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Leaders Vow Steps on World Poverty

Summit: After police raid on protesters, G-8 ends with plan to meet at Canadian resort.

July 23, 2001|RICHARD BOUDREAUX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GENOA, Italy — After a midnight police raid on the headquarters of their loudest critics, leaders of the world's richest industrial democracies ended a riot-marred summit Sunday with plans to meet next summer in a remote park in the Canadian Rockies.

They also took limited steps to blunt criticism by the 100,000 protesters who converged from across Europe to make this the most besieged of international summits. A declaration closing the Group of 8 gathering vowed to wage a joint attack on Third World poverty and disease but failed to resolve a dispute over global warming.

Genoa was quiet after two days of violence that left one protester dead, 500 people injured and 178 under arrest. President Bush and the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, plus Russia, left town, as did tens of thousands of demonstrators packed aboard trains, chartered buses and private cars.

Workers took down tall steel-mesh barricades protecting summit venues in the city's medieval center and port. Outside the top-security zone, they began clearing broken glass, spent tear gas canisters, downed road signs and hulks of burned vehicles from routes where a few thousand violent anarchists drew 20,000 riot police into clashes with the mass of peaceful protesters.

Political fallout over the battle of Genoa was still spreading.

Italian police raided a protest headquarters early Sunday, seizing computer files and other records. They rousted protesters from their sleep in a school across the street and beat them, sending 24 to hospitals, witnesses said.

"They made us lie on the floor," Caroline Terzaghi, 38, a protest organizer, told reporters. "They were throwing computers around. They were hitting everyone. There was blood everywhere."

Ninety-three protesters were arrested at the school and charged with possession of firebombs and with criminal association to commit vandalism. Police later displayed several sledgehammers, Swiss Army knives, a pickax and black hoods they said they seized in the raid.

Amnesty International protested the crackdown, which targeted the nonviolent Genoa Social Forum, the main protest coordinator. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the forum was sheltering violent anarchists at the school.

Berlusconi, criticized at home and abroad for his handling of the protests, went from the summit Sunday to tour neighborhoods battered by rioting. Some nearby residents stuck their heads out of apartment windows and yelled at him, "Shame! Shame!"

G-8 summits themselves have come under fire as extravagant. They started as low-key discussions among the Group of 7 leaders in 1975. Russia started attending after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. By then, the gatherings were becoming mega-conferences; 2,000 official delegates came to Genoa.

Italy spent $120 million to spruce up the city and $25 million to protect the summit. Now it faces an estimated bill for $18 million in damages.

With that in mind, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced that next year's summit from June 26 to 28 in Canada will be held at a mountain resort in Kananaskis park, 40 miles west of Calgary, Alberta.

The remote locale, he said, would discourage mass protests and revive the informality of early gatherings. Each country's delegations will be limited to no more than 35 people. Chretien brought the idea to Genoa, and the other leaders quickly accepted it over dinner Saturday.

The decision prompted charges that the G-8 leaders are isolating themselves further from critics in a global network of advocacy groups that accuses their governments of pursuing a brand of "neoliberal" globalization, neglecting the poorest countries and spoiling the environment.

"Everyone feels the G-8 has to continue," Berlusconi told a Genoese reporter who made that criticism at the summit's closing news conference. "You have to distinguish between peaceful dialogue and violent protest. There is no possibility for dialogue with these troublemakers. But if you have another suggestion, we can send you to Canada."

Evidently shaken by the violence here, the G-8 leaders vowed in their communique "to make globalization work for all our citizens and especially the world's poor."

The most concrete step was a new global health fund to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in poor countries, with an initial $1.3 billion in contributions. The sum fell short of the $7 billion to $10 billion target proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Other initiatives came without specific funding pledges. They include new technology to breach the "digital divide" between rich and poor countries and a special development plan for Africa.

"That which we discussed today and the last couple of days will make the world a heck of a lot more prosperous and peaceful place," Bush said.

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