Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Protesters Tell a Different Tale of Free Trade
Published on Thursday, November 20, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times
Activists gathered in Miami to counter treaty negotiations by 34 nations warn that Latin American workers face growing misery.

by John-Thor Dahlburg

MIAMI - From Mexican sweatshops and peasant farms in the Amazon to Spanish-speaking neighborhoods of the United States, protesters have come here to warn that plans for hemisphere-wide free trade would lead to greater misery and suffering in Latino communities.

"I can tell you that if Mexican workers aren't already slaves of the multinational corporations, we're 99.9% there," said Israel Monroy of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, a group dedicated to the special factories created in Mexico to assemble export goods.

"Family farmers everywhere, from north to south, not just Brazil, are living in crisis," said Maria de Fatima, a representative of Brazil's Landless Rural Workers Movement, which seeks agrarian reform. "As we import cheap, poor-quality foodstuffs, the multinational companies that invade our countries open the doors for the bankruptcy of thousands of farmers. During the past six years, 2.4 million farmers were expelled from the land."

In stark counterpoint to the official negotiations in Miami this week among the United States and 33 other countries on creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas, a project President Bush has embraced as a "great vision," a motley collection of activists, academics and private citizens has assembled on the other side of the police barricades to describe the painful costs of foreign investment and trade liberalization on the people of Latin America. ...

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