Zach Miller (zarfmouse) wrote,
Zach Miller

Labor Expert Unaware of FTAA

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.
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