At a DVD shop in Bethlehem I randomly picked up a film that caught my eye, Battle in Seattle. Battle in Seattle is a film about the 1999 mass protest against the World Trade Organization's (WTO) meeting in Seattle. I enjoyed the film, but the crazy thing is that I watched it on the tenth anniversary of the protests, without even knowing it.
In 1999 people came out in strong numbers to protest the WTO. The WTO is a so-called democratic organization because it includes representatives from all over the world. The fact is that powerful countries and powerful economic interests control the WTO, while the voices of the people and the 2/3 world are not heard. The overarching ideology for the WTO (similiarly with the IMF and the World Bank) is that profit is more important than people. Breaking down borders and opening up trade sounds fine and dandy, but the reality of free-trade agreements (such as NAFTA) is that poor people and indigienous people get the short-end-of-the-stick, while executives in multinational corportations get personal jets. Corporate and economic interests trump human rights.
Check out a great Democracy Now piece, 10 Years After the Seattle Protests
Check out this column from the Seattle Times looking back at everything that hasn't changed since 1999.