This guest post comes from Dominique Aulisio, a concerned community member from Lakeland, FL:
Earlier this year, Alisa Simmons, Global Trade Watch’s National Field Director, came to Florida to speak at engagements in nine cities throughout the state to expose and explain the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The speaking tour came together thanks to a true grassroots effort on the part of individuals and organizations determined to push past the silence on the TPP from the Obama administration and the media. Together we organized events in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Lakeland, Tampa, Immokalee, Lake Worth, and Miami. At each stop, community members who are aware of the negative impacts of NAFTA or are simply wary of expanding corporate power came out to learn about the TPP.
In Orlando, community members and Central Florida Jobs with Justice met with Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio’s offices. We thanked Senator Nelson for signing onto Senator Al Franken’s (D - Minn) letter concerning jobs and labor standards in the TPP. We asked that both Senators demand a release of the TPP negotiating text for review by Congress and the public. We also asked that they vote “No” on “Fast Track,” which would allow the Obama administration to ram approval of the TPP through Congress, without members having a chance to say what should or should not be in the secretive TPP text.
Throughout the speaking tour stops, we found that most attendees had never heard of the TPP before the tour. Many reacted with surprise and anger when they learned about the provisions the Obama administration is secretly negotiating that give more power to corporations. Many responded with comments about “global corporate governance” and “loss of national sovereignty” when they learned about the private tribunals the TPP will create to allow corporations to sue countries for impacting profits by enforcing their own environmental and labor laws. Participants were stunned when they learned that aspects of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are being swept under the rug in the TPP, and that there are provisions included to ease offshoring of jobs, decrease food safety standards, and decrease access to medication. One student at Florida State University said, “It just sounds preposterous that it’s being allowed to happen.”
In each city, participants showed great interest in learning more about the TPP and educating their communities. A truly diverse and vibrant network has sprung up organically to facilitate further trainings and organize demonstrations throughout Florida. Various actions are taking place across the state this week, culminating with a march on Saturday the 9th, as negotiators meet for the 16th round of TPP talks in Singapore. We are thrilled that so many people across the state feel as passionate as we do about stopping the TPP, and we invite others across the country to join in on the week of action. Communities in Florida are convinced that the TPP is a bad deal for us here in the States and also find it crucial to show solidarity with people around the world who will be negatively impacted by the TPP.