FTAA ArgentinaThunder Bay 29 Nov 2005 05:37 GMT
Violence errupted in the streets of Mar Del Plata, Argentina this weekend. The tourist town was the most recent meeting site of 34 heads of state (with the exception of Cuba) who plan to blanket the Western hemisphere in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). According to the most recent figures from Indymedia Argentina, there have been 81 arrests including 5 Internationals.
This is reminiscent of the clashes in Quebec City in 2001 when over 80,000 Canadians, Quebecois, and First Nations peoples marched against this expansion of the NAFTA to create the largest free trade zone on Earth. In Quebec, a deadline of 2005 was set for the signing and implementation of the agreement. But Latin American backlash against corporate globalization has elected a rash of Left leaning governments and together with pressure from popular movements, the process has been all but derailed. A poll released by the Argentine press on Friday found 76% of respondents to be opposed to the FTAA and another found Argentina to have the lowest opinion in the hemisphere of the United States.
Still, Paul Martin whose Liberals ran against free trade just 12 years ago, opened the meetings with pleas to get the FTAA's third draft back on track. Canada also sponsored the third Indigenous Peoples Summit of the Americas which was expected to submit its recommendations on the final day of the meetings.
Once again, the leaders went home without advancing the agreement.