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LAS AMERICAS BY GABRIELA BOCAGRANDE Here’s an interesting guy: Robert B. Zoellick, the U.S. Trade Representative, confirmed by the Senate in a unanimous vote on February 6,2001, less than three weeks after W. himself was sworn in. The dispatch with which Mr. Zoellick was nominated and confirmed makes clear that the Bush administration holds him in high regard and trusts him to carry the corporate flag. The speedy confirmation also makes clear that W. attaches great importance to pending trade agreements, particularly the one that takes in our hemisphere: the Free Trade Area of FTAA will create a kind of imitation European Union, without any of the restrictions that protect humanity’s more precious properties, like labor, air and water. The designation of the Americas as a “Free Trade Area” misrepresents the issue right off the bat. The FTAA is as muchif not moreconcerned with international investment as it is with international trade. You may have noticed, as we enter the new millennium, that we find metric tons of high velocity money careening around the globe in search of the cheapest labor and the fewest “rigidities” \(a.k.a. minimum invest your capital in places encumbered by burdensome restrictions on child labor and air pollution, when you can make so much more money exploiting twelve-year old girls subsisting in smoking garbage dumps? Why pay salaries so high that they support sprawling U.S. suburbs, when you can pay wages sufficient only to finance miserable Third World shantytowns instead? Mr. Zoellick, a highly skilled professional, is W’s choice to shepherd this appealing mercantile policy through the international negotiation process. He has outstanding credentials \(Swarthmore, Harvard, Goldman Sachs, working fast and hard in a single direction. Both the principles and the details of the FTAA text reflect the cheap, mean profit-seeking interests of the Big Bucks Boys, both here and abroad. Just wait; you’ll see. Conveniently, Mr. Zoellick is one of those Boys, and he has had some interesting investment positions of his own. At the time he was confirmed, he was a Senior International Advisor to Goldman Sachs, the giant Wall Street securities firm. He also served on the Intellectual property rights are a big deal with him. After all, it’s not worthwhile investing in a backward off local expertise, genetic material and lore and copyright/patent it as your might actually be able to use some of your imported wisdom for their own purposes. Mr. Zoellick is on top of this, though. Advisory Board of Enron, a company with larger assets than most Central American nations, and on the board of Viventures/Vivendi Universal. This last position represented a tidy convergence of interests for Mr. Trade Rep.Vivendi is a major multinational company benefitting hugely from the privatization of public services pushed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and it is in line to do even better should the free trade areas expand. In very simple terms, Vivendi and its subsidiaries buy up formerly-public communications systems and water companies and raise rates around the world. Despite much progress, some lingering prohibitions on a multinational’s right to own the basic infrastructure of an entire country still stand in Vivendi’s way in a few backward spots around the globe. But in the Americas, if Mr. Zoellick gets his way, the FTAA will fix this. Mr. Zoellick is a many-faceted individual and he’s therefore a techie, too. He worked with Viventures, a venture capital fund created by Vivendi to provide financing for telecommunications and internet businesses that prey on privatizing telephone systems in poor countries. As of January 2001, Zoellick was also an associate of SAID Holdings, a South African-based communications security firm, chartered in Bermuda. It defends intellectual property rights \(e.g. patents and copyrights, especially those tenuously held by U.S. companies in piracy and computer crime, but we don’t know much more than that. Curiously, although SAID Holdings is itself an internet company, it has no website of its own anymore. It did have one, but just recently it disappeared. Poofl. But even if Mr. Zoellick’s own antipiracy company is lying low, he himself 8/17/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17