CHANTILLY, Va. – The Bilderbergers, the global leaders of finance and government who convene in secret, were chauffeured through a gauntlet of protesters here today as the annual meetings of the elite group got under way.

Each time a staid sedan with tinted windows carrying an unidentified participant gathered speed for a dash through the gate leading to the Westfields Marriott Convention Center, protesters started chanting and booing.

At one point, a single protester appeared to hurl something at one of the cars, but police, amid shouts of “agent provocateur,” did nothing.

A huge police presence was on hand, and barricades were erected to keep protesters away from the route that conference participants were taking to reach the resort, which was in a virtual lockdown.

A man, who asked to be identified only as John R., said he drove down from Baltimore to protest the Bilderberg conference for the first time.

“What’s become clear is the people we elect are just puppets. The Internet allows us to see the puppet masters,” he said.

He noted the significant absence of most media coverage of the event, which is scheduled to run for several days.

“If you have 130 of the world’s biggest celebrities, all the media in the world would cover, and there would be tens of thousand of people who would try to see in,” he said.

Members of the crowd ranged from anarchists to advocates of the U.S. Constitution. Some carried signs seeking the arrest of the Bilderbergers. American flags and “Don’t Tread on Me” banners were in abundance.

Among other slogans: “Oligarchs the spawn of Satan,” “New World Order,” “Still Time to Repent” and “RonPaul2012.”

Another member of the protest crowd was Adam Kokesh, who used to have a show on Russia Today.

“What we’re seeing here is part of the evolution of the superclass,” he said.

He said there are more people talking about the group, more information available and more visibility on the Internet than ever before.

But he said the changes from the Bilderbergers’ early meetings, which were completely secret, still have not opened the discussions about the management of the planet to outsiders.

Just a day earlier, a Madrid-based investigative journalist who has spent years researching the Bilderberg group warned there’s no “conspiracy theory” behind the group: “It’s a conspiracy reality.”

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Daniel Estulin, author of “The True Story of the Bilderberg Group,” contends people should care because the idea behind each and every Bilderberg meeting “is to create what they themselves call the aristocracy of purpose between European and North American elites on the best way to manage the planet.”

“In other words,” Estulin told WND in an email exchange in which he answered questions, “the creation of a global network of giant cartels, more powerful than any nation on Earth, destined to control the necessities of life of the rest of humanity.”

This year the meetings in Chantilly run through June 4. Most of the group’s meetings are in Europe.

Four years ago there were rumors that Barack Obama had been picked as the Democratic presidential nominee. Two days after the event, Hillary Clinton bowed out.

Observers also point out George H.W. Bush attended in 1985. He became president in 1988. Bill Clinton attended in 1991. He became president a year later. Tony Blair attended in 1993. He became prime minister of England in 1997. Romano Prodi attended in 1999. Later that year he became president of the European Union Commission. In 2004, Sen. John Edwards spoke to the group. He was later anointed the Democratic vice presidential nominee by presidential candidate John Kerry.

Estulin said some people go off the deep end and try to see more than the Bilderberg Group is. That’s not needed, he said, because what’s already there “is and of itself is a pretty significant factor.”

He described the group as “a vehicle through which private financier oligarchical interests were able to impose their policies on what is nominally sovereign governments.”

Estulin will not be in attendance this year, because he is not permitted to travel into the U.S. But he is sending a representative in his place. He believes the meetings are among the most important events to take place in the world every year.

“Bilderberg is not some group of demonic world leaders sitting around a table staring into a crystal ball,” Estulin told WND. “In the U.S., a lot of people mistakenly believe there are secret societies, a very small group controlling the dynamics of the entire world, instead of understanding Bilderberg as a processes-, ideas- and themes-shaping organization.

“Bilderberg is not a bogeyman. But it is a powerful organization. It’s a medium for bringing together financial institutions – the largest, predatory institutions in the world – which acts in ways that are now the worst enemy of society.”

He said at the center of the campaign is the idea that the resources of the world belong not to the people, but to the minority who have power and influence.

“All these people want an empire. They don’t want the people of the world to develop, to prosper, to grow the population. They want us to work for them, where our children and our children’s children work for an elite group, the oligarchy. If people participate in the ideas shaping the world, if a nation is allowed to grow its own food, develop its own natural resources, be truly self-governing, it would end the Bilderbergers’ oligarchy.”

The meetings are private, invitation-only for about 150 individuals from the worlds of politics, business, finance, energy, media and nobility. No resolutions are voted on, no minutes are taken and no statements are issued.

Estulin has cited David Rockefeller’s own admission. Rockefeller, a Bilderberg member, wrote: “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

In 2009, Bilderberg Chairman Etienne Davignon boasted that the Euro single currency was a recommendation of the Bilderberg group.

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