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about a loss of sovereignty to the U.S., protesters
against the North American Security and Prosperity
summit, Aug. 20.
A Day of Protest and
and Security Summit
"It will be a
race to the bottom in order to please the United States and Mexico, as is now the case with pesticides in our food. The
Americans will never subject themselves to our will, and we'll have to follow
along like dogs."
Nicolas Laplante, 24-year-old food bank employee from Ottawa
Tension ran high all day yesterday
in the streets of the village of Montebello. While the heads of the Canadian, American and Mexican governments
met far from the protesters, the police and demonstrators confronted one
another outside the security perimeter. After several skirmishes, a spark
finally started a fire at the end of the day. This is the account:
Montebello: It was when the Quebec police noted the first anomaly.
Route 148 that connects Montreal to Gatineau while skirting the OutaouaisRiver had just been closed to traffic.
Just then, hundreds of demonstrators left the old station in the center of the
village headed in the direction of the security perimeter protecting MontebelloCastle, 1600 feet down the road.
head of a procession of students, union representatives, avowed anarchists and
leaders from the Canadian left, representatives of The Council of Canadians wanted
to deliver to the assembled heads of government a petition with 10,000
signatures of those who oppose the plans being laid at the North American
Security and Prosperity Partnership summit. But the bundle of signed pages will
never be received, because an anti-riot squad rapidly blocked the road to the
demonstrators 80 feet from the main entrance through the imposing fence
surrounding the castle. The face-to-face confrontation had begun.
midst of shouted slogans - "No to the PSP, Yes to democracy" …
"The three Amigos" … "Is this our future? Wake up and
protest!" - a man wearing a full suit and tie,
sunglasses and a gold pin in the shape of Mexico visible on his jacket cleaves
through the increasingly dense and agitated crowd. Gustavo Iruegas is Foreign
Secretary of the "shadow government" of Mexico, a ghost cabinet set up by
defeated presidential candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador, who doesn't recognize the
victory of his rival and current Mexican President, Felipe Calderon. "This
summit is very bad for Mexico," Gustavo Iruegas tells Le Devoir. "Mexico has no enemies, but in attaching
itself to the United States, it will get some. And it isn't
here, behind closed doors, that Mexico will resolve its problem with
Iruegas shares the main fear of the 1500 demonstrators gathered in Montebello yesterday: The loss of
sovereignty of the nations in the PSP.
will be a race to the bottom in order to please the United States and Mexico,
as is now the case with pesticides in our food. The Americans will never
subject themselves to our will, and we'll have to follow along like dogs,"
estimates 24-year-old Nicolas Laplante, who works for a food bank in Ottawa and who came to demonstrate with
friends against this "secret" summit. "Why are presidents of
multinational corporations heard and not us?" he adds, referring to the 30
CEO's of multinational corporations who were invited to the Montebello summit (10 from each country).
middle of the afternoon when buses carrying protesters from Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Guelph finally arrive at their final
destination, the tension rises a notch along the police cordon. Young people
wearing black, scarves over their faces, shields and sticks in hand and gas
masks across their shoulders begin throwing rocks and bottles at the police.
Above the demonstrators, police helicopters fill the air with a deafening
noise. The dance music of the protesters is hardly audible.
FIRST TEARGAS GRENADES
It is when
police officers fire off the first teargas grenades. The demonstrators rush
away in disorder. Those that succumb to tears find refuge several feet away in
the arms of impromptu first-aid workers who sprinkle water into their burning
eyes. Five minutes later, as though it were the undertow of a wave, protesters
charge back. The SQ [Quebec Provincial Police or Sureté du Québec] and the RCM [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] again
confront them face-to-face. The insults burst out. You could cut the tension
with a knife.
Khadir, spokesman for the political organization Québec Solidarity [Québec
Solidaire], the entire circus is "unworthy of a democracy."
not entitled the slightest dissent without having to deal with anti-riot squads
and police repression," he explained a few minutes before the trouble
feet away from the security perimeter sitting in the middle of the road, about
40 people, mostly young people, discuss the dangers of the Prosperity and
should represent ourselves, because the politicians inside don't represent
us," declares 22-year-old Kim Beaudoin, who initiated this
spur-of-the-moment sit-in. "The police want a confrontation, which is why
they have set up this perimeter. For us, it's more productive to talk than to
bicker with them."
At , after several minor
confrontations, the police and the most radical protesters decide to launch
into another skirmish. A stone thrown at police lands with the force of a
hurricane on embers and provokes a push by police, who gas the 1500 demonstrators without restraint. The protesters
withdraw into the village.
BALANCE SHEET: Five police were slightly
injured and four were arrested for disturbed the peace and obstruction and
resisting arrest. At , Route 148 was open to traffic
again, and the protesters headed home.
The 'Three Amigos': President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (center), and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, after meeting in Canada for the North American Security and Prosperity
Partnership summit, Aug. 21.