Peoples of the Americas - Quito Declaration

Message From The Peoples Of The Americas Protest March To The Meeting Of Ministers Of Economy And Trade In Quito, Ecuador

The men and women - indigenous peoples, workers, campesinos, students, urban community residents, citizens, children , youth, adults and seniors - representatives of the popular organizations of our beautiful Republic of Ecuador and of all the countries of our America gathered today in the streets of Quito, have come to raise our voices, the voices of a million inhabitants of our continent, to express our decisive and complete disagreement and opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which you are currently negotiating.

The FTAA has no legitimacy while negotiations are taking place behind the back of society, in an antidemocratic, almost secretive fashion, protected by an offensive police and military cordon whose access is limited to a handful of powerful businessmen. There is no information, let alone consultation with the population, or even with National Congresses.

The FTAA cannot but strengthen social exclusion and the deterioration of the environment as long as it solely takes into account the interests of the large transnational corporations, particularly the US companies and their local partners, while formally, explicitly and completely ignoring the needs and demands of society and the environment. This is based on an unacceptable premise that the rules of trade and investment are matters for businessmen, and should not concern the peoples whose destiny is at stake.

The FTAA cannot but deepen the inequality between nations, and the polarization of society within those nations, as long as it is based on the NAFTA model. After nine years of coming into effect, NAFTA has signified a veritable social disaster, and a severe loss of sovereignty for the least developed country among the signatory nations. In the text of the FTAA, which you have released with great delay and reticence, the worst aspects of NAFTA are being repeated and even deepened: It gives equal treatment to countries that are totally unequal, which will in turn only produce even more inequality. It gives equal treatment to small Latin American producers and large North American Corporations. It makes the impoverished Latin American agricultural producers compete with the large and highly subsidized Northern producers, thus ensuring our loss of food security and sovereignty. It grants extraordinary rights to corporations permitting them to sue states for any measure that limits their insatiable thirst for profits.

It opens up to privatization and loss of national control areas vital for the development of a nation such as energy, education, health and even water; basic public services cease to be rights and simply become commodities leaving our future up to the whims of the marketplace;

It legalizes the robbery of traditional knowledge and opens up property rights over living beings and their reproduction by making them subject to patents leading to the destruction of our identity and diversity.

When all is said and done it puts at risk any possibility for states to have the capacity to enact a national plan for genuine development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The FTAA is nothing less than a supranational economic constitution through which we would end up handing over the sovereignty of our nations to US hegemony.

We are not against trade and agreements between countries. We are in favour of a model distinctly different from the model that they wish to impose on us through the FTAA. We are in favour of sovereign and democratic agreements that truly guarantee just, equitable and sustainable development for each of our nations.

It is for all these reasons, Ministers, that we came here today, not to "dialogue", because your governments have been closed to genuine dialogue and to listening and to taking into account the sentiments of civil society. This will not change because you deign to receive us today or because you want your photo taken with representatives of the people. We came here to demand that you suspend the FTAA negotiations and turn over to the people, with whom the sovereignty of each nation resides, the decisions that affect the future of our countries.

In so far as your governments refuse to go beyond unacceptable simulated consultations we have taken into our own hands to conduct a Hemispheric Popular Consultation through which millions of men and women from throughout the hemisphere can say "yes" or "no" to an FTAA. We hope that the voices we bring here today and those that will arise through our popular consultation will be heard. If not, you will put the future of the Americas at serious risk.

Yes to Life! No to the FTAA! Another Americas is Possible!