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CNN Today

Anti-IMF/World Bank Demonstrations Become Violent

Aired September 26, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Sparks are flying in Prague today, as well, over another international event that determines who gets the gold. It's the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and the controversy has to do with debt relief for poor nations.

CNN's Walter Rodgers has closely followed this story today, and joins us now, live.

Walter, what's happening?

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Lou.

Well, it's dusk here and dusk seems to have brought some quiet to the city. But it has been an afternoon of pitched battles between protesters and the Prague police. Pitched battles, perhaps not as bloody as Seattle a year ago, but nonetheless bad enough to send dozens of people to hospital.

The protesters, claiming to champion the poor, declared war on the Prague police. They tore cobblestones out of the streets and assaulted the police lines with cobblestones. Eventually, the police had to respond with tear gas and concussion grenades and the police waded in. But, at times, the perimeters of the police lines were actually breached and some of the demonstrators got within 75 meters, even 50 meters, of the Congress Hall, here in Prague, where the International Monetary Fund officials and World Bank officials are meeting.

The protesters see these officials, these capitalists, as the root of all evil in the world. They have declared war on capitalism. They carried many placards that said smash capitalism, smash the International Monetary Fund. They are vehemently opposed to the economic system which exists in the world today and want to bring down the large corporations, which they see as stepping on the poor and destroying the environment -- Lou.

WATERS: Walter, who are these demonstrators? Do we know?

RODGERS: Yes, I walked through the crowds more than a few times today and they are young Marxists, young anarchists. Some of these people are, very clearly, legitimate protesters championing the environment, but the vast majority of people who were out today and those who were violent are clearly Marxists. These are young Communists, neo-Communists, and they want to smash the existing world order. Many of their placards revealed their agenda. It said, smash NATO, smash capitalism, smash the International Monetary Fund, smash the European Union. And that's what they tried to do.

But we should point out very clearly that, while there were some 5,000 demonstrators today, the vast majority of them were peaceful. Still, there was a hard core of 200-300. They are the ones who have repeatedly assaulted the police lines here, again, thrashing police with staves and throwing cobblestones at the police, which, then, in turn, brought the police response, which was tear gas -- Lou.

WATERS: CNN's Walter Rodgers in Prague.

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