The Blue-Green Alliance Crosses the US to Oppose Free Trade Agreement of the Americas
The-Edge vs. Free Marketeers in Clash Over Third World Development
The-Edge celebrates its coverage of seven of the year's top 25 Best Censored Stories

November 21, 2003

Blue-Green Alliance Crosses US to Oppose Free Trade Agreement

Labor leaders and enviros "get on the bus" to confront the FTAA in Miami.
The unlikely alliance of trade unionists and environmentalists that took Seattle by storm at the bloody 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle is on the march again. On September 27, a coalition of blue-collar and “green-collar” activists traveled from the Seattle Labor Temple to a large outdoor rally where they proclaimed their joint opposition the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (ASJE) -- along with United Steelworkers District 11 and District 7 -- convened the rally to announce the start of a "March-to-Miami" tour that would carry members of the “blue-green alliance” through 15 states aboard the biodiesel-powered bus dubbed “The Blue-Green Machine." The tour concludes with a 60-mile walk into Miami and a mass rally against FTAA.

The ASJE’s vision is enshrined in its catchy mission-slogan: “Where nature is protected, the worker respected, and unrestrained corporate power is rejected.” It’s message is communicated in its quarterly magazine, The Green Worker.

"The March-to-Miami begins in Seattle because the WTO protests in 1999 revealed a new political power arising from creative young environmentalists and rank-and-file union members acting together," said ASJE Director Dan Leahy. Dave Brower, Earth Island’s visionary founder, played a key role in forging this common bond between the US labor movement and the environmental movement.

The labor and environmental activists timed their trip to end at the moment that US officials and trade ministers from 34 countries were set to open discussions on the FTAA. -- the world's largest free-trade area.

Over the past year, the ASJE's Working Group on Global Trade has focused on educating the public, local officials and Congressional delegations about the dangers that the FTAA’s "trade in services" provisions pose for public services. The Working Group produced a report entitled “Trade in Services” and developed a national "yardstick" that local groups can use to evaluate how the proposed trade agreement would impact their communities.

The March-to-Miami was conceived as a means to promote blue-green alliances across the country and to encourage participation in grassroots forums and workshops scheduled for Miami the week of November 17.

Events on the "March-to-Miami" bus tour included classes, teach-ins, marches, rallies, signature-gathering, demonstrations, press briefings and visits to state legislators. The bus tour linked communities on the route with music and a Reality Road Show. (A daily “weblog” of the journey’s adventures is available at : )

The coalition of local and regional organizations putting on events includes the Washington Education Association, SEIU and OPEIU locals, Sierra Club chapters, Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana Community Labor Alliance, North Dakota Farmers Union, Minnesota Clean Water Action, Greater Kansas City Fair Trade Coalition, Nebraskans for Peace, Humane Society of the US, and the Progressive Student Alliance of South Bend, Ind., among many others. The March-to-Miami has been endorsed by Earth Island institute.

Unity Is Our Winning Strategy
"Unity is our winning strategy," said Bill Carey, United Steelworkers staff member and co-chair of the alliance. "We beat Fast Track trade negotiating authority in 1997 and 1998 and stopped the expansion of NAFTA. Together, we can defeat the FTAA."

The US government's free-trade policy has been a disaster for American workers and for working people in other countries. Three million jobs have been lost due to free trade since 1994. Seven hundred thousand jobs have been lost due to NAFTA alone. Besides taking our jobs, free-trade policies allow corporations to make an end-run around our Constitution to attack labor, environmental and food safety laws in secret tribunals all in the name of higher profits.

Under free-trade policies, the regulation of toxic chemicals like MTBE has being undermined, and the authority of state and local governments is being challenged in secret trade courts.

Despite these failures, the Bush Administration now is trying to expand this free-trade disaster by expanding NAFTA to blanket the entire Western hemisphere.

The FTAA will open the door for foreign corporations to force the privatization of our country's public sector – food, energy, schools, transit, even our municipal water supplies. The FTAA will attack prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements in the construction industry. This assault on workers, the environment and our public sector in the name of “free-trade” must end.

For more information, contact:
ASJE, 1125 SE Madison Suite 100-D, Portland, OR 97214. (503) 736-9777; Fax: (503) 736-9776; E-mail:; Web:
And for more information on the March:

The-Edge vs. Free Marketers In Clash Over Third World Development
Marc Morano / Senior Staff Writer

Free Market Advocate Leon Louw believes the Third World can clearcut a path to development. The-Edge begs to differ.
CANCUN September 10, 2003 ( -- Just prior to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico, this week, free market advocates and environmentalists are sparring over the best way to develop the economies of poor nations.

The environmental movement's emphasis on sustainable development - the phrase used to describe earth-friendly projects - often triggers criticism from free market advocates who see it as ineffective and unrealistic. However, those free market believers are promoting a "lawless society" when they criticize sustainable development, according to a top environmentalist who insists modern-day developers must accommodate "nature's limits."

Leon Louw, a member of South Africa's Free Market Foundation who will be in Mexico for the WTO event, cautions: "There is a great danger of eco-imperialism in the environmental movement." He participated in a Cato Institute workshop on the subject of sustainable development, held in Washington, DC, last week.

“Harvest the Timber, Mine the Minerals, Exploit Nature”
Louw rejects the premise that poor nations should be limited to developing their economies in ways that environmentalists consider earth-friendly. "The third world should be doing what the first world did, which is namely to use its natural resources and build big cities and harbors on what were wetlands, harvest the timber and use it, mine the minerals, exploit the natural resources. This is the sensible thing to do in the third world," Louw told

And if environmental groups and the policymakers of wealthy nations like the United States and Europe balk at the developing world's methods, Louw said the poor countries should send a blunt message.

"I can't put it any more politely. [Poor countries] should just say: 'Go to hell. If you don't want us to fill in our wetlands, then you bomb your big cities like Washington, a third of Holland and Rotterdam and so on, and restore them to being swamps," Louw said. "The policies that enabled the first world to become the first world - the rich to become the rich - are now denied to those who are poor," Louw added, referring to the growing popularity of the sustainable development strategy.

Development and infrastructure are urgently needed in the poor nations of the world, according to Louw, and should not be delayed to satisfy the environmentalists' agenda.

"In the third world, we are concerned with starving, hungry, dying people. This is the reality," Louw argued. Conversations about whether the planet is warming or whether the oceans are rising, which are popular among environmentalists, are "foggy, vague, scientifically unclear concerns" in the developing world, he added, because "the concern of people of the third world is death now. It is development now, not in the future."

The-Edge Responds to Louw’s Blows
However, environmentalist Gar Smith, editor of the Earth Island Institute's online magazine The Edge, rejected Louw's views.

"It's possible to have sustainable economic environment without going back to a primal state of nature," Smith told "A call for sustainable economies doesn't mean that we eradicate everything that exists." However, he added: "We have to learn to live within nature's limits."

Smith rejected the ideas espoused at the CATO Institute event regarding the development of poor nations.

"Basically, they are saying they want a lawless society. These guys are anarchists; they don't want government telling them what to do," Smith said.
Smith also rejected the notion that free market capitalism could help the developing world's poor. "I doubt it. We have had free market capitalism for the better part of the last century. How has the third world been improved? Basically, they have been depleted and starved, and their resources have been expropriated," Smith said.

"There are many other systems that are friendlier systems, that are based on maintaining the earth's natural capital instead of expropriating and spending it like there is no tomorrow," Smith added.

Smith referred to what he called "natural capitalism" as the solution to the poverty that ails the developing world. Natural capitalism "respects the limits of nature's ability to replenish the natural capital" and encourages people "to enjoy the fruits instead of uprooting the tree," Smith said. "You have to think long term," he added.

“Poverty Is the Worst Form of Pollution”
Barun Mitra of India's Liberty Institute was also a panelist at the CATO seminar and belittled the thousands of anti-capitalist protestors who are expected to descend on Cancun for the WTO meeting.

"It's easy for western elite students from universities in America to try to speak for the poor in developing countries. But while some of their concerns might be genuine, they have very little understanding of poverty," Mitra told
Mitra believes the green movement should place poverty reduction higher on its list of priorities.

"If the environmental activists are really concerned about preserving the planet, then they must fight for ways to help people come out of poverty. Poverty is the worst form of pollution," Mitra explained.

Louw believes the anti-capitalist protesters arriving for the WTO meeting are the "elitists of the first world" who don't want "the poor of the third world to be able to buy cheap products. "If you are against globalization and free trade, you are against selling cheap products of good quality to the people of the third world. It is very important to understand that," Louw said.

”Poverty Is a Choice”
The solution to eradicating poverty in the world is simple, according to Louw. "Poverty is a choice. Prosperity is a choice. It is not some destiny that comes in on the wheels of inevitability, about which we have no control. We have absolute control. Poverty is caused by governments that prevent prosperity. Prosperity is the natural, spontaneous consequence of human action," Louw explained.

Louw does not hold back in attacking the environmental movement and its view of the state of the earth. "It is engaged in complete nonsense. Planet earth is at no threat whatever," Louw said.

Louw also does not believe residents of the planet today need to be overly concerned about future generations. "I like to put it very bluntly. The people in the future have done nothing for me, and I see no reason why I should do anything for them," Louw quipped. "I am a human chauvinist pig. I want the environment to be good for people, especially poor people," Louw added.

But Smith has a far different view of the earth.

"Many of the predictions that were made by environmentalists 30, 40 years ago and climate modelers 10, 20 years ago, appear...on the front pages of our newspapers and magazines as well as in our skies and around the world in the form of extreme weather, floods, droughts, extreme temperatures," Smith explained.

"The auguries are not good for our future," Smith added.

This article appears online at:

The-Edge In the News: Seven of Top 25 Censored Stories Appeared on The-Edge

In 16 years at the helm of Earth Island Journal, Edge Editor Gar Smith managed to publish and write articles that consistently won recognition in national competitions – including more than a dozen Project Censored awards.

In the last year that Smith edited Earth Island Journal, the magazine was nominated for two UTNE Magazine Alternative Press Awards – for Reporting Excellence and Best Science and Environmental Coverage.

The-Edge is pleased to announce that Earth Island’s online investigative environmental magazine is keeping this tradition alive.

The most recent Project Censored Awards (also known as the “Alternative Pulitzer Prize”) recently were announced by the Sonoma State College Journalism Department. The-Edge reported seven of the top 25 stories, including the top three winners.

The-Edge covered the following Censored Stories:

  • The Neoconservative Plan for Global Dominance (#1),
  • Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty (#2),
  • US Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq UN Report (#3),
  • US/British Forces Continue Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons (#8),
  • US Implicated in Taliban Massacre (#11),
  • US Military’s War in the Earth (#15),
  • US Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq (#19).

    For more information contact:

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