Social organizations demand policies that do not generate greater inequality and poverty in the world.
Less than 24 hours before the Group of Seven (G7) Summit begins, over 15,000 police and military have been drafted into Biarritz to prevent environmental, gender and social activists from reaching this French elegant town.
"I know there's 15,000 police and it doesn't scare me,” activist Genevieve Legay said, adding that the “desperate” French government might use its security forces to hit “us who are asking for a change in society.”
Nearby, in Irun (Spain) and Hendaye (France), where the activists have been staying since Wednesday, the strong police presence contrasts with the peaceful attitude shown by some 6,000 people, who are participating in the "Counter-G7 Summit", an event summoned by the Not-to-the-G7 Initiative (G7 EZ) and G7 Alternatives.
“The majority of the participants are French or Spanish, although there is also the presence of Germans, Italians, English and even people coming from South America,” outlet El Pais reported and added that activists will read a manifesto in their last event, a march to be held on Saturday.
In this document, social organizations are expected to ask the leaders of Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom to respect the will of their peoples.
"The cynicism of the G7 meeting is that it has made inequality the central theme of the event; however, these rich countries' very policies are what create and strengthen inequality," Alternatives G7 spokesperson, Sebastien Bailleul, said.
The Counter-G7 summit will also demand that developed countries commit themselves to make the Paris Agreement on Climate Change a legally-binding instrument so as to prevent nations from flouting their environmental responsabilities.
The spokeswoman of the "Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions" (ATTAC), Aurelie Trouve, stressed that the economic, environmental and migration policies of the G7 countries should be reviewed because they encourage war and poverty.
"It's also these policies that lead thousands to try and seek refuge in Europe and who are then neglected by these same leaders," she said.
The social organizations meeting is part of an anti-globalization story which began in 2001, when the first massive counter-summit was performed in Genoa (Italy) during the summit of the Group of Eight (G8), a platform created in 1975 which became the G7 after excluding Russia in 2014.
Among the actions performed ahead of the G7 summit, some 80 activists brought in soil, hay and plants to create a makeshift vegetable patch as they protested in front of a Monsanto factory, the maker of the weedkiller glyphosate.
Activists unfurled a banner reading "Your profits = our cancers" and chanted "Monsanto, Bayer, your profits are our cancers" in front of a Bayer-owned facility in the town of Peyrehorade, around 50 kilometres from Biarritz.
On this demostration, ATTAC released a statement accusing this transnational company of "poisoning, fields and food"' and calling for a ban on glyphosate production and distribution.