bilaterals.org now in Spanish and French
15 December 2006
Starting today, the bilaterals.org website is available in Spanish and French, apart from the original English version. This new multilingual interface is meant to broaden access to information in a way that strengthens people’s resistance movements against free trade agreements (FTAs).
When the bilaterals.org website was launched in 2004, it was hard to imagine the course this site would take. Starting from nothing, it now contains 6300 articles which are read by 6000 visitors a day. Some 500 people have registered to publish materials on the site, while 1500 subscribers receive the "bilaterals.org weekly" email list.
Over these years, several developments have brought us to the point where, today, FTAs are of vital importance for governments in the North and are used as one of the principal tools of domination over countries of the South.
The failure of the United States to impose its Free Trade Area of the Americas against the resistance of social movements and various governments of the region, combined with the recent collapse of the World Trade Organisation Doha Round, have catapulted FTAs to the front line of the battle to define global trade rules in the interests of the North. Powerful governments are apparently convinced that by pushing bilateral FTAs they will overcome any resistance, weaken any alliances and exploit the contradictions that exist in all regions.
Nevertheless, the response from people’s movements has not failed to emerge. Across the globe, social movements have been mobilising to resistant and reject FTAs. The examples of Ecuador and Costa Rica — where mobilisations have had a strong impact and resulted in the rejection and blockage, respectively, of FTAs between their governments and the United States — are a clear demonstration of this resistance. Right now, uprisings and social mobilisations to defeat FTAs are multiplying in many places like Korea (against the KorUS FTA in particular), the countries of West Africa (against their region’s EPA with the European Union), Thailand (against FTAs with Japan and the US), the Philippines (against the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement) and Malaysia (against the US-Malaysia FTA). Even some groups in the US and Europe are mobilising.
Last July, FTA Watch, together with bilaterals.org and other groups, convened a meeting to share strategies of movements fighting FTAs in different parts of the world. Among the proposals that emerged was the idea to open up a French and Spanish version of bilaterals.org. (See http://www.bilaterals.org/article.php3?id_article=5726 for more information about this new phase of the site.) After a few months of work, these two additional versions of the site are ready. All three language versions are identical (that is, they carry the same articles), but the framework and background material are now multilingual for broader access. No doubt the site will continue developing based on people’s suggestions and inputs.
It’s important to stress that bilaterals.org is a collective open-publishing website. Anyone can register as editor and publish news and documents in a very simple manner. The opening of the French and Spanish versions should make it easier for more people to participate now. Please feel free to upload materials that you feel are important to share with others. If you want to go further and help maintain any section of the site, you can also do that too.
We hope that the Spanish and French versions of bilaterals.org will broaden information sharing in a way that strengthens the struggles of our movements, provides learning from experiences in different regions and helps build more solid alliances.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions.
the bilaterals.org team