12,000 people protest in Brussels against Trump and his world vision
Today, May 24, more than 12,000 demonstrators have shown that US president Donald Trump is “Not Welcome” in Brussels. They countered the world vision of the billionaire president with a call for hope, social justice, peace, the defense of the environment, and solidarity in diversity.
Two faces of Belgium met in Brussels today, with messages squarely opposite. On one side: Belgian prime minister Charles Michel and other officials who rolled out the red carpet for the US president, on the eve of the NATO summit of May 25, where Trump will demand Belgium to drastically increase its military budget. On the other side: 12,000 citizens who not only reject Trump's war policies, but also his racist, sexist and anti-environment view of the world.
The PTB-PVDA (Workers' Party of Belgium) had a strong presence in the protest rally, together with its students movement Comac and a sizable group of its youth movement RedFox. This 24th of May, especially a lot of young people marched through Brussels. PTB-PVDA chairman Peter Mertens: “The generation that is taking to the streets today is the generation that can save the climate and change the world. These are the youth who are mobilizing throughout the world because they don't want inequalities to deepen, they don't want the planet to be sacrificed for profit, and they don't want an escalation of wars.”
Such escalation has clearly been fueled over the past few days, when Trump called, first in Saudi Arabia and then in Israel, to begin a war on Iran. Fourteen years after the start of the war on Iraq, under the pretext of fighting Al Qaeda, is the United States going to put an already unstable region even more on fire with the same interventionist policies that constituted the breeding ground for the rise of ISIS, Al Qaeda's successor, in the first place?
It is against this background that the NATO summit takes place on May 25. Donald Trump will demand NATO member states to increase their defense budgets. “We reject NATO's policies and all they represent, says Peter Mertens. Charles Michel has already indicated that he would increase Belgium's military budget, thus giving in to the NATO leader's demand without protesting. Today's demonstration is a clear signal to those in government who let themselves be carried away on Donald Trump's war path.”
Save the planet, change the world
The resistance against Donald Trump's policies started on January 20 with the “Women’s March”, a movement of an unprecedented magnitude, initiated by the American feminist movements. This received an echo among the many women marching in Brussels' street today, as illustrated by the wave of “pussy hats” to be seen - the famous pink hats that have become the symbol of women's resistance against Trump.
At the start of the demonstration, national and international activists addressed the crowd. They set the tone for a global resistance against Trump's policies. Indeed, many delegations of foreign organizations and associations active in international solidarity were present at the march.
Two activists from Standing Rock, where Sioux tribes are resisting the construction of polluting pipelines and thus opposing Trump's interests, got a warm applause from the crowd. Their struggle for the right to water illustrates as no other the contradiction between the interests of the petrol barons and climate skeptics, particularly well represented in the US government, and those of the people. The fact that Donald Trump is putting up the climate agreement obtained at the Paris summit for renewed discussion, is a very disturbing start of his presidency.
Another theme at the demonstration was racism, as the US president had repeatedly uttered xenophobic declarations. “The diversity at this manifestation is a fitting answer to the attempts of Trump & Co. to sow disunity in the world, and to those, also within our government, who want to play the card of racism and division”, continued Peter Mertens.
The presence of trade union organizations, on the other hand, showed that workers' solidarity goes beyond borders. Quite often we hear about racist, sexists and warmongering declarations of the US president, but his cabinet of super-rich also has a particularly anti-social agenda. One of the first decisions of Trump as president was to dismantle the health care system. A disaster for millions of citizens for whom access to health care is becoming ever more difficult.
« United We Stand »
This very colorful demonstration has brought the climate movement, the trade union movement, the feminist movement, the anti-racist movement together behind the same slogan: “United We Stand”. “Such appeal to unity is very important”, stresses Peter Mertens. “Together we can raise a fist against Trump's policies and those of his allies. Together we can put up a fight and win against those who want to divide us by promoting racism and sexism, who sacrifice the climate for profit, and who are willing to put the whole world on fire. We are here today to fighting against the arrival of Trump, but we will continue the fight, in Belgium and in Europe, against his policies and those of his counterparts in our country.”