Rainforest group fights corporation

The Rainforest Action Network, a group dedicated to fighting corporate interests detrimental to the environment and human rights, is rallying support at GW.

Founded in 1985, the California-based organization recently turned its attention to Citigroup, the amalgamation of Citibank and Salomon, Smith, Barney, now North America’s largest financial institution. RAN members said Citibank funds environmentally devastating projects worldwide.

That’s where Valerie Orth, activist and campaign coordinator for Green Corps, comes in. She has been working with GW students to create a RAN group on campus.

It is really important that students have a good idea that they can actually make a difference, Orth said. A lot of students think that since Citibank is one of America’s largest banks, they wonder `Well, what can we do?’ The thing is that Citibank targets and depends on students.

Orth hosted a meeting Monday with GW students to prepare them for their roles in the national movement against Citibank.

Citibank is funding projects that involve the logging of the last ancient redwoods, freshman Seth Goldman said. Another example is the Three Gorges Dam in China, which will displace two million people.

The dam project, on China’s Yangtze River, will be the largest hydrolelectric power producer in the world upon its projected completion in 2009.

Supported by the Chinese government, the project will also receive funding from multiple groups that plan to invest $72 billion in the project. Orth said the dam will displace many cities, villages, factories, farmland and 1.2 million people.

Student supporters of RAN said they will speak out against Citibank when the bank come to the GW Oct. 6 to recruit student credit card applicants.

What we are trying to do is discourage their presence on campus because what they will use the money for is to fund all of these projects that are destructive to the environment, people, and human rights, freshman Elspeth Weingarten said.

The group will hold a kick off meeting on Sept. 12, in Corcoran Hall room 302.

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