Over 50,000 protesters converged on Quebec City over the weekend for The Summit of the Americas, where 34 heads ofstate sat down to negotiate a free trade deal which would expand NAFTA to every country in the Western hemisphereexcept Cuba.
The negotiations, known formally as the Free Trade Area of the Americas, were carried on in secret. While thepresidents of large corporations and banks had been given copies of the negotiating texts, congresspeople,parliamentarians, Non-Governmental Organizations and the general public have not seen them.
To keep the public away from the negotiations, the Canadian security forces mounted their largest security operationin history at an estimated cost of $30 million. 6,000 police officers and over 1,000 troops were deployed. Over 150people were arrested, including one of the lead organizers Jaggi Singh. Singh, who was urging protesters to turnaway from a tense encounter with police, was nabbed by four undercover policemen, dragged into a van, and taken tojail.
Much attention was focused on what came to be known as “the Wall of Shame”: a 10 foot high chain link fence, set inconcrete blocks, which surrounded the whole of the Old Town. Protesters managed to break through the fence in atleast two places, and were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and rows of police in full riot gear.
The resistance was organized into three parts. NGOS, unions, and the provincial governments organized an alternativesummit, the People’s Summit of the Americas, to discuss alternatives to corporate-led globalization. The People’sSummit met throughout the week.
To mark the beginning of the official summit on Friday, protesters organized a day of action. An estimated15,000-20,000 people marched from Lavalle University to the city, where many protesters tried to shut down the talks.On Saturday, the direct actions continued, while another 50,000, most of them trade unionists, marched away from theconfrontation at the fence and held a rally.
We begin on Friday, where Jaggi Singh and other members of one of the lead organizing groups, the Anti-CapitalistConvergence or CLAC, held a press conference.Guests:
- Jaggi Singh, organizer with CLAC, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence.
- Tony Clarke, Vice President of the Council of Canadians.
- Naomi Klein, columnist and author of ??No Logo.
- Maude Barlow, President of the Council of Canadians.
- Jose Bove, French farmer and anti-globalization activist who was arrested in France for attacking aMcDonald’s construction site in Southern France. Bove was protesting a WTO ruling which sanctioned France forrefusing to accept hormone-injected beef from the U.S.
- Sounds from the streets of Quebec City