Donald Trump’s arrival has been met with intense anticipation in the Alpine country. Video footage of the president’s heavily armored motorcade touching down even made the evening news.
In the past few days, hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters have marched through the streets of Bern, Zurich and other cities in response to the President’s decision to come to Davos. Some 15,000 people have signed an online petition telling Trump he isn’t welcome.
But, as it turns out, the most powerful man in the world didn’t listen. Now, he’ll join a host of other world leaders at the event.
A WEF meeting without protests is like a visit to Switzerland without fondue. It just doesn’t happen. In the past, some of these protests have turned violent, and people are fearful that Trump’s appearance will cause a huge flare-ups, prompting the Swiss government to swamp the town with police and armed soldiers.
In light of this, a group of American expats plan to stage a light-hearted, but earnest, protest of their own. Alexandra Dufresne, one of the organizers of the event, which is to be held in Zurich this Saturday, explained to The Local: “Almost all the Americans I’ve spoken to abroad, after the election, after Trump pulled out of the Paris [climate change] accord, we all felt an overwhelming desire to approach strangers and apologize.
“We were so ashamed and embarrassed and had such a big impulse to say ‘we are so sorry,’” she continued.
The protest is being organized by Action Together: Zurich and Campax. The Americans and their Swiss counterparts plan to apologize to passers-by on behalf of their President. The event organizers stress that they are a non-partisan group and want to remain open to those on both sides of the aisle.
However, not everyone is upset by the president’s appearance at the WEF conference: “It’s absolutely essential that we have President Trump with us,” said the founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab. “We need collaborative efforts.”
Along the same lines, President of the WEF, Borge Brende, said: “Participants are really looking forward to hear the leader of the largest economy in the world, President Trump, share his vision for the global economy moving forward.”
Trump’s bombastic and unpredictable manner, which has seen him rile up several world leaders in infamous Twitter rants (and shock them at a United Nations meeting), has already turned world diplomacy on its head this past year. When the WEF kicks off next week, many fear that Trump will be his usual firecracker self in front of the world’s economic big-wigs. It may well turn out that Americans in Switzerland find themselves apologizing again in the coming weeks.