guatemala: focusing in on global europe during americas social forum
In Latin America negotiations are under way on ‘Association Agreements’ between the EU and countries in Central America, the Andean region and South America. If concluded, these agreements are likely to include extensive trade liberalization deals that focus on opening up services and food sectors, altering intellectual property rules and accessing natural resources (especially precious metals, oil, timber and fisheries).
Bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with the US have been center stage in Central and Latin America in recent years, and popular resistance to such agreements has been broad, strong and vociferous. But there is considerably less knowledge and understanding about the content and likely impacts of these new proposed deals with the European Union.
Friends of the Earth Guatemala / CEIBA, along with other environmental and social movement organizations, took a leadership role at the Americas Social Forum, which took place in Guatemala in October 2008. FoE Guatemala ran a workshop on Global Europe during the forum, which was very well attended: it attracted 80 participants from countries including Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. People came from all walks of life, representing peasant, indigenous, environmental, women, youth, education and health organizations, as well as communities facing conflicts with transnational corporations.
Together, they learned more about the EU’s proposed Association Agreements in Latin America, and exchanged information about the impacts of European transnational corporations in the various regions. The activities of three particular European companies - Bayer, Perenco, and Biwater – were also considered in more detail.
The Social Forum took place at the same time as official negotiations on the Central American Association Agreement, presenting an opportunity for FoE Guatemala and other members of ATALC / FoE Latin America and the Caribbean and FoE International to participate in a public mobilization that demonstrated people’s opposition to these negotiations.
The Global Europe workshop and other activities at the Americas Social Forum were a singificant contribution to ongoing efforts to broaden and strengthen the civil society movement opposing free trade and the EU’s Association Agreements.
The mobilization was an important demonstration of the strength and unity of the movement, and drew attention to the impacts that EU policies have on vulnerable communities, such as peasants and Indigenous People.
FoEI’s Real World Radio made a special coverage of the workshops organized by FoE groups.
- See pictures of the event.
with thanks to our funders: the isvara foundation