Tearing Down the Wall

Two Views of Democracy Battle in Quebec City

Who will define democracy? That question is put off for another meeting. Cuba is clearly out. Haiti is considered dubious. President Chavez of Venezuela alone refused to agree to parts of the clause referring to "representative" democracy, saying he favors "participatory" democracy. Could Venezuela be booted for having the wrong kind of democracy? Or would Venezuela's oil supply be too tasty of a commodity for the free traders to take that risk?

Late into Saturday night, demonstrators held their ground, dancing relentlessly in the geysers of gas and water, their yellow slickers shining beneath the lamplight. More than 400 had been arrested, some 150 injured. Police had been injured as well. At the closing ceremony, Argentine president Fernando de la Rua said that the next summit, which he will host, will not happen "behind walls." In the interim, if the activists have their way, heads of state will be pressed to acknowledge that the real conflict is not between democracy and dictatorship, but between democracy and the dictates of corporations.

Related Articles:

For background on the FTAA and the protests, see Lenora Todaro's "McHemisphere."

For a look at Bush's stance toward the trade pact, see James Ridgeway's "Hemisphere-A-Go-Go."

Related Links:

Campaigns against the FTAA:
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Global Exchange
Jobs With Justice
Alliance for Responsible Trade

Official sites:
Free Trade Area of the Americas
Summit of the Americas
U.S. Trade Representative

Independent Media Center:
Centre for Media Alternatives of Quebec

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