December 21st, 2003

bald australia sepia

FTAA: Zach's Story

I have a LOT of editting to do on this project. Eventually it will be multimedia with relevent parts linking to related images and other people's accounts. I'm going to add sections with more political analysis (most of this is just a narrative account though I've got quite a bit of politics thrown in here and there as thoughts that were going through my head while everything was happening). I also want to add a lot more stuff about the organization of the autonomous direct action group. But the editting isn't going to be done for at least a month. There's so much to sort through. So in the mean time, for those who are eager to hear my story, here it is in rough form. I've passed this account past all 7 of the people that were in Miami with me and they agree to the details of the account.

I wrote almost all of this before I'd seen any mainstream press about the event (except for some initial reports in the Miami Herald) so I don't address a lot of the issues raised there. I'll do that in a separate post.


On November 20th, 2003, I joined with thousands of people in Miami to demonstrate against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) during its ministerial meeting. The FTAA (known in Latin American countries as ALCA) is a trade agreement that if agreed to and signed would create a NAFTA style free trade area for the entire western hemisphere, except Cuba. The treaty would make it easier for corporations to move their factories (capital) to countries where labor is cheaper and environmental standards are more lax. The treaty would make it harder for nations to democratically impose health, environmental, safety, or other regulations and standards on industries and goods. The treaty would pave the way for the privatization of water, electricity, postal service, telecommunications, and other traditionally socialized or heavily regulated public services. The FTAA meetings, like those of WTO and NAFTA, are convened "out of the public eye" and are formed without any input or referendum (consent) from citizens but corporations are allowed to participate at all levels. A fence around a several block radius of the perimeter of the meeting space, $8.5 million dollars of federal security funds, special city ordinances passed for the week, and 2,500 police officers would ensure that no citizens could get near the meetings.
Collapse )