UM has taken steps to ensure students are aware of potential problems that may arise during the large protests that will take place in downtown Miami during the Free Trade Area of the Americas [FTAA] summit Nov. 17-21.
“It’s our responsibility to educate and advise our students of potential problems,” Dr. Pat Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs, said. “We have placed two ads in The Miami Hurricane and will be using IBIS NEWS to advise students to proceed with caution.”
UM urges students to be aware that the summit will yield traffic delays, suspended Metrorail services and street closures.
The FTAA is a result of the 1994 Summit of the Americas held in Miami in which preliminary steps were taken to unite the economies of Americas and the Caribbean, excluding Cuba.
Negotiations began right after the completion of NAFTA in 1994 and are to be completed by 2005. Currently the FTAA is comprised of 34 ministers representing their respective regions working toward constraint-free trade.
Despite the efforts of these governments to establish a free trade area, many do not want to see its completion.
Many organizations, such as Stop the FTAA, use their websites to organize protesters against the FTAA.
It is these protesters that have prompted UM to advise students of the potential dangers in downtown Miami while the FTAA meets.
UM police said they are well-prepared to handle any situations that may arise.
“Our officers have been trained with the appropriate tactics for these situations, and we have also acquired new equipment to help us insure the safety of students,” Henry Christensen, director of Public Safety, said.
Christensen could not comment on the specifics of the tactics, training or equipment for reasons of security.
According to administration, UM will remain open during the FTAA summit, although some students feel the impact of the summit will affect the campus directly.
“I think we will have traffic and possible protests near campus by students,” Michael Borchetta, junior, said. “Protests could possibly be on campus or near it as well.”
Professor Ambler Moss, a UM expert on the FTAA, said that there are pros and cons to the FTAA.
“There are always winners and losers in meetings like this one,” Moss said. “Labor unions and environmental groups think they could be negatively impacted by the FTAA.”
Professor Moss went on to explain that the agriculture industry here in Florida could be negatively affected by the establishment of a free trade area agreement between the Americas.
“Brazilian oranges could be imported under the agreement, and that would take away income from Florida orange growers,” Moss said.
Moss also said there are economic advantages to the FTAA.
“Exporting brings money by creating a need for more port workers,” he said. “Exporting creates employment and boosts the economy.”
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.
The Miami Hurricane will continue to follow up on the FTAA as the summit progresses.
Ernesto Zaldivar can be contacted at email@example.com.