FTAA is Warfare against People of Latin America

Radio Havana Cuba - News Update - 15 November 2001

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PEOPLE OF THIS HEMISPHERE WILL REJECT A COLONIAL PACT
NEGOTIATED SECRETLY

A war can take many forms; it can be fought openly, undercover,
secretly; it can be of medium, low or high intensity and most
recently, thanks to modern technology, we know that it can even
be "virtual". But what is beyond doubt is that the most
dangerous war is a war which is undeclared; one that is unknown
to the world because its causalities are different and its
damages advance insidiously, unseen until they are already
catastrophic.

The people of Latin America are now facing one of these
conflicts, an aggression which each year, month, week and day,
causes thousands of deaths, but rather than the impact of a
bomb, or bullets, people are killed by malnutrition, hunger,
cold, malaria, dengue or AIDS. The buildings in which the people
live are not the targets of "intelligent" missiles launched by
unseen soldiers; but worse yet, little by little, without
realizing it, the social structures collapse and age-old
traditions of community decision making disappear.

Our very identification disappears along with our culture;
entombed beneath propaganda and advertising, scientifically
designed to quickly make us over. As surely as if they were
caught in the sights of sharpshooters, our culinary traditions,
our legends, even our imaginary heroes and enemies are lost to
newly manufactured cardboard cut-outs. This new style of war
began long ago under pleasant sounding names like " the Good
Neighbor Policy", Alliance for Progress", "Caribbean Basin
Initiative", the "Santa Fe Document", and the latest: the Free
Trade Area of the Americas, the FTAA.

And it is precisely to fight against this new type of war being
waged by the United States against the peoples of our region,
that more than 700 representatives of labor, political, social
and student organizations from 34 countries, have gathered in
Havana to discuss and debate its characteristics and
consequences and to hammer out strategies to confront it. On the
first day of the conference, Cuban President Fidel Castro noted
that what is most needed is to awaken the conscience of the
people, so that they realize that we are facing a true war which
is threatening our destinies as peoples, identities and
cultures.

So that they will see that our nations are being turned over to
the interests of huge commercial, industrial and financial
consortia; that information and the truth is being hidden and
that there is a real danger that our cultural wealth will be
exchanged for Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Coca Cola. But it is
important to realize that the war has already begun, that the
FTAA is not something that will arrive, it is already here,
working in conjunction with the North American Free Trade
Agreement and with others to be established in the future like
the Panama People's Plan.

What is necessary now is to develop strategies, to win battles
and not to allow new tragedies to occur in our nations like the
foreign debt, that is sucking the life out of Latin American
economies, or the sale of public enterprises and the application
of World Bank and International Monetary Fund recipes.

A new challenge stands before us and a call has been made in
Havana for all regional nations to join together to face the
challenge, because it is only in that way that we can win the
battle against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

(c) 2001 Radio Habana Cuba, NY Transfer News. All rights
reserved.

*****

Radio Havana Cuba-16 November 2001

*REGIONAL MEETING TO OPPOSE FTAA WRAPS UP IN HAVANA

Havana, November 16 (RHC)-- The Hemispheric Meeting to Oppose
the Free Trade Area of the Americas ended its four days of
sessions late Friday night in the Cuban capital. Cuban President
Fidel Castro delivered the closing address to more than 700
delegates from 30 countries.

During an exchange with delegates last night, the Cuban leader
noted that the movement to oppose the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) is taking on steam. Fidel Castro said the
growing movement against neo-liberal globalization has organized
huge demonstrations and "frightened the owners of the world in
Seattle, Quebec and Genoa." And the leader of the Cuban
Revolution said those attending this week's event in Havana will
return to their countries even more strongly opposed to the FTAA
-- and that he himself was doubly opposed to Washington's
proposed economic annexation of the region.

Regarding the dominant role of the U.S. dollar in Latin American
economies, President Fidel Castro said that "the dollar doesn't
control us (in Cuba); we control the dollar." He added that
Cuba's "hand-made" socialist economy is being perfected, with
the idea of improving the island's system.

Delegates to the regional gathering represented trade union and
labor organizations, religious groups, indigenous activists,
environmentalists and representatives from youth and women's
organizations.

One of the delegates from Venezuela, Nora Castañeda, said that
neo-liberalism has already raised its ugly head throughout the
region and that the U.S.-proposed agreement for a so-called free
trade zone of the Americas will only make things worse. She
stated that "for them [the United States], we are only a
market".

Another delegate to the Havana gathering, Marta Grebat from
Mexico, said that women are particularly targets of the neo-
liberal model. She stressed that women receive much lower wages
than men doing the same work, while suffering sexual harassment
and exploitation on the job. As an example, the Mexican activist
revealed that at a maquiladora in Querétaro, Mexico, young women
are required to sign a contract, which restricts the number of
children they can have. She added that women and young girls are
forced to work for slave wages, while transnational companies
rake in huge profits.

(c) 2001 Radio Habana Cuba, NY Transfer News. All rights
reserved.

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