LONDON - "Crumbling" under public protest, the French government reversed it's decision late yesterday (Wednesday, July 18) to cancel the Globalise Resistance train.
The train was scheduled to shuttle 450 activists to Genoa, Italy for the demonstrations against the Group of Eight (G8) summit there. Organizers were informed that the French government's rail company, SNCF, was no longer honouring the booking, despite a fully paid deposit. (France is a member of the G8.)
The cancellation left many environmentalists, trade unionists, students, socialists, teachers and children scrambling to find alternative transportation to the demonstrations.
But international public protest forced the French government and SNCF to reverse their decision.
Organizers with Globalise Resistance were not informed by the French government or SNCF of the reversal. An Italian journalist tipped off the group.
"We have only thirteen-hours-and-forty-five-minutes notice that the train is back on," said Guy Taylor, a Globalise Resistance spokesperson, "that's the type of disdain that they treat anti-capitalists with."
The French government and SNCF were under intense pressure to honour the train-booking.
A letter defending the right to protest and condemning the train cancellation was signed by dozens of people, including Susan George, Noam Chomsky and the French railway workers' union.
Pickets were held outside of the French embassy in London, England, and at the French consulate in Genoa.
"These actions mounted enormous pressure on them and we actually squashed them and they crumbled," exclaimed a jubilant Taylor at the Globalise Resistance convergence centre at London University last night.
Globalise Resistance cites this small victory as one more example of the power of protest.
"Having spoken to people out in Genoa, the atmosphere there is electric because the train is back on. This story has been on the front page of every Italian newspaper so the impact on Italy has been absolutely massive. I think it will lift spirits of the demonstrators massively," concluded Taylor.
The Globalise Resistance Train pulled out from Calais, France this morning. As I write, 450 anti-corporate-globalization activists are hurtling across the French countryside toward Genoa.
Erin George is a recent graduate of the Ryerson School of Journalism, and former Ontario Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. She is a member of Toronto Mobilization for Global Justice. At CFS and Mob4Glob, she was involved in educating and organizing for the Quebec City demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
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