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U.S. Trade Representative Misrepresents Meeting with FTAA Protesters

November 12, 2002

Contact: Nick Parker

U.S. Trade Representative Misrepresents Quito Meeting with FTAA Protesters

In a press release posted on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) web site,, and attached below, Mr. Robert Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative, has distorted and misrepresented a meeting that took place in Quito after a day of protests against the negotiations of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Mr. Zoellick refers to having:

"Consulted with civil society representatives. Immediately following the ABF, Ministers met with representatives of hemispheric environmental groups, labor unions, parliamentarians and indigenous peoples to receive recommendations."

The truth is that organizations of indigenous people, farmers, students, environmentalists, trade unions, NGOs and others spent the day of October 31, 2002, trying to speak with Mr. Zoellick and the other 33 trade ministers meeting in Quito, in order to give them a letter signed by thousands of indigenous people and a declaration, both denouncing the proposed FTAA as extremely damaging to the living standards and the way of life of ordinary people across the Americas. Rather than being received politely, as a Forum of business leaders was, they were repeatedly rebuffed by heavily armed police and soldiers with tear gas. Only after police officers rebelled and joined the protesters, a lengthy process of negotiations started, and the trade ministers finally agreed to hear a delegation of the protesters.

The meeting began with a speech by parliamentarians from 11 countries in the Americas, ranging from Mexico to Bolivia, in which they called on their respective governments to "reject the FTAA and recall their negotiators at once." While the speech was being read, three congress people stood in front of Mr. Zoellick with placards reading "No al ALCA"(No to the FTAA).

This was followed by a group of pro-free trade centrist groups, invited by the ministers to give the appearance of "balance," who read a prepared statement asking for cosmetic environmental changes to the proposed FTAA.

Next Mr. Leonidas Iza, the president of the CONIAE — the leading organization of indigenous people in Ecuador — addressed the ministers. He began by saying, "Señores, I wish to say to you, not to offend, but only to speak the truth, that you cannot understand how the poor live in the Americas, because you were born in golden cribs." He then went one to humbly and movingly lay out exactly why the FTAA would mean "death to the indigenous peoples of the Americas."

This was followed by the powerful reading of the protesters declaration, by Nicaraguan farm worker leader, Maria Elena Siquiera of the ATC-Nicaragua. She began by saying "this is not a consultation or a dialog, this is a statement of implacable opposition to the FTAA by all the peoples' of the Americas." The declaration warned that "if you don't listen to our voices and those of millions more across the continent, you will be responsible for putting the very future of the Americas at risk." She concluded by shouting, "Yes to Life! No the FTAA! Another America is Possible!!!"

At that point the ministers expected the delegation to stay for a photo opportunity with them, so they could claim they had "consulted" with the protesters. But the protesters stood up with the final words of Ms. Siquiera and walked out, leaving the ministers behind.

This in no way was a "consultation" with Mr. Zoellick. This was a statement of unreconcilable opposition to the agreement he and the U.S. government seek to impose on the nations of Latin America. The protesters made this very clear, precisely so that Mr. Zoellick and the U.S, could not later say that they had "consulted with civil society" so everything is "ok."

It is appalling that Mr. Zoellick and the USTR office have so cynically distorted and misrepresented the facts of this meeting. The purpose of the press statement is to set the record straight.

For further information on what happened in Quito, see and

Signed, the following organizations who were present in Quito:

Original Press Release from USTR Office:

Trade Facts

From the Office of the United States Trade Representative
Washington, DC 20508

Quito FTAA Ministerial: Mission Accomplished

USTR Achieves Seven Key Objectives

Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick had announced seven key goals for the FTAA Ministerial held on November 1 in Quito, Ecuador. Below is a summary of the U.S. accomplishments at Quito.

  1. Launched Hemispheric Cooperation Program (HCP). The United States won endorsement for a comprehensive trade capacity-building program to help small and developing countries in the region to fully benefit from the FTAA. Ambassador Zoellick announced at Quito that President Bush will seek a 37% increase in U.S. trade capacity-building assistance for the region in FY 2003, to $140 million.
  2. Energized Market Access Negotiations. Through U.S. leadership, the Ministers confirmed the detailed schedule for the exchange of offers in services, investment, agriculture, government procurement, and non-agricultural market access. Initial market access offers will be submitted between December 15, 2002 and February 15, 2003, with revised offers due by July 15, 2003. The U.S. also achieved its aim to have tariff negotiations proceed from current applied rates, rather than higher WTO bound rates.
  3. Assumed-along with Brazil-the chairmanship of the FTAA. The United States and Brazil will co-chair the FTAA process through the conclusion of negotiations in January 2005. Ministers agreed that their next meeting will be in Miami in late 2003, with another meeting set for Brazil in 2004. Ministers also announced 3 meetings of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) for 2003, to take place in Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, and Mexico.
  4. Named strong slate of chairs for FTAA Negotiating Groups and Committees. In addition to assuming the joint chairmanship of the FTAA with Brazil, the United States won consensus on the appointment of new chairs for each of the FTAA negotiating groups and committees. The slate is contained in Annex II of the Ministerial Declaration, available on the USTR website at
  5. Released the second draft consolidated text of the FTAA-in record time. The U.S. won agreement from Ministers to release the consolidated text of the FTAA to the public. Thanks to the cooperation of the FTAA Secretariat and other countries, the text was made public immediately following the conclusion of the Ministerial. (See
  6. Consulted with business community. The Ministers met with representatives of the 7th Americas Business Forum (ABF) on October 31 and received detailed recommendations from workshops covering all areas of the negotiations.
  7. Consulted with civil society representatives. Immediately following the ABF, Ministers met with representatives of hemispheric environmental groups, labor unions, parliamentarians and indigenous peoples to receive recommendations. USTR participated in a civil society meeting to discuss U.S. environmental assessments of trade agreements.

At Quito, the U.S. energized the FTAA negotiations and secured agreement on a clear timeline to advance talks to a successful conclusion by January 2005.

Food First Media Contact:
Nick Parker

Ecuador | ALCA/FTAA | AGP