IV Peoples' Summit
CF Journal

Common Frontiers' Executive Director Rick Arnold and other CF members will be in Trinidad for the IV Peopes' Summit. They'll be posting regular updates during the summit of what is happening on the ground as well as pictures from the events.

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April 18, 2009
April 16,2009


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IV Peoples’ Summit of the Americas

CF Journal -- Daily Reports from Rick Arnold

April 18, 2009

Trouble at the Trinidad Summits - Canada's options for change
re: A change in Policy Directions

The IV PEOPLES' SUMMIT of the Americas got under way on April 16 in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) with high expectations by the participants for a new dawn in policy directions for the Americas. These high hopes however ran up against a series of harrasing actions taken by the T&T government that: forced the Peoples Summit to change their venue at the last moment; had authorities detaining participants arriving at the airport with an activist from Puerto Rico being deported; on short notice denied the permit for the Peoples Summit march that had previously negotiated.

The IV Peoples' Summit organizers have sent a protest message to the T&T government regarding this coordinated attempt by authorities to effectively cripple disenting opinion just as the Presidents and Prime
Ministers were arriving for the V SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS. These inappropriate and unacceptable actions taken by T&T authorities stand in stark contrast to the good will demonstrated by various heads-of-state at
the official summit to begin a new era of respectful relations in the Americas - as symbolized by the Chavez-Obama handshake.

However, despite these last minute prohibitions, the Peoples Summit participants carried out an unauthorized lightning protest action in Port of Spain during the morning of the 18th of April, and followed that up with a major rally the same afternoon which was held in the Sports Complex at the University of the West Indies.

Networks from Canada, the US, and Mexico who are members of the Hemispheric Social Alliance (key organizers of the IV Peoples' Summit) have called on Prime Minister Harper, President Calderon and President
Obama, to recognize the depth and breadth of changes happening in the entire hemisphere. There is an urgent need for the three most northerly nations in the Americas to change attitudes and actions of imposition.

Harper was quoted before leaving Canada for the Trinidad Summit that come what may he would be pushing 'free trade'. Countries representing the majority of the populations in Latin America and the Caribbean have turned away from 'free trade' in favour of a fair trade approach based on social justice. If Canada, once in Trinidad, pursues what is now a discredited trade policy course, it will just serve to further isolate Canada from the important economic and social changes that are under way in the rest of the Americas.

The Canadian governments announced intention back in 2007 to make the Americas a policy priority will be tested at the V Summit of the Americas. Obama has moved quickly to distance himself from the 'ugly American' image that was raised to new hights by the previous Bush administration. Harper should do no less. One of Canada's 'grand gestures' during the Trinidad summit should be to speak out in favour of recognizing Cuba as a full diplomatic partner in the continent. Another significant announcement that
Harper could make is Canada's immediately withdrawal of legislation now before Parliament to implement a free trade agreement with the country that has the worst human rights record in the Western Hemisphere -

Canada's former 'good neighbour' image is also being besmirched by the action of Canadian mining corporations that run roughshod over the rights and concerns of communities in many Southern nations. The Canadian government should abandon its current hands-off attitude in favour of a more activist stance, including holding offending Canadian mining concerns liable for their misdeeeds in other countries before a Canadian court of law. Canada should also abandon its surrepticious policy of funding opposition groups in some of the left-leaning countries being carried out as part of the so-called 'democracy building' programs.

There will never be a better opportunity than these days in Trinidad for Canada to demonstrate a fundamental change in policy direction. One that can ensure that it will become once again a valued and contributing member of the nationhood of the Americas.

-Report filed from Trinidad by Rick Arnold, coordinator for Common

April 16, 2009

The IV PEOPLES SUMMIT is taking place in Trinidad and Tobago April 16-18,
2009. It coincides with the V Summit of the Americas that brings together
the Prime Ministers and Presidents of all counties the Americas (with the
notable exception of Cuba) once every four years.

The host country Trinidad and Tobago is the most Easterly of the Caribbean
islands and as such lies outside the hurricane zone. Its location just off
the coast of Venezuela has meant relative good fortune in that it also
taps into a vast area of oil and gas deposits. T&T exports hydrocarbons
and in particular liquified natural gas to the United States.

During the colonial period, French, dutch and British forces fought for
possession of Tobago and the island changed hands 22 times - more than any
other island in the Caribbean.

The IV PEOPLES SUMMIT is a meeting place for social movements from all
point in the hemisphere. Discussions are centering on the current
financial and economic crisis and the continuing threat posed to the
provision of food water and energy.

The IV PEOPLES SUMMIT is organizd by the Hemispheric Social Alliance of
which Common Frontiers-Canada is a founding member. Common Frontiers is a
multi-sectoral network of organizations involved in research, education
and political action related to questions of integration in the Americas.

Following the two days of discussions and workshops the participants plan
to prepare a letter addressed to all the heads-of-state in the Americas
putting forward a peoples perspective on the way forward out of the
current crisis, along with a Declaration for wider distribution to the

Posted by: Rick Arnold Common Frontiers-Coordinator.


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Other pages of interest:

About the Summit

The Organizers

The Process

The Logistics

The Agenda