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7th Free Trade Summit
In June, I sat in on a meeting of campesinospeasant farmers in Ecuadors coastal province of Manabí. The topic at hand was the upcoming 7th Summit of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA, a plan to create a kind of super-NAFTA for the whole hemisphere (minus Cuba). Thirty or so indigenous, mestizo and afro-Ecuadorian men and women, their faces deeply lined from years of field work, sat hunched over child-sized desks in a small school, surrounded by fields of banana, cacao, and maize. They were discussing the possibility of organizing a massive, non-violent protest to greet the 34 trade ministers and hundreds of CEOs who would arrive for the summit on October 31. They carefully considered the scarce resources such an undertaking would consume.
One man spoke of the recent mobilizations in Seattle, Genoa, and Prague, of the persistence of activists in those cities who were undeterred by injuries and repression, and suggested that a similar level of commitment would be necessary. There was a long silence as people thought about what this would mean and the risks involved. Then a woman said, If this is happening in Ecuador, we have to be there. Without further discussion, the group voted unanimously to call for a national mobilization and to get themselves to Quito to protest the summit.
I watched this kind of determination and commitment surface again and again in the months that followed, as Ecuadors social movements mobilized around a treaty they say represents a death sentence for small farmers, job security, indigenous cultures, local food systems, and endangered forests. Despite their near-total lack of resources, and the fact that few Ecuadorians had ever heard of the FTAA before June, anti-FTAA organizers ultimately brought 10,000 campesinos, indigenous people, womens rights advocates, trade unionists, students, and environmentalists to Quito on October 31.
The results of this mobilization were dramatic. The protests, accompanied by a dizzying array of forums, peoples congresses, meetings, and alternative proposals, succeeded in forcing FTAA proponents to acknowledge that there is considerable opposition to their plans. In barely a weeks time, the debate over the FTAA within Ecuador shifted radically: by the time the campesinos piled into trucks and buses to head back to their villages, press coverage and public opinion had become overwhelmingly negative. The voices in the streets also added urgency to the poor countries repeated demands that the U.S. slash agricultural subsidies that threaten to swamp Latin American farmers: in the end the ministers declaration included language on agriculture that many Latin American governments saw as a victory.
But perhaps the most important result of the mobilization lies in the links forged under pressure between social movements across the continent. Says Jose Encalada, Director of International Relations for the CONFEUNASSC-CNC, Ecuadors largest campesino Federation, The FTAA has given us the opportunity to get to know each other and to begin constructing a coordinated resistance across the Americas. In Quito, more than ever before, the global justice movement in the North converged with what is perhaps the original antiglobalization movementthe massive and growing Latin American resistance to neoliberalism.
The degree of North-South cooperation in the months leading up to the summit was striking. Northern groups recognized months ago that a strong mobilization in Quito would undermine oft-heard claims that people in developing countries are clamoring for free trade, while only misguided students, angry anarchists, and selfish trade unionists stand in the way. Many have also embraced a critique that the global justice movement needs to do more to support frontline struggles in the global South. As a result, large numbers of the campesinos and indigenous people who converged on Quito arrived courtesy of the Seattle crowd and their counterparts in Europe, who raised tens of thousands of dollars to help pay for the mobilization, in addition to staging simultaneous actions in their own communities.
Ecuadorian union members, meanwhile, came with the help of the AFL-CIO. As part of an unprecedented international coordinated media effort, teams of activists in North America and Europe spent weeks talking to reporters in their own countries about the Quito mobilization and putting them in direct touch with the social movement organizations in Ecuador. Under the auspices of Indymedia Ecuador, a newly created node in the alternative media network born in Seattle, activists from Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Canada and the U.S., and Europe worked together to spread the word about the mobilization.
As in much of Latin America, economic woes are compounded by militarization and insecurity. Ecuadorians blame this on Plan Colombia, which they describe as the military arm of the economic domination strategy encoded in the FTAA. In the wake of tacit U.S. support for the failed coup in Venezuela, the escalation of the Colombian conflict, and crackdowns on social movements across Latin America in the name of the war on terrorism, people throughout Latin America have come to share Ecuadorians opposition to U.S. military strategy.
The most recent expression of this resistance has been the victory of Lucio Gutierrez, the candidate supported by the Ecuadorian indigenous, campesino, and labor movements, in the first round of presidential elections on October 18. (He faces Alvaro Noboa, Ecuadors richest man, in a runoff on November 24.) Organizers in Ecuador excitedly point to other faces of hemispheric upheaval: the Zapatistas in Chiapas; Hugo Chavezs Bolivarian Circles; the Brazilian electorate, who chose leftist Ignacio Lula deSilva in the October elections; Evo Morales, the coca-growing campesino who nearly became president in Bolivia; the angry middle classes taking regularly to the streets in Argentina and Uruguay; and, of course, the workers, students, womens organizations, indigenas, and campesinos who came to surround the Quito Marriott on October 31.
In the North, meanwhile, the new militarism of the war on terrorism has shifted the analysis of many in the U.S. Anti-globalization movement, who used to focus almost exclusively on the WTO, IMF, and World Bank, and the evils of big corporations. Protesters have responded to the new geopolitical reality by linking global economic concerns with civil liberties and the war on terrorism (including Plan Colombia and the School of the Americas), issues which have long been central to the analysis of the Latin American left. When as many as 100,000 people marched in Washington DC in April, they protested the war on terrorism, Plan Colombia, and Palestine, in addition to more traditional economic globalization issues.
Similar links were made at a smaller mobilization there in late September. As Northern activists expand their work to include opposition to militarism and imperialisma move still questioned in some quarters of the movement for strategic reasonsthey are embracing concerns that have long been central to the analyses of many Latin American social movements.
To be sure, there are still important faultlines in this new north-south alliance. Wildly divergent demographics are one source of tension (i.e., middle class student radicals vs. indigent peasant farmers). There are significant disagreements over subsidies to Northern farmers, protection of U.S. industries like steel and textiles, and the inclusion of environmental and labor rules in trade deals. Nonetheless, the connections between Northern and Southern activists are real and growing stronger.
As was clear in Quito, where protests fueled open discord within the FTAA ministerial over agriculture, and where public debate came to center on the fate of poor countries under the FTAA, this confluence of movements presents a formidable obstacle to the Bush administrations plans to push forward with the FTAA. Popular unrest throughout Latin America is making it harder and harder for key governments like Brazils to support the FTAA (indeed, 10 million Brazilians voted in a recent civil society plebiscite on the FTAA, and a whopping 98 percent rejected the plan). In the U.S., meanwhile, opposition to free trade almost scuttled the Bush administrations drive for Fast Track authority and forced compromises on agriculture and textiles that will only make it harder to win support from Southern nations.
If the pressure grows, particularly in Latin America, these protests and the rising chorus of dissatisfaction with neoliberalism and U.S. militarism may well prove fatal for the FTAA.
Since graduating, Justin Reuben has been in Ecuador doing research on civil society and neoliberalism. He also worked for about 6 years as an organizer on environmental health, labor, and global justice issues. His most recent article on strategy in the anti-corporate globalization movement appeared in Clamor Magazine.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.