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.