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Report from the People’s Summit of the Americas

April 2009

My colleague, Saulo Araujo, Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica, and I are in Trinidad for the 4th People’s Summit of the Americas (April 15-18, 2009). Being held in conjunction with the 5th Summit of the Americas, the People’s Summit was coordinated by local Trinidadian social movements and civil society organizations, particularly labor unions (for e.g. the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union), as well as transnational networks such as the Assembly of Caribbean Peoples and the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA).

We traveled with the HSA delegation from the United States, which included representatives from the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (Cindy Wiesner, who was interviewed by the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian), Jobs with Justice (Carlos Jimenez), the Miami Workers’ Center (Sarai Portillo), and the Alliance for Responsible Trade (Tom Loudon). We met with a number of Grassroots’ partners including Camile Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA) and grantees such as the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC). We also participated with other North American delegates in drafting a declaration of demands to be sent to the three North American heads of state/government — Barack Obama (USA), Stephen Harper (Canada) and Felipe Calderon (Mexico). Stay tuned for more on the ground updates. The declaration appears below.


from North American Networks, Social Movements and Civil Society

We, the North American networks and organizations, members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance (and others) signing below- participants in the IV Peoples’ Summit of the Americas in Trinidad Tobago, during April 16-18, call for swift and dramatic actions from our governments. After having lived with and suffered the negative impacts of 15 years of NAFTA, we are concerned about the expansion to the rest of the Americas of the latest neo-liberal program: the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP).

Three aspects of the SPP that are of most concern include: a) heavily financed security and militarization components, b) an expansion of the model to the rest of the continent c) the surrendering of multiple issues belonging in public domain to corporate control.

For these reasons we are calling on Presidents Calderon (Mexico), Obama (U.S.) and Prime Minister Harper (Canada) to:

  • Conduct a fundamental reopening of the debate regarding the future of NAFTA, which includes broad representation of the most impacted sectors.
  • Close all of the working groups which have been carrying forward the work of the SPP, and terminate its expansion.
  • Announce that they will stop using and criminalizing migrants seeking a better life and will work to remove the root causes behind people abandoning their homes and lands.
  • Demilitarize the border between the U.S. and Mexico and bring down the wall.
  • Unite behind the imperative to recognize Cuba as a full diplomatic partner in the hemisphere.

Our governments need to recognize the depth and breadth of changes which are happening in the entire hemisphere. There is an urgent need for a changing of attitudes and actions of imposition. This could be demonstrated concretely by:

  • Stopping the implementation of all bilateral and regional FTAs, and the abrogation of all existing FTAs.
  • Beginning the process of immediately closing all U.S. military bases in the Americas.
  • Retiring the U.S. Fourth fleet for all time from the waters of the Americas.
  • Renouncing all ‘democracy building’ programs, whether done alone or in collaboration with other countries.
  • Giving primacy to environmental sustainability and protecting communities from being negatively impacted by mining and other mega projects.
  • Stopping the criminalization of social protest.
  • Respecting the human and labor rights of all peoples.

It is particularly preoccupying that the official declaration of the V Summit of the Americas makes scant reference to the economic crisis, despite the widespread and devastating impacts being felt by our peoples. These impacts are the result of the irresponsible behavior of a small group of speculators. Therefore, we demand swift action to change the rules of the global economic order and protect the most vulnerable among us.

Alliance for Responsible Trade (ART) United States (TT 868-462-0223)
Common Frontiers (Canada)
Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC)
Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC)
Grassroots Global Justice
Campaña Sin Maíz no hay País
Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Industria Nuclear
Grassroots International

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