Jul 27 2008

Solidarity Demo at ALCOA’s European Headquarters in Geneva

We just received this letter from Saving Iceland Supporters in Switzerland:

On 23 July we returned to the European Headquarters of ALCOA in Geneva, Avenue G. Motta 31, to stage a protest for the international Action Week in solidarity with the Saving Iceland campaign. Our aim was to put pressure on Alcoa and show support for the activists at the summer action camp in Iceland.

ALCOA was clearly not happy about our presence, and we received the following message via a security guard:

To the leader of the demonstrators:

We respect your right to express your opinion. We regret that you have been misled and misinformed.

We would like to invite a representative group of 3 of you inside to the ALCOA offices to listen to your views and concerns.

Please have your 3 representatives follow the security guard inside.

ALCOA Management

While the demonstration continued, three of us entered the building where we had the dubious pleasure of meeting some of the masters of capitalistic destruction: President of ALCOA Europe with a Environmental expert, and a corporate communications manager.

Initially assuming that we were misinformed, we soon convinced them to the contrary. They then tried to embarrass us into silence us by asking whether we used aluminium products. However, we pointed out that we weren’t just talking about aluminium drinks cans but also about weapons of war. The ALCOA representatives responded by claiming that their products were used to protect and save lives – nothing but hypocrisy.

The director kept a stony face throughout – like the wall of their dam – whereas the corporate communications manager looked more like a boiled potato.

Having grasped that we were not just against their projects in Iceland in particular but also against the capitalistic consumerist system in general, they presented the classic arguments of this misguided system: the demand for aluminium is increasing, and somebody has to meet it – if not them, then someone far worse.

They tried to present themselves as a caring company that cooperates with environmentalists. They told us that WWF and Greenpeace, who at one time had been as radical as us, had now changed their tactics to work with the big companies rather then against. They hoped that we, too, would one day find enough common ground to be able to work together with them for the environment.

The director’s parting words were to suggest that we put our energies to more profitable use – which leads us to the conclusion that they didn’t like having us at their front gate holding them responsible at the top of our voices.

We were unprepared for this official meeting, but we accepted the invitation anyway because we didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to put our case directly to one of the most powerful men in the company. We finally left them in their dream world of lies, money and destruction to return to our fellow activists and our continuing struggle.

For a free Iceland!
For a free planet!