The anti-globalisers in France

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Sat Aug 9 04:45:36 MDT 2003

Bove back as anti-global rally starts

L'HOSPITALET-DU-LARZAC, France, Aug 8 (AFP) - Newly released from prison,
French eco-warrior Jose Bove returned to the fray Friday, taking
star-billing at a rally on the Larzac plateau in southern France attended by
tens of thousands of anti-globalisation and other left-wing activists.

Called to denounce next month's World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in the
Mexican resort of Cancun, the three-day Larzac 2003 festival includes
speeches, debates, street theatre and cinema shows, as well as a rock
concert featuring French singer Manu Chao and British group Asian Dub

Bove, 50, was to deliver the opening address, six days after leaving jail
six weeks into a 10-month sentence for destroying genetically modified
crops. The moustachioed campaigner saw part of his term amnestied by
President Jacques Chirac, and a judge ruled he could serve the rest under a
conditional release programme.

In searing heat cars and buses converged throughout the day on the chalky
uplands outside the town of Millau, scene of Bove's most controversial brush
with the law when he helped destroy a partially-built McDonald's restaurant
in a protest against US trade sanctions in August 1999.

The organisers of the Larzac rally - a coalition of anti-globalisation
groups including Attac and Bove's Small Farmers' Confederation - said the
aim was to draw attention to the danger to democracy posed by the WTO, trade
liberalisation and multinational corporations.

"Matters are urgent because the WTO is preparing nothing less then the final
touches for the privatisation of the planet, with disastrous and
irreversible consequences for the whole of humanity," the organising
committee said on the Larzac 2003 website. "Cancun must be another Seattle,"
it said, in reference to the 1999 WTO talks in the western US city which
were scuppered by protests on the street.

Also attending the Larzac rally were representatives of French protest
movements - including teachers, performance artists and public sector
unions - who hope to prepare a new campaign against the country's
centre-right government after the summer break. "It is a year since we
decided to organise this rally against the WTO summit in Cancun. In the
spring a number of social movements emerged, first against pension reform,
then teachers and artists," Bove told French radio. "These people came to
see that they are victims of the same logic of the market, now extending
into areas that have nothing to do with trade - and that is why they are
here today," he said.

For 30 years the stunning Larzac plateau has been an emblematic location for
the French left, after veterans of the 1968 student movement successfully
joined forces with local farmers to resist government attempts to turn it
into an army shooting range. Bove himself works as a sheep-farmer on the
plateau. In June 2000 around 50,000 activists camped near Millau for a rally
that coincided with the trial of Bove and nine others for the McDonald's
incident. Bove eventually served six weeks in jail in 2002 for that offense,
and in June this year returned to prison on two counts of uprooting GM



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