This Week in the Americas

"Deep Integration"—the Anti-Democratic Expansion of NAFTA
By Laura Carlsen

The North American Free Trade Agreement is the most advanced experience of the U.S.-led free trade model in the world. The expansion of NAFTA into the Security and Prosperity Partnership reveals the road ahead for other nations entering into Free Trade Agreements. It is not a road most nations—or the U.S. public—would knowingly take if they knew where it led.

The first problem is that very few people do know. The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) was launched at a meeting of Presidents George W. Bush, Vicente Fox, and Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas. It was heralded as the next step in regional integration and as part of what some observers have dubbed the "NAFTA Plus" agenda.

Unknown people, representing the interests of a narrow elite, are building an agenda that allows for virtually no public debate or input. The Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America demonstrates that this model of economic integration has taken on a momentum of its own, unaccountable to legislatures and citizens, and driven by interests that do not represent the public good. Citizens and their representatives need to mount a concerted effort to re-examine these policies, to bring them to light, and to halt movement forward until a strong and informed consensus exists on their value to society.

Laura Carlsen is director of the IRC Americas Program in Mexico City, where she has worked as a writer and political analyst for the past two decades. The Americas Program is online at

See full article at:


New Content from the IRC Americas Program

Community Television in Argentina: Ágora TV, a Window for Liberation
By Marie Trigona

Never before in Latin America’s history has media ownership been concentrated in the hands of so few. Despite legal challenges, over the past decades groups have emerged that produce alternative and independent media for television, radio, and video to counter mass media’s misinformation.

Marie Trigona forms part of Grupo Alavío and writes regularly for the IRC Americas Program (online at She can be reached at

See full article at:


The Madeira Complex: International Banks to Fund Deforestation and Displacement
By Zachary Hurwitz

The Santo Antônio and Jirau dams proposed as part of the Madeira River Complex have received a commitment of partial funding from the Brazilian national bank Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento (BNDES) and forms part of the portfolio of 335 internationally-financed megaprojects known as IIRSA (the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure of South America). The Madeira Complex includes four dam projects: two in Brazil, one binational dam between Brazil and Bolivia, and one in Bolivia.

Locks built to control the flow of water through the dams and dredging at the head of the 3,380 km. river would also expand transport of soy, timber, and minerals along the Madeira, integrating a waterway that extends from the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes to the Atlantic port of Belém. However, the economic benefits are not likely to reach two protected indigenous areas and critics claim cheaper transport costs on the river would provide an incentive for the expansion of soybean production in neighboring Rondônia and Amazonas states, increasing deforestation and land invasions of the type already problematic in the Amazon. Reports calculate that the dam projects would forcibly relocate up to 3,000 families along the length of the Madeira, and the pressure on environmental and fishery resources could be intense.

Zachary Hurwitz is the IIRSA Program Associate for Amazon Watch, an environmental and human rights organization based in San Francisco, California, and collaborates with the Americas Program at

See full article at:


Allied with Brazilian Agribusiness, Syngenta Resists Governor’s Decree to Expropriate Site
By Rennie Lee

Since March 14, 2006, 600 members of the Via Campesina occupied the 123-hectare site in Santa Tereza do Oeste, in the state of Paraná, after it was discovered that Syngenta had illegally planted 12 hectares of genetically modified soybeans at the site.

The occupation has become one the most powerful symbols in the world of civil society’s resistance to agribusiness, as it continues to paralyze all of Syngenta’s activities at the site, costing the corporation tens of millions of dollars. It also spurred Paraná state Governor Roberto Requião to sign a decree on November 9, 2006 to expropriate the site for the public interest. Yet despite Requião’s decree, the magnitude of Syngenta’s environmental crime, and continuous pressure from social movements and civil society around the world, the realization of the expropriation of the site from Syngenta is threatened due to the immense power of agribusiness in Brazilian politics.

The expropriation of Syngenta would offer civil society worldwide a tangible, popular method to resist and attack the behemoth of agribusiness power: non-violent occupations.

Rennie Lee is a freelance journalist covering Brazil and collaborating with the Americas Program at

See full article at:


Chomsky, Touraine, Petras: Opinions on the South
By Raúl Zibechi

First World academics dispense analysis and forecasts, critiques and apologies on different socio-political aspects of Latin America.

Raúl Zibechi is a teacher and researcher of social movements at the Multiversidad Franciscana de América Latina, and adviser to social groups. He is a monthly collaborator of the IRC Americas Program (

See full article at: