The courage and dedication that was displayed by the protestors in the video was what I took to heart. It was something else to see a group of people come together to protest something that they believed so strongly despite being pepper sprayed, shot at with rubber bullets, and thrown into jail…..But why would anyone go to these lengths to protest against an organization?
The World Trade Organization was created in Jan. 1 1995 and has 140 member countries. According to their official website www.wto.org the organizations main purpose is to, “help trade flow as freely as possible-so long as there are no undesirable side-effects. This partly means removing obstacles.”
However the organization isn’t a democratic organization. Instead the WTO rules are written by and for corporations with inside access to the negotiations. Citizen input by consumer, environmental, human rights and labor organizations is consistently ignored as WTO meetings are held in secret. According to the video, out of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations and only 49 are countries. As a result it is no wonder why so many came to protest this secret meeting held in Seattle, WA.
According to the video many protestors argued that the WTO and its motto of free world trade is stomping over labor and human rights in countries throughout the world as the use of cheap labor and child labor are continually ignored by the WTO. The magazine Global Exchange states that the WTO is blocking human rights abuses since they have ruled that, “1) It is illegal for a government to ban a product base on the way it is produced and 2) Governments cannot take into account the behavior of companies that do business with vicious dictatorships such as Burma.”
The protestors in the video also felt that the WTO was destroying the environment. Evidence of this, dates back to 1993 when according to the Global Exchange , “The very first WTO panel ruled that a regulation of the US Clean Air Act, which required both domestic and foreign producers alike to produce cleaner gasoline, was illegal. Recently, the WTO declared illegal a provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires shrimp in the US to be caught with an inexpensive device that allows endangered sea turtles to escape, and the WTO is currently negotiating an agreement that would eliminate tariffs on wood products, which would increase the demand for timber and escalate deforestation.
As a result I believe that these corporations should not be allowed to continue to get away with such actions. The people in Seattle honored their legal right to assemble. The actions taken by the city of Seattle against these protestors were too extreme and I’m still unclear for what reason they took such extreme measures against the protestors. These were peaceful protests and the city freaked out over a few broken windows at corporations such as Starbucks and Nike. In my point of view the steps taken by the city of Seattle was way over the line and its disgusts me that peaceful protestors were thrown into jail for demonstrating a legal right in the constitution.