D'Arcy Milligan

Here are some thoughts and information on upcoming protests against the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA) Summit in Quebec City, April 20-22) The decisions made there will affect all of us living on Planet Earth.

The heads of state and their ministers who will attend the Summit of the Americas believe they have come to endorse the process that will lead to ratifying the FTAA. We say this process is illegitimate and must be stopped. This secret treaty, which will override the elected laws of our countries, has not been subjected to public comment or democratic vote. Every effort has been made to insulate the negotiators from hearing the voice of the people. Quebec City has been turned into a militarised zone with 3-metre high barriers topped with barbed wire.

In the world proposed by the FTAA, every basic element of life and community is up for sale, including the health of the environment, the safety of workers, and the whole spectrum of efforts we citizens have made to provide education for our children, care for the sick, hope for the poor, and all basic services of government.
We say that our lives, our communities, the health of the earth's ecosystems, the cultures of indigenous peoples, the dreams of children are too important to be subsumed to profit. Another world is possible: a world of justice, freedom, ecological balance and true abundance, and we will make it real.
Led by voices from the global south, we begin with water. After the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia succeeding in retaking their water from privatisation, they issued the following declaration:

The Cochabamba Declaration:

"For the right to life, for the respect of nature and the uses and traditions of our ancestors and our peoples, for all time the following shall be declared as inviolable rights with regard to the uses of water given us by the earth:

1) Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world's water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected.

2) Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government, therefore, it should not be commodified, privatised or traded for commercial purposes. These rights must be enshrined at all levels of government. In particular, an international treaty must ensure these principles are non-controvertible.

3) Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with governments in the protection and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water."

Here on the banks of the St. Lawrence/Magtogoek, with the river as our ally and the ancestors marching with us, we will become a living river, to bring this declaration as a challenge to the world's governments and an inspiration to her peoples.

Although the negotiators of the FTAA believe they have fenced out dissent, we believe they have walled themselves in. We intend to liberate them so they can hear the voices of the people, the land and the waters. No army can stop the spring flood: no fence can hold back a river. In our organization of this action, we will embody the principles of openness, participation, empowerment and real democracy that are the foundation of the world we strive to create.

We intend to carry out this action with vision, imagination, creativity, humour and joy, with respect for the lives, enterprises, culture and heritage of the people of Quebec City, and in a manner that encourages all to join us.