Viewpoint: Trading America, the rise of FTAA

July 1, 1993

Those wonderful people who brought us GATT and NAFTA are at it again. They’ve hatched a new scheme that makes those trade pacts look tame.

As you watch the U.S. industrial base decline, and now our service base, too, and leave the country, meditate on this new program. Think about the Free Trade Area of the Americas, more popularly known as FTAA.

Haven’t heard of it? That’s not surprising. The corporations that own the national media have carefully avoided full coverage of it because they are involved.

If you think NAFTA is bad, wait ‘til you see this one in action! Columnist Jim Hightower describes it as “NAFTA on Viagra.”

This program will create a lot of free time for most of us because it will move a good chunk of our manufacturing, high-tech and farm production out of our borders.

There are 34 nations involved in creating this marvelous plan to destroy America as we have known it.

It all began with former President Bill Clinton back in 1993. Slick Willie teamed up with the big grabber Newt Gingrich to push NAFTA through Congress.

The following year, Clinton convened the Summit of the Americas in Miami. That meeting began discussions of a trade zone reaching from the Arctic to the Antarctic. All such deliberations have been in secret.

Another secret session followed in 1998. This one was called the Santiago Summit. It was there that participating nations established nine working groups of top trade officials to deal with all areas of corporate interest.

So, if you and I and other Americans are not at the table, who is? Just some friendly folks like Wal-Mart, Halliburton, GE, GM, Dow Chemical, Microsoft, American Express, Citigroup and many others. Some of the original members were Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom. Reassuring, isn’t it?

Every time the FTAA trade ministers go into a huddle so does a group of corporate muckety-mucks sponsored by the Council of the Americas.

That bunch is chaired by a top exec of Citigroup and has on its board of directors such luminaries as Bank of America, Archer Daniels Midland, Exxon Mobil, J.P. Morgan Chase, IBM, Colgate-Palmolive, Merck, Johnson & Johnson plus several others.

While this is going on, yet another bunch of corporate officials is involved in secret talks through the World Trade Organization (WTO). The objective of this panel is to force privatizing of public services elsewhere in the world through GATT-General Agreement on Trade in Services.

Prime movers involved in this effort include Bechtel, Halliburton, EDS, GE, UPS, Wackenhut and Vivendi.

Does that sound like Democracy to you? The late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini said: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” That concept is near and dear to the hearts of the present administration.

Part of the plan for us is to privatize such low-cost public services as water, health care, social security, postal delivery, food safety, electricity, environmental protection and licensing of physicians and lawyers, to name several. In other words, more profits for corporations and more costs for us.

Along with that will come language to open these services to take over by private corporations in any country, state or city in the world. To grease the skids for the corporations, there also will be language that would prohibit any regulations by government that interfere with unlimited corporate profits.

In late 1999, the WTO declared: “Governments are free in principle to pursue any national policy objectives provided the relevant measures are compatible with the GATTS.” How’s that for arrogance?

That means your right to self-government and local control over basic services will be gone.

These nine working groups have been meeting in secret session since 2000, but local and national media have only whispered about it. Trade officials meet every three or four months. They intend to have their work largely completed by next year with implementation of FTAA to follow in 2005.

The administration has said almost nothing about this conspiracy. Have you heard any of the avowed presidential contenders say a word about FTAA? Has the Congress shown any awareness? So far only Rep. Dennis Kucinich has stood up on his hind legs and outlined this issue for what it is.

All these fantastic “improvements” will be carried out hand-in-glove with the WTO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

If you believe this is “fair trade,” then ask the people of Brazil–specifically Rio de Janeiro–what kind of good deal they got when their water utility was taken over by this collection of robber barons. Ask Argentinians how good the debt load of the IMF has been for their country.

But things are not quite as bleak as they may appear. The next meeting of the trade officials on FTAA is set for Miami the week of Nov. 17.

This time, they will be met by a surging crowd of workers representing labor, farmers, women, environmentalists and others. They will rip the mask away from the scheme and make it into a campaign issue right before the election. The corporate raiders will find the going a bit rough.

But more of us need to get educated about FTAA. Plenty of information is available from such sites as: www.globalexchange.org or www.tradewatch.org or www.jimhightower.com. It’s up to us whether we will let the greedy corporations run our country or whether we take it back.

By the way, our Congressman Don Manzullo (R-16) has voted for every single trade agreement that has cost us industries and jobs and exported them to countries that harm the environment, violate human rights and pay almost slave wages. Now he has spin meetings on how concerned he is; yet he voted for: NAFTA (1994), GATT Round (1994); MFN with China (2000); Africa/Caribbean Basin (2000) and Fast Track (2001).

What will his vote be on FTAA? Go figure. Let him know what you think, or lose local control and your standard of living.

Rep. Don Manzullo

415 S. Mulford Rd.

Rockford, IL 61108

815-394-1231

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