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Anti-FTAA Speaking Tour: AfroVenezuelan Network, 1/6/04 

Global Exchange Announces Spring 2004 Stop the FTAA Speaking Tour Corporate Globalization, the FTAA and What YOU Can Do About It With Chucho Garcia, Founder of the Afro-Venezuelan Network 

WHAT: After nine years of negotiating the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, we now have the opportunity to stop it ­ within the next nine months. To raise awareness about the damaging potential effects of the proposed FTAA on communities, democracy, jobs, and the environment across the hemisphere, Global Exchange is organizing a Spring 2004 Stop the FTAA Speaking Tour: Corporate Globalization and What YOU Can Do About It. 

Jesus "Chucho" Garcia, the founder of the Afro-Venezuelan Network (Red AfroVenezuelana) and a leader in the struggle against racism and corporate globalization in the Americas, will tour the US to engage with communities about the threat of the FTAA, militarism, and what people in the U.S. can do to bring economic and social justice to the hemisphere. 

When: April 11-26, 2004 

Where: Nationwide 

Why: WHAT¹S WRONG WITH THE FTAA? Dubbed "NAFTA on Steroids," the FTAA is a massive new free trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the governments of North, Central, and South America. If the FTAA is passed, it will become the largest free trade zone in the world, covering a population of over 800 million people. Even more extreme than the World Trade Organization, the FTAA is the latest attempt by the US business and government elite to expand corporate globalization ­ further eroding human rights, workers' rights, environmental protections, and democracy ­ all in the interest of greater corporate control. The FTAA is designed solely for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of most of the hemisphere¹s population and the environment. The corporate agenda of "free trade," deregulation, privatization and special corporate protections enshrined in the FTAA will lead to greater poverty and environmental destruction, while concentrating the Hemisphere's wealth in the hands of a few elite bankers and businessmen. The corporate agenda being pushed in the FTAA pits worker against worker and nation against nation in a mad race to the bottom, a race designed by an elite corps of Wall Street bankers and corporate fat-cats. Indigenous peoples, farmers, people of color, and low-income workers are the most hardest hit by corporate globalization, and many in Latin America have been living the effects of these policies for years. But there is hope; because of recent political changes in Latin America, the failure of the WTO, the setback of the FTAA in Miami and the growing grassroots movements opposing the FTAA across the hemisphere, we have a strong chance to defeat the FTAA before it becomes law. But we need to build a movement to accomplish that. 

Who: Jesus "Chucho" Garcia.  Jesus "Chucho" Garcia is the founder and director of the Afro-Venezuela Network, and a world expert on the impacts globalization and militarism on Latin America. He is a well-known and incredible speaker, able to combine impressive intellectual analysis with diverse lived experiences to inspire audiences to engage in the struggle for global justice. He is the author of numerous books and the subject of several films about the history and present culture of people of African descent in Venezuela. He is an official advisor on the potential impacts of the FTAA to the Andean Parliament. He was a participant in the Plataforma Venezolana delegation to Miami against the FTAA, and spoke recently at the Globalization and the African World Conference as well as the protests against the School of the Americas in Georgia. He is organizing a major conference in Caracas to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Venezuela. 

Where: Why Venezuela? In the FTAA, Venezuela's negotiating position most closely resembles the priorities of the social movements, including opposition to the privatization of essential services, criticism of the FTAA's lack of transparency and lack of democracy, promotion of food sovereignty, and against patent rights over human rights to access to medicines. In addition, Venezuela has been actively promoting a hemispheric redistribution of wealth that would address issues of structural inequalities across the continent. If we are to successfully derail the proposed FTAA, we must support social movements in Latin America who are electing governments whose policies represent the interests of the majority ­ the poor. Domestically, Venezuela is currently undergoing a massive redistribution of wealth through programs such as a massive literacy campaign, poor people¹s health campaign, campaigns for food security, the creation of a new working class university, and promotion of regionalism ­ one model of an alternative to policies of corporate globalization. 

HOW: BRING US TO YOUR COMMUNITY! We want to organize to bring Chucho to your town to share stories and skills, lay plans, and help mobilize for global justice against the FTAA. Dates are rapidly being filled, so get in touch with us soon to schedule an event in your town. Email Jamie Guzzi at trade@globalexchange.org or call 415.575.5537. 

Program: A typical program consists of a talk about what¹s in store for communities if the proposed FTAA were to become real, impacts of corporate globalization and its links with militarism and the history of colonization in the hemisphere. The talk would be followed by a question and answer session, and ­ most importantly - opportunities to learn about and discuss ways to organize to Stop the FTAA. Many groups also organize strategy sessions for those interested in developing local campaigns, media interviews, classroom talks, and small group discussions. Funding: To cover costs, we request that groups provide a $1200 honorarium plus travel expenses, if possible. We understand that covering this amount may be a challenge for some groups and so we¹ve developed lots of suggestions for creative ways to raise money and obtain outside support. The first way to start is to seek co-sponsors (e.g., among other groups or departments) to share the costs and responsibilities. This will also generate a larger audience and more potential for action. We don¹t want cost to be a deciding factor in bringing such an important event to your community, so we are committed to helping you with ideas and alternative resources. Just ask! 

We are asking event hosts to: 

* Provide a suitable venue and equipment for the event 
* Publicize event within your community and to local media (We can help!) 
* Provide a skilled translator (Spanish to English for the talk and English to Spanish for Q&A) * Provide local transportation, food, and lodging (home stay is okay) 
* Provide a local speaker, if possible, to make the connections with local impacts of corporate globalization in the community 

BACKGROUND on the FTAA: Since 1994, thirty-four countries in the Western Hemisphere have been negotiating the creation of a free trade area stretching from the Yukon to Tierra del Fuego. The Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA, would be the most far-reaching trade agreement in history, gathering the worse aspects of every existing or proposed trade and investment agreement and assembling them in a blueprint for the privatization of the hemisphere. The FTAA crosses the final frontier in trade, giving corporations sweeping powers over most aspects of the previously public commons, including healthcare, food, education, water, and culture. At the same time, the agreement relegates labor, environmental and social justice issues to the margins. It should come as no surprise, then, that the FTAA has taken shape in the shadows, far from the light of public examination or opinion. FTAA negotiations are set to be completed by the end of 2004, with major negotiations taking place throughout the year. This means that we have a limited opportunity to help STOP the greatest threat to democracy in the history of the continent. The proposed FTAA is sparking a debate that will set the course for democracy, equality and sustainability in our hemisphere for many years to come. 

Why a Global Exchange Tour? Global Exchange is an international human rights organization that works for economic and social justice and peace through corporate accountability campaigns, grassroots mobilization, and creating people-to-people ties. Global Exchange has been one of the leading organizations challenging corporate rule for 15 years. GX is a founding member of the 50 Years is Enough! US Network for Global Justice, and active members of the Alliance for Responsible Trade/Continental Coordinating Campaign Against the FTAA. Through our large network of partner organizations throughout the hemisphere in countries like Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, we have witnessed first-hand the negative impacts of corporate globalization and the need for us to work in the US in solidarity against it. We have fought against corporate rule in our campaigns against sweatshop companies like Nike and the GAP, and we have fought to promote sustainable community-centered alternatives like Fair Trade through our stores and our coffee and chocolate campaigns. We see the real potential for a grassroots mobilization to provide serious opposition to the FTAA, and know that if we work together, we can beat the FTAA. We look forward to working with communities across the US to educate people about the potential impacts of the FTAA ­ so that we can stop this monster of corporate globalization before it starts.

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