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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

PCASC/CBLOC
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.

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