Public forums on the Free Trade Area of the Americas, criticizing the trade agreement’s negative impact on farmers, workers and the environment, are to be held at two locations in metro Atlanta, Sunday, Oct. 12.
Morning and early afternoon sessions will be held at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at La Mision Catolica Nuestra Senora de las Americas, 5918 New Peachtree Rd.
An evening session is to be held at the Friends Meeting Hall, 701 W. Howard Ave. in Decatur, from 6-8:30 p.m.
The speakers, representing organizations that largely oppose the establishment of an FTAA, are to discuss the social and environmental changes wrought by such trade pacts, with a focus on how the North American Free Trade Agreement has affected workers and locales throughout North America and Mexico.
Currently, Atlanta officials are working to lure the FTAA secretariat to the city and are expected to present a formal candidacy at an FTAA ministerial meeting in Miami in November. Competitors include Miami, Panama City and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Presenters for the upcoming FTAA forum include Aldo Gonzalez, a community leader from Oaxaca, Mexico, who is to speak for farmers from that region; Pablo Huaiquilao, an activist from Chile and Jason Tockman, global trade director of the American Land Alliance, which works to address environmental challenges associated with free trade.
Ray Bourgeois, a Catholic priest, will also be on hand to discuss protests planned for November against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning. The facility provides training to civilian, military and law enforcement students from Western Hemisphere countries. Those opposed to the school allege that many Latin American soldiers trained at the facility have since committed human rights violations.
Atlanta sponsors of the FTAA program include Atlanta Friends Social Concerns, Atlanta Jobs With Justice, the Atlanta Labor Council, the Episcopalian Peace Fellowship, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club, International Action Center, the North American Neighborhood Association and Presbyterian Answer to Hunger.