Another Brick In The Wall
Geov Parrish looks at how far the anti-globalization movement has, and hasn't, come since the Seattle protests five years ago:
The Seattle demonstrations, and the resulting WTO gridlock, gave rise to a new generation of fair trade activism, particularly in South America. The anti-privatization protests in Bolivia in 2000 and 2003 (the latter of which deposed the government), the Argentinian fiscal meltdown of late 2002 (which did the same), the popular protests that kept Venezuela's anti-globalization leader Hugo Chavez in office, and a continent-wide wave of elections of left-leaning leaders critical of the 'Washington Consensus' are all part of a lineage that runs through Seattle. Those governments, particularly Brazil and Venezuela, have given rise in turn to a powerful new bloc opposed to American trade policy; in 2003 that bloc stymied WTO expansion (at Cancun) and further negotiation of the FTAA (in Miami)...
During the Clinton and then Bush Administrations, there has been no abatement in the U.S. commitment to free trade. But, due to the Seattle-inspired difficulties at the WTO, there has been a significant shift in tactics. Rather than relying on the WTO and other global institutions to enforce its trade agenda, Washington has turned more to bilateral agreements and limited regional multilateral ones such as the Andean Initiative and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). As more countries in the South have, in recent years, come to be controlled by skeptical governments, this new approach has allowed the U.S. to pick and choose its trade partners, focusing on conservative governments and countries vulnerable to American economic and diplomatic pressure. ..
The WTO protests in Seattle were a quantum leap forward in terms of public awareness of trade issues. Since then, however, U.S. organizers - unlike their brethren in Latin America - seem to have been stuck, trying to take their influence to the next level. With initiatives like CAFTA, time is not on their side. While the public education process goes on, each time a trade agreement is completed is another brick in a wall of a particular corporate trade structure, one that, once built, will be hard to tear down. That, ultimately, is the organizers' goal.