SPP North American Leaders Summit April 21, 22 in New Orleans
The fourth annual "North American Leaders Summit" - part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership started by George Bush - will be held Monday and Tuesday in New Orleans and will be attended by Bush, Felipe Calderon of Mexico, and Stephen Harper of Canada. Expect the news reports about the event to be credulous. Speaking of which, Norma Greenaway of the Canwest News Service/Ottawa Citizen offers this:
The annual leaders' gathering, popularly referred to as the Amigos Summit, is being held against the backdrop of a gripping race for the U.S. presidency where the North American Free Trade Agreement has become a favourite punching bag of Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama... The two have promised to kill or rewrite the pact if elected president as they compete for the support of voters, many of whom blame NAFTA for job losses, especially in the manufacturing sector.
Well, not exactly. Obama recently spoke in code, indicating his support for the SPP process, and of course there's GoolsbeeGate to consider. Her paper was given ("obtained") a warning to the leaders from the "North American Competitiveness Council", a group of major businesses such as Home Depot:
Among other things, [the warning] expressed frustration over "serious roadblocks" that have hampered efforts to make borders within North America more efficient and secure... "Our most critical request to the leaders is for them to ensure that the SPP remains a dynamic and effective path forward for trilateral and bilateral co-operation," says the report, urging the leaders to make clear "sustained progress on the SPP agenda is a strategic priority."... "To the extent NAFTA itself continues to be a target, efforts to "deepen NAFTA" will be largely unsuccessful," [a draft version of the warning] said... A senior U.S. official, briefing American reporters on the leaders' summit, said Friday the pact is a winner for all three countries. Dan Fisk said the value of trade among the three countries had grown to almost $1 trillion from $290 billion in 1994, the year NAFTA took effect... "We want to find ways to, frankly, convince the American people from our perspective, first and foremost that this is an arrangement that has worked for us, and it's also worked for our neighbours," said Fisk, [Senior Director in the National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere].
An earlier meeting with Condoleezza Rice resulted in Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa saying this:
"We have also discussed that we should strengthen and make a permanent commitment with the continuity of this high-level dialogue in North America at all levels and particularly at the level of heads of state and government."
Becky Bohrer of the Associated Press red baits here, following this paragraph with a quote from one of the "People's Summit" protesters with a quote from someone from the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization:
One target of protesters is expected to be the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. They say the pact, which aims to share information between the three governments and smooth out regulatory differences, is a threat to national sovereignty and an attempt to create a military partnership to enforce the North American Free Trade Agreement.
This quotes Fisk:
"We think NAFTA works... We think the record of its past 14 years shows that it works. There's nothing broken. Why fix a success?"
This lets something slip:
It is more like a progress report on how the three countries are integrating... Bush's agenda will start today with the reopening of the Mexican Consulate in New Orleans...
Greg Flakus of the publicly-funded Voice of America - a source not intended to spread disinformation inside America - leads with the thoughts of someone from the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau here, offering not just one but two pictures of her.
Ben Feller of the Associated Press offers this:
Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the three countries benefit by working together against competition from China and India. "North America needs to maintain its economic unity," said Donohue, who is taking part in the summit.