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(en) US, State College, PA: Media: Kropotkin, Bakunin protest Wolfensohn - World Bank head

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 30 Mar 2003 12:00:59 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Protest was not listed in the program for yesterday's
forum with World Bank President James Wolfensohn --
but that didn't stop local anarchists from adding it to
the agenda.

Security for Wolfensohn's appearance was tight. Before
the annual Granoff Forum began, there were close to
half a dozen uniformed police in and around Zellerbach
Theatre, as well as several plainclothes security

Still, several protesters -- most of whom were not Penn
students -- did manage to gain entrance to the forum.
But despite the contingent of protesters in the audience,
Wolfensohn was able to deliver his prepared remarks
without incident.

The former investment banker opened by remarking on
the current war in Iraq, noting that it is too early to
assess the war's impact on the World Bank, but also
stressing that "our world is going to be reshaped."

Wolfensohn also lamented the problems that scandals at
companies like Enron have created for the World Bank
as it tries to encourage developing nations to eliminate

"Recently, the events in corporate America have made it
difficult to use the United States as an example," he

In his closing remarks, Wolfensohn highlighted the
challenges facing his organization.

"The issues today are of equity, social justice, poverty
and ultimately peace," he said. "Unless we deal with
those issues, your children are going to be handed a
world that's a lot less good than we have today."

The attack on Wolfensohn began after only a few
questions from the audience.

"I'm actually appalled," said Philadelphia resident Peter
Kropotkin, "that you are able to sit there and lie to
these people and say that the World Bank is a success."

School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston
responded angrily to Kropotkin's comments, saying it
was "a very inappropriate time for sermons."

Protesters also distributed pamphlets outside
Zellerbach featuring a mailman saying, "I've got a news
flash! CAPITALISM IS WAR!" on the cover.

Mike Bakunin -- a protester who had been booed away
from the microphone after calling Wolfensohn a "rich
scumbag" -- also gave Wolfensohn a harsh critique.

"I think that he's pretty typical of the charming
figurehead that they put in front of the public, giving
people a nicely packaged set of lies," he said.

However, few audience members agreed with the
protesters, and most questions were more positively

"I think the World Bank makes a lot of positive
contributions to emerging economies," said Brian
English, a graduate student in the Graduate School of
Fine Arts.

"He seemed very sincere, and his background seems to
indicate that he cares about developing nations," he

Tickets for the event were only picked up with a Penn
ID at a temporary box office set up outside the building,
and backpacks were not allowed inside -- causing several
students to be turned away at the doors.

Inside Zellerbach, seats in the orchestra section had
been removed and a barrier wall had been erected,
creating an empty space in front of the stage that
stretched about 25 feet.

Wolfensohn is a friend of College alumnus Michael
Granoff, who sponsors the annual forum on globalization.

By Greg Maughan
March 28, 2003

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