Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement continues to develop in secrecy

What do you do when the name of your pet program elicits loud criticism; you change its name of course. That’s what the leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States did when the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement ran into unexpected opposition after details of SPP became known, notwithstanding efforts to keep it secret and away from public attention. The problem is that regardless what you call it, SPP is still bad news.

When Bush, Harper and Calderon met in New Orleans to continue their march toward a North American Union, the meeting was recast as a "North American Leaders Summit", the name was changed but the cast of characters and the plot remained the same. Behind the facade of a photo opportunity for President Bush, Mexico's President Felipe Caldron and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was another real effort of trilateral cooperation just like their previous SPP meetings.

Before the meeting, the White House issued a press release noting that Bush, Caldron and Harper will meet in New Orleans to "review progress and continued cooperation under the Security and Prosperity Partnership," but as in connection with each earlier SPP-related meeting, there was no report after the meeting about what the meeting accomplished or what transpired. What is known however is that the SPP gathering included a meeting of the North American Competitiveness Council, or “NACC”. The NACC is a group of 30 multi-national mega corporations handpicked by the chambers of commerce in the three countries who meet in closed-door sessions to develop advice for the 20 trilateral bureaucratic working groups assigned to "integrate" and "harmonize" North American regulations over a wide range of public policy areas.

One of the strange things about the April, 2008 New Orleans “Summit” as reported by WorldNet Daily is that “all the media attending the meeting were separated physically into different locations, with separate press advisories indicating which events were open to which country's media”; whereas in prior meetings the media shared a common press area. It is also interesting that none of the principal participants mentioned SPP by name in their various press briefings and public comments. Once again, this shows that despite the goals remaining the same, public criticism of SPP was to be avoided at all costs, but to paraphrase the Shakespearean caveat, “manure by any other name smells the same.”

Despite efforts to maintain secrecy, an internal memo from Canada's Foreign Affairs and Internal Trade ministry, obtained by World Net News under the Canadian Access to Information Act, discloses the agenda of the secret summit meeting of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in Montebello, Quebec, held on August 20-21, 2007. The main objective of that meeting was to find a way to get the American people to swallow the idea of the collaboration leading to the North American Union, and to squelch the growing criticism surrounding it. Also according to the memo as reported by natural news.com:

“The NACC issued no press releases disclosing specific recommendations made to them by the SPP trilateral working groups tasked with ‘integrating’ and ‘harmonizing’ administrative rules and regulations into a unified North American format. However, the memo documents that the NACC was urged to launch a public relations campaign to counter growing criticism of the trilateral cooperative that is seen by many as a major step toward the North American Union.”

As the meeting continued, the NACC members were urged to "assist in confronting and refuting critics of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America".

One portion of the memo indicates the public relations theme continued during the meeting. "In closing, all leaders expressed a desire for the NACC to play a role in articulating publicly the benefits of greater collaboration in North America", and further, "Leaders discussed some of the difficulties of the SPP, including the lack of popular support and the failure of the public to understand the competitive challenges confronting North America. Governments are faced with addressing the rapidly evolving competitive environment without fueling protectionism, when industry sectors face radical transformation."

The subsequent SPP meeting February 27-28, 2008 in Los Cabos, Mexico was also unreported in the U.S. and Canada but was disclosed in the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada. According to the newspaper, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez visited Mexico City prior to the Los Cabos meeting "to renegotiate NAFTA" by offering the information to Mexico that undisclosed U.S. corporations and the U.S. government are planning to place as much as $141 billion in new investments in Mexico under the Mexico National Infrastructure Project 2007-2012."

A press release published February 21, 2008 on the U.S. Trade and Development Agency web site which was also largely unreported by the U.S. press (do you see a pattern here?), mentioned that Secretary Gutierrez planned to announce United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) grants totaling more than $1.7 million made "to promote the development of transportation, energy and environmental projects under Mexico's National Infrastructure Program". Still another press release by the USTDA confirmed contribution of $141 billion to be made in July 2008 to Mexico's National Infrastructure Program to create investment opportunities for U.S. firms, principally the 20 mega multinational businesses that are members of the NACC.

The Department of Commerce's SPP website on Feb. 28, 2008 confirmed that Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez and Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff traveled to Los Cabos to meet with ministers from Mexico and Canada in preparation for the fourth SPP annual summit meeting to be held in New Orleans on April 21-22. This SPP press release also confirmed the presence of the NACC at the Los Cabos closed-door meeting.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts in Mexico and Canada will represent the top state-level officials of the three countries dealing with SPP. This designation clearly places the SPP at the top foreign policy diplomatic level in each country. Gutierrez and his counterparts will be considered "SPP Prosperity Ministers", with Chertoff and his counterparts considered "SPP Security Ministers". Overall management of the SPP would fall under the "Prosperity Ministers'" authority.

A policy of secret, closed-door meetings where the press and the public is not invited to participate or observe the process continues to characterize meetings of the SPP and its trilateral working groups. It is only through efforts of diligent reporters that any information about the determination of leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico to create a North American Union is ever revealed. It is reasonable for the public to question the motives and intentions of government actions conducted in secret and deliberately kept away from public scrutiny.

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