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FTAA - Time to wake up!
Getting Serious about an anti-FTAA Strategy

Getting Serious about an anti-FTAA strategy:

This email is intended to spark discussion and planning to develop a more
serious, multi-year strategy to defeat the FTAA. Since the Quebec City
mobilizations, in April 2001, as a movement, we've done very little to
develop an integrated, multifaceted, tactically diverse strategy to stop the
FTAA. With the proposed FTAA implementation date of 2005 not that far off,
it is critical that we act now to develop a 3 - 4 year game plan.

This is written to encourage conversation, analysis, and action-so please
engage it, respond, share thoughts, and put forth ideas/proposals for
creating an oppositional strategy to win.

Context: A Rapidly Approaching Deadline and the Need for an Integrated
Strategy of Escalating Resistance

      In April 2001, thousands of people poured into the streets of Quebec
City and other cities and borders throughout the hemisphere to protest the
creation of the FTAA.  These actions exposed and delegitimized the proposed
agreement, educated and radicalized thousands, and strengthened
anti-capitalist and anti-corporate resistance movements.  Yet, just as the
real work of creating the FTAA does not happen at these major summits--it
happens in the numerous negotiations that take place between summits-- the
real work of defeating the FTAA does not happen in mass mobilizations alone.
It happens by developing long term strategies and struggles and by
committing to long term education, organizing, and action to build mass
popular power, opposition, and alternatives.  In the roughly ten months
since the Quebec City protests, not nearly enough has been done to develop a
coherent 3-4 year organizing plan to defeat the FTAA.
	The opposition, with the power of the state, media, and money on its
side, has a well worked out game plan to implement the FTAA by 2005.  We do
not have such a well worked out game plan to counter the neoliberal
offensive and defeat the proposed agreement. The bottom line is that to win
this fight, our resistance needs to become much more sophisticated,
integrated, and strategically savvy.  We need a strategy.  Regardless of how
the current fast track fight ends, if our efforts between now and 2005
consist only of mobilizing for mass protests--around the October 2002
Ministerial in Ecudoar and the next Summit of the Americas--and trying to
win legislative voting battles in 2005, there is a very real chance that we
will lose this fight and the FTAA will be implemented.
	2005 is not that far off!  Now is the time to develop an integrated
strategy of escalating opposition to defeat the FTAA. What is our game plan
for 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005?  What are the best targets to focus on? What
kind of plan do we have in place to get stronger each year and to steadily
escalate our resistance?  We need much better answers to such questions.
Below are some questions to think about in shaping long term strategy, a few
thoughts of my own, and a time line of important dates for anti-FTAA work.
The questions, thoughts, and time line are just a starting point meant to
facilitate much greater discussion, analysis, and strategic planning and
           As a quick note, there is, of course, the possibility that the
FTAA may crumble under the weight of its own contradictions. A host of
factors could contribute to this--Argentina's economic collapse; skepticism
and reluctance from certain Latin American countries, notably Venezuela and
Brazil; increased Latin American irritation with the protectionist deals
Bush cut in order to pass Fast Track in the house; the potential election of
Workers' Party candidate, Lula, in the upcoming Brazilian presidential
election, etc.  These factors and many others are crucial to be aware of and
to incorporate into our strategy, but we obviously would be very foolish to
rely on them.

A Few Questions:

Assuming that our short term goal is to defeat the FTAA, we need to look at
a time line between now (March 2002) and 2005 (see below for such a time
line) and develop a plan of action.  Essentially, we should be asking
ourselves what do we need to do between now and 2005 to stop this agreement,
what is the best way to go about that, and what else do we want to
accomplish in the process? In trying to create such a plan a number of
questions are useful.  Here are a few:

1. Where is our real power currently? Who's on board? Who isn't? What
constituencies should we focus our energy on targeting and organizing?
What are the most effective issues/talking points and where?

2. How do we shape a 3-4 year struggle so that we're getting stronger each
year? How do we shape a multi-year struggle in such a way that it does not
stop and start, but consistently builds momentum and ever greater power?
What is our plan for 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005?

3. In developing an anti-FTAA organizing strategy what are the best targets
to focus on?  What kinds of actions and targets will consistently pull the
FTAA into the public eye, expose and delegitimate it, and ultimately defeat
it?  How do we make the FTAA a household word in the US? What kind of
actions and large scale educational efforts are necessary to do so?

4. How do we most effectively shape a long term anti-FTAA struggle so that
it connects with local struggles, strengthens local efforts, and makes clear
connections between global institutions and processes and local effects?
What is the most effective way to shape and articulate local struggles so
that they simultaneously address local needs and build ever greater
opposition to the FTAA and neoliberalism?

5. How do we shape our anti-FTAA work so that in the process of challenging,
delegitimating, and ultimately defeating the FTAA we are also most
effectively challenging, delegitimating, and defeating the neoliberal
economic structure and logic the FTAA is founded upon?

6. How do we most effectively put an "inside - outside" organizing approach
into practice?  By "inside - outside" I mean combining the "inside" realm of
lobbying/legislative work, alternative policy analysis, electoral work, etc
and the "outside" realm of direct action, mass protest, the creation of
viable alternatives, popular education, economic disruption, etc in a way
that maximizes our power and effectiveness.

7.  How do we shape our strategy so that it leads towards ever greater
future gains and opens ever more space for local, non-capitalist

A Few Thoughts:

1. There are 3 primary scenarios by which the FTAA could be defeated.
   A. The agreement could collapse due to internal contradictions and
disagreements or with certain countries pulling out.
   B. The agreement could be voted against by the US Congress or other
countries' legislative bodies.
   C. Through intense organizing, education, and action, the level of
popular dissent could become so great that it becomes socially unacceptable
and unaffordable for elites to try to implement the agreement in 2005.

Our strategy, instead of focusing solely on one of these realms, should
incorporate all 3 scenarios.  That is to say we should develop an
integrated, multifaceted strategy that links a militant commitment to direct
action, popular education and grassroots mobilization with serious
legislative and lobbying work and a vital sense of international solidarity.
Such an integrated, "inside-outside" strategy is essential if we are to
maximize our collective power, win real victories, and radically transform

2. Our 3-4 year plan of action must aim to steadily increase our power and
escalate our resistance.  We need to be getting stronger each year and in
the process wielding our collective power so that it builds upon itself,
ever more vigorously deligitimates neoliberalism, and raises the social
costs for elites so that they cannot afford to implement agreements like the
FTAA. This might mean that in 2002 we focus on widespread popular education
and consciousness raising-through teach-ins, worker/community exchanges,
local ordinances, media work, sign-on letters, direct action, public
debates, and unprecedented, large scale, decentralized solidarity actions
for the October 2002 FTAA ministerial meeting in Ecudoar-as well as
developing our infrastructure, alliances, and organizational/mobilization
capacity; in 2003/2004 we move towards some form of popular referendum on
the FTAA in the US and in 2004/2005, if necessary, we mobilize for a
hemispheric wide general strike, sectoral strike, or general economic
disruption.  Though this may seem a bit daunting and far reaching at the
present moment, with enough time, planning, and commitment it is certainly
possible. In developing long term strategies with sizable goals, we must, of
course, be realistic about our resources and capacity, but we must also be
realistic about what it really takes to win and just how much is at
stake-we're talking about life and death here.  In some ways, we need to
take ourselves and our potential power more seriously, for if we do not
develop an escalating oppositional plan there is no reason for elites to not
implement the FTAA.

3. As part of our immediate resistance strategy (in the US), we must work
vigorously to defeat Fast Track, which will likely be coming up for another
vote in the House in late March or perhaps later (Fast Track passed by one
vote in the House in December, but it will have to pass the House again to
be enacted). Having Fast Track authority is an essential component of the
adversaries' strategy. Without such negotiating authority it becomes
extremely difficult to pass implementation legislation. Therefore, we must
defeat Fast Track.

4. We must carefully track the maneuvering of the other side. What is their
plan? What tactics are they employing? How is their strategy evolving? For
example, the recently announced US government effort to create a US -
Central America free trade treaty is particularly important to pay close
attention to-both in terms of opposing it and assessing the implications for
the creation of the FTAA. In addition to tracking the other side, we must
develop the capacity to predict and be prepared for events well in the
future. For example, in efforts to educate about the FTAA, we should be
prepared to mobilize quite quickly when the verdict comes down in the
pending Methanex NAFTA chapter 11 case.  Methanex is currently suing the US
for $970 million because California banned MTBE. If this case rules in favor
of Methanex, we have an incredible opportunity to educate and greatly
increase opposition to the FTAA. We will only succeed in doing so if we are
prepared to take action when the ruling comes down.

5. Much has been said of late about the need to adapt to the post September
11 context. Certainly we need to adapt, but we cannot confuse adapting with
retreating.  We must always adapt our actions and tactics to the particular
context and ask ourselves what actions increase our power, build a mass base
of popular participation and support, open political space for alternatives,
and move us in the direction we want to go, but we cannot forget that much
of our recent success, as Canadian Auto Workers union researcher and
activist Gerard Greenfield has pointed out, has come through "being
dangerous."  Much of the struggle against NAFTA, the WTO, the FTAA and
neoliberalism in general is a struggle over legitimacy.  We are dangerous
when we are deligitimizing these institutions and ultimately defeating them
and replacing them with liberatory, democratic alternatives.  To quote
Greenfield, "We can only be effective if we continue what it is that makes
us dangerous-and do it better." In the current context, what makes us
dangerous and how can we do it better?

6.We must shape our organizing strategy so that it leads to more victories
and more space for the creation of alternatives and so that it capitalizes
on the necessity of hemispheric wide resistance to develop stronger
hemispheric wide networks, relationships, and alternative infrastructure.

7. In crafting our resistance, we would be wise to heed Sun Tzu's 2,400 year
old advice, "Do not do what you would most like to do.  Do what you
adversary would least like you to do."  We do not ask ourselves what our
adversary would least like us to do nearly enough.

8. We need to develop long term strategy and vision not just with the FTAA,
but with all of the struggles we're engaged in. What is our long term plan
to eliminate and replace or radically transform the WTO, IMF/World Bank,
NAFTA, etc? What is our long term plan to create widespread economic
alternatives? As a movement we need to develop more of a culture of long
term strategic thinking, planning, and action.

Timeline: Some critical dates, past & future, for anti-FTAA work (please add
anything not included)

Dec. 1994 - 1st Summit of the Americas, Miami, Florida; effort launched to
create the FTAA

April 1998 - 2nd Summit of the Americas, Santiago, Chile;  FTAA Negotiations
"formally launched."

May 1998 - February 2001 - 1st Phase Ongoing FTAA negotiations, Miami,

Nov. 1999 - 5th Ministerial Meeting, Toronto, Canada.  Mandate given to 9
negotiating groups to prepare a draft text of respective chapters to be
presented at 6th ministerial in Argentina, April 2001.

March 2001 - February 2003 - 2nd Phase ongoing FTAA negotiations, Panama
City, Panama

April 6, 2001 - 6th Ministerial Meeting, Buenes Aires, Argentina.
Negotiating groups present & discuss draft text; thousands protest outside.

April 20-22, 2001 - 3rd Summit of the Americas, Quebec City, Canada.
Deadlines set to complete FTAA negotiations and implementation by 2005.
Hundreds of thousands protest against the FTAA in Quebec City and cities and
towns throughout the hemisphere.

July 3, 2001 - FTAA draft text released.

November 2001 - Hemispheric Conference to Fight Against the FTAA held in

December 2001 - Argentine economic collapse; popular revolts.

December 2001 - Fast Track passes US House by one vote.

March 2002 (or later) - Fast Track is scheduled to be voted on in the US
Senate and to be voted on again in the US House, where it has the best
chance of being defeated.

October 2002 - 7th Ministerial Meeting to be held in Ecudoar; a second
version of the draft FTAA text will be presented and discussed with the aim
being to reach agreement on areas of contention. Mass protests scheduled.

October 2002 - significant presidential elections in Ecudoar & Brazil; in
Brazil, if Lula, the Workers' Party (PT) candidate, wins this could
significantly strengthen efforts to defeat the FTAA.

November 2002 - Proposed hemispheric wide general student strike against the
FTAA (being organized by Canadian student unions and OCLAE (Organizacion
Continental Latino Americano de Estudiantes), a Latin American student
organization; this idea came out of the Hemispheric Conference to Fight
Against the FTAA held in Cuba.  To contact organizers email:

2002/2003 ?? Proposed referendum on the FTAA/ALCA in various Latin American
countries (I'm not sure of dates or where exactly this stands in different
countries; perhaps someone w/ more information could pass it along.)

March 2003 - December 2004 - 3rd Phase ongoing FTAA negotiations, Mexico
City, Mexico.

November 2004 - US presidential election.

January 2005 - Scheduled deadline for conclusion of FTAA negotiations

December 2005 - "Absolute deadline" to implement FTAA


In Solidarity,

Matt Schlobohm
JED collective,
Maine Center for Justice, Ecology & Democracy
217 South Mountain Rd.
Greene, Maine 04236

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