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Tuesday April 24, 2001

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World Bank-IMF opponents plan smaller protest in Washington

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Opponents of World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies promise to be "clear and loud and colorful" during the institutions' meetings this weekend, but with a much smaller protest than the demonstrations last weekend in Quebec or the ones that shut down parts of Washington a year ago.

Protest organizers have scheduled one major event, a rally Sunday afternoon that is timed to greet members of an IMF committee as they leave a meeting. Hundreds are expected to participate, coordinators said, but not the thousands who took control of intersections last April and brought riot squads in armored cars to downtown Washington.

Protesting corporate influence around the world, demonstrators aimed their efforts this spring at last weekend's meeting in Quebec.

About 400 people were arrested and scores were injured, none seriously, in two days of confrontations during the Summit of Americas, police said. On Saturday, more than 20,000 people marched peacefully to protest causes ranging from AIDS and poverty to capitalism and globalization.

Neil Watkins, an organizer of the demonstrations planned for the IMF-World Bank meeting, said the demonstration will include street theater and large puppets symbolizing the plight of third world countries that owe money to the World Bank and IMF.

"We see this event as a way to remind the World Bank and the IMF that we are here to call for debt cancellation and an end to harmful policies," Watkins said. "It was a conscious decision to take a bye on a huge demonstration (in Washington) this spring, but it will be clear and loud and colorful on April 29th."

Operating through an umbrella group called Mobilization For Global Justice and demanding forgiveness of all debts owed by poor countries, the protesters plan massive demonstrations at the main World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington this September.