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Tens of thousands of people from across Canada and throughout the Americas are expected to go to Quebec City for the events leading up to the Summit of the Americas, April 17-21. CUPE will be well represented at these events, as thousands of our members are expected to board buses bound for la belle province.

The heads of 34 countries in the Americas (Cubas Fidel Castro being the only leader who is not invited) will meet for the next round of negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The text of the proposed agreement has yet to be made public and a chain link and concrete fence will surround that part of the city where negotiations will take place. Summit organizers and the corporate interests they wish to protect have gone out of their way to sell the supposed benefits of this secret agreement and to keep out the voices of opposition.

To protest the undemocratic security measures surrounding the Summit, CUPE has ordered scarves for our members to wear during the Summit emblazoned with our logo and the slogan On the front line locally and globally. The scarf has come to symbolize the complete lack of democracy that has surrounded the FTAA negotiations after Quebec City Council tried unsuccessfully to pass a bylaw prohibiting people from wearing scarves that cover their faces.

A range of events has been organized to draw attention to the Summit and to get out the message about the real cost of free trade. The week will end with a massive peaceful demonstration in Quebec City on April 21. Other events of interest include the labour forum organized by the Quebec Federation of Labour, taking place on April 18. In addition, those in Quebec City should plan to attend the panel entitled Quebec to Qatar: Stop the Sell-off! scheduled for the evening of April 19 and organized by the Common Front on the World Trade Organization.

Those who cant make it to Quebec can still lend their voices to our protest in events taking place across the country. In Vancouver theres the March to the Arch and similar activities are planned in many border communities. If you are helping to organize a local event against the FTAA, be sure to let us know and well add your information to our web site.

Trade in services is the fastest growing area in free trade and public control of water, education and health care is facing an ever increasing threat. NAFTA and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) have opened the door to trade in public services. The FTAA seeks to ensure that no one can ever close it.

For information contact Sister Laurie Kingston at 613-237-1590, ext. 265.