Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why to Oppose the 2010 Vancouver Olympics: Massive destruction and dispossession unfolding to prep for Olympics

by Steve da Silva

We are often told that the Olympics are good for the economy. But for whose economy? Will the profits “trickle down” to the base of the population? No. The Olympics have always been an opportunity for a massive transfer of public wealth into the hands of the bankers and big businesses. The public bill for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver is already over $6 billion. The city of Montreal just recently in 2002 paid off their debt for the 1976 Olympics.

The Vancouver Olympics is being called the “greenest” one ever; but nothing could be further from the truth. In Whistler, tens of thousands of trees are being cutdown and mountainsides are being blasted open to create Olympic venues. Furthermore, most of British Colombia is unceded land legally belonging to First Nations peoples. What have the indigenous peoples in B.C. traditionally got in return for the settlement of their land? Poverty, unemployment, police terror and imprisonment.

In preparation for 2010, Vancouver’s poor are being criminalized and “cleansed” out of the city’s Downtown Eastside. Laws have been passed against begging and sleeping outside. Since Vancouver won the bid to host the Olympics in 2003, 850 low-income housing units have been destroyed, and homelessness has increased from about 1000 to 2500. By 2010, it is feared that there will be more homeless people in Vancouver than the 5000 participating athletes. But Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics is no exception when it comes to displacement of peoples. Over the last 20 years, about 2 million people have been forced off their land by Olympic-related development.

And nothing about the 2010 Olympics is out of tune with the vicious and repressive history of Olympics. During the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, a concentration camp of Jews was operating less than an hour away. In the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, just days before the games began hundreds of student protestors were massacred by the “Olympia Brigade” police force.

In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, displaced low-income people were promised 2500 new units of affordable housing. Only 150 were ever created. For the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Australian government passed a permament law allowing the military to be deployed on its civilians.

In spite of all this, an opposition movement to the 2010 Olympics is growing. In late 2007, indiginous nations from across Turtle Island (North America) gathered in the liberated region of Chiapas, Mexico for an intercontinental gathering of indigenous peoples. In a show of solidarity, the 1500 delegates to the summit passed a resolution to pose an intercontinental resistance to the 2010 Olympics.

In preparation for the anti-Olympic protests that are already being planned, the Canadian government is preparing an army of 12,500 police and military personnel. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the biggest winners of the 2010 Olympics won’t be the athletes stacking up gold medals, but the rich people stacking up the real gold!

Mexican revolutionary sub-commandante Marcos seen with other indigenous leaders
from Americas; in the backdrop flies the flag of the Mohwak Nation, who struggle
for self-determination in "Canada"