Terrorism and Free Trade

On Eve of First WTO Meeting Since Seattle, Bush Pushes for 'Fast Track' While Activists Prepare to Agitate

The Republicans' stumbling efforts to pass fast track, and the grab bag of corporate handouts they're fashioning as an economic stimulus package, may help activists get their message out about the WTO's bias in favor of trade conditions that help multinational companies exploit cheap labor and natural resources in developing countries. The new round of WTO talks would include proposals to open developing countries more widely to corporate America's products, including pharmaceuticals—but prevent them from manufacturing cheap generic versions of vital AIDS drugs.

But some organizers suggest that the antiglobalization movement here may get its biggest push from outside the U.S., where activists didn't see 5000 of their fellow citizens murdered—but have watched local control of their economies slip away. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has declared November 9, the first day of WTO meetings, a Day of Action against global trade deals that destroy workers' rights. Events are scheduled in Japan, India, Russia, and Denmark, among other countries. The success of these protests in the U.S. that day will depend on the connections they can draw between the fight over corporate vs. local control of the economy and Americans' feelings of insecurity since the World Trade Center went down. "Real security is having food grown locally," says Starhawk, a California writer and activist, "not halfway around the world."

Illustration by Alan Carlstrom

Related links:
Mobilization for Global Justice
Anti Capitalist Convergence

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