People's Summit Responds to "Three Amigos" Agenda
NEW ORLEANS (April 22, 2008) - The "Three Amigos" of North America
showed once more that they will ignore the growing clamor to
renegotiate NAFTA and will continue to push our countries in the same
direction through the North American Security and Prosperity
Partnership (SPP). With the fourth Summit shrouded in more secrecy, the
People's Summit gathered to build knowledge and understanding of how
what is being discussed inside impacts our daily lives.
Over 30 local, national and international organizations and networks
hosted the New Orleans People's Summit: Our Response to NAFTA Expansion
April 20-22 in New Orleans, LA with participation from groups based in
New Orleans, other parts of the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Quebec.
The SPP process is blatantly controlled by the North American
Competitiveness Council (NACC) made up of the top 30 corporations CEO's
in the three countries--confirmed by President Calderón when he stated
clearly that "this morning, the Business Leaders gave us a specific
agenda to follow" and "we are here to support them".
President George Bush revealed his motives behind the SPP and holding
his summit in New Orleans when he stated, "I chose New Orleans for our
meetings with Mexico and Canada because I wanted to send a clear signal
to the people of my country that New Orleans is open for business."
New Orleans has been ravaged by the very profit schemes typically saved
for export, while the basic social infrastructure of this city has been
"This is the most developed and advanced form of privatization for an
entire city in the U.S. at the expense of people of color and
indigenous people fighting for their right to return," said Cindy
Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice.
Participants of the Summit from outside New Orleans witnessed the utter
failures of the federal and local government to respond to the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and their failure in rebuilding the
school system, addressing the housing crisis, providing affordable
physical and mental health care, and creating fair working and living
standards for all residents.
"I was shocked to learn that in New Orleans how prevalent racism was
during and after the crisis" said David Kane with the Alliance for
"What we have experienced in New Orleans should be a warning to other
communities in the U.S. of how far they will take these policies," said
Mayaba Lebenthal of Critical Resistance New Orleans. "The result of
investing in privatization, rather than holistic community rebuilding,
has led to unsafe, substandard living conditions."
"This calamity was not a natural disaster but a manmade disaster" said
Kimberley Richards a resident of the Gulf Region and organizer in New
Orleans with the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. "Whether
we are home or in the Katrina/Rita Diaspora we are displaced and need
the UN principles of displacement and human rights to be honored. The
restoration process cannot be just about bricks and mortar but must
restore the fabric of the community which is the culture and music of
Fundamental issues affecting the future of our societies are at stake
under the SPP plan. "It is unacceptable that human security, energy
policy, workers rights, and environmental standards, are left in the
hands of Walmart, Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Power Corp and the
like, of our world", said Pierre-Yves Serinet, from the Quebec Network
on Hemispheric Integration (RQIC), one of the four anti-free-trade
coalitions in the region. "With the SPP, we are facing the
privatization of policy making, tantamount to a Corporate Coup d'Etat,
where deep changes are taking place, bypassing our democratic
institutions, like parliaments and Congress", he added.
"Nancy Pelosi's blocking of U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
demonstrates why the Bush Administration is so determined to keep the
SPP process outside of Congressional authority," said Tom Loudon of the
Alliance for Responsible Trade. "Undermining democratic processes is
the necessary ingredient to push these policies through."
"Silencing the people of New Orleans through forced removal and
continued displacement of many pre-Katrina residents is also a
reality," said Lebenthal. "This is done through military evacuation,
destruction of public housing and limited affordable housing,
privatization of public schools, and mass incineration."
In New Orleans about 2,500 arrests are made a month rather then
reinvesting in the communities most hard hit by unfair local, national
and international economic agreements, such as SPP and NAFTA.
Now we are exporting this policy as President Bush reaffirmed his
commitment to the Plan Mexico (Merida Initiative), providing $500
million dollars in aid, primarily to Mexican military and police force
to help fight the "war on drugs" in Mexico, modeled after the failed
plan in Colombia.
Many people have not given up the fight however. Opposition gathered
for a People's Summit, a convergence of over 35 organizations
representing marginalized people to link the Gulf Coast struggle to the
fight for the survival of communities in Mexico, Canada, Quebec, and
the rest of the United States. The Summit hopes to strengthen and
deepen a multi-national grassroots movement that can effectively
address these trade and security policies.
"As social movements, we are advancing in defining how an alternative
model of relations among peoples can foster the harmonious development
of national societies founded on social justice and the equitable
distribution of wealth", said Alejandro Villamar, from the Mexican
Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC). "Many activities we held in New
Orleans allowed us to begin to build a common project in North
America," he concluded.