Anti-Bush Protests and Free Trade Deadlock Mark Summit of the Americas
Interview with Tom Barry, policy director of the International Relations Center, conducted by Scott Harris
President George Bush may have hoped that a weekend in Argentina would be a respite from the successive scandals suffered by his administration at home. But as has happened often during his presidency, Bush was greeted at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata by tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators, and street violence by a smaller group in the seaside resort.
President Bush, the most unpopular U.S. president in recent Latin American history, met with 33 heads of state representing every nation in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba. Among the top issues addressed at the summit was Washington's long running effort to implement the hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas. But in the end, progress on FTAA was blocked by five nations: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, who opposed a deadline of April 2006 for a new round of talks. Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, a staunch opponent of free trade, dominated coverage of the summit when he led a rally with soccer star Diego Mardona against President Bush, attended by 25,000.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Tom Barry, policy director with the International Relations Center, who assesses the popular opposition to the FTAA across Latin America and the viability of progressive alternatives for economic development and integration.
Contact the International Relations Center by calling (505) 388-0208 or visit their website at www.irc-online.org
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