FTAA-Quebec: The Mouse is Mightier than the Baton:

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Fri Mar 16 14:32:25 GMT 2001

A request for international partners to help develop....

"The Mouse is Mightier than the Baton":

A proposal for online protests 
around the Free Trade Area of the 
Americas Conference
Quebec, Canada, April 20th-22nd, 2001.

Produced by the electrohippies collective, March 2001.
website: http://www.gn.apc.org/pmhp/ehippies/
email: ehippies at gn.apc.org


On April 20 hundreds of delegates from 34 nations will meet 
in Quebec, Canada to discuss creating the Fee Trade Area 
of the Americas agreement. The purpose of this is to expand 
NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement between 
Canada, Mexico and the US) to include all of North, Central, 
and South America. This agreement is being negotiated in 
secret, without any input or debate from the public arena.

The goal of the FTAA is to impose the NAFTA model of 
increased privatisation and deregulation hemisphere-wide. 
FTAA would deepen the negative effects of NAFTA, such as 
greater deregulation of business activities, and 
environmental and economic exploitation of the poor, as 
seen in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. over the past seven 
years. But the FTAA will also expand the NAFTA-principle 
into areas which are currently only being set up for 
discussion at the WTO level – such as the trade in services 
(the proposals for which are very like GATS), expanding 
intellectual property rights, and 'harmonising' trade 
standards (including environmental standards, but also 
investment, akin to the aims of the Multilateral Agreement on 

>From the European side of the Atlantic, this may seem an 
abstract issue. But agreements that could be pushed 
through the FTAA could form the basis of a 'negotiating 
block' at future World Trade Organisation (WTO) 
conferences. The recent issues of public concern in Europe, 
such as intensive agriculture, hormone treated beef and 
genetically engineered crops, could be made worse with the 
pressure that an FTAA block could place on the EU. 
Therefore, in terms of a practical expression of public 
opinion, the FTAA conference presents two angles for 

# For those within the Americas, it's a basic process on 
democratic participation in decision-making processes 
surrounding national and international issues that affect 
everyday life;

# For those outside the Americas, it's all about the impacts 
of free trade, and the use of economic pressure through 
the WTO to change national policies on the standards 
and safety of commodities, food, and environmental 

We wish to ensure that the mouse is Mightier than the Baton 
becomes a full globalised action (but our sort of globalisation 
rather than theirs).

Why are the electrohippies involved

the electrohippie collective is basically a 'think tank' where 
the issues of online protest and action are experimented 
with. But our aim is to provide assistance to groups who 
want to use the Internet to mount protests against issues 
that offend democracy and human rights. Since at least the 
Summer of 2000 we've had various requests from people 
asking us to mount a similar online protest to the WTO event 
in November 1999.

The right to participate in political processes is a human 
right. And in the case of the FTAA, what really swung the 
view of the electrohippies were the steps being taken to 
ensure that the public could not effectively protest against 
the conference. Not only will central Quebec be closed off 
around the conference venue (as would be expected). But a 
special security fence is being constructed to create a 
'controlled zone' of 4 or 5 square kilometres in central 
Quebec. At the same time, space is being cleared in local 
'holding facilities' to immediately accommodate any 
protesters who are arrested.

Therefore the electrohippie collective will be developing a 
few online 'events' for the public to participate in to press the 
case for the democratisation of trade negotiations such as 
FTAA, and to protest the methods being used to prevent 
public protest around the conference itself. This will mean 
that those people unable to get to Quebec (from the 
Americas or globally), and those in Quebec who can't 
physically approach the conference, will be able to mark the 
event expressively.

To complement the approach of the authorities in Quebec, 
we've decided to call our action, The Mouse is Mightier 
than the Baton.

What were planning

the electrohippies don't represent people. the electrohippies 
don't lead people. All we do is provide the technical 
infrastructure for people to do something, and it's then up to 
the public whether or not they take part, and if so to what 

For this action we were considering three media: web sites, 
email and faxes. The email action will be directed at lobbying 
national governments. The fax action likewise. As is our 
usual policy we will be specifying the condition of 'one 
person – one email'. The email and fax actions are not 
intended to be 'blocking' actions. They are intended as a 
legitimate attempt to put people in contact with those who 
are making decisions about their lives.

The web-based action will however be a blocking action. 
Where governments and authorities are actively restricting 
protest and public expression, we regard it as valid to exert 
some form of restriction back. For our last action, on the 
issues of genetic engineering in April 2000, we held a poll on 
whether it would be valid to restrict access to genetic 
companies web site because it wasn't entirely clear that they 
were effectively doing so. In the event the majority (the 'don't 
know' and the 'no' votes) were in favour of not going ahead. 
In this instance we will not be holding a poll since the case in 
this instance is absolutely clear that there is a positive move 
by various authorities to restrict protest around the 
conference. Therefore, we'll be using the electrohippies 
client-side sit in tool to mount a sit-in of the FTAA and other 
associated web sites during around the time of the 

What we need

We'd like to work with those groups organising events in 
Quebec in order to ensure that the actual message we 
supply using the electrohippies online action tools 
complements the real world action. the electrohippies are 
techies and campaigners. We can supply the means for 
people to do something, but we need help to supply the 
actual message conveyed because we prefer to let people 
represent their own message using our tools as far as is 
possible. So we're looking for partners to mount the actions. 
We also need help to translate the tools we develop into 
Spanish and Portuguese.

The other thing we'd like to agree with groups organising 
protests in Quebec and the Americas are who the targets of 
the email and fax actions should be. In particular, we'd like to 
ensure that we target those government officials and political 
representatives who are most fervently pro-FTAA.

If you'd like to discuss our proposals further, and if you'd like 
to work to develop them, please get in touch – 
ehippies at gn.apc.org

Links to FTAA related sites

For those of you receiving this who are not fully conversant 
about FTAA and Quebec, here are a few links for you to 
follow up:

Stop the FTAA website - http://www.stopftaa.org/

Opération Québec Printemps 2001 - http://www.oqp2001.org/

The Quebec Anti-Capitalist Convergence - http://www.quebec2001.net/

The 'Resist the FTAA' site - http://www.tao.ca/~stopftaa/indexFTAA.htm

Infoshop's anti-FTAA pages - http://www.infoshop.org/octo/ftaa.html

WTO Action's FTAA page - http://wtoaction.org/ftaa.phtml

The FTAA's official website - http://www.ftaa-alca.org/

The Organisation of American States - http://www.sice.oas.org/

The TradeWatch Website - http://www.tradewatch.org

The Direct Action Network - http://www.agitprop.org/artandrevolution/

The Independent Media Center - http://www.indymedia.org/



"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for
this party nor against the other
 but we are for justice and mercy and
truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation,
and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity
with God, and with one another, that these things may abound." (Edward
Burroughs, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations,
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
Email mobbsey at gn.apc.org


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