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Resist the Free Trade Area of the Americas

As government Trade Ministers and corporate leaders meet behind closed doors in Quito Ecuador to force through the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), the people of Ecuador and movements of South, Central and North America will take action to stop the FTAA. The FTAA would put even more power and wealth in the hands of a few corporations and the governments they control, resulting in more poverty, militarization and war, environmental destruction and misery in Portland and across the Americas.
As government Trade Ministers and corporate leaders meet behind closed doors in Quito Ecuador to force through the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), the people of Ecuador and movements of South, Central and North America will take action to stop the FTAA. The FTAA would put even more power and wealth in the hands of a few corporations and the governments they control, resulting in more poverty, militarization and war, environmental destruction and misery in Portland and across the Americas.

Ecuador`s indigenous people, peasant_farmers, labor unions, womens` groups, students, environmentalists, and neighborhood organizations have already deposed two presidents who tried to implement neoliberal reforms. Again and again, when faced with privatizations and cutbacks in social services, people here have blocked highways across the country, filled the streets of Quito and the provincial capitals, seized radio stations and airports, and generally responded with a resounding NO. On January 21, 2000, when the President announced a plan to dollarize the economy, they took over the Congress and set up a new government presided over by the indigenous movement and other social sectors (which lasted until the military seized control). In short, groups here are fiercely committed to the struggle against neoliberalism, and have a very impressive capacity to mobilize.

Incredibly, it is the very site of these mobilizations that 34 commerce ministers from North and South America have chosen for their negotiations, on October 31st and November 1st. And they are being joined by America's greatest corporate crooks, who have organized the 7th Americas Business Forum in Quito at the same time, to ensure that their 34 ghostwriters stick to the plan. They hope key pieces of the FTAA will be finalized in Quito, so it can take effect within a few years. And they want to show that the countries of Latin America, already devastated by 20 years of _free-market_ reforms, are nonetheless lining up to sign on for more of the same.

Ecuador`s social movements have other ideas. They say the FTAA represents a death sentence for small farmers, indigenous cultures, local food systems, and endangered forests, that it will create a whole new set of rights for transnational corporations at the expense of local communities, that it will deal a devastating blow to the productive capacity of small countries like Ecuador. They also plan to use the summit to protest against the militarization of the region under ths auspices of Plan Colombia, which they view as the military arm of the economic domination strategy encoded in the FTAA.

For months they have been preparing a welcoming committee of sorts. The National Campaign Against the FTAA, a coalition that includes most of the nation's social movements, is bringing tens of thousands of people to Quito. They plan to surround the summit with a _ring of diversity_ and, they say, to shut it down. There is another, smaller coalition that is talking about bringing about 10,000 more, with the same goal. The World Social Forum and the Hemispheric Social Alliance are also planning a counter-summit social forum to explore alternatives to the FTAA.

One way or another, the groups there vow, the negotiators will not accomplish what they set out to do. And the world will see that the people of Ecuador have unequivocally rejected the FTAA. Judging from recent mobilizations, the potential for severe repression is very real, as is the possibility that the meetings will be dramatically disrupted. It may well turn out that locating the FTAA summit here was the greatest miscalculation since the WTO decided that Seattle would be a nice place to meet.

The coalitions here are calling on people throughout the continent to join in. They have declared October 27 through November 1 to be Continental Days of Resistance Against the FTAA (see below for their call to action). Groups are planning on coming from Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, the U.S., Canada, and Europe, among other places.

But most people cannot and will not make it to Quito. Ecuador`s social movements are calling on their counterparts throughout the continent to take local actions in solidarity with the mobilization in Ecuador, and to support it in various ways. Already, groups are planning actions in San Francisco, Massachusetts, Portland, and on campuses across Canada, in India, Italy, France, Brazil, and the other Andean countries. (There are undoubtedly more actions we have not heard about).

But, by and large, organization is still lacking. The end of October could see marches, lock-downs, student strikes, social forums, blockades, teach-ins, die-ins, puppet processions, and work stoppages from Anchorage to Ashville. The end of October could see groups in North and South America coordinating actions, applying international pressure if there is serious repression in Ecuador, providing resources that are desperately needed for the mobilization in Quito, and laying the groundwork for even stronger cooperation in the future. There is still time to make this happen. But time is running out.

This is global capital's most important meeting of the year, and a powerful coalition of indigenous people, campesinos, and workers are mobilizing to shut it down. Now they are asking norteamericanos to join in. People in the North American "global justice movement" have been talking for several years about the need to take leadership from frontline communities in both the North and South. October could be an unprecedented opportunity to do just that, by organizing local actions that strengthen continental networks of resistance at the same time as they build connections to union locals, community groups, immigrants rights organizations, etc.

We just need to make it happen.

homepage: homepage: http://www.stopftaa.org

What's happenin in PDX?? 20.Oct.2002 10:40

free trade sux

Does anyone know of anything planned here in Portland? Somethin's gotta happen here!

PDX Resistencia Against the FTAA 20.Oct.2002 10:49

noftaapdx noftaapdx@yahoo.com

Don't Be Tricked by the Free Trade Area of the Americas

On October 31, while children across the U.S. dress up as ghosts, witches, and NY fire fighters, threatening their neighbors with tricks if they don't get treats, some far scarier trickery will be attempted by business men and heads of state dressed up as trade negotiators as they meet in Ecuador to discuss the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Their meetings will be met by fierce resistance as multitudes of dissenters from across Latin America take direct action to stop the meetings. Here in Portland, we are planning a radical street festival in solidarity with those actions to denounce the expansion of neocolonialism promoted by the FTAA. By taking to the streets, we will celebrate the world we want to live in, a world where autonomy, self-organization, meaningful work, and access to land are valued more highly than patents, power, and profit.

What is the FTAA?

The FTAA is a proposed trade agreement, negotiated in secret by trade ministers from 34 countries--all of the countries of the Americas except for Cuba. It is modeled on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and its goal is to impose trade liberalization, patent protections, deregulation, and privatization hemisphere-wide. The FTAA draft texts are secret, but leaked information reveals that many of the FTAA's chapters are literally extensions of NAFTA rules. NAFTA has been a miserable failure in terms of workers and the environment. The FTAA seeks to expand that failure so it will affect the 755 million people that live in the Western Hemisphere, and the land, water, food, forests, health care, education, and work which sustains us.

Why A Radical Street Festival?
In this world where corporations are striving to homogenize us into passive and faithful consumers, our culture is our greatest weapon of resistance. Traditional demonstrations and protests, while essential, often alienate the general public, are disregarded by corporate media, bore the participants, and are ignored by policy makers. Taking to the streets with dance, music, street theater, poetry and the spontaneous eruption of joy breaks through the numbing isolation induced by wage slavery and condescending media and lights a fire in people's consciousness. Ordinary folks creating meaningful art and sharing culture captures the imagination, and deepens our vision of a movement which is reflective of the worlds we aspire to create.

In creating a radical street festival, we are responding to calls from Ecuador's indigenous and peasant organizations which have asked that people around the world do local solidarity actions. By doing this, we will strengthen local networks, and get the word out that the FTAA is not welcome in the Americas. We will show that we want a better world -- one which values mutual aid over private ownership, people over markets, rights over riches. We will demonstrate our firm conviction that another America is possible.

Meet on October 31 at 3:30pm in Terry Schrunk Plaza--SW 3rd & Jefferson. Come in costume and dancing shoes, prepared to have a good time! For more information, call 503.499.1116, write to  noftaapdx@yahoo.com or check out  http://www.stopftaa.org for background info on the FTAA (follow the link to go to the old site too)!

Other good sites:
www.movimientos.org/noalca/
 http://www.ecuador.indymedia.org (mostly in Spanish)

on October 31st and November 1st 20.Oct.2002 16:44

f0reverneverm0re

what a time to *choose* to have these meetings. i'm sure the mass media will be having features that talk about nothing but:

the little ghouls, goblins, witches and faeries roaming the evening streets or, assuming the "October surprise" sniper is still haunting the Nation's Capital area, they'll be talking about the fear that is gripping local neighborhoods, neigh--potentially any, ergo, ALL NEIGHBORHOODS, even if they still catch the perpetrators before All Hallows Eve.

hm, instead of theorizing the conspiracy that i *know* is afoot, i shall try to be productive. maybe a survey downtown of how people feel about the issues. it will be a 'simple' survey as americans don't have the attention span of an amoeba...

...hence the bombardment of "news" stories. those who are trying to control the minds and hearts of americans know damn well americans will care for one second and then then next they'll be thinking about themselves. i can see and feel this when i walk out on the streets (but this is all i will say about this now).

no, it's going to take, as someone pointed out in another article, a bigger and totally different type of 'hammer' to get in to the skull of the "average american citizen" the precise message and understanding that some entity feels should necessarily be there. the bombardment will continue, damn free trade. (and people will still ask "what is this Free Trade Agreement or area that you speak of?" because the mass media, save for certain "theatrical presentations" on the discussion-panel-based shows, still chooses to not explain exactly what the hell is going on with regards to the future of work, wages, workers and working conditions in the Western Hemisphere).

whatever.

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scary linkage
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"Trick or Treat, or going from house to house to ask for gifts, was said to have originated in England, where peasant children, dressed in rags like prisoners, would beg for coins or treats as a token of remembrance of a man, Guy Fawkes, who was drawn and quartered after attempting to blow up the British government offices."
 http://ohoh.essortment.com/halloweentrivia_rzls.htm

Video on FTAA 21.Oct.2002 12:51

reposter wes

 http://henningcenter.berkeley.edu/projects/tradesecrets.html

*More about the video: "Trade Secrets":
The FTAA would extend NAFTA to the entire Western Hemisphere, including 31 more countries and another 400 million people. The short film Trade Secrets explores what the proposed trade agreement could mean for ordinary people and the environment across the Americas. Narrated by former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell, the film includes interviews with Congressman George Miller, State Senator Sheila Kuehl, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Barbara Shailor, Kevin Danaher, Anuradha Mittal, Maude Barlow, Dick Walker, Cesar Luna, Jessica Ponce Ramirez, and others. Directed by Casey Peek. Produced by Jeremy Blasi. (16 minutes, John F. Henning Center for International Labor Relations and Peek Media)
" This video illustrates the real dangers of so-called "free trade."  It's an invaluable resource for trade unions and community groups confronting the powerful new forces of globalization. - Congressman George Miller