Globalization. While some groups, such as the Third-World-based Peoples’ Global Action \(a movement especially popular among destroy the W.T.O., others want simply to fix it. The Seattle Host Organization hopes to promote public dialogue with a series of “public sector programs” during the ministerials, including programs on labor issues, electronic commerce, agriculture and food products, environmental issues, and trade in services. These aren’t exactly all anti-free trade the electronic commerce forum, for example, is being organized by Microsoft. But two are being organized by individuals who have publicly challenged the course of the W.T.O.: Patti Goldman of Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund is coordinating the environmental program; the King County Labor Council’s Ron Judd is coordinating the labor program. TINKERING WITH TRADE “We are not going to be denouncing the W.T.O., asking that it be killed or go away,” says Judd, who will also help oversee the November 30 labor rally that will probably be the largest and most visible protest of the week. “We don’t believe the rules as presently written are working very well for workers … we want to make W.T.O. make, as part of their mandate, sanctions against [countries that violate] workers’ rights: child labor, slave labor, the right to organize, the right to bargain collectively, ending discrimination in the workplace.” Goldman, in describing the usefulness of working with the Seattle Host Organization rather than outside the doors, says, “I think there is some advantage to having some powerful speakers who can describe [the W.T.O.’s] effects on the environment.” The biggest challenges for W.T.O. opponents will be deciding what they want and speaking with a unified voice. Public Citizen’s Dolan and the Citizens’ Trade Campaign want the protest to focus on a demand that trade ministers use the Seattle Round to take stock and analyze the effects of the trade agreements already in place, rather than hammering out yet more agreements. They are convinced that any objective analysis of the last four years will find enormous harm to the economies and resources of the developing world, as well as democracy worldwide. Free trade proponents see no need for such introspection. In the state of Washington, it’s hard to find an elected official who doesn’t crow the praises of free trade: Patty Murray, Slade Gorton, Gary Locke, and Jim McDermott are all on board. They tout free trade as beneficial for the state’s Pacific Rim-based economy that, as a hosting group, it takes no position on the W.T.O.’s actions, but both privately and publicly a lot of time and money are being spent promoting the glories of free trade. The SHO has extensive public outreach planned the coming months, including town hall meetings, business outreach events, a school curriculum extolling the virtues of free trade, and regional events concerning trade on different continents. \(The Africa forum will be convened by McDermott, busy SEATTLE WATERSHED? Can protests in the streets of Seattle challenge the dominance of free trade policies? In the short term, no. Free trade enjoys solid bipartisan support, led by the Clinton/Gore administration and the ever-accommodating Republican wing of America’s one-party OCTOBER 15, 1999 state. Among both Democrats and Republicans, those who question the wisdom of unfettered trade are relegated to the fringes of the party. The coalition of labor, environmental, agricultural, consumer, human rights, and constitutionalist groups hoping to slow, if not stop, the momentum of an ever-increasing number of free trade agreements anticipates using Seattle as a springboard. By filling the streets for several days, snarling traffic, worrying the cops, and exhausting what few meeting places and motel rooms remain, these groups just possibly may galvanize a movement. Seattle’s protests aren’t likely to change the outcome of the momentous trade talks that will be held here. But the first step in changing a policy is letting the public know that the political terrain is even contested. The hope of the tens of thousands of protestors descending on Seattle this fall is that this will be the start of something big. The goal, according to Dolan, is “to create something that later will cause politicians to say, ‘Remember Seattle?’ and it gives them pause before they advance the corporate agenda.” As Derdowski drily notes: “To give away your fundamental liberties for the sake of trade dollars is a very poor choice.” For a schedule of planned anti-W.T.O. events in Seattle or to help with preparations, contact People for Fair Trade at 1-877-STOP-WTO. For information on the November 30 march/ More information on the W.T.O. is available through the following web sites: www.tradewatch.org ; www.peopleforfairtrade.org ; www.seattlewto.org . Geov Parrish writes for the Seattle Weekly. CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION: THREATS TO YOUR DEMOCRACY, YOUR WAGES, AND YOUR ENVIRONMENT A Free Public Forum Monday, October 18, 1999 Jim Hightower, Hightower Radio Larry Freilich, Sierra Club Rick Levy, A.F.L.C.I.O. Monica Sjoo, Author and Eco-Feminist Austin A.F.L.C.I.O. Eleventh and Lavaca 7 p.m. Free admission Sponsored by the Coalition for Fair Trade Co-sponsored by Public Citizen, Alliance for Democracy, Sierra Club, Austin Peace & Justice Coalition, The Texas Observer, Travis County Green Party, Radical Action Network of U.T., Alliance for Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods. For more information: THE TEXAS OBSERVER 6 11
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