Despite the looming presence of a “historic” blizzard, about 50 activists joined an anti-TPP protest outside the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York City on Monday.
This was the latest of the more than 20 times that the U.S. and now 13 other Pacific Rim countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership met, and the first time the gathering was held in New York City.
A massive trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would standardize trade regulations in a host of different fields, including medicine, and textiles.
Like any major international trade agreement, it’s negotiated in secret, though WikiLeaks has obtained and published draft versions of its working text. Internet freedom groups are particularly concerned about its intellectual property chapter, which could force member countries with liberal copyright laws to adopt more draconian practices, under threat of lawsuit from corporations who argue their content is infringed.
As is common for a TPP protest, adherents came from a number of activist groups, including Access and Doctors Without Borders. “We’re here for social justice,” said an older woman named Martie, a member of the Granny Peace Brigade. “TPP doesn’t offer social justice to anyone. It’s a secret deal that’s going to affect our environment, our drug prices, and jobs.”
The Grannies even sang a song adapted for the occasion.
“This is NAFTA on steroids,” said Bram Loeb of Frack Free Nation. “It will take away our sovereign ability to say no to fracking, no GMOs.”
The protests were initially right out in front of the hotel. But they moved across the 7th Avenue, in accordance with a police request. It wasn’t immediately clear how effective they would be—a nearby police officer who said he’d been inside the hotel told the Daily Dot that there was “no chance” that people inside the building could hear the protesters, despite their use of a megaphone.
In recent years, TPP negotiators have become less and less inclined to interact with the public. Though they initially at least entertained comments from concerned nonprofits, they’ve since barred such groups from attending negotiations. And while the office of the U.S. Trade Representative granted access to the Daily Dot in 2012, this time around, they didn’t even respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
Photo by Kevin Collier/Daily Dot