughly 150 adherents, according to Helen Ballieres, 22, a student at the University of Quebec. Journalists looking for members of CASA must dial a pager number and request a call; it has no offices. It assigns members a role on an ad hoc basis.
"We don't organize ourselves in a bureaucratic fashion," she said.
Nor does CASA shy away from violence. It refuses to disavow members who destroy property and emphasizes the need for a "diversity of tactics" in fighting free trade in Quebec, a code phrase that rubs reformers like Mr. Dolan the wrong way.
" 'Diversity of tactics' is now code in the movement for 'you can break stuff,' " he said. "But no one has to lay a hand on a cop or pick up a brick to be effective."
Nonviolent protest still has a good name in anti-globalization circles. But whether protesters can lay a finger on police or property remains "the great unresolved schism" since the mayhem in Seattle, Mr. Dolan said. The topic dominates debates on e-mail lists and Internet bulletin boards.
Ominously for Quebec, a group whose rhetoric all but encourages violent protests has assumed a leadership role in the protest planning. The Montreal-based Anti-Capitalist Convergence best known by its French acronym, CLAC has hosted planning meetings in Quebec. It successfully wrestled that role away from a less radical organization in the last several months.
Repeated efforts to reach the group by e-mail and telephone were unsuccessful. But other activists said that one of the group's members, Jaggi Singh, helped broker a compromise among competing activist groups that calls for organizing protests in Quebec according to how likely participants are to face arrest by the police. Some protesters, apparently, are preparing for a showdown, while others, leery of activists like Mr. Singh, are staying clear of violence.
One report from a March organizational meeting in Quebec said that the proposed demonstration that would embrace "a diverse range of tactics" has been "a focus of intense discussion and controversy in the broader movement."
Mr. Singh, a well-known figure among protesters and who once took part in an action that sacked a Montreal church and scattered condoms and bras on its altar, has forcefully argued that violence is sometimes necessary to achieve the movement's unspecified goals. He also locked horns with Mr. Dolan before the Seattle protests.
"There are power relations in society and you must neutralize them," Mr. Singh said last year.
Activists like Mr. Singh were undoubtedly what Canada's spy agency had in mind when it warned in a public report last month that "anarchist elements are actively organizing to disrupt the summit."
Though groups like CLAC are a small minority, they punch above their weight when the time to protest arrives, activists said. The movement's ethos of consensus-based decision-making makes it difficult for individuals who eschew violence to impose their will on rowdier comrades, even if they disagree with them, activists said.
"I'm not going to stop people from taking another path," said John Bowling, 31, a member of Call to Action who teaches seminars on nonviolent blockading tactics. "The cops are going to get what they asked for."

Seattle's pull

One event, however, still welds the anti-globalization movement together: the memory of success. Most analysts in Washington believe the world's trade ministers failed to begin a new round of global trade talks in Seattle because they could not hash out their differences.
But the perception that protests matter has done much for the appeal of trekking to Quebec and sleeping on a stranger's floor for the chance to protest, activists said. Seattle as in "I was in Seattle" has become urban legend.
And Seattle helped make the use of disruptive tactics particularly sexy.
Mr. Bowling, son of a 33-year U.S. Navy veteran, spent a recent Sunday afternoon tutoring a group of 10 persons, some American University students, some older, in tactics to stop events the movement opposes, such as trade meetings, from happening. His seminar was titled "Blockading Without Limits."
Mr. Bowling, with blond hair down his back and green khaki cargo pants, describes himself as "a full-time activist" from Eugene, Ore. He helped make Seattle happen, and has since participated in a range of actions designed to stop logging in the Pacific Northwest by chaining activists together in front of trees.
To the evident delight of participants, Mr. Bowling explained how his work has certain cloak-anddagger aspects. He talked about why the best-timed protests take place between Monday and Thursday ("I know I'll get sprung [from jail] by the weekend.") and how to maintain "operational security."
Toward the end, participants practiced creating "closed systems" that are hard for police to untangle. Mr. Bowling showed them how to link their arms in lengths of iron or hard plastic pipe so that police cannot use bolt cutters to free them up for jail cells.
When one person picked up a battered piece of pipe covered with duct tape, Mr. Bowling cautioned that the lowly object was a holy relic of the anti-globalization movement.
"Careful," Mr. Bowling said. "That was in Seattle."

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