Free Trade Area of the Americas
Another bump in the road
In a blow to
corporate-driven agenda, the U.S. has been forced to complete a
scaled-down CAFTA (Central American Free
Trade Agreement) without Costa Rica
The agreement remains a
threat to workers, environment, public health, faces uphill battle in
Congress, according to the
Citizens Trade Campaign [12-20-03]
More on Miami and
the shrinkage of human rights in the USA
Police actions against mostly
peaceful demonstrators in Miami have drawn more attention and analysis as
an example of the continuing expansion of government power against dissent
- and against basic human rights.
Sojourners points to
three good sources, while the
LA Times on Nov. 23 published a provocative opinion piece under the
headline, "Mission Creep Hits Home: American armed forces are assuming
major new domestic policing and surveillance roles"
Miami Roundup: What you may
not have read about the FTAA protests
Amnesty International has called for an
investigation into police tactics during last week's Free Trade Area of
the Americas meetings here, joining a swelling chorus of complaints that
the police used unwarranted violence to stifle mostly peaceful
from the New York Times
"Until Thursday, I respected the badge," says a
71-year-old retired airline pilot and police officer's son - now
outraged after seeing Miami police shoot seniors with rubber bullets,
harrass young people who were doing nothing illegal, and pepper spray
peaceful demonstrators. He was in Miami to protest the FTAA with other
members of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Read more from the Miami Herald
"After receiving $8.5 million in federal funds from the
$87 billion Iraq spending bill, Miami needed to have a major combat
operation. It didn't matter if it was warranted."
Read more from
Source: Sojourners 2003 (c)
Police repression of protests in Miami took on a military
Russell Mokhiber, editor of the
Corporate Crime Reporter,
and Robert Weissman, editor of the
reported on the military-style police repression of mostly nonviolent
protests against the FTAA meeting in Miami on
Leif Utne, managing editor of
provided reports of the conference, and also of the actions in the
streets, where "Miami police suppressed peaceful protesters with a
shocking display of force."
the FTAA negotiations in Miami
US backs off
of early hopes
Food First reports from Miami that, as the Free Trade
Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations wee beginning, the United States
had already retreated from its hard-line position of signing a binding
agreement with a draft proposing a "flexible" process, recognizing that
countries "may assume different levels of commitments."
This is considered a big victory for those opposing the
FTAA, even as the negotiations began, yet Food First expects that the US
will try to spin the negotiations as a success.
Negotiations end early with a scaled-back, more flexible plan
Agence France Presse reported early on Nov. 21 that
trade ministers from the hemisphere working on the Free Trade Area of the
Americas agreement have wrapped up work one day ahead of schedule, with a
deal that scales back the original plan for a free trade bloc of 34
Latin American nations work together to shift away from "free trade" to
The Washington Post reports that Latin
Americans are seeking to shift FTAA plans from trade to aid, in light of
their experience that "free trade" hurts them and their people far more
than it helps.
Free trade or
fair trade: the struggle moves to Miami
The Free Trade Area of the Americas is being negotiated this week in
Miami, with expectations (now a bit shaky, perhaps) that this extension of
"free trade" to the whole of North and South America (except for Cuba, of
course!) would be put into effect in 2004. Here are a few reports that
will give some background and analysis of this important event.
|Why the protests in Miami?|
Mother Jones reports on the protests planned for this week's
FTAA gathering - and more important, examines some of the reasons for
the protests, especially concerns over agricultural production and
|The U.S. is downgrading its ambitions for the FTAA
negotiations, partly in response to Brazil's resistance to "free
trade" as a threat to its own economy and sovereignty.|
See the report in
Britain's Financial Times.
Toronto Globe and Mail carries a similar report.
|Why is Brazil saying No?|
Nation provides details on "Lula," otherwise known as Luiz Ináácio
Lula da Silva, the new left-wing president of Brazil. According to this
report, " He wants to create a global coalition speaking for the not-rich
countries--reminiscent of the 'nonaligned nations' that decades ago tried
to stand between the cold war's two superpowers. And he wants to push the
IMF, the World Bank and the United Nations to become more democratic."
Hmm. More democratic? Pretty radical stuff, this!
Constitutional guarantees suspended for the sake of "free trade"|
As delegates gathered for the FTAA meeting, the Chief Justice of the
Florida Supreme Court announced the suspension of such basic American
rights as guarantees for speedy trials and court hearings.
First is providing reports on the FTAA discussions, beginning
with a general argument against the whole project, largely on the basis
of experience with NAFTA.|
beginning November 17th - though nothing has shown up yet.
promises - or rousing success (for big business!)?|
Jonathan Tasini, the national director of American Rights At Work, shows
how the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was passed by the
House just 10 years ago, "has been a disaster for our nation and its
workers." The U.S. has lost jobs, not gained them; the U.S. trade
deficit has grown; Mexico has gained more poor people, not a new middle
This offers lessons, he says for this week's
negotiations moving toward a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Foreign Policy in Focus offers another - and lengthier -
analysis of the "failure" of the Cancun meeting. Authors Mark Ritchie and
Kristin Dawkins in fact see that meeting as offering a new way forward for
global trade, based on three things that were learned there:
"First, that equitable and effective global trade
agreements can't be negotiated when the balance of power rests exclusively
with the wealthiest nations. Second, that civil society has a legitimate
and useful role in these discussions. And third, that fair trade, trade
that ensures that producers are paid a fair price and workers are paid
fair wages, is the world's best hope for a sustainable trading
Writing in The Nation, Doug Henwood traces a long
history of international/global commerce, and argues that many of our
current economic woes (both in the U.S. and in other nations) really
cannot be blamed on global trade.
If you like to hear thinking that critiques commonly
held "liberal" views, from within a generally progressive framework, take
a look at this.
Latin American bishops call Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
a neo-colonialist trap [9-8-03]
The Catholic bishops of Argentina, Brazil,
Paraguay and Uruguay, along with Bolivia and Chile, met recently in
Montevideo, Uruguayan capital, to discuss the challenges of integration in
Latin America and the "ethical and moral" aspects of the creation of the
The report summarizes
their statements thus: "The main objections to the FTAA raised by the
bishops were that it will benefit the richest countries -- like the United
States and Canada -- at the expense of the less competitive members, and
that it will consolidate the hold of 'unfettered neo-liberalism' on the
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
If you like what
you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and
Please consider making a special
contribution -- large or small -- to help us continue and improve
Click here to send a
gift online, using your credit card, through PayPal.
Or send your check, made
out to "Presbyterian Voices for Justice" and marked "web site," to
our PVJ Treasurer:
4007 Gibsonia Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044-8312
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!