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Protests Mark German Expo 2000 Opening

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  • Dan Clore
    Thursday June 1 5:54 AM ET Protests Mark German Expo 2000 Opening By Douglas Busvine HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Germany s first world fair, Expo 2000, opened
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2000
      Thursday June 1 5:54 AM ET

      Protests Mark German Expo 2000 Opening

      By Douglas Busvine

      HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Germany's first world fair, Expo
      2000, opened Thursday to music from a Brazilian carnival band
      and chanting from anti-capitalist protesters.

      Just as German President Johannes Rau cut the ribbon for the
      public opening of the five-month extravaganza in the northern
      city of Hanover, around 100 left-wing demonstrators began
      chanting ``Expo No'' beyond a perimeter fence.

      Expo 2000, which is expected to lose around $190 million, has
      been dogged by controversy ever since it was conceived to
      showcase the ``new'' Germany born out of unification a decade
      ago. Host city Hanover has a record of anarchist violence.

      Police herded the protesters away but there were no arrests.
      German and foreign dignitaries ignored the chanting.

      Outside, police said Expo opponents flung burning tires on to
      the main Hanover-Hamburg railway line, halting trains for
      half an hour.

      The protesters see the fair as a glorification of capitalism
      with its pavilions and exhibits from over 170 nations and
      international organizations.

      ``It's a waste of public money to spend it on VIPs and big
      business -- it should be spent on people,'' said one student
      demonstrator, who gave her first name as Nina. She sympathized
      with German public sector workers who will vote next week
      whether to strike for higher pay.

      City police confirmed they had searched a camp of anarchists,
      known by its occupants as the Faust complex, on Wednesday but
      made no arrests and declined to comment on a newspaper report
      that they had seized Molotov cocktails.

      A police spokesman said there had been an attempt by around
      30 demonstrators to block a rail line to the Expo, but the
      protest was clear and there was no disruption to transport.

      Expo chief Birgit Breuel said in her opening speech: ``The
      Expo has been made by people for people -- our guests. It's
      not virtual. It's there to touch.''

      The Expo grounds -- almost as big as the Mediterranean
      principality of Monaco -- filled quickly with visitors, most
      of whom had paid $57, nearly double the standard price of
      $33, for the experience.

      But owing to subdued public interest in the event, Expo
      organizers have admitted giving free entry to over 30,000
      local schoolchildren and 6,000 Expo building workers to boost
      attendance on the first day to more than 100,000.
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