Lech Walesa backs Wall Street protesters

Article by Monika Scislowska.


Poland’s former President Lech Walesa says he supports the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York that protests corporate greed.

The Nobel Peace laureate told The Associated Press that he is planning either a visit or a letter to the protesters.

“I am weighing now how and when to best support them, without doing any harm,” Walesa said Thursday.

Since mid-September, the protesters have besieged a park near Wall Street to rally against corporate greed, saying that is the main cause for the U.S.’s failing economy. Similar protests are planned across Europe this weekend, including in Poland’s capital, Warsaw.

The 68-year-old Walesa said the global economic crisis has made people aware that “we need to change, reform the capitalist system” because we need “more justice, more people’s interests, and less money for money’s sake.”

“We cannot accept a situation when capitalism is making huge money and then does not know what to do with it,” Walesa told the AP. “It should invest in new jobs.”

“People are most important,” he said.

The legendary freedom leader said employees, employers and representatives of state and local governments should get together to work out solutions that would best serve the people and the societies.

“For now, capitalism is working to produce more money but does not see the people,” Walesa said. “This problem is getting worse across the world.”

Walesa led Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement that eventually brought democracy and a market economy to the country in 1989. Between 1990-95, he served as the country’s first popularly elected president and he now campaigns across the world for global democracy and human rights.

Since communism’s fall, Poland has developed into a market economy with a European social safety net. Its economy has grown steadily since joining the European Union in 2004 and it even avoided a recession during the global downturn of 2008-2009 – the only EU country to do so.

However, Poland remains plagued by legacies of communism – like high unemployment of almost 12 percent and low wages – and problems brought by capitalism, like a growing gap between the country’s rich and poor.

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