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Soros caves in to protesters, cancels trip to Thailand
Agence France Presse, January 29, 2001

International financier George Soros Monday cancelled a planned trip to Thailand after nationalist groups angry over his role in the Asian financial crisis threatened to target him with protests.

"He saw some of the controversy that erupted over his visit and said he didn't want to be part of the problem," said a spokeswoman for his Open Society organisation in Bangkok.

"I think it dismayed him to see the intensity of feeling against what was actually a private visit."

An alliance of 12 protest groups had vowed to stage demonstrations outside the famous Oriental Hotel where Soros was to address business leaders and journalists on "The Crisis of Global Capitalism" Thursday night.

More than 30 protest leaders descended on the event's organisers, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) Monday, calling for the speech to be cancelled "for the benefit of the country and the Thai people."

They submitted a letter that denounced Soros for "trampling on Thai dignity" and blamed him for helping launch the 1997 Asian financial crisis by mounting attacks on regional currencies.

"We regard Mr. Soros as a Dracula -- he sucks the blood from the poor. If speculators like him had some ethics in their minds, our situation would not be so bad," said Confederacy of Democracy leader Weng Tojirakarn.

Amid reports that some demonstrators were planning to pelt Soros with excrement and rotten fruit, Weng said he could not guarantee that other groups would stick to the plan to hold a peaceful protest.

"If Soros insists on coming to Thailand I don't know what will happen. I can guarantee there will be no attacks from our organisation, but I can't speak for others."

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