6 December 1999
by David E. Ortman
7043 22nd Ave N.W.
Seattle, WA 98117
NOTE: My photos are posted at WTO PHOTOS
I also wrote articles for the World Trade Observer
Independent media coverage can be found at:
Other significant local sites are:
The Seattle Times & Seattle Post Intelligencer both have archives of WTO articles and photos.
10:00 pm MONDAY November 29 - Seattle Weather forecast for Tuesday 30 November: Leftover showers High 48.
7:00 am TUESDAY November 30, 1999 - Seattle Weather: Clouds, rain, gloom.
9:00 am The most GOD-AWFUL DISASTROUS THING IN THE WORLD happens to the World Trade Organization - it stops raining. The sun comes out and turns what is normally a surly, snarly, dank day into a summer playground.
10:00 am. Thousands of citizens, union members, sea turtles begin to fill up Memorial Stadium at the Seattle Center.
11:00 am Like a heavenly omen, a rainbow frames the west end of the Memorial Stadium where speakers from around the world lead cheers to shut down the WTO.
11:00 am Steelworkers walk out on Sierra Club's Carl Pope's pep talk.
12:30 pm. Thousands pour into the streets. Mennonites for Fair Trade marching alongside the Machinist Union. Longshoremen and church groups, all pressing forward toward the WA Trade and Convention Center. Those in the front of the Labor march reach the city center as the last of the marchers are leaving Memorial Stadium over a mile away.
3:00 pm Police make a strategic mistake. They set up a defense perimeter around the hotels and block street access creating dead ends and cul de sacs. They leave Niketown, the GAP and Plant Hollywood unprotected. Bad decision.
3:30 pm. All Hell Breaks Loose around the WA Trade and Convention Center spilling down toward 3rd Ave. A Starbucks Coffee Shop has become a "Starburst" with shattered windows.
3:45 pm Several middle aged, well dressed Seattlites watching the mayhem respond, "Right on" and "It's about time". Apparently the politicians have underestimated public dislike for the WTO.
4:00 pm At one intersection, a demonstrator with a microphone reminded the crowd that this intersection was a peaceful demonstration and thanked police for their restraint. A half block away, other shop windows already were smashed.
4:05 pm On 1st Ave, two blocks away, however, things seem normal. Traffic is moving, people are walking, waiting for stop lights.
4:30 pm Tear Gas drifts through the streets. People are clutching their throats and wiping eyes like it was a volcanic explosion.
5:00 pm A shop worker says she heard a New York Times reporter yelling into his cell phone, "I'm sick, and now this!"
5:30 pm A Seattle Metro bus goes by 1st Ave. flashing a sign: "Smile - Be Happy".
5:35 pm A bicycle cabbie is still trying to cart passengers through downtown, but business is sure slowing down since he can't out peddle the tear gas.
5:45 pm I ask people if they have every been tear gassed before. They say never. And they sure as hell didn't expect to be tear gassed in Seattle.
6:00 pm Typical Seattle. Even as tear gas is carried North of the Pike Place Market, Seattlites still wait for the light to change before crossing, even when there is no traffic.
6:10 pm The riot seems to have even affected Tom Brokow on NBC News (KING Ch.5). Watching a TV through a bar window, their closed captioning goes haywire just like much of Seattle. KING Ch.5 realizes no one wants to listen to National News and cuts back to local programming.
6:30 pm A protester retells how he was caught square in the middle of a tear gas attack and how a local shop keeper opened his door and pulled him in to get him off the street.
6:50 pm Strangest sight on TV is King Co. Sheriff Dave Reichert (Nonpartisan) trying to chase down a couple of looters. They got away.
7:00 pm Despite the presence of a curfew zone and civil emergency running right up to the Seattle Center, priorities remain as always and the Sonics/Lakers game tips off at Key Arena.
7:30 pm Award for the dumbest looters goes to the guys carting off Radio Shack stuff to an awaiting car with the license number in full view of rolling TV cameras. Guess where that film is going.
Tip of the Day. If you've been teargased, Heloise recommends that you immediately go home and wash your cloths. Otherwise, tear gas will cling for up to two weeks.
by David E. Ortman
According to WTO protest organizers the weekend of 28 November showed that there
was not enough bodies to encircle the WTO venue. But by early Tuesday morning, 30 November, thousands
of protesters were in place. How come? The Sunday 28 November Seattle Times Business Page (p. E 3)
ran a calender of events:
"Tuesday 7 a.m. Shut Down The WTO - Mass Nonviolent Direct Action. Global Action, Direct Action Network, Earth First and others lead a large scale, nonviolent shutdown of the WTO meeting with street theater and other maneuvers designed to block delegates from meetings. A previous training session with Global Action's Capitol Hill office encouraged. Victor Steinbrueck Park, north of Pike Place Market, and Seattle Central Community College (206) 632-1656."
As of 6:00 pm Friday, 3 December, neither the Mars Lander nor the World Trade Organization had been heard from and both were presumed lost in space. Both seem to be suffering from a misaimed antenna and lack of proper guidance and management. What a waste.
by David E. Ortman
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. All of them, they work by consensus.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. They can't, the Seattle police ran out of tear gas and are throwing everything, including lightbulbs at the protesters.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. Only one, so long as the lightbulb is made from child labor.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. They don't know, they have to ask Charlene Barshefsky first.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. [They] don't [know], because the [answer] is still a [draft.]
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. It doesn't matter. The lightbulb was broken in Seattle and they aren't coming back.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. We're the WTO. We don't have to change ANYTHING.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. That's not a trade issues, must be a Y2K problem.
* How many WTO Trade Ministers does it take to change a lightbulb? A. One from the US or 132 from other countries.
Credit to David E. Ortman
Second "Still Don't Get It Award" goes to the Seattle Post-Intellegencer. On 10 August, the P-I editorialized that "It's good to know the Clinton administration is trying to let the world's trade ministers hear directly from worried groups representing consumers, the environment and labor when the World Trade Organization meets here in November." Unfortunately the P-I was not going to be that vehicle. The P-I refused to run any letters to the editor directly on the WTO, the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the WTO came to town.
Third "Still Don't Get It Award" goes to the Seattle Post-Intellegencer. On 2 December, the P-I editorialized that "Alluding to what he called the 'rather interesting hoopla' in the streets of Seattle, Clinton posed what he correctly called the 'core' question free trade critics must answer. 'Do you believe that, on balance, over the last 50 years, the U.S. has benefited from world trade? I do,' the president said. So do we."
Wrong question. Of course the US and its Corporate friends have been the primary beneficiary, at the expense of the rest of the world's citizens and environment. Does the P-I really want another 50 years of US planet plundering?
Fourth "Still Don't Get It Award" goes to Tina Podlodowski, outgoing City Councilwoman who lamented, "This really hurts our place as a city. It is an embarrassment. . ." The real embarrassment is the WTO, Podlodoski and other elected officials who were nowhere to be seen at any of the peaceful marches, demonstrations or teach-ins. The litmus test for the 2000 elections will be "DID YOU MARCH ON NOVEMBER 30???"
First Corporate Media Award goes to. . . .see below.
by David E. Ortman
Responding to the unleashed demand for plate glass windows and plywood in Seattle, the stock markets shook off Tuesday shutdown of the WTO and climbed to some new record highs. The NASDAQ finished WTO week (29 Nov - 3 Dec) at an all time high of 3,520.63. Standard and Poor's 500 Index reached a new record of 1,433.33 while the DOW Jones was at 11,286.18 just under its all time high of August 25. If the WTO tries to have its fourth ministerial on Wall Street in New York, no doubt the sky's the limit.
by David E. Ortman
Among the more interesting events was the People's Corporate Tribunal held at the King County Labor Temple, November 27-28. After hearing testimony from citizens from around the world, indictments were handed down against the GAP, Cargill, Shell/Chevron, Unical, and Union Carbide for Crimes Against Humanity.
For more information, see Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy. For info on Northwest Corporations including pollution records and shareholder resolutions, see Northwest Corporate Accountability Project
by David E. Ortman
It was a good thing that Fidel Castro chose to avoid Seattle and the WTO. With all the chanting about "This is what Democracy looks like", someone might have caught on that Cuba hasn't had a free election in over 30 years. Otherwise it might have been: "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Fidel Castro has to go. . .home and have elections."
by David E. Ortman
In the wee tear gas filled hours of Wednesday morning, President Bill Clinton rode into town to preside over a disrupted and wounded WTO.
During a short speech to Agricultural interests at the Pier 66, Bell Harbor Center run by the Port of Seattle, Clinton offered a thank you for hosting the WTO in a state famous for trading "Airplanes to Apples." Since there were children present, Clinton apparently wanted to avoid mentioning Washington States fifth biggest export - cigarettes.
On the TV monitors, Clinton paused to say "a few words about all the rather interesting hoopla that's been going on around here" as KING TV Channel 5 ran shots showing the WTO protests. The disconnect continued as Clinton sifted to taking about row crop farmers, as KING continued to roll film of police hauling off (harvesting??) protesters.
It was clear, however, that Clinton was there on behalf of Ag interests, such as the Washington "pulp" apple growers to bring out the weapons needed to pry open other countries markets and tear down trade barriers on behalf of corporate interests. Ironic that when asked to wield those weapons on behalf of protecting human rights, labor or the environment, the Administration says it can not and will not.
It is too bad that Clinton didn't get a real tour of the Port of Seattle since the Port of Seattle is not a model of "Free Trade". The Port is a model of subsidized trade. The Port taxes King Co. property owners $35 million each year to balance the books for its Marine Division. And the Port may have moved $35 billion in trade in 1998, but, as noted, the number five export out of Washington State in 1997 (in dollar value) was cigarettes. Wouldn't the world be fascinated to learn how the Port of Seattle is part of the plan of the US tobacco industry to sell cancer-causing cigarettes to young people in Pacific Rim Countries?
And despite what local politicians are telling Clinton, one in three jobs are not trade dependent. According to a recent study, in 1995 only one out of every fifteen workers in Washington was engaged in the production of a good or service sold abroad.
As for the Washington apple growers. Here is a photo-op that didn't make it on Clinton's schedule:
"In a presentation called 'Deadly Apples', Clinton meets Edward Martinez, an apple picker in eastern Washington. He learns that Martinez is a Mexican citizen who helps pick Washington apples.
Clinton is told that apples grown in Eastern Washington, particularly in the Yakima Basin have an unfair trade advantage because the farmers have not paid back the costs of the federal Bureau of Reclamation dams (costs of $141 million with repayment in 1985 of only $32 million), that at times the Bonneville Power Administration provided cheap power to farmers for pumping water, that irrigation in the Yakima Basin has dried up the river and with no instream flows, salmon have become endangered and extinct, that migrant laborers like Martinez are harassed when they try to unionize and are paid a low wage with living conditions no one in Seattle would put up with.
Clinton is told that apple growers use a number pesticides and other chemicals and that a few years ago, one such chemical, Alar, used on apples was taken off the market because the Environmental Protection Agency finally got around to admitting that children drink a lot more apple juice and eat a lot more apple sauce than adults, but that the levels for chemicals clinging to apples were based on adult weights not children.
It is also pointed out to Clinton that the news media at the urging of the apple industry, and led by local TV commentator and now Seattle City Councilman Jim Compton, generally issued editorials and articles beating up on EPA for trying to protect children's health.
Clinton is also told that trade is one of the main ways that insect and other species hitch along to regions of the world with no natural predators and, therefore, countries have a right to be extremely careful about what is allowed to cross their borders.
Clinton is told that apple growers remain more interested in appearance than taste, one reason they have trouble marketing their "pulp apples" overseas and that the Washington Apple Commission supports the passage of commodity disparagement laws, so if you say something nasty about their apples (like 'pulp apples') you can be thrown in jail.
Clinton is told that when eastern Washington apple growers overproduce apples for export, there is less water in the rivers for salmon and that when overseas markets have troubles, excess Washington apples cannot be sold and many are left to rot.
Clinton is told that while US Agro-business hammers at unfair agricultural subsidies in other countries and wants the WTO to intervene, they are silent about the government subsidies they receive.
Clinton is also told that despite being big boosters of 'free trade' Washington apple growers are fighting hard to keep Chinese apple juice out of the United States because they really don't support 'free trade' at all when it threatens to cut into their own profits."
Wait, a minute, this is not what the Port of Seattle, King County, and the elected officials told the President at all. Otherwise they might have to answer for the hidden costs of free trade.
by David E. Ortman
* The Pork of Seattle has powers of eminent domain and taxation. Each year the Pork takes $35 million from King County to subsidize its public relations "free trade" campaign.
* In 1997, the fifth biggest export from Washington State was cigarettes. Washington State exports more cigarettes than seafood according to the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT).
* Speaking of WCIT, the WTO was brought to Seattle through the combined efforts of several individuals, including Pork Commissioner Patricia Davis. Davis also wears a second hat as President of WCIT which has its below market rent office in the Pork's World Trade Center. Please feel free to drop in at WCIT and let Ms. Davis know how you feel about "free trade": WCIT, World Trade Center Bldg., 2200 Alaskan Way, Suite 430, Seattle, WA 98121-1684 WCIT
* "Free Trade" means "Free Rent". While you are visiting WCIT, stop in the same building and say hello to the Seattle Host Organization in their rent free room in the World Trade Center Bldg, 2200 Alaskan Way, Suite 150, Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 770-3150 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
* The Pork (Port) of Seattle is one of the few Ports in the United States that elects (rather than appoints) its five member Port Commissions. Davis has served on the Pork Commission since 1985, but came close to losing her "free trade" seat in 1997, winning barely 53% of the vote.
* Oh, yes, there were hundreds of Longshoremen Union folks marching in Seattle on 30 November. But one Longshoreman wasn't matching? Why not? Because Longshreman Jack Block is also a member of the Seattle Port Commission.
* If you would like to visit the Pork Commission's Taj Mahal Center for the Worship of Trade Headquarters, check out Pier 69, 2711 Alaskan Way (P.O. Box 1209, Seattle, WA 98111). Don't be intimidated by the fortress like front desk. The Pork building is public property and you are free to wonder about and inspect all the trade secrets you can find.
by David E. Ortman
I was ready to give the Seattle P-I and KUOW jointly the WTO "They Still Don't Get It" Corporate Media Prize.
The P-I restored a bit of its journalistic integrity by allowing Art Thiel, a sports reporter for God's sake, to shed some insights on WTO week (P-I, 3 Dec.). And while I would disagree with Thiel's assertion that the world "will little note nor long remember what happened here", Thiel has hit the target dead on by identifying the "profound disconnect between our wealth-enamored leadership and the vast majority of Puget Sound-area resident."
That "wealth-enamored leadership" also includes the area's corporate media and the corporate agenda promoted by P-I Business columnists such as Bruce Ramsey. Thiel deserves bravery points for identifying the media (and naming his own paper the P-I, along with the Times) as also responsible for this profound disconnect and for naming names: McDermott, Shell, Locke, Pat Davis, Phil Condit and Bill Gates, as those who should come forward to a public forum and to answer questions from the public and the media. Here's a thought, put Thiel on the P-I Editorial Board.
The Seattle P-I should be ashamed. Why are people in the streets? It's not JUST because the WTO is closed to public participation and tramples on democracy. On Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday leading up to WTO week, the P-I did not run a single letter to the Editor (pro or con) directly on the WTO. This morning (Monday, 6 Dec.) after the battle in Seattle, the P-I saw fit to run one, (1), ONE letter regarding the WTO and the events of the past week.
The P-I should take a long look at the letters to the editor they received on the WTO (pro and con) vs. the number you ran. Something is dramatically wrong when citizens are denied a voice in their own local papers. I have also been told that the Seattle P-I Editorial Board refused to meet with leaders of citizen groups concerned about the WTO.
But after reading the front page headline Times story on Sunday ("WTO: A Turning Point", 5 December), the award goes hands down to the Seattle Times.
Former Times Business Reporter Michele Matassa Flores summarizes the point in her lead paragraph, "It was billed as a chance for Seattle to shine around the world and rake in more than $11 million in tourist dollars." It was more than "billed as". It was promoted, pushed, supported, and abetted by the Seattle Times, beginning with its open campaign to elect Port Commissioner Paul Schell (Mr. Free Trade) as Mayor of Seattle.
Here are the numbers of WTO related letters to the editor the Times ran in the week leading up to the WTO: Nov. 24 (Wed.)-0; Nov. 25(Thurs.)-0; Nov. 26(Fri.)-0; Nov. 27(Sat.)-0; Nov. 28(Sun.)-9; Nov. 29(Mon.)-0; Nov. 30(Tues.)-1.
I have also been told that the Seattle Times Editorial Board also refused to meet with leaders of citizen groups concerned about the WTO, just as the Seattle Times refused to meet with leaders of citizen and labor groups concerned about the Olympic pipeline before it exploded in Bellingham on 10 June. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Former Times Business Reporter Flores's Sunday piece is particularly galling given the fact that she wrote and the Times published, and I am searching for a scientifically correct term here, a complete piece of shit on 21 November 1993 dealing with the citizen response to the hidden costs of free trade and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC'93) meeting held here in Seattle.
All the SAME issues regarding conflicts with global trade and human rights, environment, and labor were brought forward in Seattle by citizens six years ago. The 20 Nov. 1993 APEC marches and rally at Westlake Park involved far more than the 500-600 mentioned at the time in then Times Business Reporter Flores's article. The demonstrations were peaceful. There was no vandalism and no tear gas. But instead of taking these issues seriously, the Times 1993 response was to ridicule citizens for thinking that they could even be heard and to focus on a police horse defecating on Fifth Ave. According to Flores : "The President - or Mayor Norm Rice for that matter - didn't see the horse incident. Or the Westlake rally. Or likely any other protest."
They saw it this time.
by David E. Ortman
Despite sending their best organizers to Seattle and despite achieving their announced goal of shutting down Seattle, if not the WTO, there were a few misfires along the way:
* The International Forum on Globalization had promised all year a free WTO teach-in for Seattle. The teach-in turned away several thousand, some in disgust when they learned that the venue was Benaroya Hall, it cost to get in and the ticket vendor was entertainment corporate giant and monopoly Ticketmaster, which holds the exclusive ticketing rights to most ticket-worthy events. Seattle's Pearl Jam first took on Ticketmaster in 1992 which touched off a Congressional investigation, as well as an investigation by the Justice Department. Apparently, IFG can talk the Corporate talk, but they can't walk the Corporate walk. www.fantasyland.com/ticketbastard/media.html
* Hundreds of thousands of educatable citizens concentrated in a single spot, Sea-Tac Airport, the Thanksgiving weekend leading up to the WTO. It would have been an easy target for a peaceful anti-WTO presence. It didn't happen.
* If you're mad at multi-national corporations, you don't give up after a day. A peaceful anti-WTO presence could have been maintained during the week at Niketown, the Gap, etc. It didn't happen.
* Don't Churches make banners anymore? The only religious communities visibly present in the marches were the Mennonites and the Methodists. The Catholic Archbishop was nowhere to be seen and issued no statement. Other churches could have lifted up a sign. It didn't happen.
* The Environmental Media Services was given several hundred thousand dollars directly by foundations. What happened to it? Only the AFL-CIO ran a soft fair-trade ad on local TV. Full page pro-human rights, pro-labor, and pro-environment ads could have run in both Seattle papers during WTO week. It didn't happen.
* The Seattle and King County Councils were leaders in passing anti-MAI resolutions in 1998 and 1999. There was talk of welcoming the WTO with MAI-Free Zone signs all over downtown. It didn't happen.
But a lot of incredible things did happen thanks to thousands of citizens from Seattle and around the world.
If you would like to pass along concerns to Rona Zevin at the Seattle Police Department Mayor's Office
If you would like to pass along concerns to Port Commissioner and Washington Council for International Trade President Patricia Davis who helped bring the WTO to Seattle.
by David E. Ortman
On October 17th and 31, Steve Dunphy, the Seattle Times Business press release rehasher presented a glossary of trade. Apparently, he didn't consult these references:
APEC - The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group which met in Seattle in 1993, setting off the first major environmental, labor, and human rights response to a closed trade meeting. Also known as A Potential Environmental Catastrophe.
ASEAN - Association of Southeast Asian Nations, many of whom are poor and at the mercy of multi-national corporations going about their business of pillaging and polluting in the name of "free trade".
Carriers - Companies that ship cargo with little regard for what they are shipping (e.g. cigarettes from the Port of Seattle).
Containerization - The transport of cargo in standardized rectangular "velveta cheese box" containers. Empty containers are being stacked higher and higher all around the Port of Seattle. Full containers leaving the Port of Seattle are often packed with cigarettes, the #5 export from the State of Washington in the name of "free trade".
Countervailing Duty (also known as Anti-dumping duty) - Protective taxes that U.S. multi-national corporations (and Washington apple growers) demand that the U.S. Government assess on other countries multi-national corporations (and Chinese apple growers) in the name of "free trade".
Dumping - What U.S. multi-national corporations (and Washington apple growers) charge other countries multi-national corporations (and Chinese apple growers) of doing, selling goods too cheaply, in order to demand protective countervailing duties (see above).
Export-Import Bank - A U.S. agency created in 1934 to subsidize U.S. multi-national corporation trade because "free trade" is just a fig leaf for multi-national corporation hands (e.g. Boeing) in the federal cookie jar.
Foreign Direct Investment - When a poor country (see ASEAN above) is at the mercy of U.S. multi-national corporations.
Forest Trade Agreement - Also known as "Stumps 'R Us". A clearcut case of Al ("earth out of balance") Gore's trade liberalization policies and centerpiece of the WTO agenda.
G-7 (Group of Seven) - United States, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Canada all of whom think they run the world when in fact only the United States does.
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - Also known as the General Agreement on Talk and Talk, the predecessor of the World Trade Organization that in 1986 began attacking environmental, labor and human rights laws as trade barriers.
Generalized Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) - GATT at your service.
Globalization - The process by which multi-national corporations use pretty pictures of Planet Earth in their advertising while going about their business of pillaging and polluting.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Founded in 1945 and now controls most of the world's economic system outside of Bill Gates and Paul Allen by forcing poor countries to pay exorbitant interest on their debt.
Intellectual Property - What Bill Gates thinks he invented that the rest of the world should pay for.
MAI FREE ZONE - What King and Snohomish Counties and the Cities of Seattle and Olympia are due to citizen lobbying passage of anti MAI (see below) resolutions by county and city councils.
Multinational Agreement on Investment (MAI) - A multinational corporate extortion racquet to demand payment directly from governments whenever their pillaging and polluting is infringed upon. (see MAI Free Zone above)
Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) trade status - What U.S. Senator Henry Jackson denied the Soviet Union until they freed up Jewish emigration clearly demonstrating what current U.S. Senator Patty Murray denies, that trade and human rights ARE related.
North American Free Trade Agreement - A trade agreement signed without an environmental impact statement that was barely passed by Congress that created a "giant sucking sound to the South."
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) - A group of 29 rich countries that think they rule the world when in fact only the U.S. does (see G-7 above). Where the Multinational Agreement on Investment first popped up (see MAI above) and was beaten down due to global citizen outrage.
Seattle Round - What a few pathetic Seattle boosters tried to pawn off on the WTO trade ministers by giving them chinzy Seattle Round umbrellas
Tariff - From an Arabic word meaning to know, inform, so tariff yourself about the WTO.
Uruguay Round - The Eighth and final round of the GATT that began in 1986 and promptly attacked human rights, labor and environmental laws as trade barriers. Also known as the Uranus Round.
U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement - Predecessor to NAFTA (see above). Established in 1988, also without an environmental impact statement, whose first dispute settlement panel eliminated a British Columbia fishery conservation law as a trade barrier.
World Bank - Funds stupid mega projects, such as dams and energy projects around the world that lines the pockets of petty dictators and multi-national corporations. See sister organization IMF (above)
World Trade Organizations (WTO) - Began business in 1995, also without an environmental impact statement, as the world court on trade with human rights, labor and environmental laws banished to debtors prison. What is coming to Seattle the end of November and leaving a week later moaning, "Oh, God, remember what they did to us in Seattle!".
by David E. Ortman
24 November 1999
In response to the World Trade Organization's Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, WA and the call for Jubilee 2000, the Seattle Mennonite Church has adopted the following resolutions which will be presented to the WTO the last week in November.Contact: Micheal Roe, Ph. D.
Adopted 21 November 1999
By the Seattle Mennonite Church
3120 NE 125th
Seattle, WA 98125
SMC Resolution on the World Trade Organization
I. SMC concerns regarding the World Trade Organization:
We are not in principle opponents of trade. We are concerned about a global economy in which enormous gaps exist between the richer and more powerful nations and their poorer and less powerful counterparts, and we are concerned that within nations enormous gaps exist between rich and poor peoples. We recognize that trade can provide a means of rising out of poverty; however, we advocate fair trade in which primary producers receive much greater portion of final profits (e.g., our ministry of Ten Thousand Villages).
We are concerned that massive national debts and inadequate protections and regulations in the global economy lead to inhumane working conditions and exploitation of workers, the reallocation of arable land from subsistence farming to export crops, and mining, timber, agricultural, and manufacturing processes which damage and pollute the environment.
We are concerned that WTO goals of eliminating trade barriers and increased economic production and growth worldwide are being attempted without adequate safeguards for persons and creation. We are concerned about the resultant power of transnational corporations (and those who profit from their gains) over the national and local life and well being of countries.
II. SMC's call to the World Trade Organization:
We call for (1) an immediate review of the tenets underlying WTO arguments for the elimination of trade barriers and the primacy of production and economic growth, and (2) an immediate review of intended and unintended consequences for persons, communities, and the environment of WTO rulings and the applications of real or threatened WTO trade sanctions.
We call for (1) immediate revision in WTO policies and procedures, so that the goals of elimination of trade barriers and production and economic growth are subordinated to the well being of persons and the environment, and (2) immediate revision in WTO policies and procedures to remove the secrecy and lack both of public participation and public accountability.
SMC Resolution on Jubilee 2000
I. SMC concerns regarding international debt:
We are concerned that heavily indebted and poor countries (the World Bank's so-called HIPCs) carry such massive debt service obligations that they are forced to sacrifice investments in vital human and social services. We are concerned that the structural adjustment plans required by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, often lead to cutbacks in government social supports, currency devaluations, and greater dependence on export trade and an unpredictable global economy. We are concerned that in such heavily indebted and poor countries inordinately large portions of foreign aid packages are allocated to military expenses, rather than programs promoting the well-being of citizens. We are concerned that all these practices lead to a less well off populace in general, and that resultant burdens fall most heavily on those people living in poverty.
II. SMC's call for Jubilee:
The book of Leviticus describes a Year of Jubilee every fifty years. In the Jubilee year, social inequalities were rectified; that is, slaves were freed, land was returned to original owners, and debts were canceled. We join with the international Jubilee 2000 movement and call for a world-wide jubilee; that is, for the cancellation of debts owed by heavily indebted and poor countries by the end of the year 2000, and the establishment of a fair, open, and participatory process to prevent recurring destructive cycles of indebtedness in the future.
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