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News ::
No news yet (english)
18 Nov 2003
American Business Forum, the warm-up to the FTAA later this week, is rather quiet. Perhaps for a reason.
Press Room, The Hyatt, Miami -
The buzzards were circling (literally)early this morning over the perimeter fence that separates the American Business Forum (ABF)and FTAA from the rest of America. Security is high and access tight not just for the entrance to the summit site. Inside it is even tighter. All of the ABF conferences - where business interests discuss what they desire in the FTAA - are strictly off limits as they are described as "private." Likewise, the room location is also restricted knowledge as is which businesses are present and what they want.
Media movement and reporting has also been restricted in that press may only enter the perimeter at a few locations and are generally sequestered to the press room and fed media alerts and audio-visual feeds of "public" events. "Public" events are themselves restricted in that they are only free trade rhetoric followed by an official pronouncement ended with three or four questions taken from a crowd limited to 30.
This is not to say that there are not serious security concerns here, or to say that there is an overt effort to suppress media outlets. However, journalists bare the greater burden of questioning and can be excluded from events. There have been cases of harrassment but they seem to remain rare and isolated perhaps because most media simply accept what they are offered. Inside the hotel it is uncomfortable to move while under the constant gaze of a heavily armed force that is constantly screening the press out of the crowd. Especially when many police wear gray battle dress with red armbands (groups seem to be distinguished by color, there was a lot of red today though).
Security outside has been ramped up in the past few hours as protesters are expected to arrive shortly. Police force are sporting tear-gas guns, tazers, pepper-spray paintballs, and other large weapons the likes of which I've never seen.

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