|The Association of State Green Parties
Friday, April 27, 2001
GREENS SALUTE PROTESTERS AT THE FTAA SUMMIT IN QUEBEC
Greens say the Summit's "Democracy Clause" ignores the issue raised by protesters: FTAA's antidemocratic power to overrule environmental and labor protections, in favor of corporate investments.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Members of the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP) praised nonviolent demonstrators -- including many Greens - who defied the "Wall of Shame" and faced violent police repression during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City last weekend. Police responded to property destruction by a few protesters with teargas, stun guns, batons, and arrests against the great mass of nonviolent protesters -- a military tactic to discredit the opposition to corporate globalization.
Greens challenge the claim that the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would promote democracy or better living conditions throughout the Western Hemisphere. President Bush, admitting FTAA's pro-corporate intent, said that FTAA should leave out "codicils to destroy the spirit of free trade.... I don't want those labor protections to be used to destroy the free trade agreement." Greens have proposed a democratic countermeasure to pacts like the FTAA. The Global Greens 2001 Conference, held in Canberra, Australia, April 14 to 16, endorsed unanimously a Global Green Charter calling for an international environmental organization, a world court which would counteract international "free trade" pacts that have nullified environmental, labor, and human rights protections. The "Declaration of Quebec" adopted at the summit includes a "Democracy Clause" to enforce basic democratic standards covering participating countries -- but not FTAA itself. FTAA would handle trade disputes, such as a complaint by a corporation that a national environmental or labor law hinders profit, through an un-elected trade authority similar to those enacted under NAFTA and other pacts.
Nowhere does the clause recognize collective bargaining rights, safe and democratic workplaces, or livable wage guarantees. The only nation in the Western Hemisphere to fall under sanction according to the Democracy Clause is Cuba. However, members of the D.C. Statehood Green Party note that the U.S. could be challenged because Congress imposes legislation and policy on D.C. residents and overturns locally enacted laws.
The Democracy Clause is comparable to the "sidebars" of NAFTA, which the Clinton Administration in 1993 said would protect against environmental and labor abuses. But in case after case, corporate investors won out over environmental or labor concerns. NAFTA forced Canada to allow the Ethyl Corporation to bypass a law outlawing a toxic gasoline additive, and held that Mexican environmental laws violated Metalclad Corporation's desire for a toxic waste dump. (See "The Free Trade Area of the Americas Places Corporate Rights Above Human Rights," from Global Exchange, at http://globalexchange.org/ftaa/statement040201.html).
Human Rights Watch's April, 2001 report "Trading Away Rights: The Unfulfilled Promise of NAFTA's Labor Side Agreement," (http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/nafta/), details the effect of NAFTA on American jobs. In Mexico, a million workers now earn less than minimum wage, with 8 million more Mexican families now in poverty. Under FTAA, Brazil's availability of low-cost AIDS and tuberculosis drugs, a model program for developing nations, will be challenged because Brazil interferes with the patent rights and profits of U.S. drug firms.
Protests against the FTAA:
"Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Free Trade Area of
the Americas" (from Global Exchange):