News Release

FTAA: Liberty or Oppression?

As he left the U.S. for the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Quebec today, President Bush said that the goal was to create a “hemisphere of liberty” and fight against “poverty, disease and ignorance.” Interviews are available with the following analysts who have a different assessment of the FTAA:

CAROL PHILLIPS
Director of the international department of the Canadian Auto Workers, Phillips said today: “In Quebec City today, the streets are shut down, there is a strong military presence in the city. They have put up a three-mile wall. The idea that what they are doing is promoting liberty is ridiculous…. The Canadian trade union movement has come on board with the anti-capitalist movement in a way the AFL-CIO never did; it’s a stronger labor movement here and recognizes the vibrancy of the activism…. Apparently, a toned-down version of the FTAA, recently leaked, reveals that the investment chapter of NAFTA is the model for the FTAA. That means governments are giving away more and more rights to corporations and that corporations will be able to sue governments to get rid of laws that protect people.”
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ALBERTO VILLAREAL
Director of REDES, an environmental and social organization in Uruguay, Villareal is regional director for the Friends of the Earth International campaign on trade. In Quebec, he said today: “On agriculture, the FTAA is about giving the food sector over to agribusiness and biotech big business and taking it out of the hands of local farmers and even governments. This will lead to more of an export model — which, using agrochemicals, pesticides and herbicides, is environmentally damaging. It will also lead to more food insecurity. As agriculture has been industrialized, hunger has not been touched at all. There are widespread farmer bankruptcies in Uruguay — it is only the big, export-oriented land owners who are benefiting.”
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MARIA LUISA MENDONCA
Director of the Global Justice Center in Brazil, Mendonca is currently in Quebec.
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MIKE PROKOSCH
Prokosch is globalization coordinator with United for a Fair Economy.
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FRED AZCARATE
Executive director of Jobs with Justice, a national coalition of community, labor, student and faith-based organizations which is organizing protests in Quebec as well as dozens of U.S. cities, Azcarate said today: “U.S. labor leaders were turned away at the Canadian border…. Local communities are banding together to fight the FTAA because they know that the corporate-led power grab embodied in it endangers us all.”
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TONY CLARKE
Director of the Polaris Institute in Ottawa, Clarke is coauthor (with Maude Barlow) of Global Showdown: How the New Activists Are Fighting Global Corporate Rule.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167