The Zapatistas rose up on January 1, 1994, the day that NAFTA went into effect. But this hasn’t stopped othergovernments from trying to expand so-called “free trade” to the entire hemisphere. From April 20 to 22, Quebec Citywill host 34 heads of state for the Summit of the Americas. The central agenda item: passing the controversial FreeTrade Area of the Americas, which would extend NAFTA to every country in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba.
The trade pact has been the subject of secretive negotiations since the first summit was held in Miami in 1994, andnegotiators have set 2005 as the deadline for implementation. Negotiators in Lima have already approved parts of adraft text.
To keep protesters away from the action, police and other authorities have instituted sweeping security measuresestimated at a cost of $ 30 million. They are raising a 10-foot-high, heavy-duty chain link fence, reinforced bysteel posts and anchored in concrete, that will form a 2.5 mile “security perimeter” within the heart of the OldTown. More than 5,000 officers, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are slated to work the summit, and theCanadian army is presently training 800 riot police just outside Quebec City. Prisoners are being transferred fromlocal jails to ensure there is plenty of room for protesters.
But protesters have already encountered what has become the biggest security operation in Canadian history. InJanuary, 10 New Yorkers en route to a meeting organized by the Summit of the Americas Welcoming Committee were deniedentry into the country.
Today we will be joined by a number of people, to talk about the significance of the upcoming meeting, the plans forprotest, and new trends in security and police activities, including the cross-border collaboration between securityforces, or the “globalization” of security.
- Julie Carlson, co-director, of the Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project and member of the New YorkCoalition to Stop the FTAA.
- Pierre Sigouin, Chief of Intelligence and Contraband Services for Canadian Customs.
- Mack Scott, of the New York City People’s Law Collective.
- Mike Prokosch, coordinator of the Globalization Program at United for a Fair Economy.
- Kate Sorenson, Philadelphia AIDS activist who faced a million dollar bail for her protest at theRepublican National Convention. She was recently acquitted of all felonies.
- Mara Verhaven Hilliard, attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice.