In the city of revolutions

In the city of revolutions

Date: 21 August 2014

Thirty activists from the UK, mostly from WDM groups, are in Paris for the Summer University of Attac – the global justice network founded two decades ago to fight the power of finance. 

Last night, Attac France welcomed some of the expected 2,000 activists to ‘the city of revolutions’. Activists from around the world spoke – from Germany to Morocco to Argentina. We got a flavour of what we will be discussing in coming days – the power of corporations and finance, the creation of democratic alternatives like food sovereignty, and justice for the people of Gaza and Syria. Sounds good!

I was particularly pleased with the cheers I got when speaking about the need to defeat the EU-US trade deal TTIP, confusingly known here as TAFTA (the transatlantic free trade area). TTIP is rapidly becoming the symbol of the corporate power grab which will create ever more inequality and environmental destruction. 

It’s fitting, then, that we started this morning with a marathon strategy session on TTIP (9 hours over 3 mornings). It kicked off with Tom from Stop Corporate Impunity explaining that the signing of thousands of trade and investment treaties over the last 30 years has been central to handing power and wealth to the ‘1%’. 

Nick speaks to the opening ceremony

These treaties have given vast new powers to big business and finance by forming a legal and economic system totally biased in their favour. They have also hard wired a model of unsustainable growth which is destroying our planet. 

We also learnt about the many contradictions in the fightback against ‘free trade’ in the global South. For instance Luciana spoke from Attac Argentina. She’s one of the members of Ecuadorian President Correa’s Audit Commission examining free trade agreements – with the aim of cancelling any agreement found to violate Ecuador’s sovereignty.

This is an incredibly inspiring initiative, but there is also concern that Ecuador has, within the last few weeks, negotiated a new free trade agreement with Europe. Unsurprisingly the country was subject to bullying, and President Correa has still not put his signature on the treaty. So there’s still hope. 

The key message from the session – a strong and successful campaign against TTIP is the key thing we can do here to help campaigns against rampant free trade in Ecuador and around the world. 

Photo top: WDM is greeted by the rest of ATTAC at the opening ceremony