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Message-Id: <199710172330.TAA20745@hermes.circ.gwu.edu>
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Date: Thu, 16 Oct 97 17:37:54 CDT
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Subject: Defeating NAFTA--The Fast Track /WW Edit'l
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Article: 20064

Defeating NAFTA--The Fast Track /WW Edit'l id CAA21751; Thu, 16 Oct 1997 02:38:55 -0400

Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the October 23, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper

Defeating NAFTA__The Fast Track

Worlkers World Editorial. 23 October 1997

President Bill Clinton spent the second week in October on a mission to South America. Clinton went as the ambassador of U.S. big business. On their behalf, he preached the NAFTA gospel to the governments of sovereign nations including Venezuela and Brazil.

In this country, meanwhile, organized labor is fighting to block the president from expanding NAFTA on a fast track. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney led an anti-NAFTA rally in Philadelphia Oct. 14 and is set to lead another one on Wall Street in New York Oct. 16. Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson will lead another anti-fast-track demonstration Oct. 16 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Other demonstrations are planned for Arkansas, Kentucky, Connecticut, California and North Carolina.

While unions marched and Clinton's operatives maneuvered on Capitol Hill, the president laid down the law in Caracas and Brasilia. It wasn't diplomacy, exactly. It was more like the old big-stick tactic from the days of Teddy Roosevelt at the start of the era of U.S. imperialism. Clinton told Latin American officials to cooperate--or else. "I actually support the emergence of countries to a greater role of influence and responsibilities, as long as they share our basic values," he said.

Some South American officials are less than thrilled. "Free trade" treaties inevitably strengthen the hand of the biggest, richest capitalists--U.S. big business--and subjugate the national bourgeoisies of the oppressed countries.

)From our point of view, the problem with NAFTA is that it hurts the workers and oppressed of all countries. Since it took effect almost four years ago, NAFTA has eliminated some 4 million jobs in Mexico and 400,000 jobs in the United States. The number of workers at maquiladoras--U.S.-owned plants where workers on the Mexican side of the border are super-exploited--has grown by 50 percent.

The expansion of global capital makes the need for global labor solidarity all the more urgent. The more the U.S. labor movement reaches out to Mexican and Canadian--and now Chilean and Venezuelan and Brazilian--unions, the more effective the fight against fast track will be.

And labor here can learn a lot about militant tactics from our sisters and brothers in Latin America. A look at even just the last few years of worker struggles in the nations of Latin America--which have encompassed plant takeovers, general strikes, cross-industry cooperation, even shutting down Congress--provides plenty of ideas for how U.S. unions could kick up the struggle here a few notches.

(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to: info@workers.org. Web: http://workers.org)