ricardo dominguez on 16 Mar 2001 15:02:04 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] "The Mouse is Mightier than the Baton":

A request for international partners to help develop....

"The Mouse is Mightier than the Baton":

A proposal for online protests
around the Free Trade Area of the
Americas Conference
Quebec, Canada, April 20th-22nd, 2001.

Produced by the electrohippies collective, March 2001.
website: http://www.gn.apc.org/pmhp/ehippies/
email: ehippies@gn.apc.org


On April 20 hundreds of delegates from 34 nations will meet
in Quebec, Canada to discuss creating the Fee Trade Area
of the Americas agreement. The purpose of this is to expand
NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement between
Canada, Mexico and the US) to include all of North, Central,
and South America. This agreement is being negotiated in
secret, without any input or debate from the public arena.

The goal of the FTAA is to impose the NAFTA model of
increased privatisation and deregulation hemisphere-wide.
FTAA would deepen the negative effects of NAFTA, such as
greater deregulation of business activities, and
environmental and economic exploitation of the poor, as
seen in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. over the past seven
years. But the FTAA will also expand the NAFTA-principle
into areas which are currently only being set up for
discussion at the WTO level - such as the trade in services
(the proposals for which are very like GATS), expanding
intellectual property rights, and 'harmonising' trade
standards (including environmental standards, but also
investment, akin to the aims of the Multilateral Agreement on

>From the European side of the Atlantic, this may seem an
abstract issue. But agreements that could be pushed
through the FTAA could form the basis of a 'negotiating
block' at future World Trade Organisation (WTO)
conferences. The recent issues of public concern in Europe,
such as intensive agriculture, hormone treated beef and
genetically engineered crops, could be made worse with the
pressure that an FTAA block could place on the EU.
Therefore, in terms of a practical expression of public
opinion, the FTAA conference presents two angles for

# For those within the Americas, it's a basic process on
democratic participation in decision-making processes
surrounding national and international issues that affect
everyday life;

# For those outside the Americas, it's all about the impacts
of free trade, and the use of economic pressure through
the WTO to change national policies on the standards
and safety of commodities, food, and environmental

We wish to ensure that the mouse is Mightier than the Baton
becomes a full globalised action (but our sort of globalisation
rather than theirs).

Why are the electrohippies involved

the electrohippie collective is basically a 'think tank' where
the issues of online protest and action are experimented
with. But our aim is to provide assistance to groups who
want to use the Internet to mount protests against issues
that offend democracy and human rights. Since at least the
Summer of 2000 we've had various requests from people
asking us to mount a similar online protest to the WTO event
in November 1999.

The right to participate in political processes is a human
right. And in the case of the FTAA, what really swung the
view of the electrohippies were the steps being taken to
ensure that the public could not effectively protest against
the conference. Not only will central Quebec be closed off
around the conference venue (as would be expected). But a
special security fence is being constructed to create a
'controlled zone' of 4 or 5 square kilometres in central
Quebec. At the same time, space is being cleared in local
'holding facilities' to immediately accommodate any
protesters who are arrested.

Therefore the electrohippie collective will be developing a
few online 'events' for the public to participate in to press the
case for the democratisation of trade negotiations such as
FTAA, and to protest the methods being used to prevent
public protest around the conference itself. This will mean
that those people unable to get to Quebec (from the
Americas or globally), and those in Quebec who can't
physically approach the conference, will be able to mark the
event expressively.

To complement the approach of the authorities in Quebec,
we've decided to call our action, The Mouse is Mightier
than the Baton.

What were planning

the electrohippies don't represent people. the electrohippies
don't lead people. All we do is provide the technical
infrastructure for people to do something, and it's then up to
the public whether or not they take part, and if so to what

For this action we were considering three media: web sites,
email and faxes. The email action will be directed at lobbying
national governments. The fax action likewise. As is our
usual policy we will be specifying the condition of 'one
person - one email'. The email and fax actions are not
intended to be 'blocking' actions. They are intended as a
legitimate attempt to put people in contact with those who
are making decisions about their lives.

The web-based action will however be a blocking action.
Where governments and authorities are actively restricting
protest and public expression, we regard it as valid to exert
some form of restriction back. For our last action, on the
issues of genetic engineering in April 2000, we held a poll on
whether it would be valid to restrict access to genetic
companies web site because it wasn't entirely clear that they
were effectively doing so. In the event the majority (the 'don't
know' and the 'no' votes) were in favour of not going ahead.
In this instance we will not be holding a poll since the case in
this instance is absolutely clear that there is a positive move
by various authorities to restrict protest around the
conference. Therefore, we'll be using the electrohippies
client-side sit in tool to mount a sit-in of the FTAA and other
associated web sites during around the time of the

What we need

We'd like to work with those groups organising events in
Quebec in order to ensure that the actual message we
supply using the electrohippies online action tools
complements the real world action. the electrohippies are
techies and campaigners. We can supply the means for
people to do something, but we need help to supply the
actual message conveyed because we prefer to let people
represent their own message using our tools as far as is
possible. So we're looking for partners to mount the actions.
We also need help to translate the tools we develop into
Spanish and Portuguese.

The other thing we'd like to agree with groups organising
protests in Quebec and the Americas are who the targets of
the email and fax actions should be. In particular, we'd like to
ensure that we target those government officials and political
representatives who are most fervently pro-FTAA.

If you'd like to discuss our proposals further, and if you'd like
to work to develop them, please get in touch -

Links to FTAA related sites

For those of you receiving this who are not fully conversant
about FTAA and Quebec, here are a few links for you to
follow up:

Stop the FTAA website - http://www.stopftaa.org/

Opération Québec Printemps 2001 - http://www.oqp2001.org/

The Quebec Anti-Capitalist Convergence - http://www.quebec2001.net/

The 'Resist the FTAA' site - http://www.tao.ca/~stopftaa/indexFTAA.htm

Infoshop's anti-FTAA pages - http://www.infoshop.org/octo/ftaa.html

WTO Action's FTAA page - http://wtoaction.org/ftaa.phtml

The FTAA's official website - http://www.ftaa-alca.org/

The Organisation of American States - http://www.sice.oas.org/

The TradeWatch Website - http://www.tradewatch.org

The Direct Action Network - http://www.agitprop.org/artandrevolution/

The Independent Media Center - http://www.indymedia.org/


Nettime-bold mailing list