For this discussion question, consider what you would do if you were in Major Warren’s place as the designated Incident Commander and principal planner for the DRNC event. As you commence the planning process, consider the two fundamental types of error committed by policy makers in their reliance on intelligence reports to formulate policy.
What would you do to minimize these errors from occurring and adversely affecting your policy decisions?
Who are the anti-globalization protestors, and what do they want from us?
Eloy L. Nuñez, PhD.
Saint Leo University
A strange thing happened to me on the airplane back from Cancun, Mexico to Miami, Florida. I noticed several seats in front of me and a few others several aisles away, some of the very same protestors that I had seen at the World Trade Organization (WTO) riots in Cancun City just a few days before. The year was 2003, and my bosses at Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) had sent me and three other lieutenants to Cancun to observe the anticipated civil disturbances associated with the WTO Conference. We had read the after action reports from the 1999 Seattle WTO riot, and the later ones in Quebec City, Genoa, Washington D.C., and New York City, but it was important that we come see one of these up close for ourselves.
At MDPD, we had spent the better part of a year preparing for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Conference that was to be held in Downtown Miami in November of 2003. As one of the core planners for the event, I was deeply involved in every aspect of the planning for the event. We had just witnessed five days of rioting and a South Korean protestor stab himself to death less than thirty feet from us. I had so many stories to tell, and pictures to show, that I couldn’t wait for the plane to land in Miami International Airport. But even as I rode on the flight back from Cancun, it was clear to me that the story was not yet over. It was just about to get started.
From where I was seated on the plane, I couldn’t help but overhear some of the conversations between the protestors who were also traveling from Cancun to Miami, just like me and the three other lieutenants. I heard one of the protestors… a male in his mid twenties ask the other, “where are you heading after Miami?”
I couldn’t quite see the face of the other person from my seat, but it sounded like a female, perhaps in her fifties. She answered, “Miami… Savannah, then Hong Kong after that… how about you?”
“Same here… the Savannah, then the WTO again. This FTAA… it should be a rumble,” answered the twenty year old male.
This conversation probably would not have meant much to the casual observer, and perhaps it was an innocent discourse between two worldly travelers. However, I knew exactly what they were referring to. Miami was the site of the FTAA conference in November, and Sea Island, Georgia (adjacent to Savannah) was the site of the G-8 Summit in June 2004. Hong Kong was to be the site of the WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2005.
In the fall of 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement came into national prominence as all the major news networks covered protests in cities throughout the entire U.S. The pictures that I saw on television and in the newspaper were not that much different than those from Cancun and Miami in 2003. The rhetoric from the protestors was also very similar.
Back in 2003 as I flew back from Cancun, I had the same questions as I have now. Who are these people? How many of them are there? Why are they so angry? Where do they get their money? The answers to these questions are not definitive, but let’s take a look at some of the information available from “open sources” gathered by the Criminal Investigations Bureau of MDPD.
Who Are The Anti-Globalization Protestors?
One thing is for sure. The anti-globalization movement is not a single monolithic entity. It appears to be a mix of labor unions, farmers, environmentalists, anti-war protestors, animal rights groups, human rights groups, churches, and political movements. These disparate groups stand for a variety of social and political causes, but the one thing that seems to unify them is their common opposition to economic globalization. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines globalization as, “…the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets” (2011).
For the FTAA Conference in Miami, Florida, in 2003, there were at least 30 recognized organizations leading up to, or participating in the periphery as protestors. The following names of participating organizations were gleaned from open source intelligence reports provided to the MDPD planners. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment
Alliance for Worker’s Rights
American Friends Service Committee
Catholic Conference on Rural Life
Citizens Trade Campaign
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends of the Earth
Lake Worth Global Justice Group
Mexicanos en Accion
Miami Workers Center
Montana Community Labor Alliance (CLA)
National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP)
National Family Farm Coalition
Pledge of Resistance in Baltimore
Progressive Workers Organizing Committee
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch (Ralf Nader)
Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Texas
Texas State Employees Union/CWA
United Steelworkers of America
This list does not include the “no name” Anarchists, and the so called “direct action” or “Black Bloc” groups of violent protestors.
These protestors come from all over the country and all over the world. In the 2003 WTO in Cancun, there was a large contingent (over a hundred) of South Korean farmers who travelled to Mexico to
protest against the WTO policies. In Cancun there were AIDS activists from South Africa; Zapatista sympathizers from Central America; fishermen from the Yucatan; indigenous people from Oaxaca, Mexico; and a milieu of Marxists and Anarchists from various nations in Europe.
To give you an idea of where the FTAA protestors came from, I will quote an article in the People’s Weekly World Newspaper that reported:
“In September a caravan departed from Seattle for Miami. On board are union leaders, workers, environmentalists, clergy, farmers and human rights activists. The March to Miami has a single message, ‘Stop the FTAA,’ and it is taking that story directly to the American people, especially in the politically volatile and vote-rich states of the West, Mid-West and South: Spokane, Wash.; Coeur d’Alene and Kellogg, Idaho; Missoula and Billings, Mont.; Bismarck, N.D.; East Grand Forks, Eveleth and St. Paul, Minn.; and on to Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois where riders held rallies and dialogued with a mosaic of heartland families “ (Winebrenner, 2003, ¶4).
Anti-globalization protestors are many different types of people, and they come from many different places. Each group has its pet issues that don’t always align well with one another. They may disagree on some things. For example, the unionists and environmentalists don’t always see eye-to-eye on some issues. However, the unifying concept that brings them together is the idea of fair trade versus free trade. Many of these groups see the present global economic system as a world of “haves and haves not.” Given their common opposition to global free trade, it is little wonder that these disparate groups would coalesce at meetings such as the WTO, the FTAA, the G-8, and the WEF (World Economic Forum).
How many of them are there?
It is impossible to say how many anti-globalization protestors there are in the world. It would be akin to counting fish in the sea. The number is continually changing and not all of them appear at once in one place. However, we can look at previous WTO conferences and similar events to gauge how many protestors attend these conferences at any given time. For example, in the two that I am personally familiar with, Cancun 2003, and Miami 2003, there were an estimated 10,000 protestors at each of these weekly events. Of those, I would estimate (based on my own observations) that approximately 500 of them were the hard core Anarchist, or “Black Bloc” types. The remaining 9,000 plus, belonged to many of the organizations that I listed in the previous section, along with a few locals who came out to see what all the commotion was all about.
The groups may not agree on all issues, and they definitely do not agree on the tactics used during the protests. However, they all stand to benefit by coming out in large numbers. A relatively small number of violent protestors can look a lot bigger if they are embedded in a much larger crowd of 10,000 peaceful demonstrators. The Black Bloc protestors know this, and they count on it as a “force multiplying” tactic. Likewise, the large numbers of peaceful demonstrators may not want to be associated with the violent groups, but they too derive a symbiotic benefit from the alliance because the violent groups are seen as being the “tip of the spear” or the vanguard of the cause. After the violent groups cause a great deal of havoc, the larger, non-violent groups can come in and give the appearance of being moderates. This is the strategy of Marxist dialectic theory, and is applied in a real life way for
these demonstrations. It should be no surprise that the dialectic strategy is used for these protests since most of the organizations involved are either socialist in their views, or at a minimum, they are considered to be to the left of the political mainstream.
The following table provides a summary of the estimated number of protestors at some of the venues targeted by the anti-globalization groups.
Estimated Number of Protestors
35,000 – 50,000
(International Monetary Fund)
5,000 – 8,000
Republican National Convention
Democratic National Convention
Los Angeles, California
6,000 – 8,000
(International Monetary Fund)
Prague, Czech Republic
European Union Summit
12,000 – 20,000
Agri-tech Ministerial Conference
Sea Island, Georgia
500 – 700
One way of gauging the numbers of protestors is to look at how many have gone to training classes that teach various techniques such as rappelling, climbing towers to place signs, and other disruptive tactics. The Ruckus Society is an organization that provides training to a number of protest organizations. On its History web page, the Ruckus Society claims to have trained over 3,000 activists and organizers in “non-violent direct action” tactics over a ten year span starting in 1995.
Why are they so angry?
This question cannot really be answered entirely in this article… if at all… because as stated earlier, “they” simply do not exist as a single monolithic group. There are many groups, with many interests, and they don’t always align well. Moreover, any attempt to answer this question would require me to read the minds of many people. Reading the mind of one person alone can be enough of challenge for
me. Nevertheless, I will try to answer this question the best I can, based on my personal first-hand impressions, from my readings, and from conversing with some of the protestors face-to-face.
As I understand it, anti-globalization protestors see the world as a chasm between the “haves” and the “haves not.” They view the existing economic world order as being highly skewed to the advantage of the rich (which comprise a conveniently stated 1% of the population), at the expense of the poor masses, which comprise the remaining 99% of the world’s population. This 1% versus 99% rhetoric has been clearly evident in the recent Occupy Wall Street protests throughout much of the nation.
As a result of this perceived imbalance of wealth, the anti-globalization protestors seek remedies that would radically transform the existing economic world order. While there are considerable differences of opinion between the radical extremes, and the more moderate groups, the essence of their proposed remedies lies in the “leveling of the playing field” through the use of non-market based purposive economic actions such as fair trade instead of free trade. In other words… the redistribution of wealth through non-market means.
There was one interesting thing that I couldn’t help but notice while I was becoming fully immersed in the FTAA planning, and by proxy… to the culture of the anti-globalization protestors. I noticed that for some reason, a lot of the anti-globalization groups seemed to specifically target companies such as Starbucks and Nike. That would not seem to be strange in itself since these are two multinational companies that would seem to be the target of anti-globalization groups… for the mere reason that they are global, and they are profiteers of the free market system. However, I learned that things are not always what they appear to be.
It just so happened that at the same time that I was planning for the FTAA, I had begun my doctoral studies, and I had started to compile a literature review of articles that dealt with the topic of corporate social responsibility (CSR). I chose that topic for my doctoral dissertation because I liked the underlying core tenet of corporate social responsibility… “doing well by doing good.” This is a core value that I feel strongly about, and that fits with my personal view of philanthropy, and giving of oneself for the betterment of the community.
However, the deeper I got into my literature review, the more I noticed what appeared to be an anomaly in the “doing well by doing good” paradigm. It seems that that rule may be true most of the time, but as I found out, it is not true all the time. In my studies I found out that Starbucks and Nike were consistently regarded as two of the top corporate citizens when it comes to corporate social responsibility. These two companies stand out for their efforts in the community and for environmental causes.
In the book Dancing with the Tiger, Starbucks in particular was singled out as an example of excellent corporate social responsibility:
“So in the end, from a commercial perspective, what Starbucks is doing behind the scenes, with generous employee benefits, shade-grown coffee, partnering with non-profit organizations to support countries of origin where it sources coffee, composting coffee grounds, and countless other responsible
initiatives, it all amounts to simply good business. Because the totality of what Starbucks is and does continues to draw customers back to the stores, over and over and over” (Nattrass & Altomare, 2002, p. 138).
However, Nattrass and Altomare go on to point out that perhaps all is not well for Starbucks:
“Yet the company’s very success and high visibility have made it a favorite target for an array of social activist campaigns, ironically sometimes because of the very social conscience attributed to Starbucks customers and the high values that the company itself espouses” (p. 103).
Nike and Starbucks… among the top corporate citizens year in and year out… yet these are the same two companies that the anti-globalization groups seem to target the most. The paradox was glaring. The irony was too much to resist. Why was this happening? Why are two of the companies that do the most for “fair trade” and to help indigenous cultures in host countries are the same ones that the anti-globalization groups were targeting? This all seemed to be counterintuitive. Perhaps it was indicative of something else. I was so intrigued by this contradiction that I adjusted the focus of my studies. Instead of examining the conventional wisdom of “doing well by doing good,” I looked instead at the apparent anomaly that I had stumbled on.
Four and a half years later… after the WTO in Cancun and the FTAA in Miami, I concluded my doctoral research on corporate social responsibility. The research included a content analysis of the web sites and blogs of special interest groups. I titled my dissertation, Unintended Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility: When is Doing “Good” Not Good for Business?
As with any quantitative research study, the findings yielded some interesting insights and confirmed that corporate social responsibility indeed could be a two-edged sword that attracts both positive and negative attention from special interest groups. It also showed that environmental issues, above all other issues tended to attract the most attention of these groups. It also showed that Nike and Starbucks were indeed some of the favorite targets of the anti-globalization protestors. What is not entirely clear from the results is why the protestors focus so much of their attention to these companies.
There is no for sure answer, and the topic needs to be studied in greater depth. However, I proffered two plausible explanations for the apparent paradox. One was the “low hanging fruit” explanation which says that the reason that protest groups target high CSR companies such as Nike and Starbucks is that they are the easiest ones to go after since they have already demonstrated a willingness to change their behavior for the perceived betterment of environmental and social causes.
The second explanation had to do with the motivations of the company executives in relation to the motivations of the interest groups that were applying pressure to the companies. In this explanation, the protestors noted and exploited a “loose brick” by focusing a great deal of their energy on exerting influence on these companies by making them feel uncomfortable. It is thought that the high level of discomfort would lead to the desired action by the company executives in the direction intended by the
protest group influencers. In other words, by applying pressure, the influencers would count on the company executives’ collective “cognitive dissonance” to get them to change their positions.
These two explanations may shed some light on why the protest groups seem to target some companies more than others. Yet, based on the results of this study alone, there is no way to know for sure why the protestors are so angry. This is a question that should be left for other researchers and theorists to ponder.
Where do they get their money?
This is the question that I asked myself while I was on the plane on the return trip from Cancun to Miami. The FBI had picked up the tab for me and the other three MDPD lieutenants for flight, hotel and living expenses for the entire week. I couldn’t help but wonder as to who had picked up the tab for some the anti-globalization protestors with us on the same flight. The same ones I overheard talking about going to Miami, Savannah, and Hong Kong the year after the FTAA. Who was paying the travel expenses for the one hundred plus South Korean farmers?
The organization ActivistCash.com offers some clues as to where some of the money is coming from, and where it is going. This “watchdog” web site is administered by an organization named the Center for Consumer Freedom. The organization claims that it is, “committed to providing detailed and up-to-date information about the funding sources of organizations and activists, whether respectable or radical” (Center for Consumer Freedom, 2011, ¶ 1).
It is nearly impossible to get one’s arms around the entire funding mechanism for the anti-globalization movement, but the following is just one example provided by the ActivistCash web site. According to this watchdog group, two prominent and wealthy individuals are responsible for much of the funding that the Ruckus Society organization receives. Two names that are specifically stated by the Center for Consumer Freedom are media mogul Ted Turner, and the owners of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. For example, the Center contends that Ted Turner provided a $150,000 grant to the Ruckus Society. The contributions from Ben & Jerry’s is thought to reach the six figure mark (Center for Consumer Freedom, 2011).
The following is a list of prominent celebrities who according to The Center for Consumer Freedom (2011), have contributed funds to some of the anti-globalization special interest groups identified in this article.
Richard Dean Anderson
Jamie Lee Curtis
By no means should this list be considered to be exhaustive, nor can we infer the intentions of some, if not all the contributors. While some of the money contributions may have been done purposively by these contributors, there is a possibility that some of these people may have contributed to these groups inadvertently. Nevertheless, this brief list of names gives us some idea of where some of the funding for anti-globalization and social justice groups may be coming from.
It has been over eight years now since my trip to Cancun, Mexico and the subsequent immersion into the study of anti-globalization groups. I have walked warily through two shanty encampments in Downtown Cancun City on the mainland and have seen the suspicious stares of Zapatista guerillas and indigenous people all huddled around their tents… adorned with large pictures of Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung and the ever-present hammer and sickle iconography. At first everyone seemed to glare at us suspiciously as we walked through the encampments on two of the five days of rioting. But on the third, fourth, and fifth day, we had melded into the background and the protestors no longer seemed to notice us, or care if we were there watching and photographing their actions. It was as if we were Dian Fossey in the movie Gorillas in the Mist.
Later that year in Miami, I got the chance to talk to several of the protestors during chance encounters. One particular encounter sticks in my memory the most. It was on the last day of the demonstrations… on Friday. There was one last impromptu protest by the remaining 100 or so protestors that had not been arrested, or had not already left the city after Thursday’s rumble through the streets of Downtown Miami. This time, the remaining rag tag group had assembled at the site of the Dade County Jail at the Civic Center to protest the “unlawful arrest” of several hundred of their compatriots. By Friday, the police vastly outnumbered the paltry remnants of protestors that stayed for one last gasp.
As I arrived at the scene of the Civic Center protest, we received information on our police radio from police spotters on the nearby rooftops that they had observed several of the protestors gathering rocks and bottles and putting them into their backpacks. Soon after hearing this, I approached an individual protestor who had ostensibly been sent out on foot by the protest leaders to conduct a reconnaissance of the area. This was a typical ploy of the protestors, that they used to try to gain a situational awareness of their position in relation to the position of the police. That particular day, they were completely surrounded and vastly outnumbered.
I approached this lone protestor, who was at least a block away from the main gathering of protestors in their “privacy circles” that they used to huddle and coordinate their plans prior to executing their actions. As I got close, I noticed that this protestor was a tall (6’ 6”) white male, approximately 19 years old. He had wavy long blonde hair, and a hint of a first attempt beard that gave away his young age. He was carrying a backpack as described by the spotters on the roof.
I called him over and as he got closer, I noticed that his hands were shaking. I realized that this young kid was terrified of me. I took off my ballistic riot helmet, and I spoke softly to him. While I was wary that he may have weapons inside his backpack, I wanted to signal to him that I meant him no harm. I wanted to set him at ease, and thereby minimizing the chance of him doing something irrational.
Softly I said to him, “son …. your hands are shaking. I’m not here to mess with you… I promise.” I then went on and asked him if he would voluntarily open his backpack for me to allay my fears. I told him how we had received information from the rooftop spotters that some of the protestors were arming themselves with rocks and bottles. The kid complied, and he opened his backpack for me. There were no rocks or bottles. Just a bunch of books and pamphlets and some granola bars. I recall seeing the Communist Manifesto, a book on Mao Tse Tung, and the book The History of the Russian Revolution, by Leon Trotsky that I had read for a political science class at Florida International University back in 1976. I had found a common point of discussion, and I used it to try to set him at ease.
“Have you read this book?” I asked him.
“No I haven’t started it yet,” he replied.
“It’s really a good book… one of the best I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down,” I told him… and it was true. That Trotsky book had been one of my favorites in college.
I then asked him where he was from and what he was doing in Miami. The young kid told me that he was from Wisconsin. He had heard about the FTAA and had come down to show his solidarity with his comrades. As I looked at this tall, naïve, nervous young boy, I couldn’t help but wonder how a middle class kid from mid-America like this gets involved in a communist-inspired direct action campaign. I was so tempted to start a discourse with him on the principles of Communism versus Americanism, but I realized that I neither had the time, nor was it safe to do so. There were still 100 plus non-compliant protestors who still had a chance to create some havoc. Now was not the time to talk. Nevertheless, the parent within me felt like taking this kid aside and talking to him… make him realize how foolish he was to listen to the propagandists of the left. Didn’t he realize how fortunate he was to live in a democracy like ours? I felt like telling him stories of my family in Cuba as they fled the revolution in 1960. Maybe I can show him and convert him back to being a “true” American.
But this was not the time, nor was it my place to do so. I let the kid go since I had no legal reason to arrest him. As I was getting ready to let him go, I said to him, “son… I’m going to let you go now. All I ask is that you don’t do anything to damage this city. And please be careful. There are some really rough neighborhoods around here.” As he walked away, I noticed that he was no longer visibly shaking.
About an hour later, after our mobile field forces had arrested several dozens of the remaining protestors, another young protestor comes up to me in obvious distress and says, “officer… two guys robbed me and took my backpack… all my money… my phone… everything I own. I don’t even know where I am, or where my motel is located. I don’t have anyone to call to pick me up… I just want to go home.”
I wanted to help him, and under normal circumstances I probably would have. But we were in the middle of making more arrests, and I had my attention fully turned on the task at hand. At that point, I could do little to help this helpless kid. The best I could do is point him in the direction where I thought his motel was located at so that he could walk there. I told him, “you’d better start walking now. You don’t want to get caught in this area after dark.”
The second young protestor walked away. I felt bad for him and the other tall young kid. I couldn’t help but think of my own two sons. I couldn’t help but wonder what in the world these two and others just like him were doing in Miami.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2011). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/globalization
Nattrass, B., & Altomare M. (2002). Dancing with the tiger: Learning sustainability step by natural step. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada.
Nuñez, E. L. (2007). Unintended Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility: When is Doing “Good” Not Good for Business? Doctoral dissertation, Lynn University, 2007.
The Center for Consumer Freedom (2011). ActivistCash.com. Retrieved from http://activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/o/188-ruckus-society
The Ruckus Society (2011). Retrieved from http://www.ruckus.org/article.php?list=type&type=70
Winebrenner Edwards, D. (2003, October 23). Marching to Miami: Stop the FTAA! People’s Weekly World Newspaper. Retrieved from http://www.pww.org/article/articleprint/4281/
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