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Report from FSM: Build Coalitions for Fair Trade!
by esperanza ( starlytestarbryte [at] yahoo.com )
Thursday Jan 26th, 2006 10:34 AM
While the US government and Central American governments (accept Costa Rica) have agreed to “Free Trade” Agreements, a strong coalition of people in these countries continue to fight these agreements because of how these agreements will affect our daily lives. Movements based through out the America’s work together to resist economic oppression and ensure fair trade and fair standards of living. This article is a report back from two workshops regarding these issues. The resources exist for us to collaborate, empower, cultivate fair trade and maintain a just and peaceful community of the Americas.
Report from FSM: Build Coalitions for Fair Trade!

Caracas, Venezuela – The World Social Forum (or Foro Social Mundial, FSM) in Caracas, Venezuela began Tuesday 24 of January with a march of delegations and participants from all over the world. Various workshops, lectures and discussions are being held between 24 January and 29 January to collaborate and educate each other about social movements maintaining a world based on peace and justice. Rather than provide a summative article on the forum, this article will provide calls to action and resources for you or your organization to help build coalitions between the global south and global north. Foremost, this article will provide websites and contacts for action to ensure fair trade in Central America and Latin America. Please visit the web page at http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/ for further information regarding FSM.

While the US government and Central American governments (accept Costa Rica) have agreed to “Free Trade” Agreements, a strong coalition of people in these countries continue to resist these agreements because of how these agreements will affect our daily lives. Movements based through out the Americas work together to resist economic oppression and ensure fair trade and fair standards of living. This article is a report back from two workshops regarding these issues. The resources exist for us to collaborate, empower, cultivate fair trade and maintain a just and peaceful community of the Americas.

Within the US, Public Citizen, Alliance for Responsible Trade, Quijote Center, and Guatemalan unity Information Agency, are just a few of the organizations dedicated to collaborative strategies to ensure fair trade. For example, right now Public Citizen is employing two campaigns that you can get involved with immediately. One campaign includes continuing the dialogue regarding the impacts of free trade agreements on the Central American People. They note that the debate in U.S. congress included these aspects and they think we can ensure that discussions surrounding this theme can continue. Additionally, Public Citizen documents the promises of congressmen and women and if they do or do not follow through with such promises. http://www.tradewatch.org has all this information and more. Alliance for Responsible trade and the Quijote Center work to mobilize global north and global south movements. Go to this web page for information on how to get your community involved. http://www.art-us.org/. Additionally, in the U.S., the Guatemalan Unity Information Agency (GUIA) provides information regarding the legal and fiscal impacts of “Free Trade” in Guatemala. Among many strategies and investigations, GUIA likens the situations of Guatemaltecos to that of the people living in Southern Mexico, who already live with the impact of unjust “Free Trade.” GUIA is in cyber space at http://www.guia-la.org/.

One other important agency who allies with Central America countries is ActionAid international. This agency works as a corporate watch dog, reports from all over the world and organizes programs to ensure food, education, etc globally. http://www.actionaidusa.org/ provides details and contact information.

Some groups dedicated to trade issues in Latin America include the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN), Centro de Estudios Internacionales (Managua, Nicargaua), Bloque Popular Centroamericano, and La Red Sinti Techan (El Salvador.) The IGTN primarily researches how international trade agreements impact females and other aspects of life that cannot be measured economically. IGTN has offices globally and to find how they can be a resource to you got to http://www.generoycomercio.org. La Red Sinti Techan is group doing amazing work to inform and moblizie people both in El Salvador and globally. Along with the Centro de Estudios Internacionales (Managua, Nicargaua), Bloque Popular Centroamericano, they research and provide ample information on issues surrounding trade, including militarization, and foreign debt. You can find this group at http://www.sintitechan.org .

The information and themes discussed in this article came from two workshops at the FSM. The IGTN facilitated a discussion based on the topic, “Commercial Agreements and power: WTO and FTAA, The Women Interpolate;” While the information focused on commercial agreements between the US and Central America was obtained in the workshop “Building People’s Power and resistance in Central America to oppose the Commercial and military Invasion.” These are a mere 2 workshops of hundreds of workshops that have taken place at the FSM. We are collaborating to ensure the creation and maintenance of world based on collaboration and empowerment rather than the bottom line.