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Labor Expert Unaware of FTAA - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Nov. 10th, 2003

10:54 am - Labor Expert Unaware of FTAA

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I was VERY surprised last night while watching C-SPAN. Eric Schlosser was speaking at a book fair of some sort at a university in Miami. He is the author of Fast Food Nation (a book about, among other things, the exploitation of labor in the fast food industry) and Reefer Madness (a book about, among other things, the exploitation of labor in the black market).

In his talk he refered several times to the evils of NAFTA and specifically to the plight of the Imockalee tomato pickers in Florida and the fact that there have been multiple SLAVERY cases prosecuted in Florida in this decade. He seemed to really know his stuff about the so called "Free Trade" and labor exploitation in general.

But then during the Q&A a woman who was in Miami organizing for the FTAA protests, asked him a leading question about his opinions about the FTAA and the upcoming confrontation in Miami. It turned out, it seemed, he didn't even know what the FTAA was. He asked her if she was talking about NAFTA. When she explained that it was an extension of NAFTA policies to the entire Western Hemisphere, that it was slated to go into effect in 2005, that this was the last major negotiating meeting before then, and that tens of thousands of people (including the Imockalee workers) were converging on Miami to stop it, he answered her by talking about NAFTA and summarizing that since NAFTA was so bad he'd think any extension of NAFTA would be unthinkably bad.

I was completely shocked that this "expert" on labor issues was unaware that one week from now in the very city where he was there was going to be a major confrontation over a new "Free Trade" agreement. Moments like this remind me just how little press trade and labor issues get and how much work we all have ahead of us to get the word out about these things. Details about boring acronyms for behemoth international organizations (NAFTA, WTO, IMF, WB, GATT, GATS, FTAA, etc) don't make good exciting thrilling news but the reality is that these organizations have lead and will lead to environmental destruction, labor exploitation, and death.

Comments:

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From:boannan
Date:November 10th, 2003 06:43 pm (UTC)
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huh. did he seem with it the rest of the time he was talking? one wonders if he just had a mini mental breakdown due to the stresses of the Q&A he was being subjected to?
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 10th, 2003 08:57 pm (UTC)
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Nah, he was with it for the whole thing. I think it is just that he is an investigative author and not an activist. He spent a lot of time investigating NAFTA when he was writing about it but probably has been spending all his time looking into other issues (most recently, the drug trade) and somehow didn't happen to come across FTAA stuff.

I guess part of what makes his writing effective for swaying the mainstream (that he isn't really a radical activist...just a guy reporting the ugly ugly facts) also makes him ignorant of the cutting edge of activist stuff.

Or at least that was my theory.

But yah...it's possible that he just flaked. I would have thought that if he DID know about the FTAA, he would have been keenly aware of the protest coming up in Miami since his talk was in Miami, and that he'd expect some questions about it. Oh well.
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