People from Ottawa to San Francisco are today attempting to "liberate" the Free Trade Area of the Americasnegotiating documents, which governments have made available to corporations but not to the public.
The U.S. government has been negotiating the FTAA with selected corporations and 34 countries of the Americas since1994, but has never allowed citizens to see the documents. Even politicians have objected to the secrecy of theproceedings: more than 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a letter to the Bush administrationdemanding the release of the text.
The FTAA would expand NAFTA to the entire Western Hemisphere, except Cuba, creating the largest free market zone inthe world. It would affect 650 million people and an estimated $9 trillion in capital, and is expected to expand thescope of NAFTA’s free trade agenda to cover the service sector.
Activists in Ottawa held a forum on Parliament Hill yesterday, demanding the release of the documents. Today theactivists are attempting to shut down the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade building, where thedocuments are held. They are also planning to search the offices of the Canadian Trade Minister
Meanwhile, San Francisco activists have organized parallel events, with a march and teach-in yesterday and an actiontoday at the Bank of America World Headquarters. The Bank of America is one of the institutions granted access tothe FTAA documents.
- Katherine Louli, trade unionist and activist with Ottawa convergence opposing the FTAA. (CUPE CanadianUnion of Public Employees).
- Kerry Pither, activist in Ottawa.
- David Solnit, member of the Fogtown Action Avengers a cluster of six local affinity groups. He is a streettheater activist with Art and Revolution.
- Cindy Rosin, from the New York City Coalition to Sop the FTAA, and from the Activism Center at WetlandsPreserve.
- Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.