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ACTIVISTS LOCK DOWN IN VERMONT SENATOR JEFFORDS' OFFICE,

Demanding Democracy!!!! Call 877 611-0063 toll-free (thank you AFL-CIO) and tell Senators Smith and Wyden to vote NO on Fast TRack and yes on the Kerry amendment!!! Do it NOW!
Subject: ACTIVISTS LOCK DOWN IN VERMONT SENATOR JEFFORDS' OFFICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14th, 2002

Contact:
ACERCA office: (802) 863-0571

Demanding Democracy,

ACTIVISTS LOCK DOWN IN VERMONT SENATOR JEFFORDS' OFFICE,
IN OPPOSITION TO TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY

BURLINGTON, VT - Calling on Senator Jeffords to pull his support for
Trade Promotion Authority, a group of non-violent Vermont activists has
occupied and locked themselves together at his Main St. office at 3:00
pm today. Refusing to leave, the group is demanding that Senator
Jeffords vote against Fast Track and not allow the president to
negotiate trade deals with other nations without congressional or public
debate on the creation of such agreements.

Fast Track, now called Trade Promotion Authority, takes the power to
negotiate trade agreements away from Congress and gives it to the Bush
administration. Under Fast Track, there are no checks and balances and
Congress must vote the entire free trade agreement up or down. Congress
can make no amendments or modifications to free trade agreements if they
are negotiated under Trade Promotion Authority.

"It is appalling to me that a so-called 'Independent Senator' who did so
much to take power away from the President and the Republicans is now
giving back that power for the sake of free trade. If Senator Jeffords
votes in favor of Fast Track he will be giving power to the president
and big corporations and further undermine democracy in this country,"
states S'ra DeSantis, an organic farmer. "A vote against Fast Track is a
vote for democracy, family farmers, environmental protection, and
working people. We have told him this over and over again and today we
are taking non-violent direct action to demand that he make the right
choice,"
DeSantis continued.

The group is risking arrest to protest the Senators support of Fast
Track for one primary reason--it expedites the process of passing trade
agreements, like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the
newly proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). When free
trade agreements like these are implemented, many national, state, and
local laws have to be modified. The type of trade that will be created
by thee agreements will make environmental laws unenforceable, drive
more family farms out of business, displace workers throughout the
world, and undermine national and local sovereignty.

On January 12 2002, in front of a crowd of Vermonters rallying against
Fast Track (Trade Promotion Authority) in the Vermont State Capital of
Montpelier, Senator Jeffords declared that he would not support it. When
asked later for confirmation that this was, in fact, the Senator's
stance on the issue, he reiterated, "I will not vote for Fast Track."
Two weeks later, a staff person at his Vermont office reversed this
statement, asserting that Jeffords actually did support Trade Promotion
Authority.

Claiming membership to no particular activist group or political party,
those involved in this non-violent act of civil disobedience come from
many sectors of society. The occupations of those involved in locking
down include: farmer, activist, student, videographer, carpenter, and
web-site developer.


STATEMENT FROM THE ACTIVISTS

Activists Occupy Senator Jeffords Office: Demanding He Vote against Fast
Track

S'ra DeSantis

Seven Vermonters are currently occupying Senator James Jeffords office
in Burlington, VT demanding he vote against Trade Promotion Authority
(TPA). We have locked together and refuse to leave until Jeffords
complies with our demands or we are physically removed. After we
entered the office a banner was hung across the street that reads:
ìJeffords:Stop the FTAA, Derail Fast Track, No New NAFTAsî.

Background on TPA and NAFTA

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) takes all negotiating power away from
Congress and gives it to the trade representativeís office of the
Executive Branch. The billís name was conveniently changed from Fast
Track to Trade Promotion Authority to conceal its true intentions. Fast
Track intends to accelerate the process of implementing free trade
agreements. Under Trade Promotion Authority, Congress must vote yes or
no for an entire free trade agreement. Congress cannot amend or modify
any portion of a free trade agreement.

The last Fast Track bill only provided Congress sixty days to review any
free trade agreement negotiated under Fast Track. The House and Senate
were only given 20 hours each to negotiate the agreement on the
floor. This gives little or no time for indigenous rights advocates,
trade unionists, human rights advocates and environmentalists to express
their concerns about the pending free trade agreement. Fast Track
hijacks any vestiges left in the eroding ìdemocraticî system in the
United States. As people that believe in direct democratic forms of
decision making, we think TPA is the antithesis to even the illusion of
democracy.

The last time Fast Track was in place, the World Trade Organization
(WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were
ratified. This TPA will apply to the proposed Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA),the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and
any other
multilateral or bilateral trade agreements the United States negotiates.

The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a disaster for all
three NAFTA countries and has impacted Mexico most severely. NAFTA has
caused the loss of jobs and lower wages in all three countries, the
annulment of laws that protect indigenous rights and the environment,
increased pollution and birth defects on the Mexican-U.S. border, and
the displacement of tens of thousands of Mexican farmers due to the
influx of cheap subsidized grain from the United States.

In Vermont, alone, over 600 people lost their jobs during the first
three years of NAFTA. The Northeast Dairy Compact or any similar bill
that helps Vermont dairy farmers with guaranteed prices, could be
considered a barrier to trade under NAFTA or the proposed FTAA. The
Investor-to-State Dispute Resolution Body of NAFTA and the pending FTAA
grant foreign investors the right to receive compensation if a law
impedes their ability to make a profit. A Canadian company could sue
the United Statesí government if the Northeast Dairy Compact was
reinstated because it favors dairy farmers in Vermont. The company
could be entitled to millions of dollars in compensation from taxpayer
money.

Why We Are Occupying Jeffords Office

Jan Marinelli, a staff person at Jeffordsí office, informed us in
December 2001 that the majority of people who called the office in
reference to Fast Track, expressed opposition to the bill. In December,
Jeffords voted in favor of the Senate version of the Fast Track bill in
the Finance Committee. In January 2002, after much pressure from
Vermonters, Jeffords at a book signing stated to a group of thirty Fast
Track opponents, some of who are locked down today, that he would not
vote in favor of Trade Promotion Authority. Two weeks later when
several people called to confirm his decision, Jeffordsí staff declared
that Jeffords had made a mistake and intended to vote in favor of Fast
Track.

Our group has spoken with Jeffordsí staff repeatedly and sent numerous
letters urging him to vote against Fast Track. He lied to us publicly
to avoid scrutiny at his book signing. Our group believes we had no
other choice than to take non-violent direct action since all other
avenues have been exhausted. Jeffords must realize the threat that Fast
Track opposes to the sovereignty of communities. We demand Jeffords be
accountable to the people he claims to represent.

We stand in solidarity with people throughout the world, especially
indigenous peoples, who are most affected by free trade agreements, as
their land and resources are privatized and then invaded by
multinational corporations. Trade Promotion Authority is the next step
in the imperialist war against the environment, workers, farmers, the
indigenous and the poor.

Hopefully, Jeffords will finally listen to his constituency and vote
against Fast Track. This would be a vote in favor of the indigenous, the
environment, farmers, and workers (all of which he claims to
support). Communities throughout the world must be given the
opportunity to decide through direct democratic processes if they want
to engage in trade globally and what the terms of trade are. This
process can no longer be dictated by corporate and government elites and
international financial institutions.
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address: address: thepeoplesrepublicofCorvallisNOFASTTRACK!

Time to visit Wyden and Smith's office 14.May.2002 19:21

portlandjoinscorvallis noFASTTRACK.ever

Time for us to make our voices loud and demand that our hard fought for laws are not overturned by Chapter 11 in NAFTA. Time to make Wyden and Smith understand that Oregon will not stand for them trading OUR democracy away! NO NO NO on Fast Track!