Squall's Activist Guide To Prague
...For the IMF/World Bank showdown...
2nd August 2000
WHEN TO GO:
IMF/World Bank Board of Governor's meet 26-28 (big action on 26) Sept. However full IMF/WB summit and anti-capitalist counter-summit will run from 21-29 Sept. The latter includes debates, arts/film festival, gigs, actions, free parties etc
UK based September26 collective is organising coaches for full-summit week and also for just the s26 action firstname.lastname@example.org £70rtn. Cheap coaches from Kings Court (0208 673 36883) £64rtn, Capitol Xpress (0207 243 0488) £65rtn. National Express (08705 808080) £83rtn with Coach Card. All have one coach each way per day (leaving Victoria tea time). Regional s26 groups are organising transport too - so keep an eye on the site. The bus is about 18hrs. Trains - don't go direct but can prove very reasonable on the continent (if you get our drift) Flights (less sustainable, though quicker) from £89 (though £100-£170 is more likely) try http://www.cheapflights.co.uk, Flight Call (0870 905 0200) & Flight Centre (0870 566 6677). By road - France - Germany - Prague (can't miss it). Petrol in Czech is cheap.
WHO MIGHT BE ON THE FERRY WITH YOU:
12,000 IMF/WB delegates (and an equal number of IMF/WB liggers - merchant bankers of both descriptions). Up to 50,000 pissed off people out to set the course of global economics straight. Loiter by the rail and look for: Gordon Brown (UK governor of the IMF), Clare Short (UK governor of the WB) Stephen Pickford (A civil servant who acts as the UK's Executive Director at Bank and Fund meetings).
There has been talk of new visa restrictions - but these are aimed at Eastern Europeans (Czech is auditioning for the EU and NATO - and relies heavily on the Western tourist dollar so its unlikely to be an issue for those crossing in that direction). If stopped in sufficient numbers, it has been suggested that blocking the border may prove successful (400+ trucks leave each exit every day - they will not want them held up). Also, if stopped on the German/Czech border you can try to cross via Slovakia.
CZK400 will buy you a month pass (CZK200 for three days) When you catch World Bank economists buying three day passes - it may shed some light on their ability to manage the planet's economy.
Camping in and around Prague (Czech president Vaclav Havel has offered a stadium - but the Chileans made that mistake eh!) A 10,000 bed student hostel will be open (couple of quid a night, plus free beer on registration) People offer spare rooms at all coach/train stations (CZK250-350/night/room). Big hotels: Marriot etc don't seem too bothered who stays - rooms from around £30/night (but you can sleep up to 5 people for that)-plus you get to rub shoulders(etc) with IMF delegates. Also there is talk of squatting large empty buildings for people to stay in - so plenty of options.
CZK55 is roughly equivalent to £1 (subject to the whims of capital)
They're giving it away: beer - 10p a bottle, vodka - comes out the taps, cheap absynthe - he make you mad.
Amsterdam style coffee shops litter the Old Town and Streleck Island (it's legal to carry hash)
Still hungover from CSSR days - Czech old bill appear to act independently of the state, so are a bit unpredictable (unlike everywhere else eh?). Reportedly large numbers are 'card-carrying neo nazis', and have let fascists menace protesters on recent actions. The FBI set up shop in Prague a few months back and have been secretly training key Czech skull crackers back on the backwater ranch they share with the KKK. Foot soldiers are doing weekend manoeuvres on a disused airfield outside Prague. Between five and eleven thousand (it varies depending on sources) extra officers have been drafted in for the week - though it must be said that many will be holding handbags for delegates wives in the conference centre or directing jagtastic traffic.
The Czech Ministry of Interior has advised Czech citizens to avoid "suspicious situations that could attract attention of the police and to quickly leave venues of suspicious gatherings". They have "suggested" that people "do not get involved in opinion exchange with protesters," and people are urged to "respect all police directions even if these may limit personal freedoms. The interior ministry also warns against watching dramatic developments from close distance, because the police will not be able discriminate when suppressing violence and riots." Hmmm.
A legal team is preparing a factsheet to post to the site so keep an eye out. Otherwise it's a tricky call. Attend actions with a group and look out for each other. Cops are more likely to want to bash a frontline hardcore element than nick people. If arrested, make it clear you ain't local - they can hold you for 24 hours without charge (longer if you don't ID yourself). A UK/US passport is likely to put the wind up them - so use it. You are entitled to be questioned/handled in a language you can understand - and are entitled to a lawyer (numbers will be available in the city). If charged you can apply for bail and will receive a decision within two weeks to a month. Don't let this put you off though - they'll most likely deport you. Czech activists are fairing less well - 2yrs for throwing an egg at Madelaine Albright (and the old bat looked hungry too).
HEALTHCARE DURING YOUR STAY:
In case of "terrorist attack" Prague hospitals are being furnished with drugs to combat biological and chemical weapons. Fearing "the kind of violence that rocked Seattle and Washington D.C." (eh? - ed) health officials are asking patients who need routine medical care to obtain it before conference. Different hospitals are being earmarked to keep the factions apart. "If you have policemen in one room and demonstrators in another room, they could fight in the corridor," Dr. Marek Zeman, deputy director of the Kralovske Vinohrady Teaching Hospital told the Prague Post. Vinohrady is planning to reserve 18 beds for police officers and three beds for high-profile financiers attending the meetings. "As a gesture of hospitality to the bankers and finance ministers, the hospital will make those three rooms especially comfortable," said Dr. Stepanka Vitrovska, the Czech government's medical adviser for the IMF/World Bank meetings - though there was no confirmation that earth is to be brought from the homelands of each delegate for them to sleep on.
In preparation for acceptance into the EU, the Czech government are trying to acclimatise people to an imminent 25-50 per cent hike in food prices. Meanwhile job security and welfare are declining, the only beneficiaries of Czech's new found capitalism appear to be the plethora of foreign companies who are making hay airmailing the nations natural wealth westwards.
(VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF RESISTANCE:
Following the burning of reformer Jan Hus (1415) mob throws 2 catholic councillors out of town hall window (First Defenestration of Prague) - Bohemia (pre Czech) in argy bargy with various tyrannies - Holy Roman Empire, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Sweden and Germany.
1848 Paris inspired uprising - crushed.
1939 ditched by Western allies and annexed by Nazis.
After WWII Communist Party takes over.
1968 Prague Spring period of liberalism results in Soviet tanks storming Prague and killing eighty in radio station defence - residents remove all road signs apart from ones pointing to Moscow.
1989 Mass protests eventually ousts state regime in 'Velvet revolution'. Vaclav Havel (regularly incarcerated protest leader) becomes president - still is. Enter IMF - state assets privatised, golden arches go up, wages go down. Vibrant squatting scene takes off and is resolutely defended.
1998-9 full-on street parties end in trashed cop cars and Western businesses.
PLACES TO VISIT:
24 McDonalds, Monsanto and a host of other multinationals are now resident in Prague. The Kulture Palace (IMF/WB Conference venue) is nice - good time to visit 26th September, bring ya own bulldozer.