Global Crisis Brings Global Protests in its Wake

All over the world, there is anger at the economic recession imposed by corporate greed and US imperialism – and it is erupting in new ways every day.

• Iceland: Iceland's government was forced to step down on January 26 following months of protests against politicians and central bankers. Crowds on the streets, including thousands of women and even children, banged pots and pans to tell their government to quit.

• Next in line was Latvia, the ruling coalition has collapsed, following weeks of protest with up to 10,000 people rallying in the Latvian capital of Riga and clashing with the police. Latvia and Iceland are both Baltic countries hailed not long ago as economic ‘miracles.’ Their people are angry because the same policies that gave them two-digit growth rates are now causing s severe crisis. The Latvian Government’s attempts to make the people pay for the crisis – through ‘austerity measures’ like mass layoffs, reduced social services and slashed public sector salaries, in the name of qualifying for an IMF emergency loan, as well as corruption in high places, made people revolt.

• In Greece, the angry protests in December were sparked off by a police shooting of a 15-year-old boy. But underlying the anger of the farmers, students, and workers who joined those protests was anger at the Government’s response to the crisis: bailout of billions for banks, with pension cuts for workers and nothing for farmers.

• In France, President Sarkozy's plans to drastically cut the number of teachers resulted in one very successful general strike in January. Soon after, on March 19, there was yet another remarkable nationwide Strike against privatization and job cuts that got the support of 80 percent of the French people. Around 3 million people are said to have marched on the streets of France on the day of the March 19 Strike – including naval workers, factory workers, students, nurses, school and university teachers – every section of society.

• General strikes are happening in Guadeloupe, Chad and Egypt. The latest National Strike call in Egypt for April 6 has been given by the ‘April 6 Youth Movement’.

• In Ireland, in February 120,000 protesters brought the Dublin city centre to a standstill over government austerity measures.

• Italy’s students have been on the streets all over the country with the slogan “We won’t pay for your crisis!”

• Student movements across the world are reviving too – against the ruling class response to the crisis, against privatization of education and also against events like the genocide in Gaza. In New York University, police and students are locked in conflict following student protests over the US policy on Gaza. In the UK, since January students have held occupations and sit-ins at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), LSE, Essex, King's College London, Birmingham, Sussex, Warwick, Manchester Metropolitan, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge, Sheffield Hallam, Bradford, Nottingham, Queen Mary, Manchester, Strathclyde, Newcastle, Kingston, Goldsmiths and Glasgow, demanding disinvestment in the arms trade; scholarships for Palestinian students; a pledge to send books and unused computers to Palestine; and to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza. On March 19, 30,000 teachers and students took to the streets of Barcelona (Catalonia/Spain) to march against the privatization of education. Many students were injured when the police clashed with their protests in Barcelona University.

• In the US, thousands marched in the US to mark the 6th Anniversary of War in Iraq. Many of the marchers said they had supported the Obama election campaign, but were now raising the slogan, "Hey, Obama, yes,we can. Troops out of Afghanistan." One nurse who was among the protestors said some were thinking "Barack in, problem solved," while she herself felt, “It's not over until every last soldier is home from foreign soil."

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