The Guardian April 25, 2001


Quebec joins fight against corporate greed

The Quebec meeting of heads of state of Latin American countries, held 
under a false banner of "free trade" and "democracy", brought massive 
street demonstrations from protestors who are suffering the consequences of 
corporate globalisation. The Canadian Government organised the biggest 
mobilisation in Canadian history of police to protect the pin-striped 
businessmen and their lackey politicians.

Despite the massive police presence, the tear-gas and the baton charges, 
protestors succeeded in tearing down part of the two-metre high wire-meshed 
fence fixed to concrete blocks and delayed the opening of the conference 
for three-quarters of an hour.

Thousands of protestors came from all over the Americas and included 
workers, students, professionals, religious groups, and environmentalists -
- all who are appalled at the destruction caused by corporate greed.

The "free trade" slogan is false. It does not create a "level playing 
field" for all countries, even though the tariff walls have been reduced.

The corporations now exercise their dominance by patents, copyright, 
"intellectual property rights" and the creation of huge monopolies. They 
are also using the mechanisms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to 
impose their dictatorship.

Brazil has already run into trouble in the WTO for its laws dealing with 
the manufacture and import of generic AIDS drugs.

Brazil implemented a very successful AIDS program using generic medicines. 
But the US is challenging Brazil at the WTO, demanding that Brazil repeal 
its laws which have dramatically reduced the price of drugs produced by the 
pharmaceutical corporations, giving many more people access to treatment.

The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which embraces the US, 
Canada and Mexico and which the US wants to impose on the whole of Latin 
America, provides for the removal of government regulations that limit the 
inflow of capital investments. Furthermore, it allows foreign investors to 
sue governments for limiting their investments in any country.

The US-based Ethyl corporation (the corporation that puts lead in petrol) 
is suing the Canadian Government because it prohibited the import of an 
Ethyl petrol additive for health reasons. Canada was forced to repeal its 
law and pay Ethyl US $13 million in damages even though the same product is 
banned in the US.

Speaking of the present summit meeting in Quebec, Cuba's President Fidel 
Castro warned that the Latin American nations are at the point of being 
devoured by the United States.

"We know that Latin America and the Caribbean can be devoured but not 
digested", he said. The gravity of the region's social ills, "can never be 
solved in that way and will become more dramatic."

Referring to the Bush administration, Fidel Castro said that judging by the 
first steps taken in the international sphere and the language of his 
advisors and his allies among the Miami terrorist mafia, we could be facing 
a bellicose administration totally lacking in ethics.

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