Television reports of last weekend's Summit of the Americas,
where 34 heads of state opened talks on a new Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA), were full of images of men in suits talking
trade while masked protesters clashed with police outside in the
streets, separated from the meeting by a 12 foot high concrete and
chain-link wall. Yet mainstream media reports were decidedly,
though not surprisingly, light on substance. So what really
happened in Quebec? And why should you care about a treaty that
would extend the 'benefits' of NAFTA to the entire
The best source of FTAA-related news and commentary is AlterNet, which has compiled an array of reports and analyses from a variety of sources, including Salon.com, TomPaine.com, CorpWatch and the Toronto Globe and Mail. The page is still evolving as reports continue to roll in. Another excellent source is the Center for Media Alternatives of Quebec, which is affiliated with the Independent Media Centers that have sprung up since the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.
In a report for Salon.com, David Moberg offers this summary: 'The protesters did not manage to halt the summit, but their actions and the police tear gas -- which was often quite noticeable inside the fence and in the official summit hotels -- did disrupt the event. And though Seattle was more of a shock and surprise to the global elite and the mass media, the turnout in Quebec was larger, pushing the battle over globalization to a new level. The protests focused on an issue that has otherwise barely entered into the consciousness of most Americans, North and South, and more people are now aware of the proposed treaty. But they may wonder what it portends for them when government leaders and their corporate supporters secret themselves behind a chain-link fence to plot the future of the Americas.'
• AlterNet's FTAA Coverage
• Center for Media Alternatives of Quebec
• Discuss the FTAA in Café Utne
(New to the Café? Register here)