FTAA Myths vs. Reality
by Jesse Nason
from Stop FTAA website http://www.stopftaa.org/
Myth The FTAA will enhance democracy and prosperity throughout
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
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.