Mar del Plata was practically militarised during the summit, and security fences separated the presidents from the people.
On our side of the fences, thousands of students, workers, religious leaders, indigenous campaigners and human rights activists congregated in a People's Summit. Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel said, “We reject the growing militarisation of the continent. We need resources for health, education — for life not death.”
Ecuadorian indigenous leader Blanca Chancoso said, “Bush is a terrorist. Don’t allow him to move freely in our America.”
Hugo Chavez expressed the feelings of many people at the People's Summit, saying, “Each of us brought a gravedigger’s shovel, because we will bury the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) here in Mar del Plata.”
On Friday of last week, tens of thousands took to the streets in protests that crossed the city.
Civil service workers and teachers went on strike. The FTAA is not yet dead, but the events of Mar del Plata are a major blow to Bush’s plans for the continent.