Planned protest in St Lucia against EU negotiators

Planned protest in St Lucia against EU negotiators

by Shervon Alfred

Caribbean Net News St Lucia Correspondent

Monday, September 26, 2005

CASTRIES, St Lucia: A mass demonstration has been planned for St Lucia to coincide with an important meeting of top European Union negotiators.

“Operation Get Up, Stand Up” is part of a “very massive” campaign reportedly being undertaken by Caribbean civil society, in support of the region’s vital banana industry.

The campaign is being led by the St Lucian chapter of the Caribbean Association of Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA).

“We’re speaking very firmly about the negative impact of the tariff proposals by the EU on banana farmers in the region,” said Flavia Cherry, head of CAFRA in St Lucia.

Caribbean Trade Ministers will meet in Castries from September 26—30, to review progress in Phase II of Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.

Organizers of the demonstration hope to use the occasion to call attention to the “devastating effects” of EU trade reforms on the Caribbean’s banana industry.

“We have done a tremendous amount of mobilization of Caribbean citizens, so we have several Caribbean organizations on board. The Caribbean Policy Development Centre has done a lot of coordination on a regional basis, so several members of CPDC are on board. We have been able to mobilize trade unions, ordinary citizens and women,” Cherry said.

Farmers from throughout the region are also being mobilized to participate in the demonstration. Those efforts are being spearheaded by the Windward Islands Farmers Association.

“These negotiations are all about bananas and all about the livelihoods of farmers,” said Marcella Harris, President of WINFA.

She continued that, “if the EU is coming here and they’re going to be negotiating about our livelihoods, why is it we are not here to let them see, these are the people you are talking about.”

For CAFRA the demonstration will also be targeting the economic partnership agreements of the EU.

“The idea is that we are standing against including for example, the “Singapore issues,” issues such as investment and government procurement which the EU is proposing as part of the negotiations.”

Cherry says her organization has been opposing the “Singapore Issues” at the level of the World Trade Organization and they intend to “stand up and get up and say that will not allow the “Singapore Issues at this level of negotiations.”

The street protest which will take place on Friday, September 30 will be preceded by a public awareness campaign.