All posts by M.H.

No Way FTAA

Miami, Florida is hosting the 8th round of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) trade negotiations and 8th American Business Forum in November. Trade ministers from 34 nations in the Western hemisphere, and hundreds of their closest commerce-inclined friends, will descent on this city for a week of business and pleasure: the business of advancing capitalism’s parasitic agenda, and the pleasure of getting away with it. At the Summit of Americas held in Miami in 1994, 34 heads of state agreed to construct the FTAA. Since then business and government representatives from these countries have been secretly drafting this plan with the aim of creating the largest free trading block in the world by 2005. This is to be our region’s principal contribution to the much-heralded age of globalization: did someone say “free trade”?

“Free” trade only benefits a small number or corporations. “Free” trade means not having to pay tariffs that are designed to make trade fair. The FTAA will privatize and degrade all municipal services including: education, health, water, sewer and energy. It will increase corporate farms and marginalize small producers, adding to unemployment and poverty. The FTAA will sacrifice human rights and violate the basic principals of democracy, destroy living wage ordinances, as well as destroy environmental protection laws and prohibit animal welfare legislation.

The FTAA expands the corporate free trade policies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which applied to Canada, Mexico and the United States to encompass the entire Western Hemisphere. It is an integral part of the logic of capitalist globalization, generating profits while at the same time accelerating the loss of workers’ rights wage decreases, the triumph of corporate agribusiness over family and subsistence farms, environmental degradation, the displacement of indigenous people and the privatization of public industries. Alongside the imposition of militarization and natural resource-focused accords like Plan Columbia, the Andean Regional Initiative, Plan Puebla Panama and the Central America Free Trade Agreement, the FTAA is designed to concentrate wealth and power into a few corporate hands at the expense of everyone else.

Mobilize for Miami!

Come to Miami in November, and this is what you will see. Besides being a teaming crock pot of vibrant cultures and ethnicities, the division among classes and races is stark and deep. There’s a lot of unemployment and underemployment, gentrification and displacement. Miami is also home to the largest pro-war, pro-Bush demonstrations in the US. Residents of what is touted as the poorest large urban center in the United States will foot a good portion of the $16 million it will cost to host the meeting. Further, they will be asked, for a week, to patiently bear the militarization of the city’s downtown — miles of barricades, public transportation and movement restrictions, columns of roving paramilitary — while the local and international elite go about their high-stakes business of negotiating details that will impact the lives of everyone in the hemisphere. This is where we come in. We’re calling for creative, decentralized, autonomous actions in response to the FTAA ministerial November 20-21, 2003.

Delay, disrupt and topple the FTAA meetings. Shut them down.

Thou Shalt Not, in Miami

Cities have passed ordinances to restrict the rights of demonstrators before, but Miami is getting pretty ridiculous. Pretty soon they’ll be outlawing unbleached tampons. We’re not sure if they’ll pass this ordinance in its proposed form, but we thought you should know what’s on the table.

“This is an ordinance of the Miami City Commission, Amending Chapter 45 of the Code of the City of Miami, Florida, as Amended, entitled ‘Streets and Sidewalks,’ to establish reasonable time, place and manner regulations concerning materials and objects that may be possessed, carried or used by those participating in parades and demonstrations, and providing for sunset of said regulations at Midnight on Thursday, November 27, 2003.”

The City Council of Miami professes that it wishes to “ensure the safety and security of those viewing, attending or participating in parades, and the public officials and employees responsible for handling or overseeing such events on public property in Miami., to reduce or avoid the possibility of personal injury and property damage.” Since they’ve heard that the “potential exists of civil disturbance and unrest during certain upcoming events” (did they guess right!), they’re suggesting these changes to parade regulations:

It shall be unlawful for a person

1) to carry or possess any weapon (loaded or unloaded), as a pistol, rifle, stick pole, explosives, paintball gun…

2)to carry a sign…unless…constructed solely of cloth, paper or cardboard no greater than 1/4 inch in thickness…

3)to carry or possess any length of lumber, wood or wood lath unless is 1/4 inch in thickness…

4)to carry or possess any length of metal, plastic or similar hard, stiff material…

5-8)…to carry…glass containers… balloons…projectiles…

9)to carry or possess spray paint cans…

10)to carry or possess projectile launchers (slingshots??!!)…

11)…gas masks…

12)…improvised body armor…

13)…sleeping dragon device…or other locking device…

So friends, it’s wacky. We aren’t permitted to parade freely anymore, which makes taking back the streets twice as important. Freedom of speech, free of assembly…they’ll go after it all. Be heard! Resist! Rise up!