Shut It Down!

Tens of thousands to prevent third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, Canada, April 20-22, 2001

Activists throughout the western hemisphere are gearing up for massive, militant protests to shut down the Third Summit of the Americas, which will be held April 20-22, 2001 in Quebec City, Canada. The Summit will involve the heads of state of all 34 countries in the Americas except Cuba and is organized to promote corporate domination and increased corporate trade in the Americas. The main priority of the Summit is to complete negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which is designed to extend NAFTA over the entire Western Hemisphere.

Even months before Quebec, indications are that Quebec may make Seattle look small by comparison. A lot has happened since Seattle:

The corporate/government elite, realizing that it was going to be a little harder than they thought to eliminate local control on a global scale through the stroke of a backroom, secret pen, are looking for other options aside from the World Trade Organization. Instead, they are emphasizing \”regional\” trade pacts with most of the same features sought in Seattle.

The FTAA, which the Organization of American States wants to have fully implemented by 2005, is a stronger version of NAFTA, applied to the entire hemisphere. If agreed by leaders of the western hemisphere, the FTAA would break down \”barriers to trade\” like pesky environmental and labor regulations and social programs for the poor. \”Free\” trade rules would permit transnational corporations to find the cheapest possible labor and materials regardless of attempts at local regulation by people in any particular place.

The resulting \”race to the bottom\” has already severely hurt subsistence farmers and workers in Mexico, who under NAFTA have been subject to wild swings of the market and the will of transnational corporate factory owners. Lower skill workers in the US and Canada, meanwhile, are laid off, unable to compete with the cheap labor to the South. Unchallenged corporate control over the environment, which they call \”natural resources,\” ensures nature\’s exploitation and destruction. The net effect: increase the power of unaccountable corporations, stick it to the poor, weaken local, democratic control over our lives, trash the planet.

Corporate controlled leaders hope to accomplish all of this largely without public participation, or even public notice, by approving the FTAA at the Third Summit of the Americas.

Activists opposing corporate domination know how to throw an appropriate party for events like the Summit of the Americas. Canadian activists in Montreal have called for a \”Carnival Against Capitalism\” during the meeting including teach-ins, conferences, workshops, concerts, cabarets, street theater, protests and direct action. The \”Basis of Unity\” for the Carnival is explicitly anti-capitalist, decentralized and non-hierarchical, permitting a diversity of tactics and encouraging militant confrontation instead of reformist lobbying (see sidebar). They have invited people from all corners of the hemisphere to come to Quebec City to prevent the Summit from taking place. Predictably, Summit organizers are promising to mount the largest security operation in Canadian history, with thousands of police brought in to smash dissent.

To get involved, contact CLAC, 2035 St-Laurent Boulevard, 2nd floor, Montreal, Quebec, H2X 2T3, Canada, 514-526-8946,, If you\’re in Montreal, go to a general assembly of CLAC at 7 p.m. on November 21 or December 13 at L\’X, 182, Ste-Catherine East, metro Berri-UQAM. There is preliminary discussion about organizing a caravan from the San Francisco Bay Area that would travel first to Central America to make connections with sweatshop workers, farmers and opponents of globalization there, and then take those connections, information developed in the South, and perhaps some Central American representatives on a North American speaking tour to bring people to Quebec. As capitalism goes global, so too must resistance to capitalism!