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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Washington bank protests resume
Protesters in Washington
The second day has so far been peaceful
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Washington DC for a second day of protests to demand a change in international trading policies.

Their rally was timed to coincide with the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the city.

We've called for peaceful, dignified, non-violent creative actions

Mobilization for Global Justice

Despite more than 600 arrests on Friday for small-scale violence, the second day of protests began without incident.

Demonstrators on the grounds of the Washington Monument listened to music and speeches before heading to the headquarters of the World Bank and the IMF.

The speakers addressed a variety of causes, from Third World debt to Aids to possible war against Iraq.

Police barricades ensured the protesters would not get too close to the financial meetings, which have become a magnet for demonstrations in recent years.

More than 3,000 police, including 1,700 brought in from other forces, are on duty.

Meanwhile, inside the tightly guarded building, IMF delegates forecast a reasonable global economic recovery over the next year.

But the IMF is also warning of the possible consequences of the present turbulence in South American countries such as Argentina.

Non-violence hopes

Before the protests began, both sides expressed hope the demonstrations would be peaceful.

Police from Massachusetts in position in front of the Riggs Bank
Police have been drafted in from around the country

"We've called for peaceful, dignified, non-violent creative actions," said Patrick Reinsborough of the Mobilization for Global Justice, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Mobilization for Global Justice is calling for the IMF and World Bank to cancel the debts of developing countries.

Police Chief Charles Ramsey said he hoped "it'll be a nice, peaceful protest".

"We don't want to be the story," he said.

'No business'

After Friday's disturbances, police announced additional street closures to try to ensure that Saturday's meetings were not disrupted.

Protester being arrested
More than 600 protesters were arrested on Friday
Police Chief Ramsay said his officers were fully justified in arresting so many people on Friday.

"They had no business in the street. There was no parade. You can't just take over Pennsylvania Avenue," he argued.

Some campaigners chained themselves together and set fire to tyres.

"This is not a police state, we have a right to demonstrate," protesters shouted, as many of them were penned in by ranks of police clad in riot gear.

Protesters have alleged that the violence was started by the police, who tried to arrest peaceful demonstrators.

New problems

This year's meetings come after a recession in the United States and a sharp slowdown in the global economy.

IMF forecasters say a recovery is now under way.

The BBC's Andrew Walker in Washington says the 184 member countries of the two institutions have some new problems to worry about, including:

  • Renewed falls in stock markets
  • Rising oil prices caused by fears of war on Iraq
  • Financial turmoil in Latin America

Argentina's Finance Minister, Roberto Lavagna, is in Washington, continuing negotiations for a new IMF loan.

Brazil recently secured such a loan, but is now causing unease in the financial markets where there are fears that it could fail to meet its debt repayments.

The meetings will also cover proposals intended to make countries debt problems more manageable when they do arise.

IMF appeasement

Ahead of the meeting, the IMF seemed to make an attempt to address some of the demonstrators' concerns.

Managing director Horst Koehler acknowledged that the benefits of globalisation have not been equally shared, especially within poor countries.

"But the objective should not be less globalisation but more and better globalisation," he said.

Developing countries

World economy
See also:

28 Sep 02 | Business
27 Sep 02 | Americas
28 Sep 02 | Business
27 Sep 02 | Americas
27 Sep 02 | Business
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