Message to the International Conference
on Charting Alternatives for the Global Economy
First of all I would like to express my deep regret that I am unable to join you today in Korea. As many of you may already know, I have been unceremoniously deported by the Korean government last November 6, 2010 after detaining me at the Incheon Airport for 24 hours – without even the courtesy of an explanation. Before this over 200 activists from other countries were denied entry visas for Korea and five other persons from the Philippines were intercepted at the airport and deported after me.
I seriously doubt whether Bill Gates or any one of the 120 business executives attending the G20 Seoul Business Summit will be treated in similar fashion.
Some say it’s the Korean state’s autocratic tradition. But why did the Canadian government behave in equally if not more repressive manner when it hosted the same circle of leaders in Toronto early this year? Why is the G20 so desperate to keep us out?
Because they know the people are angry. We now face severe multiple crises that directly threaten the lives of peoples around the world. The overaccumulation of capital in the hands of a financial elite on the one hand and the impoverishment of the vast majority on the other, has accelerated over the last three decades of neoliberal globalization. This has set the stage for overproduction, financialization and ultimately the bursting of asset bubbles that has shaken the core of the global capitalist system.
Those who engorged themselves from the excesses of financial speculation have been bailed out because they have become too big to fail. Those responsible for deregulating the financial markets and encouraging the explosive growth of the casino economy are still in the inner circles of government. Whereas the millions who had nothing to do with derivatives trading, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and so on are the ones thrown out of work, who lose their livelihoods, and homes and communities.
The G20 has banded together amidst much hype and hyperbole. They have assumed responsibility for fixing the crisis, restoring growth and sustaining development. Yet the people have little reason to find solace in communiqués promising more money to the IMF and more austerity for the people.
International surveys confirm that majorities in almost all countries express disagreement or dissatisfaction with the response of governments to the global crisis, particularly the bailout of the big bankers, the shift to fiscal austerity, the lack of meaningful regulation of destabilizing finance, and so on. And people are fighting back – in Greece, France, Mozambique, India, the Philippines, Mexico, and, yes, in Korea.
But fighting back does not mean thrashing shop windows or wanton violence as state security forces and corporate media invariably portray people’s resistance. Fighting back means struggling to build a new future.
So as a consistent advocate of economic and social justice, IBON is very proud to welcome you to our forum on Charting Alternatives for the Global Economy. We are honoured to be among distinguished speakers and committed participants in this timely conference not only for seeking a better understanding of the financial, fiscal, monetary and development issues at the international level, but also as a platform for articulating people’s alternatives.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the efforts of all the hosts and organizers of Put People First! Korean People’s G20 Response Action and the Seoul International People’s Conference. I am especially grateful and deeply indebted to our co-organizers for this workshop, the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the Korean Civil Society Network for Tightening the Financial Re-regulation and the Taxation on Speculative Capital and Friedrich Ebert Foundation not only for making this workshop possible but for all their support during my brief incarceration in Korea.
I fervently hope and expect to find more inspiration in our discussions today and in the succeeding days from workers and peasants; from youth and women; from environmentalists and peace activists; from academics and officials; from Europe, America, Africa and Asia who gather here as civil society to speak truth to power. Let us chart our own path to the future and press forward together.