portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting united states

actions & protests | corporate dominance | government ftaa miami & soa

CISPES Reportback from Miami

Below is an update from CISPES staff who are down in Miami for the FTAA meetings taking place as we speak. Somewhere between 60-100 people from Portland have journeyed down to Miami as well, and will be giving a reportback when they return. The reportback will take place Sunday, December 7 at the First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW Main St. at 7:00pm. It will be a multi-media presentation and a discussion about what happened in Miami and where we're going from here. Please join us for this important event.
> CISPES Report from Miami
> Wednesday, November 19, 2003
> Its the day before the big anti-FTAA mobilization in Miami, and things are
> heating up. After relative calm for the first part of the week, the
> three-day long "Root Cause" march rolled into downtown Miami last night.
> Along their 34-mile route from Ft. Lauderdale, the marchers (led by the
> Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Miami Workerıs Center, and Power U) were
> warmly welcomed and cheered by people in the communities that they passed
> through. However, upon arriving in the center of Miami, they found
> abandoned streets and thousands of menacing looking riot police. Indeed,
> despite few street "incidents" thus far and expectations of largely peaceful
> protests throughout the week, the police department has militarized the
> city, shutting off much of the downtown area, and erecting a giant metal
> fence around the Intercontinental Hotel where FTAA delegates are meeting.
> In some ways, the intimidation tactics on the part of the police have served
> their intended purpose: many locals, despite curiosity about the ongoing
> anti-FTAA events and support for the cause, have stayed home out of fear.
> The media has done its part as well, painting a picture of rowdy,
> dreadlocked, anarchist protesters roaming the streets in search of
> confrontation. A front-page article in todayıs Miami Herald focused on the
> few "ordinary people" (such as an elder schoolteacher) who have come to
> Miami to participate in anti-FTAA, implying that most were here to rage and
> destroy.
> But at Tuesday nightıs "Root Cause" rally, the extraordinary energy and
> diversity of the protesters was on display. English, Spanish, Portuguese
> and Haitian Creole were spoken on the stage, and numerous political hip-hop,
> funk and rock bands entertained the crowd. An interfaith vigil brought out
> the religious community, and a giant, colorful puppet show concluded the
> evening. From the stage, representatives of a wide-variety of groups
> pleaded with the police forces to maintain peace on the streets and refrain
> from provoking violence. Still, there is concern that the Convergence
> Center, which for the last week has provided a safe space for activists to
> coordinate art, media outreach, legal support, and health care, would be
> invaded and shut down by police today. And, all indications are that the
> thousands of cops in the streets with make it hard for protesters to arrive
> at the Bayshore Park for tomorrowıs mobilization, and then constantly
> harangue them along the march route. Much has been said about the draconian
> ordinance that was passed last week, banning glass containers, sticks, spray
> paint cans, and water balloons, among other things, during "parades", which
> are classified as groups of 7 or more people acting in unison and drawing
> attention to themselves. But just as significant was the money included for
> Miami municipal security as part of the recent $87 billion Iraq bill passed
> in Congress. Some $8 million of federal support went to the city as part of
> the overall "counter-terrorism" bill, and wandering the streets of Miami,
> one wonders if the city in fact is spending double, or even triple that, to
> prevent citizens from peacefully expressing their opposition to "free"
> trade.
> Meanwhile, inside the fortified walls of the Intercontinental, things do not
> appear to be going well. Last week, negotiators told the media that
> expectations for what would come out of the Miami ministerial had been
> significantly lowered due to differences between the US and certain South
> American countries, led by Brazil. Though some parameters were set for what
> was to be accomplished in the meeting, it now appears that the even those
> modest goals will not be achieved. Consequently, US Trade Negotiator Robert
> Zoellick announced yesterday at two separate press conferences that the US
> would move forward on bilateral agreements, and regional ones like CAFTA, if
> the FTAA stalled. According to Zoellick, certain countries are more anxious
> to engage in this process, and thus the US has the obligation to accommodate
> them. These cynical declarations did little to hide the clear message that
> the US was sending to renegades like Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela: that
> the US would privilege other countries with supposed trade benefits if
> certain South American countries refuse to play by the its rules.
> Therefore, the FTAA Ministerial, much like the WTO meetings in Cancun last
> September, may end failure due to the intransigence of the US negotiating
> team. Still, with the Central American Free Trade Agreement looming in the
> background, and other bilaterals on the way, this would be only a Pyrrhic
> victory. Tomorrowıs march will show the strength and depth of our movement,
> which has come here to Miami not just to oppose the FTAA, but rather the
> whole asymmetrical, unjust system of global trade.
> Thatıs the news today from Miami

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
616 E. Burnside, Portland, Oregon 97214
503.236.7916, < info@pcasc.net>

CBLOC, the Cross Border Labor Organizing Coalition,
meets the first and third Wednesday of each month
at 7:00 in our office at 616 E. Burnside.

To be removed from this list, or if you are already on
the CLR list and do not wish to have their messages
forwarded, or if you would like to be on the local
activities and action alerts only list, please send a
message to  info@pcasc.net