The protests in Quebec weren’t just about free trade. They were also about the drug war. Marijuana Party leader Marc Boris St-Maurice and a friend were shot by police with rubber bullets for protesting against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and how it will create even worse drug war oppression in its dozens of member states, including Canada.
“We were there in support of Colombia and Mexico, who wanted to discuss legalization,” said St-Maurice. “And we were there to protest the fact that the FTAA and drug war are largely US interests. The US refused to hear anything to do with harm reduction or legalization at the meeting.”
Police shoot Marijuana Party leader
Boris and a supporter were peacefully carrying a large pot flag when police confiscated it from them “for security reasons.” Soon afterward, they were caught in a hail of rubber bullets. “Two giant rubber bullets were discharged 2 feet from my head,” recounted Boris. “They flew over me, into the small crowd that was about to sit in with me. Thirty minutes later?we started to chat with a candidate from the federal election and, for no reason, they shot us! My friend was hit twice in the back, and I was hit once on the knee. A grapefruit-sized bruise!”
Peaceful protester Joseph Djeault explained that peaceful and not-so peaceful protesters were clearly designated by the colour of clothing they were wearing. Peaceful protesters wore green, while those that tore down a section of fence surrounding the FTAA meetings wore black. Regardless, the police attacked everyone with equal force and vehemence.
“Every minute or less, we could hear the loud explosion of rifles which they used to shoot the tear gas canisters,” recalled Djeault. “They also used them to shoot directly at people’s gas masks! [A rubber bullet] hit a man in the throat. They’re making him a brand new larynx, but they don’t know if he’ll ever speak again. Another man was hit in the eye. Yet another has a broken hand, and so on?”
Many were captured and suffered what can only be called torture at the hands of police.
“Some apartments got gassed really badly,” said Djeault. “All prisoners got mistreated and some very badly. Some stayed in buses for hours as tear gas surrounded the bus. Some jailed vegetarians were forced at gun point to kneel by the riot squad, then dragged by their hair to supposed decontamination with two cold showers for 450 people in the? detention complex.”
Marijuana party leader Marc Boris St-Maurice was also detained.
While the media and police did their best to portray the Quebec FTAA protesters as violent and destructive looters, being attacked by police only in defense, Boris St-Maurice said that the view from the streets was much different.
“The bottom line is that there was very little in terms of property damage, and no looting, or widespread chaos,” reported St-Maurice. According to St-Maurice, the perception of widespread violence and chaos was manufactured by the media.
“At one point about 300 people in black, with masks, headed up the hill to storm the gate,” St-Maurice said. “At that point, three CBC minivans started to position themselves directly in front of the group… and them parked it right there. One of the marchers in black motioned them to get back in and move the car… one person hit the car once, but the rest of the crowd knew the target was the fence, so they continued up the hill, leaving the car alone. The CBC van finally complied and left, with just a dent and a crack in the windshield. It was obvious the CBC wanted a good shot for the national news.
“Windows were broken but everyone wonders who started it? the Journal de Montreal reported a good compilation of the cops arsenal, and mentioned quite clearly that there was a large number of infiltrators at the demonstrations, I will let you conclude for yourself.”
It was conspicuous that the national television media also caught clear video footage of the very limited window breakage that occurred during the protest.
FTAA drug war
After the failure of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in 1998 due to public pressure from around the world, the nut was quietly rolled to the Organization of American States OAS, which began promoting the FTAA in earnest at its next meeting in Chile that same year. The drug war has been a prominent topic during FTAA conferences right from the start. After the 1998 meeting, Prime Minister Jean Chretien made a revealing remark:
“We want to work in very close collaboration to make sure that the production and the consumption of drugs goes down in all parts of the Americas because it is a disease that is hurting a lot of people,” Chretien claimed.
The FTAA and drug war promoting Organization of American States (OAS) ? whose meeting Chretien had just attended ? was founded in 1881. Every country in North, Central and South America (except Cuba) is a member of the FTAA and drug-war promoting OAS. In 1986, the OAS opened its own drug war department, called the CICAD, where all the nations’ drug czars meet to discuss how to further oppress people everywhere. In 1998, as the FTAA got its legs, CICAD began talking about making the drug war into an international enterprise, through a “multilateral drug initiative.”(1) CICAD, FTAA and OAS literature is filled with exhortations by the leaders and drug czars of countries in North, Central and South America to cooperate more fully in the drug war.
Since FTAA negotiations began, CICAD has had as much potential to influence national drug policy as international agreements like those at the UN. For example, the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which Canadian politicians regularly cite as the excuse for upholding marijuana prohibition. In 1998, the OAS boasted that, “[CICAD] has? developed model anti-drug regulations that have become the basis for laws in OAS member countries.”(1) In fact, the OAS works in strong cooperation with the UN, which also closely associates free-trade agreements with the development of a multinational drug war.(2)
In Quebec, the Prime Minister Jean Chretien, President George Bush, and the heads of states of other countries of the Americas signed the “Declaration of Quebec City,” which reaffirms those country’s commitment to the FTAA process, to the FTAA draft, and to the development of a multinational drug war. “We reiterate our commitment to combat new, multi-dimensional threats to the security of our societies,” reads the declaration. “Foremost amongst these threats are the global drug problem and related crimes?”
The concept of “multinational” or “multilateral” (3) means essentially that what works in one country should work in all countries. For the drug war, the ultimate expression of this concept is multinational drug squads, unanswerable to our heads of state, who can break down doors and enforce multilateral treaties and agreements, like that signed in Quebec.
If we are to avoid worse drug war oppression, the public must speak as loudly against the FTAA as it did against the MAI. Make your voice heard by writing letters to your heads of state, by attending protests and rallies, and by educating others.
? For more information about the relationship between free trade and the drug war see a brief summary of Reverend Damuzi’s research, with tons of internet links at: cannabisculture.com/articles/1935.html
? Also check out these past articles by Reverend Damuzi, which can be found online:
– Herbal Holocaust (Cannabis Canada #9)
Exploring the connection between free trade agreements and the banning of natural and healing herbs and vitamins: www.cannabisculture.com/backissues/cc09/activist/holocaust/index.html
– Multinationals will kill for Drugs (Cannabis Culture #13)
Starting with the Opium war and exploring UN involvement in the drug war/free trade complex: www.cannabisculture.com/article/102.html
– US Prison Empire (Cannabis Culture #30)
A detailed analysis of the US Prison/Industrial complex, linking drug war arrests to ghetto redevelopment, corporate feudalism, and sex/race oppression. A comparison of the prison/industrial complex to the drug war/free trade complex. www.cannabisculture.com/articles/1887.html
(1) OAS BEGINS WORK ON MULTILATERAL DRUG INITIATIVE,
Press Release May 4, 1998
(2) REMARKS AT THE MINISTERIAL-LEVEL SIGNING CEREMONY FOR THE HEMISPHERIC ANTI-DRUG STRATEGY MEETING, Montevideo, Uruguay, December 3, 1996
(3) While the terms “multilateral” and “multinational” are essentially synonymous, “multilateral” is usually used to refer to agreements, while “multinational” is used to refer to corporate or government bodies and institutions.