21:26 GMT08 August 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Hundreds of people took to the streets in Washington on Saturday to protest against the upcoming NATO ministerial meeting in the US capital.

    "We are calling for a peaceful mass mobilisation against this year’s NATO Summit in Washington, DC, on Saturday, March 30. Additional actions will take place at the opening of the NATO meeting on April 4", the Anti-NATO Mobilisation steering committee said in a press release.

    People of all ages and various nationalities are taking part in the rally. They are also trying to bring attention to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.

    Protesters gathered at the city’s Lafayette Park in front of the White House at around 1:00 p.m. local time (17:00 GMT) holding up signs reading "Unite to Fight NATO’S Racist Wars", "Hands off Venezuela", "NATO Bombs=Slavery in Libya," "NATO Killed One Million IRAQIS", "Shut Down NATO’S War Crimes", "No War on VENEZUELA", "US Sanctions Caused Venezuela’s Crisis", and "US Out of Latin America And Caribbean".

    Some people carried the flags of Venezuela, Iraq and Libya. Although there is an increased police presence, the rally is peaceful.

    The demonstrators are expected to march counterclockwise around the White House for about an hour before marching and making stops at five locations: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Customs and Border Enforcement agency, and the mayoral office.

    READ MORE: Depleted Uranium, Acid: FRY Witnesses Discuss 'Toxic' Memories of NATO Bombings

    The World Bank, the protest organisers said in the press release, grants loans to developing countries that often traps them in debt, making them vulnerable to demands by the IMF, which then demands that these countries and former socialist republics move toward "market economies," meaning privatisation and deregulation of industry, slashing pensions and social programs.

    "Meeting these demands has devastated many countries, reducing them to neo-colonies of the West", the anti-war coalition said in the release.

    With respect to the OAS, Colombia is now NATO’s first South American "global partner", the activists said in the statement.

    "This means that NATO is involved in developing Colombia’s military capability at a time when Washington is working to overthrow the government of neighbouring Venezuela", the group said.

    The gathering of NATO  Foreign Affairs Ministers will be held on 3-4 April to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance.

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, an intergovernmental military bloc, was created back in 1949 by 12 countries. Throughout its 70-year-old history the organisation grew into a 29-member alliance. The member states have recently committed to reach or maintain defence spending on the bloc of at least 2 percent of their industrial output by 2024.

    READ MORE: Trump Sends US Congress Report on North Macedonia Joining NATO — Letter

    As of today, some 20,000 military personnel are engaged in the alliance's missions across the globe, according to official NATO data. The bloc is operating in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Mediterranean. It supports the African Union, conducts air patrols over the Baltic states and carries out disaster relief missions in crisis-hit Iraq.


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