BUILDING A HEMISPHERIC SOCIAL ALLIANCE
IN THE AMERICAS
To contact the Hemispheric Social Alliance Secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past two decades, the economies of North, South and Central America have steadily integrated. Free trade agreements have been vigorously pursued by governments and business leaders, with little input from us, the people of this hemisphere. Economic integration of our region has been catastrophic for us all. Our economies are now wide open to foreign private investment and private corporations have new rights to cherry pick the attractive investments. Meanwhile, our rights and protections as citizens have been dramatically eroded. Wealth is now concentrated in the hands of the few, leaving the vast majority in a devastating cycle of poverty and violence.
This new economic model, sometimes referred to as ’neo-liberalism" or ’corporate rule", is undemocratic and exclusionary. It promotes free trade agreements that deny citizens the right to participate in key economic and social policy decisions. And it allows corporations to walk away from the economic and environmental disasters they create. The results have made clear that we need to take leadership by building an alternative development model and countervailing social force.
The idea of an Alliance was born at the Our Americas Forum in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in May of 1997. At this Forum, running parallel to the meeting of the Americas Trade Ministers and the Americas Business Forum, the 700 civil society activists who attended agreed to mobilize their organizations and coalitions towards building a broad-based movement throughout the hemisphere to confront the current economic model and corporate rule. The idea of an alliance was further endorsed at the People’s Summit in Santiago Chile in April of 1998. Two thousand delegates met in twelve sectoral forums, workshopping ideas for an alternative social and economic model in the hemisphere. Labour, NGOs, trade coalitions, environmentalists and social movements from most of the countries of the Americas came together in March of 1999 in Costa Rica to give shape to the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) and agree to some basic principles for coordinating and building it. This alternative would be inclusive, democratic, ethical, sustainable and humane, with full respect for diversity and ample space for citizen input.
The Hemispheric Social Alliance is a forum where progressive organizations and movements from around the Americas can gather, strategize, share information and plan joint actions. As the base and strength of this movement grows, we will be in an even better position to fight for an alternative and democratic development model for our societies.
The Hemispheric Social Alliance has prepared a number of fact sheets on various issues. They are available as downloadable PDFs
Thebroad objectives of the HSA are to:
• Strengthen civil society within and between countries in the Americas;
• Be recognized as a dynamic movement which can mobilize its members and where the different views and positions of civil society can be represented;
• Implement agreed upon common strategies while, at the same time, respecting diversity;
• Support and strengthen the efforts of the different sectors at the local, national and regional levels;
• Promote the enforcement of the basic standards approved by the International Labour Organizations (ILO);
• Promote and campaign for the enforcement of all rights already recognized in the many international instruments, covenants and declarations already signed.
All social justice organizations who can identify with and adopt the principles and objectives of the HSA, whether directly or through national and sub-regional coalitions, are invited to participate. You may already be participating through your church or union.
At its first meeting in Costa Rica in March, 1999, members of the HSA elected a Coordinating Group whose members are:
Common Frontiers Canada,
Civil Society Initiative on Central American Integration (ICIC),
Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC),
Alliance for Responsible Trade (USA),
Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC),
Latin American Congress of Rural Organizations (CLOC),
The Brazilian Network for People’s Integration (REBRIP) and
The Interamerican Regional Workers Organization (ORIT).
For the initial building of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, we have identified two parallel strategies:
• to impact the official integration process by lobbying, making policy proposals, influencing public opinion, developing media strategies;
• to build broad-based support for the Alliance with the trade union movement, environmentalists, landless people and homeless people, women’s organizations and all other social movements, especially those most marginalized by the present economic model.
The HSA is not short of ideas! Below is a list of some of the initiatives under discussion...
Ideas for developing and promoting the HSA
• Organize yearly meetings of the Hemispheric Social Alliance.
• Establish a secretariat for the Alliance to deal with day to day issues and communications.
• Set up a Hemispheric Social Alliance E-mail List.
• Gain visibility, since this is the key to making the Alliance real for the local organizations and their membership.
• Expand the participation of organizations in the different regions of the Americas , e.g. Andean, Southern Cone and Caribbean regions.
• Promote dialogue with organizations and coalitions from other parts of the world.
Ideas for programmes
• Develop an alternative social agenda.
• Adopt a common strategy which also respects diversity.
• Continue to develop, to discuss and debate, to add and to modify Alternatives for the Americas, a document drafted for the Alternative Forum at the 1998 People’s Summit in Santiago, Chile.
• Map the existing organizations in each country along with the actions they are taking.
• Share information and feedback through the Alliance: local – regional - global.
• Monitor the negotiation process and any positions taken or agreements signed by our respective governments with full dissemination of that information to the Alliance.
• Launch campaigns at all levels under the umbrella and with the support of the Alliance.
• Develop labour and social indicators that can be tracked, in conjunction with the Social Watch initiative already underway.
• Raise awareness of the effects and impact of economic integration on the day to day lives of our members and the population at large.
For more info contact the HSA secretariat
A list to link activists and organizations working on issues of social justice and trade in the Americas. Get updates from the coalitions and activists from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and other countries of the Americas. This is a tool to build and keep the Hemispheric Social alliance members connected!
Please note that this list is being conducted in SPANISH.
To join the list, send an E-mail to: