Demonstrations and Police Repression in Miami

November 23, 2003

On November 20, an estimated 10,000 people rallied and marched through the streets of Miami, protesting the ministerial meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The FTAA is the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to every country in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, except Cuba. It is a program for the annexation of all of Latin America by U.S. monopolies.

During the November 20 protest, and numerous other smaller demonstrations that took place from November 19-21, people from many walks of life and organizations, including trade unions, youth and student organizations, environmental groups, anti-war activists, women's organizations, etc. raised the slogan "No to the FTAA!" and " Another World is Possible." The demonstrators expressed their militant opposition to the agenda of monopoly capital -- the anti-social agenda of slashing social investments and wages at home and the agenda of extending the economic and political dictate of U.S. imperialism throughout Latin America and the world. They also raised their opposition to the U.S. "war on terrorism" and the war in Iraq.

Thousands of Miami police officers, dressed in full riot-gear and backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, confronted and assaulted the demonstrators repeatedly throughout the day on November 20. Using rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and tear gas, police charged into throngs of protestors in an attempt to break-up the march. A number of demonstrators were treated at local hospitals for injuries. Over 200 people were arrested during the march, and eyewitnesses report that throughout the three days of protests, hundreds more were arrested or detained simply for "looking or dressing like protestors." Many were arrested on trumped up charges and held on $10,000 bail. Activist convergence centers were also raided by police and scores of youth were locked-up without any charge.

Huge numbers of protestors were also prevented from participating in the march due to police road-blocks and street-closings. On November 20, over 180 buses filled with demonstrators were reportedly stopped by police outside Miami and prevented from entering the city limits.