Christina Fetterhoff

Christina Fetterhoff (Center for Economic and Social Rights, Ecuador): Christina was involved with human rights in Latin America long before she undertook her AP fellowship. She lived and studied for six months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she researched the role of Argentine human rights organizations during the 1976-1982 military dictatorship. She also traveled to Cuba as a delegate for MADRE, a women’s rights and humanitarian aid organization. Christina graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2003 with a B.A. in Political Science. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for an M.A. in Latin American Studies through Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

First Social Forum of the Americas

05 Aug

During the week of July 25 – 30 hundreds of socially-conscious activists from all over Latin America and the rest of the world gathered in Quito for the First Social Forum of the Americas. This event was part of the annual World Social Forum, historically held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, but placed a special emphasis on Latin America. The schedule of seminars, workshops, speakers, and panel discussions was so full that it took about 50 pages to cover everything – not including descriptions.

Because CDES was one of the sponsor organizations of the Forum, I had the opportunity to attend as many of the events as I wanted to-or actually, as many as I could, I should say, since everything looked interesting and it was hard to choose. The members of CDES themselves, however, were giving a number of different workshops and participating in panel discussions, so in the end I opted to go along with my office in order to learn more about its work. Most of CDES’ events focused on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and it was really interesting to see people’s reactions when Jorge Acosta, director of the Globalization and Foreign Debt research programs at CDES, broke down the FTAA into its basic components.

According to Jorge and the rest of the CDES staff, the FTAA will do much more harm than good for the countries of the Americas, not including the United States, of course. They fear that local industries will be destroyed, pollution will be a continuing and increasing problem, and more and more people will be forced to abandon their traditional ways of life, a fact that will especially stress the indigenous communities with which CDES works.

All of these results would have grave and undesirable consequences for the defense of economic, social and cultural rights as well. Thus, CDES organized a panel discussion and a workshop to hash out some of these issues. Patricio also took the opportunity to inform the people present about CDES’ project-in-process, the Amazonian Observatory.

The information was gobbled up and by the end of the week, today, I feel quite exhausted and overwhelmed by trying to absorb all of the discussions, pamphlets and miscellaneous facts that were thrown at me-not to mention the questions, as people are always curious to see an American at an event like this, especially in Latin America. I feel as though my presence at the anti-FTAA march on Wednesday afternoon was perhaps even surprising for some people, but that adventure will be a different blog.

Posted By Christina Fetterhoff

Posted Aug 5th, 2004

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