– Organizations from all three countries denounce the impacts that NAFTA has had on their people, during a Tri National Forum;
– They firmly reject the current model of ‘free trade’ agreements;
– They challenge the lack of transparency associated with the renegotiation of NAFTA.

The Gathering of Social Organizations from Canada, the United States, and Mexico took place May 26-27 in the historic building known as the Palace of Medicine in Mexico City, part of the patrimony of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). More than 100 organizations from the three countries were in attendance (list can be provided) along with legislators concerned about these types of treaties. Also present and backing this initiative, were the Rectors of two universities (UAM-I and Chapingo) who took the opportunity to underscore the fact that whatever new negotiation takes place has to be open and transparent to the public, and they promised the support of academia.

Present as well were important research centres focusing on the elaboration of alternatives in support of the work that social organizations are carrying out around trade. Over the course of the two days, this Gathering discussed and assessed the serious negative impacts that since its inception the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on each country’s peoples, communities and individuals. Time was also devoted to exchanges around the strategic objectives and the directions needed for stronger future relations among the three North American nations.

This magna event condemned the ‘free trade’ model for setting back national development and being contrary to peoples’ best interests. The organizations, social movements and indigenous communities present not only rejected the technical details of NAFTA, but also the orientation and philosophy that underpins it. There was agreement that participants were working to build a new model of ‘bottom-up’ integration, cooperation and exchange that would guarantee everyone’s well being including the full respect of human rights. To achieve this, it is critical that all sectors of society participate in NAFTA discussions, not just the CEOs of large corporations.

While in plenary the organizations agreed to work together to challenge the threat posed by the current government of the United States led by President Donald Trump by strengthening their networking and communications. These joint efforts are critical given that the governments of the three countries are promoting the ‘modernization’ of NAFTA as a pretext for incorporating new themes and deepening others, all the while using the Trans Pacific Partnership as the blue print.

Such as had been done in the lead up to NAFTA’s implementation in 1994, all those present at this 2017 Gathering, that included representatives from campesino/small farmer organizations, indigenous peoples, unions, migrant work, human rights, digital rights, and environmental defence groups, all agreed on the urgency of building tri national alliances and networks. They were also reminded that it was this type of articulation across borders that led to the defeat of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in 2005, and more recently to the derailing of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). There was a generalized commitment to work on creating constructive ways of carrying out joint international-level action beginning with the social organizations themselves. These combined efforts would support workers, farmers, and indigenous peoples, and the population in general, and would be based on the care of our fragile environment and the full respect for human rights in all three countries.

Following this Gathering, all the various social organizations that had participated resolved to return to their respective countries to share the information gathered and to build on the initial contacts in order to deepen the action agenda to be carried out at both a national and transnational level. This process of involvement of each organization’s membership will help legitimize and strengthen civil society’s hand in the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA. With a view towards the future the participating organizations made it clear that this was just the first of many tri national initiatives and gatherings to come to be aimed at turning back the Trump threat to our future not only in the North American region, but globally as well.

This Gathering calls on the populations from all three countries to build a broad and diverse movement capable of developing strategies and policy proposals focused on sustainable development that can lead to the greater degree of grass roots influence needed to re-orient the direction that globalization has taken.

After being able to consult with their organizations and networks, the participating organizations in this Gathering will socialize what their ‘plan of actions’ will include. These will range from mobilizations to campaigns buttressed by declarations enabling peoples voices to be present at an international level.

The Mexican host organizations shared their Mexican Declaration at the beginning of the two-day mega event outlining their main concerns and the initial positions they have taken in the face the current international conjuncture and the challenges posed by NAFTA.

Alliance of Social Organizations – Mexico better without FTAs.