FTAA Myths vs. Reality

by Jesse Nason

from Stop FTAA website http://www.stopftaa.org/


Myth The FTAA will enhance democracy and prosperity throughout the Americas.

Reality The agreement, being negotiated in secret by unelected trade ministers, will create an unprecedented windfall for transnational corporations. Factories will spring up wherever the lowest wages and weakest environmental protections exist. Workers' rights, the environment, and standards of living all figure to be weakened under the agreement. Corporations will have expanded powers to sue governments that pass any law that hinders trade.

"We reiterate our commitment to avoid to the greatest extent possible the adoption of policies or measures that adversely affect trade and investment in the Hemisphere," declares one FTAA resolution.


Myth The FTAA is just about business and therefore has little to do with our everyday lives.

Reality The scope of the FTAA's power includes but is not limited to: individual privacy, environmental issues, drug use, education, health care, the food we eat and grow, energy use and distribution, intellectual property.


Myth "Governments in the Western Hemisphere have committed to transparency in the negotiating process."

Reality While the FTAA has formed a Committee on Civil Society which will accept comments from labor, environmental, and academic groups, that committee is under no obligation to respond to or even to consider the submitted comments. Furthermore, hundreds of non-governmental organizations have been stonewalled in their attempt to learn more about the details of the proposed trade agreement, which will affect 650 million people and $9 trillion in capital. To date, Canada is the only country of the 34 involved to make public its official negotiating texts. Even more disturbing, more than 500 corporate representatives have been given access to negotiating documents, not to mention access to the negotiators themselves.


Myth The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a good thing, and the FTAA will be even better.

Reality More than one million U.S. jobs have been lost due to corporations relocating to Mexico since NAFTA went into effect six years ago. Some eight million Mexicans have fallen from the middle class into poverty, and an explosion in industry-related illnesses and birth defects have been reported along the U.S.-Mexico border. The malignant effects of NAFTA were anticipated by the indigenous people of the Mexican state of Chiapas­the Zapatistas­who revolted the very day it went into effect.


Myth Opponents of the FTAA are protectionists or isolationists who oppose trade.

Reality Most opponents of the FTAA support trade if resources are distributed equitably, production stems from a healthy relationship with the environment, and workers control the means of production. Unfortunately, the FTAA is just the latest gambit to further concentrate wealth into the hands of a few through a process of systematic exploitation. Fortunately, just as capitalism is now global, so is resistance to it.


Myth What's the point of opposing the FTAA? Corporations can get away with whatever they want.

Reality Though it's true that corporations exercise a terrifying amount of control over our lives, resistance is far from futile. A genuine grassroots campaign in 1995 and 1997 led to the defeat of Fast Track negotiating authority, which would have allowed President Clinton to broker international trade deals without input from Congress. President Bush has said that if the new Congress doesn't approve Fast Track, U.S. involvement in the FTAA will be hindered. (NY Times article) In Chiapas, after seven years of low-intensity war, government troops have been ordered to withdraw­a clear victory for the poet-warrior Zapatistas. And closer to home, thousands of militant, creative, non-violent protestors in Seattle succeeded in throwing the World Trade Organizations' ministerial meeting off its tracks in Nov.-Dec. 1999. This helped spell defeat for the dreaded Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI), which would have greatly expanded corporate rights and powers while crippling the ability of local, state and federal governments to pass laws protecting the environment and workers. The astounding victory in Seattle awakened millions to the evils of global capitalism and proved that the people can win, no matter the odds. The 2001 Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec will be our next big chance to hammer another nail into the coffin of greed.


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