TPP Negotiators Come to DC and Are Met By People Telling Them ‘Fast Track’ Is Dead and Make the TPP Text Public
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been negotiated in secret throughout the Obama administration. They continue to keep the text secret and classified. This week TPP trade negotiators are in Washington, DC. The 12 countries have been unable to reach agreement as the United States demands extreme corporate power undermining the sovereignty of nations.
The Obama administration has also been stalled on trade on the homefront as Congress has refused to give the administration fast track trade promotion authority. Fast track would allow the President to sign the agreement before it went to Congress and would restrict Congress’ power to review it. It would ensure Congress plays virtually no role in regulating trade as is its constitutional mandate under the Commerce Clause.
On Sunday night Popular Resistance began the week of negotiations with a Light Brigade putting messages on the US Trade Representative’s office in Washington, DC.
On Monday morning members of Popular Resistance held a ‘Sit-in to End the Secrecy’ on the front steps of the USTR office. As Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators and USTR staff arrived for their first day of meetings this week, demonstrators demanded that they stop hiding the text of the trade agreement and instead make it available to the public telling them “secret negotiations are anti-democratic.”
Several activists tried twice to deliver an open letter signed by more than 1,000 people to the trade ambassador but were met with an aggressive removal from the lobby by security personnel. Richard Ochs, a 76 year old former steelworker from Baltimore, was pulled down the stairs and ejected from the building. Ochs exclaimed “I thought that as citizens we had the right to petition the government. This shows how afraid they are of transparency.”
Cassidy Regan, trade organizer for Popular Resistance, remarked that after public pressure the European Union recently agreed to release its negotiating proposals for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to the public. The EU wanted to release the full text of the agreement but was blocked by the United States. “This is a dangerous era of trade agreements being written in secret. The negotiators are hiding the text from the public because the agreements hand unprecedented power to transnational corporations to exploit people and the planet for profits. The lack of transparency is alarming and undermines democracy.”
After several hours of blocking the front entrance and disrupting business by chanting, singing and banging on a cow bell, pots and blowing whistles, the protesters were joined by close to 200 more people from Public Citizen, Citizens Trade Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, National Family Farm Coalition, Friends Committee on National Legislation and labor unions such as the Teamsters, Communication Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and United Students Against Sweatshops.
The crowd sang and chanted. They had a spirited march around the block carrying banners, signs and big red balloons that said “There will be no fast track.” They let the negotiators know that the American people were united in their opposition to fast track and predicted Congress would not pass fast track legislation.
This is the first of several days of negotiations. More actions are expected throughout the week. Online actions are being organized through ReleasetheText.com.
The movement of movements bringing together people concerned about the environment, labor, food and water, Internet freedom, energy policy, banking regulation and so many other issues has been able to stop the rigged corporate trade agreement being pushed by the Obama administration.
[dc]A[/dc] critical test will come in the coming months when the new Congress is put in place. We are confident that we continue to work in unity to stop these corporate trade agreements that we can stop fast track and prevent these treaties from becoming law.
Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese