Now that Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) week is over in Miami, the city can go back to normal. And by that I mean a small section of downtown Miami, because the rest of this sophisticated metropolis didn’t even bat an eyelash. Miami has dealt with so many turbulent episodes that dealing with a few of thousand protestors – even those armed with urine bottles, ball bearings, and wrist rockets – did not present any real challenge.
With all the hype from the Left, the official protestor estimate of 8,000 to 10,000 must be a great disappointment. For months the radical Left had been organizing its clusters and blocs and collectives to descend upon Miami and wreak havoc on the future of free trade. And not just in the U.S.; this was an international effort, drawing radicals from all over the hemisphere. Yet they still couldn’t generate a big enough crowd to fill the American Airlines Arena, under whose shadow the protests were played out.
Ascendant is a word that is often used by the mass media to describe the anti-globalization/antiwar movements, yet recent U.S. protests have shown that they are anything but. In October, attendance figures for the also highly touted, and communist-led International ANSWER protests in Washington, D.C,. were also a let down to their Marxist organizers. The original estimate for the Miami “action” was 50,000 to 70,000. A week before the event, the numbers being thrown around were 20,000 to 30,000. They barely managed 10,000 people. The media though, with all their hopes invested in a Vietnam-like uprising, continue to push the ridiculous notion that these protesters are somehow “mainstream.”
The most striking thing about the anti-globalization protesters in Miami is the incongruity of it all. If ever there was a city defined by global capitalism and international trade, it’s Miami. Indeed Miami is the antithesis of anti-globalization. From its location in a right-to-work state (many Hollywood features are made here in order to avoid unions), to its truly multicultural population that thrives under U.S. capitalism, Miami represents the very ideals of free trade.
But ask any FTAA protestor and he will tell you that Miami is the poorest city in the country. Leading up to the protests, it was hard to find a press release from the anti-FTAA crowd that didn’t stress this “poorest city” canard. In typical leftist fashion, exploiting the exception to the detriment of the rule, they fail to tell you the rest of the story. The truth is that according to recent U.S. Census figures, Miami-Dade County, of which The City of Miami is but a small part, has assimilated 61,000 immigrants in the past year alone. The City of Miami takes the brunt of it because many of the immigrants first settle there, and the city doesn’t have the lucrative tax base that other parts of the county have. The “poorest city” argument also fails to consider the tri-county synergy that interconnects the region known as South Florida. Any honest analysis of this region will uphold the value of capitalism and free trade.
Once FTAA week arrived, I made my way over to the protestor “Convergence Center,” which had been set up a few days earlier. The center is located about three miles north of downtown Miami in a fenced lot and warehouse. There wasn’t much going on that afternoon, so I strolled up to the front of the lot and started photographing the many signs that had been hung on the tall chain-link fence.
With my finger poised on the shutter about to snap another protestor pearl of wisdom, I was accosted by what I can only describe as a moving area of disgustingly foul stench. I immediately realized that a protestor was approaching me. About two seconds later, the protestor patted me on the back to tell me that he and his comrades did not appreciate being photographed.
A quick aside here: I recently came up with a possible explanation for the preponderance of pungent protestors: Maybe the protestors have discovered a disturbing capitalist conspiracy centered on personal hygiene products. The way the theory goes, the fascist corporate media, ever the lackeys for the transnational titans, have subverted the populace into buying into this whole “cleanliness culture.” By hooking people on not smelling bad, and therefore entering them into a lifelong battle against their own bodies, the global corporate behemoth has created legions of odorless addicts that will spare no expense to extinguish their own smelly secretions; a deodorized slave class that insures the survival of the equally well-groomed elite. Workers of the world unite!
Once I told the protestor that I was taking pictures of only the signs and not them, he left me alone. The largest was a white banner with their web address, www.stoptheftaa.org. Under it was a grouping of brightly colored star-shaped signs each containing a slogan. The colorful stars against the chain link fence reminded me of those badges Europeans put on their car grilles to show off how many countries they have toured, except in this case, the badges were there to show how ignorant the protestors are.
The most prominent cried out for “JUDICIAL ACCONTABILITY.” (How about we start with some spelling accountability?) Another star boldly declared “PIRATES AGAINST FTAA.” Pirates are just the kind of people you want in your coalition, aren’t they? The plundering that pirates are known for must look especially attractive to the socialists, communists, and anarchists that permeate this movement. And this was the public face of the anti-FTAA!
The weather was perfect the day of the main protest, clear blue skies and 75 degrees. The rag-tag crowd, among them many adherents to the hygiene conspiracy, assembled in front of Bayfront Park, a few blocks away from the hotel hosting the FTTA Ministerial.
The media were there in force of course. Many of them embedded within the police and trooper ranks. One amusing incident involved CBS News reporter Gary Nelson: After being bumped one-too-many times by an AFL-CIO “Marshall” trying to impede his progress, Nelson ripped into him: “Get your hands off me! What are you a thug like these cops are thugs? Come on, I’m from CBS News for God’s sake! Leave me alone!” (Emphasis added.) Gee Gary, no bias there huh?
The main march proceeded as planned with the unions taking the lead. It concluded peacefully and without incident. Something else became clear during the march: There wasn’t much local support for this movement. While marching through the poorest city in the country, you would think many locals would line the streets to cheer on the marchers. Well, the small shop owners had boarded up their businesses for the week, and the residents of Overtown, the poor neighborhood on the march route, were nowhere to be seen.
By late afternoon the black-masked anarchists, who could be seen throughout the crowds all day, began to start trouble. They set fires, attacked police and attempted to barricade downtown streets. The police, who had been planning for this and had rehearsed many scenarios, dealt with it as effectively and professionally as anyone could have hoped. In less than two hours after the mayhem had started, the downtown streets had been cleared of troublemakers, and people could be seen safely strolling down Biscayne Boulevard.
One of the few acts of vandalism the anarchists managed during their brief run of the streets was the defacing of the downtown campus of Miami-Dade Community College as they retreated from police. Among other obscenities was this beauty: “SMASH WHITENESS.” If that doesn’t give you an indication of the protesters’ depravity, nothing will.