Here is the latest news followed by
a 750 word guest opinion piece on the F.T.A.A. which appeared in the Palo Alto Weekly. Here is the text of the article plus additional materials passed on to the local city councils, and action suggestions. (This site employs Style Sheets so you also need to
rename it "CCstyle.css", and include it where you put this file.)
"Fast Track" legislation just passed through congress on an extraordinarily close vote of 215 to 214, with Republicans mainly for and Democrats mainly against.
See Final Vote Results for the exact details. A consoling message was immediately sent out, to remind activists of where we stand in the long run.
The article has been useful in drawing attention to the issue.
My letter to the City Council,
I have been working diligently to oppose the "Free Trade Area of the Americas" agreement which President Bush hopes to conclude by the year 2005, if not sooner. I believe this agreement would greatly threaten the sovereignty of many nations, as well as state, city, and municipal regulations to safeguard the environment, local economies, worker's rights, our water, electricity, healthcare and educational systems, even the postal service. I am including a piece that I wrote, which recently appeared in the Palo Alto Weekly, and CALIFORNIA OUR LAWS AT RISK, by THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE POLICY AND STATE LEGISLATION, and a copy of Santa Cruz's Resolution Against the FTAA, in the hopes that you will agree that Palo Alto should take a stand against the FTAA.
Thank-you for your consideration of this matter.
Sincerely, Carol Brouillet
From the April 18, 2001 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly
New free-trade pact a secret 'corporate coup d'etat
When I agreed agreed to speak, I hadn't heard of the FTAA," Stanford University Professor Rush Rehm said April 9 at a teach-in at Stanford.
"But I did a little "homework, and when I got it, I got it," Rehm (my favorite Stanford professor) told the 40 persons attending the teach-in -- where even the teachers were learning.
The Teach-in was entitled, "Exposing the Corporate Coup d'Etat -- the Free Trade Area of the Americas."
Described as " N.A.F.T.A. on Steroids, after the earlier North American Free Trade Agreement, the FTAA would expand to the entire hemisphere the failed NAFTA model of increased privatization and deregulation.
The FTAA has sweeping sweeping new provisions permitting the privatization of health, education, all services, energy, water, land and forests. The new rules would constrain governments from setting standards for public health and safety, protecting their workers, and preventing corporations from polluting the environment.
The FTAA was written in secret (and without Congressional mandate) by trade ministers of the 34 nations of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean (except Cuba) and 500 corporate representatives. To become law, it needs to slip by quickly, unnoticed by Congress or the public.
"Free Trade"- means "free to sue, free to exploit,"-- in essence it means "Free Lunch for Corporations." Under NAFTA, corporations have already sued countries for millions and billions of dollars.
Ethyl Corporation forced Canada to pay $13 million in damages and drop its ban on MMT, a known toxin. Methanex Corporation of Vancouver filed a NAFTA lawsuit against California for almost $1 billion, when we banned the carcinogen MTBE that was contaminating our water tables.
When corporations win millions from the government for not "polluting or making profits," we're in trouble.
California's "Committee on International Trade Policy and State Legislation" says "NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements diminish the sovereignty of states --shift decision making power from elected officials to non-elected international trade officials.
"Trade rules do not regulate trade; they regulate the power of governments to regulate" and constitute "a shift away from state legislatures, away from national courts, and away from public proceedings. Trade policy is less accessible and accountable to people and more accessible and responsive to multinational corporations."
Decisions have consistently been handed down in favor of corporations and against environmental protection laws.
Finding speakers for the Teach-In was difficult because few knew about the FTAA, and they are busy "organizing." Teach-Ins are happening all over, mobilizing for the April 20-22 "Summit of the Americas" in Quebec City, Canada.
To discourage "another Seattle" new walls are being built around the old fort walls, where the summit is being held. People are planning protests -- peaceful demonstrations -- at the borders, and cities in the United States, Canada and South America (www.stopftaa.org).
The displacement that comes from growing economic inequities driven by globalization are creating New World Borders,an American Wall, between the United States and Mexico.
We've seen rents skyrocket in Palo Alto, as the speculative "bubble economy" has driven up the prices of land and houses, driving out the poor, the nonprofits, the teachers, the policemen, the people who work in restaurants, the gardeners.
People move away because they cannot afford to stay. This is "globalization," which forces farmers off the land and drives waves of people to migrate in search of survival.
I didn't pay attention to the FTAA, either, until I went to the first World Social Forum, held in Porto Allegre, Brazil (see http://www.worldsocialforum.org) while the World Economic Forum met in Switzerland. More than 4,000 delegates from grassroots and non-governmental organizations from 117 countries gathered to oppose the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and WTO.
"Another World is Possible" was our theme. Delegates signed a "call for mobilization" to oppose the FTAA and Plan Colombia, which was seen as a thinly veiled military strategy to force the FTAA upon Latin America.
In February, I plunged into organizing. San Francisco was ahead of Palo Alto. In a delegation to our U.S. Senators, we demanded that they speak out publicly against the FTAA and oppose granting the President authority to make trade deals without meaningful public debate.
Fifty-four U.S. Representatives have demanded the release of the FTAA text; ; the U.S. Trade Representative is being sued now for keeping people in the dark. On April 2nd, direct actions were taken across the continent to "release the text." We stopped trading on the Pacific Stock Exchange, and 14 people were arrested.
A delegation wants to meet with Representative Anna Eschoo to encourage her to oppose the FTAA, but her record on trade issues is abysmal.
I hope the magnitude of the FTAA will generate broad, deep opposition from everyone who cares about democracy, the environment, our air, our water, our food, our children, human rights, health, peace, justice, the future. Once people "get it"
By Carol Brouillet
CALIFORNIA OUR LAWS AT RISK
THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE POLICY AND STATE LEGISLATION
California is a global leader on issues of economic development, labor standards, human rights, consumer protection and environmental sustainability. Yet under multilateral trade agreements such as the WTO and NAFTA, enforcement of California’s laws could be at risk.
As the reach of trade rules and sanctions increases, there is a growing imbalance between federal primacy in establishing and implementing trade policy and the obligations now being thrust upon states. As presently administered, the NAFTA and WTO agreements diminish the sovereignty of states such as California and, in doing so, shift decision making power from elected officials to non-elected international trade officials, and can detrimentally diminish the role of public input.
Chaired by Senator Sheila Kuehl, The Senate Select Committee on International Trade Policy and State Legislation was established by the California Legislature in 2000. The committee will work to assess the impact of these trade agreements on California laws and regulations and will develop an oversight and advice role for the legislature. We hope to bring more accountability, balance and participation to the current state-federal relationship in the making of international trade policy and its implementation. As states become increasingly obligated under trade rules and policy, our involvement in these processes must increase.
As the first state in the nation to create an institutional committee to address these issues, we have a responsibility not only to our citizens, but also to pave the way for other states to take our lead and join in this growing movement toward protecting state and local authority within the new global economy. We hope that California can utilize its enormous potential to contribute to the new global economic order according to our state’s historic preference for California based businesses, decent labor and human rights standards and strong environmental and public health standards.
WHO DECIDES WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE STATE?
. . . Ultimately the federal government, through its Constitutional authority and the [NAFTA] implementing bill, retains the authority to overrule inconsistent state law through legislation or civil suit . . . . The North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Statement of Administrative Action, Section A(2)(e).
Trade and investment agreements limit the sovereignty of American states. The debate over trade issues has thus far been cast largely in false terms. Rather than a conflict between “free trade” and “protectionism,” the real battle is over the legitimacy of, and need for, regulatory balance, including regulation to protect ecosystems, human health, product safety and traditional objectives of democratic governance. The trade law system that has thus far been constructed is explicitly designed to place enforceable restrictions on the capacity of local, state and national governments to obtain and retain laws to advance goals important to their constituencies.
Trade rules of NAFTA or WTO agreements do not regulate trade; they regulate the power of governments to regulate or influence trade. The challenge for state and local legislatures will be to develop legislative capacity to respond to the threats and opportunities that come from layering global rules that regulate government on top of a federal system that has traditionally respected cities and states as “laboratories for democracy.”
In the United States, the sovereignty debate focuses on the shifting balance of political power a shift away from state legislatures, away from national courts, and away from public proceedings by which voters could hold elected officials accountable. The resulting trade policy is less accessible and accountable to the people of each nation and more accessible and responsive to multinational corporations that do not see themselves as citizens of any particular country. The work of this committee is not an argument against trade; it is an argument in favor of assuring that the process of negotiating trade agreements does not undermine the traditional checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution.
California has an important role to play in the export of technology and products; we also have an equally important role to play in setting environmental standards, ending abusive working conditions which dehumanize employees abroad and undercut California wages, preventing our tax dollars from subsidizing regimes that employ slave or prison labor here and abroad and ensuring the best opportunities for our local businesses. It is time to integrate global trade policies with California’s agenda for promoting local economic development, decent wages and working conditions, civil rights, clean air, environmental protection and restoration and democratic processes.
For more information about this growing alliance of concerned citizens, local and state legislators and non-governmental organizations, please contact the California State Senate Committee on International Trade Policy and State Legislation at (916) 322-8616.
I plan on collecting signatures on petitions, at local events and doing what I can to mobilize people, and getting a local resolution against the FTAA passed. (Any help would be welcome!!!!!) We also need to write articles, letters to the editor, reach the mainstream and alternative press. We must persuade our Congressional Representatives to vote against the FTAA.
We held a Teach In on Globalization, Free Trade (FTAA, and Third World Debt) June 2nd in San Jose. Over 200 people came and we are all organizing!
Here are the action ideas generated by our workshop
(FTAA: Its Effects on Workers and Communities in the Americas)-
Our workshop notes-
What to Do?
Contact City Council
City Council needs to be focus
Take to Union Meetings & Talk to People
Use Community Channels to broadcast information
Talk on the Radio
Letters to the Editor (Mercury News)
Protest July 14th Bohemian Grove http://www.actionsf.org http://www.actionsf.org
Protest June 22-27 San Diego, CA --- Biodevastation (resisting biotechnology)http://www.biodev.org
Protest in Washington D.C. September 28- Oct. 4th against Bush http://www.iacenter.org, & World Bank, IMF http://www.50years.org
Visit Congressional Representatives offices locally
Reach out more to students/ get youth to talk to youth about issues to overcome generational gap
Call conservative talk radio shows (be wary when they try to screen you)
Protest Advertisers and the 500 transnational corporations that are writing the text of the FTAA
Have local protests/include everyone who came to the Teach-In
Do press work
Work on metaphors and communications to get our message across to the mainstream
Have cultural/musical parts in our movement
Let people know that Free Trade started with Slave Trade-
Our chant for the streets:Free Trade is Slave Trade, No Way FTAA
Stop the FTAA!
What We Can Do-
Be Informed- A great resource is the STOP FTAA website-http://www.stopftaa.org http//www.stopftaa.org. Fast Track is legislation in which Congress can delegate to the President its exclusive constitutional authority to set international commercial rules, effectively limiting debate on agreements which have sweeping consequences and shift power away from elected officials to corporate appointees.
Inform Others- The Corporate Press is not going to reveal the truth without serious efforts on the part of activists. We need to write articles, write letters to the editor, call up on radio talk-shows, organize Teach-Ins/video showings, pass out flyers, articles. Talk to people about this, call community leaders, inform the different groups that you belong to.
Educate Elected Officials- Try to get a local Resolution Against the FTAA passed by your city council. Collect signatures on petitions against the FTAA and Fast Track, and pass them on to your local, state, and national representatives. Visit and write to your Congressional Representatives where the real battle over FTAA will take place. Demand that they oppose FTAA! Public Citizen's website- http://www.tradewatch.org has great advice on contacting elected officials and sample letters for every occasion.
Take Direct Action- The only hope the FTAA has of passing is if an uninformed public doesn't have a clue that our government is hobbling its powers and giving the reins of power to an unelected supranational trade body created of, by and for corporations, to serve corporate greed not human needs. At times only the organized efforts of committed citizens will draw media attention to issues censored in the mainstream press. On April 2nd an international day of action was declared to "Release the text of the FTAA" and creative actions and arrests took place in many cities, including Ottawa and San Francisco. Over 60,000 people demonstrated their opposition against the FTAA in Quebec City in April, we might need to mobilize again locally, nationally or internationally. Many groups give non-violence workshops, direct action trainings, and encourage people to form affinity or support groups. Consensus decision making, spokescouncils, a broadbased cooperative alliance of diverse groups who share the same goals can be a powerful, effective force in raising public consciousness and teaching the joyful, practical, elements of grassroots democracy and solidarity. We each have tremendous personal power, but when we join with others of like spirit, we can change the world.
Support Local Struggles- Recognize how our local struggles are linked to the struggles happening all over the world, and how each victory helps all of us. Give what you can to lead, support, encourage local struggles.
Support Global Struggles- We must rein in the U.S. Government and hold it accountable. U.S. militarism, arm sales, the overconsumption of a vast part of the world's resources threaten much of the world. Give what you can to lead, support, encourage those engaged in the global struggle within and outside of the U.S..
Connect With Others- Here. Now.