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Hemispheric Social Alliance Plays Unique Role in Developing a Hemispheric Political Agenda

HCA Banner Saulo Araujo, Grassroots International Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica, and I traveled to the People’s Summit of the Americas with the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA). The HSA is composed of networks, social movements and organizations from across the Americas that are primarily opposed to free trade. Its beginnings were in the Belo Horizonte, Brazil People’s Summit in 1997 in anticipation of the Santiago, Chile Summit of the Americas.

HCA Banner Saulo Araujo, Grassroots International Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica, and I traveled to the People’s Summit of the Americas with the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA). The HSA is composed of networks, social movements and organizations from across the Americas that are primarily opposed to free trade. Its beginnings were in the Belo Horizonte, Brazil People’s Summit in 1997 in anticipation of the Santiago, Chile Summit of the Americas.

HCA Banner Since then the HSA has grown tremendously, and a large number of its members came to Trinidad to strategize and put forward their demands for another kind of hemisphere. According to Tom Loudon of the Alliance for Responsible Trade (ART), “the HSA is governed by the Hemispheric Social Council, which is composed of one representative from each HSA national network, and a representative from the many thematic networks – such as the recently formed Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), Jubilee South, Via Campesina (a Grassroots partner), Our World Is Not For Sale, etc.  Together HSA members discuss regional and global realities and from that framework develop a work plan for the year – which they take back to their countries to implement.  The networks from the different countries vary tremendously in participation, strength, and level of activities. Each of the national networks also works within regional networks and they generally develop a work plan together which is mostly regional in nature.

HCA Banner In the North American region the Alliance for Responsible Trade works with three other networks – RMALC (Mexican Action Network Against Free Trade, a Grassroots grantee) from Mexico, RQIC (Quebec Network on Continental Integration) from Quebec and Common Frontiers from Canada.  In addition to the work the North American regional members do directly with the HSA, they also have a work plan and regular communication with their regional partners. At various times different networks within the HSA work together, such as ART and RECALCA in Colombia working together at the time of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

HCA Banner Additionally, there is an ongoing functioning body called the General Coordinating Committee – a coordinating committee of rotating representatives of each region plus representatives of the major thematic networks.  They have telephone conferences once a month, and meetings once or twice a year. The representatives to that group are chosen by the regional networks, with a rotation plan that they decide on.  Members communicate information, activities and requests for action by the HSA to their representative, which are then integrated into the monthly calls.  After the calls, a report on the call is circulated to the national network coordinator by the designated representative.”

HCA Banner Saulo and I were able to take advantage of being there to get an understanding of how this unique and vitally important political space functions. The unique role that the HSA has played is to develop a hemispheric political agenda based on consensus, which has played an important role in articulating reasons to resist the dominant neoliberal system and developing alternatives to it.


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