News Release

Fast Track Showdown: Interviews Available

CONNIE GARCIA
Garcia is a policy advocate for the San Diego-based Environmental Health Coalition, one of the oldest grassroots environmental and social justice organizations in the United States. She said today: “While the evidence is clear that NAFTA has failed to protect the environment, the president is promoting it as a model for the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Fast track would allow Bush to negotiate the FTAA without being hampered by public input. It was fast-track authority that allowed the closed-door negotiation of NAFTA with Canadian, U.S. and Mexican trade officials and multinational corporations — with no input from environmental or labor interests. The results have been very negative for the environment, especially here at ground zero of NAFTA. For example, the Alamar River in Mexico is rank with raw sewage and industrial wastewater — a byproduct of U.S. and foreign-owned maquiladoras operating in Mexico under NAFTA.”
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MARIA LUISA MENDONCA
Mendonca (who can be interviewed in English) is the director of the Social Network for Justice and Human Rights in Brazil. She said today: “If Congress approves fast-track authority, it will be giving a blank check to big business to carry out policies that will be very detrimental to the people of the Americas. The FTAA will mean that large corporations will benefit while the public’s right to health, education, food, job security, living wages and environmental safety will be further threatened. It will also increase Latin America’s vulnerability to whims of speculative capital.”

KAREN HANSEN-KUHN
Hansen-Kuhn is the international coordinator of the Alliance for Responsible Trade. She said today: “The current debate on fast-track authority has been marred by accusations that are either inflammatory, irrelevant or both. A recent example is U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick’s assertion that those opposing the administration’s request for that authority are ‘xenophobes and isolationists.’ In fact, opposition to this model of corporate-led globalization is both global in scale and internationalist in perspective. Tens of thousands of people from Buenos Aires to Quebec have taken this message to the streets, to city councils and national legislatures to demand a very different kind of economic integration. The real issue is who wins and who loses under the resulting accords. People throughout the Americas understand that it is not countries that benefit or suffer from these policies but rather specific sectors within each nation. Workers, environmentalists, family farmers, women and many others in the U.S. have joined forces with their counterparts in other countries to advance a common agenda…”
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ANTONIA JUHASZ
Juhasz is a project director for the International Forum on Globalization, which represents over 60 organizations in 25 countries. She said today: “The administration wants fast-track authority in order to speed through agreements such as the proposed FTAA that would extend NAFTA to the entire Southern Hemisphere and to further the agenda of the November meeting of the WTO — the first ministerial-level meeting since the collapse of talks in Seattle. Fast track is a mechanism by which many of the key democratic processes used to create legislation are eliminated — these include the full committee process, full debate and the ability to amend legislation. The full democratic process is critical when addressing issues about which there is so much controversy and disagreement.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167