As the FTAA summit gets under way this week, Miami-Dade County and UM administration and students are watching the situation closely. Already local police are preparing on land, sea and air should any problems arise. Local businesses in downtown Miami have boarded up, and local media has encouraged the public to stay away from the area.
“It’s going to be business as usual [during the summit],” Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas told The Miami Hurricane. “We do encourage residents to proceed with caution and use common sense.”
According to city officials, the county has established a hotline for residents to call for up-to-the-minute information on all county-related services such as transit updates and street closures. Local radio stations are warning the public via public service announcements of potential safety concerns that could arise if demonstrations become violent as they have in the past.
UM is taking steps to inform the University community as the summit proceeds.
“We will begin to monitor the situation closely Sunday and Monday and will update rumor control as necessary,” Dr. Pat Whitely, vice president for student affairs, said last Friday.
Additionally, the Center for Latin American Studies has planned various events to inform students about the FTAA.
On Nov. 14 the first event, “Stop! Hey! What’s that sound? Transitional advocacy and the FTAA,” was held to educate and provide an objective view of the FTAA.
The event featured speaker Jackie Smith representing the department of sociology at State University of New York at Stony Brook. Smith teaches courses on global sociology and international organizations.
During the event, police officers were present and scanned the outside perimeter of the Learning Center.
Tomorrow the centers for Latin American Studies, African-American Studies and Ecosystem Science and Policy, as well as the Dean’s Office, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Caribbean Literary Studies program will present a discussion with filmmaker Stephanie Black.
Black will also present two documentary films: H 2 Worker, tomorrow after the discussions, and Life and Debt on Thursday at Cosford from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Both events will be free and open to the public.
As of press time, the Political Science Department has not planned any special events pertaining to the FTAA summit, but professors of the department, including Dr. Robert Barr, said aspects of the summit will be discussed in classes.
UM students are monitoring the news closely and keeping up-to-date on the summit.
“I think the news is showing a lot of controversies surrounding the event but not educating people about what the FTAA actually is,” Eric Martinez, freshman, said. “I’m definitely going to watch the areas that could most be affected and try to stay away from them.”
For more information on the FTAA, go to www.ftaa-alca.org. For updates on issues regarding the summit, call the UM rumor control hotline at 305-284-5151. For information about county-related services call 305-468-5900.
The Miami Hurricane will continue to follow the FTAA summit as it progresses.
Ernesto Zaldivar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.