From G8 Le Havre to G20 Nice

May 28, 2011

Lead banner on the G8 protest, le Havre

Le Havre was not exactly what one might call a success. Far from being an international demonstration, it was more of a Normandy mobilization. Groups of activists from the local area in their organisations gathered in a handful of thousands for the protest, marked by their colourful flags, close knit blocs and cars with loudspeaker systems on the protest. The gig in the evening was well attended and it was obvious that many local youth had been pulled by the bands playing but not by the chance of opposing the G8.

The counter-summit the following day was small, and limited to the committed few, with no organized translation for any overseas activists that may have happened on the event.

Certainly the authorities made every effort to undermine the protests, with school teachers warning students against attending and rumours of a violent black bloc on the day festering in the media in the run up to the protest, by hardly a force on the day itself. Certainly once the heavy union steward presence had prevented the black blockers from entering the rally and gig, there were a few windows broken, by nothing to write home about.

Indeed, the authorities seemingly believed their own bluster with the quizzing of people catching the overnight ferry from Portsmouth on the eve of the demo. Bizarrely, activists were searched upon arrival at Le Havre ferry terminal and we were subjected to cops writing out what stickers / printed tape and leaflets we had and the numbers of each we were carrying. What Interplod want with such banal information is anybody’s guess,  but it’s been filed away somewhere for sure.

What’s more, the G20 was and remains the target of the bulk of civil society.  With the economic focus of the G20 being to the fore at present – debt in the global South, austerity in the North – NGOs and trade unions could easily be forgiven for wanting to target the larger group.

Another part of the problem lay, however, with expectations. When you organize a demo expecting it to be sure, it is a rare thing that it turns out to be large.  Seeing the front banner of the protest carried exclusively by representatives of French organisations was certainly a break from previous G8 protests.

Happily, expectations for the G20 protest in Nice start from a far higher point. With the fantastic protests gripping Spain and finding an echo in Greece and Portugal at the moment, and what could be a long hot summer across Europe, there’s every reason for optimism.

More than that, the Arab revolutions still reverberate around the Mediterranean, only a vicious border policy on the part of Italy and France will prevent the first mass attendance at a European international protest from activists from Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

So, in Nice at the end of October and the beginning of November there will be a mobilization that has the potential to be a great international mobilization. What’s more, rather than a top down imposed timetable of events, there is a chance for everyone to contribute to the plans for Nice / Cannes. In early September the G7 Finance Ministers meet in Marseilles, and there will be protests organized by the movement locally. In that time they will facilitate an activists planning meeting for the G20 events.

As soon as we get the details of the Marseilles events we will publish them here. But put things into your diary now. Tuesday 1 November is the big protest, it looks like there will be a major counter-conference on the following days, and hopefully direct action during the G20 summit itself, which meets in neighbouring Cannes on 3 & 4 November.

GR is currently talking to other groups in the UK about organising transport to the events in the autumn. Sign up to the email list (there’s a box on this page) to be kept in touch with the plans as they evolve.

Comments are closed.