Intervenor: Vol. 26, no. 2-3, April - August 2001

Another Americas Is Possible!

CELA has been active on free trade issues for more than 10 of its 30 years of existence. Over this time a key ally confronting free trade within the Americas has been Common Frontiers(CF) (www.web.ca/comfront) and through CF, the Hemispheric Social Alliance (www.asc-hsa.org). CF was a key organizer of the II People's Summit in Québec City together with the Réseau Québeçois sur l'integration continentale on behalf of the Hemispheric Social Alliance. The II People's Summit was a week-long event that included a wide ranging mix of forums, debates, alternatives, teach-ins, protests, and media engagements. Protests were organized to mark the closed character of the Summit of the Americas' activities at the beginning and end of the Summit on April 21st of 2001. CELA representatives participated in all of the above.

A key responsibility of CF was to organize the major public event for the II People's Summit, the "Teach-in," under the theme No FTAA: Another Americas is Possible!

The "teach-in" highlighted civil society's capacity for resistance and for developing alternatives. The event's festive environment brought together discussions, personal testimonies and reports from North and South, colourful visual and musical clips, amazing animation and 15 musical performances to boot! Keynote presentations were made by Eduardo Galleano, via video tape, and David Suzuki.

The "teach-in" delivered a public political challenge to the 34 heads of state of the hemisphere who met behind the fence in Québec City during the Summit of the Americas. At the heart of its "Alternatives for the Americas" were: participatory democracy, debt cancellation, poverty eradication, access to essential drugs, food security, food sovereignty, respect for human rights, work with dignity, the promotion of core labour rights, and recognition and enforcement of indigenous rights and environmental protection.

Presentations ranged from Bruce Davidson, representing the Concerned Walkerton Citizens, a CELA client, who opened the event, to dramatic testimonials from youth representatives fresh from the streets of Buenos Aires in Argentina and from people from most of the Americas in between.

But despite all this energy, creativity and commitment, tear-gas and confrontation dominated the images of Québec City 2001. Ken Traynor represents CELA on Common Frontiers and was in Québec City.
____________________________________________________

Ken Traynor is International Programme Coordinator at CELA