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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Owlkat Quebec City Protest of Free Trade. (112* d) RE: Quebec City Protest of Free Trade. 22 Apr 01

Hi, There are some significant problems with what is referred to as "Free Trade", as percieved by those who don't live in the USA.
First, NAFTA has been mostly put together by American lawyers and legislators with the commercial, legal, and economic bias expected. The wording of the agreements benefit the US the most, and Washington has made extensive use of trade sanctions, threatened and actual legal actions to achieve dominance of American interests over those of other smaller countries. For example, Canadian trade with Cuba has produced a non-stop stream of American legislation threatening us with sanctions if we continue autonomously, to create our own international trade relations free of American interference. Meanwhile Washington continues to trade with and fund some of the most obscenely dictatorial and repressive governments around the globe.
Second, NAFTA strips governments of the autonomy needed to protect the rights of a country's citizens.For example, the agreements grant American companies the right to sue foreign governments for ANY actions taken which could be construed as being detrimental to the earnings of those companies. Translated into reality, an American company in Canada which produces toxic waste and dumps it in the local water supply can successfully sue the Canadian government if complying with environmental standards under Canadian regulations cuts into their profits.
Third, the only country in the Americas supplying the US with the majority of exports is Canada; most of the other nations in the Americas do the vast majority of trade with the rest of the world. NAFTA is being used as a lever to force them to redirect their trade into the US.
Fourth, NAFTA, in the purest sense of capitalism, commidifies EVERY profitable enterprise. Everything is for sale, including all raw materials, water, lumber, real estate, culture, and the media to name a few things, and, I might add, at a price set in Washington.
Fifth, NAFTA encourages runaway industries that locate where the labour is un-unionized and cheap, where safety and environmental standards are minimal to non-existant, and where usually the Government is in the pocket of the ruling elite industrialists. This guarantees disenfranchisement of rights of the people for any redress or addressing of problems caused by foreign-owned industry.
The US has got much industrial power, and a large and well equipped army, with the capability and the will to use nuclear weapons. This, coupled with an aggressive big stick approach to diplomacy has established it as a major imperialist culture in the 21st century.
The WTO summit in Quebec City is open and answerable only to government heads, and industrial friends of those government. They're not listening to the people nor do they care. As Vicente Fox said, "Protesters don't supply jobs to anybody." And that's all that matters. So, there you go.
I agree trade is important, and international trade can be a good thing. But not decided in secret, not administered at the point of a gun, and not acheived by enslavement of foreign national autonomy for only American political and industrial gain.
Happy Sunday
Owl. These are some of the reasons why NAFTA is scarey, and why people are protesting

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