When local peace and social justice activists assemble this Friday at Hart Plaza to protest the G8 summit meeting of leaders from the worlds wealthiest nations, they will be part of an effort stretching across 40 countries.
Groups ranging from Indian farmers to Australian trade unionists charge that the gathering in Cologne, Germany, will focus on an agenda detrimental to poor and working-class communities worldwide: increased economic globalization, free trade zones and continued corporate domination.
For their part, G8 (short for Group of Eight) representatives are expected to be in a triumphal mood following an apparent victory over Yugoslavia in the Kosovo crisis. However, street parties, protest parades and occupations of financial districts in countries as diverse as Argentina and Zimbabwe may rain on their parade.
"We want to take back the Earth," states Ali Ahmed, a writer for the Detroit-based Active Transformation newspaper, which is one of the sponsors of the local protests featuring giant puppets, bands, a procession to local financial institutions and a peasant dinner served by the Food Not Bombs group.
Theres no need to look toward the Third World for examples of corporate economics taking precedence over people, says Ahmed, citing examples of industrial polluters taking a toll on poor neighborhoods right here in Detroit.
"Look at the southwest side," he says. "Its a poison factory."
Internationally, much of the focus will be on protests against the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which critics charge further impoverish poor nations rather than assist them.
In Cologne, security is high where authorities expect thousands from across Europe to converge on the G8 meeting site Among the protestors will be supporters of Jubilee 2000, which demands that the debt of Third World nations be canceled.