The Summit of the Americas was held in Quebec City
from April 20-22, 2001. The heads of state present declared the summit a success and laid the framework for an eventual FTAA
agreement that, if passed, will have all of the negative consequences outlined above.
The summit was greeted by a huge, multi-day protest. On Friday, April 20, protestors engaging in direct action were able to pull down two sections of the 5 km perimeter fence that had been erected around the center of town. This was met by intense volleys of tear gas from riot police which was to set the tone for the entire weekend.
On Saturday, some 60,000 or more activists, labor union members, and concerned citizens from Canada, the United States, and every other country in the hemisphere marched in Quebec City in opposition to the FTAA. Again those engaging in direct action clashed with police. Enough tear gas was used to coat a good portion of the city. In the culmination of the largest police action in Canadian history, the Riot Act was read.
Perhaps popular opposition to undemocratic 'free' trade agreements such as the FTAA that benefit transnational corporations at the expense of environmental, labor, and health standards, as well as national sovereignty, is reaching a critical mass. It is telling that the Summit of the Americas had to be held behind a 5 km concrete and chain link fence perimeter patrolled by 6000 riot police. As a bit of poignant graffiti declared, "How can this fence be associated with the word free?"