Hemispheric Anti-FTAA Conference in Havana
Havana, April 11 (ACN) The Fifth Hemispheric Conference of Struggle against the FTAA (Free Trade Areas of the Americas) gets underway at the Havana Convention Center on Wednesday in an ongoing effort to develop strategies to halt United States expansion.
Leaders of social movements from 36 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, including representatives of women and small farmers organizations and the In Defense of Humanity Network, will be presenting their experiences, informed economist Osvaldo Martinez, president of the Economic Affairs Commission of the Cuban parliament, said.
The FTAA is a plan hatched in Washington to expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to every country in Central and South America and the Caribbean except Cuba.
The FTAA would increase privatization and deregulation throughout the Western Hemisphere. Opponents maintain it would cause a further lowering of wages, worsen living and environmental conditions, and create more poverty for the people of the region.
The conference participants will tackle the FTAA and its mutations, bilateral free trade agreements, and are also expected to make a statement against terrorism and the militarization of the region.
Leonel Gonzalez, secretary of International Relations of the Cuban Labor Federation, said proposals would be presented for joint action among public figures of the South Common Market (MERCOSUR) and Andean Community countries as well as from North American organizations.
The United States had originally hoped to implement the FTAA by January, 2005 but the plan suffered modifications after movements organized in the Continental Social Alliance succeeded in raising public opinion against it and several governments rejected it.