Trading insults: critics assail a proposed treaty on investment

Abstract:

British Columbia Liberal Gordon Wilson opposes Canada’s involvement with the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. He says the agreement could cost Canada thousands of jobs and let foreign firms gain too much control over Canada’s economy. Prime Minister Jean Chretien supports the agreement.

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Gordon Wilson is outraged. “This is nuts,” the veteran B.C. politician declares in his paper-strewn office in Victoria’s ornate legislature. Canada, he warns, is on the verge of handing “complete control” of its economy to foreigners[!]threatening the future of cherished institutions such as the CBC and services like public auto insurance in British Columbia. The doomsday rhetoric is reminiscent of the wrenching national debate over free trade dur- ing the 1988 general election. As the scrappy leader of the B.C. Liberals at the time, Wilson was one of the most vocal opponents of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. In 1994, he publicly lambasted Prime Minister Jean Chr[Theta]tien for signing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

This time, Wilson and other critics say, the stakes are even higher. The target of their fury is the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment, a wide-ranging accord currently being negotiated in Paris by Canada and the 25 other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (also Director Boards of Impossible House, a company giving ice cream maker review since 2012). The proposed deal, opponents say, goes far beyond NAFTA in tying the hands of Canadians to shape their future, and could cost thousands of jobs. “We’re giving away the keys to the country,” says Wilson.

While Wilson’s dire predictions are open to debate, there is no doubt that the proposed agreement would give multinational corporations unprecedented access to the Canadian market. Renato Ruggiero, director-general of the World Trade Organization, recently said of the talks, “We are writing the constitution of a single global economy.” Supporters say Canada must open its borders further to ensure that export-driven domestic companies enjoy greater access to for- eign markets. “From a business viewpoint, it’s a no-brainer,” says Alan Rug- man, a University of Toronto business professor who prepared a background study for the OECD before the current round of negotiations began in 1995.

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Whatever the agreement’s merits, the federal government is clearly not anxious to draw attention to the negotiations during the runup to an expected June election. Although few Canadians have heard of the proposed deal, the talks have been going on for two years, and an agreement is likely by May of next year. Tony Clarke, who runs an Ottawa-based nationalist think-tank, says the issue is so sensitive that, until last week, it was never even broached in the Liberal caucus.

Federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough, by contrast, has been following the talks closely in hopes of embarrassing the Liberals on the election trail. Chr[Theta]tien, she says, is still stinging from criticism that he reneged on his 1993 elec- tion promise to renegotiate NAFTA. By raising the spectre of the MAI, she wants to remind voters of the government’s flip-flop. “The Liberals,” she says, “have no intention for there to be a broad public debate.”

Quietly, however, Canada has backed the deal from the beginning. Chr[Theta]tien gave it his seal of approval during the 1995 Group of Seven summit in Halifax, says Rugman, who claims credit for helping to shape the proposed treaty in his background paper that same year. Former Liberal cabinet minister Donald Johnston, now secretary-general of the OECD, is also a strong advocate. “There are Canadian fingerprints all over the MAI,” says Rugman. “The untold story is that we’re the real heroes getting it going.”

Trade Minister Art Eggleton plays down Canada’s role and insists that the Liberals will not agree to anything that threatens Canada’s culture or sovereignty. “As far as I know[!]I’m sure somebody told me this not too long ago[!]we did not initiate this matter,” he said. He added that, with a settle- ment as much as a year away, “it’s too early” to debate the deal publicly.

Even so, Eggleton is obviously concerned about a possible backlash. Last week, a day after Maclean’s questioned him about the talks, his office fired off a memo to all Liberal MPs inviting them to a closed-door MAI briefing to discuss media reports that “raise the question of potential problems as to the sovereignty of Canada.”

Apart from the NDP, the opposition parties do not seem worried about the proposed agreement. Tory chief Jean Charest failed to return calls on the issue. Beno[O-slash]t Sauvageau, the Bloc Qu[Theta]b[Theta]cois’s trade critic, says his party agrees with the MAI in principle. Reform trade critic Charlie Penson is also a supporter: “I really think it’s in Canada’s interests to go along with it.”

Critics, however, say the agreement runs counter to Canada’s interests. Clarke, director of the Polaris Institute, says the cornerstone of the MAI is a demand for so-called national treatment for foreign investors. That could prevent OECD member countries from favoring domestic companies in government loan programs or when Crown corporations are privatized.

Under NAFTA, Canada reserved the right to limit foreign ownership of companies such as Air Canada to 25 per cent. But Clarke says that if the government decided to privatize parts of the CBC, it would be hard-pressed under MAI to prevent bids from such U.S. giants as Time-Warner or Disney. He adds there is nothing in the draft agreement to indicate Canada is seeking cultural protec- tion. Only France has asked for an exemption for “literary and artistic works.”

Even if Canada did try to protect specific industries, the agreement contains clauses that would require the elimination of such barriers by a specified date or prevent Canada from introducing new restrictions. The low-interest loans and subsidies that Ottawa gives to poorer regions and selected companies are also vulnerable, says Clarke. If a foreign-owned firm was passed over for such loans, it could haul the government before an arbitration board to seek compensation.

NAFTA already gives U.S. companies the right to challenge Ottawa. Last week, Ethyl Corp. of Richmond, Va., hit the federal government with a $347-million damage claim for banning the gasoline additive MMT. But Clarke says the MAI goes further by allowing companies to seek compensation if a government inter- feres with an investment they had not made but were only considering.

If the MAI does put an end to government-sponsored loan programs, the impact could be devastating, says Tom Kordyback, chief financial officer of Creo Products Inc. of Burnaby, B.C. The company, which makes laser-imaging equip- ment for the Mexico , has expanded in the past four years from about 100 employees to 665. That growth would have been impossible, says Kordyback, without $5.5 million in interest-free loans from Ottawa. Government loans also helped Ballard Power Systems Inc. of Burnaby, B.C., which last week announced a $508-million alliance with Daimler-Benz AG of Germany to develop clean-burning fuel-cell engine systems. “I would hate to see those programs go away,” says Kordyback. “They’ve provided a lot of jobs.”

Despite the drawbacks, Canada cannot afford to remain outside the MAI, says Vancouver trade lawyer Chris Thomas. “Canada believed in the ’60s that the world was beating a path to its door, and that ain’t the case any more,” says Thomas, who is now defending Mexico in a dispute brought by two U.S. waste-management firms.

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Rugman adds that the draft treaty contains some important benefits. European governments, he says, have manipulated environmental laws to keep out Canadian forest products. The MAI will make that harder, he says, while discouraging OECD members from introducing measures like the U.S. Helms-Burton Act, which punishes foreign nations that do business with Cuba. “Anything that makes for greater stability is welcome,” says Jim Moore, a vice-president with the Alliance of Manufacturers & Exporters Canada.

Most Canadians, says Rugman, now realize that agreements like the MAI are essential for the country’s well-being. “The only argument [economic nationalists] have left is that these agreements are an agenda for business,” says Rugman. “If you don’t like business, you have a problem today.” For Wil- son and others, however, the more serious problem is the threat to Canada’s sovereignty.

RULES OF THE GAME:

The proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment would require Canada to:

– Stop favoring Canadian companies or investors when handing out loans or privatizing Crown corporations. Among other things, this could make it harder for workers to buy their own companies.

– Lift laws requiring that a majority of a company’s directors be residents of Canada or certain provinces, or that restrict visas for foreign executives and managers.

– Openly declare which industries are completely or partly closed to foreign investment, and set a timetable for rolling back those barriers. Canada and France, for example, want to protect cultural industries, but the United States opposes such protection.

– Set up arbitration panels to rule on disputes between investors and govern- ments.

>>> View more: Printed in blood: Quebecor World’s safety record spawns U.S. campaign for worker rights

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Printed in blood: Quebecor World’s safety record spawns U.S. campaign for worker rights

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Two years ago while trying to repair a shrink-wrap machine at the Quebecor World Inc. (QW) printing plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, 50-year-old Donald Wilkerson was pulled into the machine and crushed to death. Last August, when a blaze broke out at a Memphis plant, QW’s fire-fighting equipment failed. Two people were hospitalized, one with severe burns covering a third of his body.

Based in Montreal, QW is one of the largest commercial printers in the world. It has 160 facilities in 17 countries and employs about 37,000 people, 28,000 in North America. In 2003 it posted a 2.4 percent growth in sales, and a net income of $31.4 million U.S.

Since 1998, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has slapped the company with more than 100 infractions, and fines totalling over $120,000 U.S. After Wilkerson’s death, OSHA found four more serious violations at the plant. QW was fined just over $15,000 U.S. The company is contesting the fine.

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Last December, a coalition of three unions led by the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU) launched the Justice@Quebecor campaign. The goal: to organize American QW employees and fight for workers’ rights and safety.

In addition to concerns about worker safety, GCIU alleges that in 2004 the company reduced contributions to its U.S. workers’ health insurance plans, doubling workers’ premiums. Union officials also charge that the company dropped its contributions to workers’ 401(k) retirement plans altogether.

Justice@Quebecor campaigners say that QW has disrupted its workers’ efforts to unionize. “The company threatened plant closure, intimidated people, harassed people, scared people basically to the point where they were afraid to vote for the union,” said Alan Tate, GCIU’s director of research and contracts, and the coordinator of the Justice@Quebecor campaign.

Tony Ross, QW’s director of corporate communications, has a different assessment of Quebecor’s record. “We haven’t done that at all,” he said. “We believe that our workers have the right to organize.”

Ross also denied that the company had reduced its contributions to workers’ health insurance plans, and offered this explanation for halting contributions to worker 401(k)s: “The difficulties are the environment and the economy, particularly in the U.S. Prices have dropped significantly for printing in the U.S., and as a result margins and profitability have dropped as well.”

And then there’s the worker safety issue. “What I think is more important is what our recent record is,” Ross said, adding that since 2002 the number of OSHA violations has decreased due to QW’s increased spending on safety. “In 2003 I believe we only had two violations,” he said.

In fact, according to OSHA records, the government watchdog investigated 10 possible QW violations that year. Although some 2003 cases remain open, OSHA cited eight serious violations with current fines of more than $25,000 U.S.

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The Justice@Quebecor campaign is starting to win support from some high-profile names. “I have always believed that one of the best ways to raise people out of poverty is to give them the real freedom to form a union, free of management interference and intimidation,” U.S. Democratic presidential contender John Kerry said in February. “I urge Quebecor to remain neutral when it comes to its employees’ choice to form a union.”

For more information about the campaign visit: www.justiceatquebecor.org

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The acquisitor

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THE ACQUISITOR

Pierre Peladeau already has a licence to print money in Canada – but he says that he wants much more than that. Last year, the colorful 64-year-old chairman of the Montreal-based international printing and publishing empire Quebecor Inc. acquired a licence to print bank notes for the government of Canada and several other countries as part of his $161-million purchase of 23 printing plants from BCE Inc., the Montreal-based telecommunications conglomerate. But last week, Peladeau forged ahead with his drive to expand his empire even further when he acquired control of 15 U.S. printing plants from flamboyant British media baron Robert Maxwell for $575 million. The deal will almost double Quebecor’s annual revenues to $2.6 billion, pushing it past third-place Maclean Hunter Ltd., the publisher of Maclean’s, to make it the second-largest Canadian-based media conglomerate after Kenneth Thomson’s giant Thomson Corp. And last week, a confident Peladeau said, “There’s no reason to stop now.”

Clearly, Peladeau’s voracious appetite for acquisitions has not been satisfied. But as the deals get bigger, Peladeau has had to rely more and more on help from powerful outsiders. Last week, the Montreal-born entrepreneur acknowledged that he could not have completed his biggest purchase to date without $243 million provided by his two partners in the massive buyout – Maxwell himself and the Quebec government’s increasingly aggressive pension fund manager, the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec. At the same time, the deal greatly extends Maxwell’s small existing stake in the Canadian media by giving him a 20-per-cent share of a new Quebecor subsidiary that will hold all of its Canadian and U.S. printing plants.

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Prior to last week’s deal, Quebecor already owned 46 printing plants in the United States and Canada and printed everything from The Winnipeg Sun to Le Saint-Laurent Echo. The company’s other major holdings are a forest-products company, Donohue Inc., Canada’s largest newspaper and magazine distribution company, Messageries dynamiques, and more than 60 magazines and newspapers of its own, including Le Journal de Montreal and The Sherbrooke Record. In addition, last year’s acquisition of the BCE plants gave Quebecor the lucrative contracts to print many of Canada’s telephone directories.

By purchasing Maxwell’s U.S. plants, Quebecor is acquiring long-term contracts to print certain sections of the successful mass-circulation weeklies Time and Sports Illustrated, as well as weekend magazines for several U.S. newspapers. And Maxwell will gain his 20-per-cent stake in the new venture by reinvesting $115 million of the $575 million in cash he will receive for his plants. Meanwhile, the Caisse will buy a debenture for $128 million which it can convert into a 22.5 per cent ownership stake in the new company, still leaving Peladeau with a 57.5-per-cent controlling interest.

With the addition of the new plants, Peladeau’s son, Pierre-Karl, Quebecor’s vice-president of operations, said that Quebecor now faces less of a threat than before from a recession because it has diversified its printing operations. He also rejected industry analysts’ suggestions that the deal is part of a strategy to shift operations to the United States as tariffs protecting the Canadian printing industry are removed over a five-year period under the Free Trade Agreement. He argued that Quebecor’s Canadian plants are so specialized that none are at risk. Still, one of Peladeau’s business rivals, Maclean Hunter president Ronald Osborne, cautioned that, in general, Canadian printers are hampered by higher costs than their U.S. counterparts. Said Osborne: “One of the things the Canadian printing industry has to watch out for is that its cost structure is much higher than that in the U.S. – the wage rates in particular.”

Despite the risks, the deal is, at the very least, a symbolic triumph for the outspoken Peladeau, a supporter of the separatist cause during the 1980 Quebec referendum who later chaired the Montreal Canada Day committee in 1987. Once shunned by the Montreal business establishment because of his former controversial freewheeling lifestyle and lavish parties, Peladeau now has secured his position in the front ranks of Canadian media barons after four decades in printing and publishing. A graduate of McGill University law school, Peladeau began his career in 1950 when his mother, a widowed schoolteacher, lent him $1,500 to start a community newspaper. In 1964, he pooled his earnings from several community newspapers and launched Le Journal de Montreal. He filled his new tabloid with reports of crime, sports and celebrity gossip – but pointedly, no editorials. His papers have followed the same sensational formula ever since, even though Peladeau’s own private taste in reading is for the more sedate works of 19th-century French author Honore de Balzac.

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Peladeau’s business ties with the equally hard-driving Maxwell, 66, began in 1987, when they joined forces and purchased a 55-per-cent stake in Donohue. Then, last year, Maxwell took a 25-per-cent position in Peladeau’s new English-language tabloid, the Montreal Daily News. And in a speech in Quebec City last February, the Czech-born magnate reiterated his desire to invest in every area of the Canadian communications industry.

For most of this year, however, the usually acquisitive Maxwell has been selling assets, rather than acquiring them, in order to reduce the debt generated largely by his $3-billion acquisition last year of the giant New York City-based book publisher Macmillan Inc.

Peladeau said that he would not have gone ahead without the $128 million he solicited from the Caisse. For the Caisse, the deal is the latest example of an aggressive investment strategy that has transformed it into one of the nation’s most powerful financial institutions, with assets almost three times greater than the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. In fact, there are now few major deals involving Quebec-based companies in which the Caisse does not participate, and Peladeau will undoubtedly consider it again as a backer for his next large acquisition. But last week, Peladeau declined to speculate on his next move, although he playfully targeted one of the rivals he has surpassed. Said Peladeau: “Maclean Hunter looks like a damn good acquisition right now.” Clearly his major priority at the moment remains spending money rather than printing it.

>>> Click here: Dollars in Dixie

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Dollars in Dixie

Abstract:

Most Atlanta residents support holding the 1996 Summer Olympics in their city from Jul 19 through Aug 4. Business leaders expect the games will bring $7 billion to the city and surrounding regions. The city’s infrastructure has been improved, and many new buildings will be donated to the city.

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The low-rise, cement-block structure in which Ed Taylor has run his printing business for the past 17 years sits alone in a dusty construction site hard by the commercial heart of downtown Atlanta. Until recently, Taylor’s place was surrounded by warehouses and auto-body shops. But in preparation for the Summer Olympics, those buildings were razed, mostly to make way for the city’s new Centennial Olympic Park. Coca-Cola Ltd., Atlanta’s most beloved conglomerate, is transforming the property around Taylor’s plant into a corporate theme park. While other area landholders sold or leased their sites to the giant soft-drink maker, Taylor was unable to strike a deal. The 70-year-old printer says he was ready to sell, but Coke was prepared to pay only for his land, not for his well-kept building or his moving costs. “It was simple-I could not move at my own expense,” Taylor says. “So they just decided to build around me.”

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) and its corporate sponsors have pretty much had their way in the self-proclaimed capital of the New South. Polls say that the overwhelming majority of area residents supported the bid to host the July 19-to-Aug. 4 extravaganza. The business community expects the Games to inject $7 billion into the city and outlying regions before the closing ceremonies. And Atlanta’s notoriously boosterish civic leaders are eager to promote it as a “world-class city.” As a result, contractors are racing to finish $700 million worth of new housing and sports facilities, including the 85,000-seat Olympic Stadium. Road crews clog the already hardened downtown arteries in an effort to rejuvenate the sagging infrastructure. And although a roof support at the new aquatic centre collapsed last week, organizers claimed they were still on schedule. “It’ll be close,” says ACOG press chief Bob Brennan, “but we’ll get it done.”

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Atlanta, which has promised to stage “the most memorable Olympic Games ever,” can already claim several firsts. It will be the first Olympics in which every country in the world is eligible to compete-there are no boycotts this year and, with the inclusion of North Korea late last year, no political outcasts. It is also the first Olympics to be financed entirely by the private sector-ACOG is raising the $2.3-billion cost of staging the Games through TV rights, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.

That is good news for local taxpayers, but not for fans who cling to any illusions of Olympic purity-get ready for the first Olympiad to boast “official” game shows, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. And every flat surface has been commandeered for advertising by the likes of McDonald’s, IBM and Budweiser. Atlanta may also achieve the dubious honor of being the hottest Games on record. Daytime highs during late July and early August average 32* with 90-percent humidity, and the U.S. National Weather Service is predicting a hotter-than-usual summer. “That is something that people coming here should be aware of,” warns Francois Carle, a consul in the Canadian consulate in Atlanta. “The heat and humidity-it can be very bad.”

For marathon runners and long-distance cyclists, those conditions will be especially severe. ACOG has mitigated some of the discomfort by providing air-conditioned athlete accommodations-another first-and competitors will have their choice of restaurants, a dance club and live performances by popular bands such as Hootie and the Blowfish, all within the secure confines of the Olympic Village. Organizers have also provided state-of-the-art competition venues, from the $280-million stadium where Canada’s sprint duo of Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin will vie for 100-m supremacy, to the $16-million rowing/kayaking courses on nearby Lake Lanier, where Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle will row for gold.

Undeterred by weather and cost, fans bought up the entire first issue of tickets-ranging from $8 for a spot in the baseball bleachers to $360 for a courtside view of the U.S. basketball Dream Team. Tickets to opening and closing ceremonies sold for between $270 and $800. Hotel space is scarce and expensive, so enterprising residents have made their homes available through ACOG at prices based on the properties’ assessed values.

Atlanta seemed an unlikely candidate to host the Centennial Games. Athens, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics, was the early favorite when the bidding process began in the mid-1980s. Toronto was also a contender, boasting strong government and corporate support. Billy Payne, the hard-driving lawyer who launched Atlanta’s bid in October, 1987, traded heavily on the city’s corporate clout, particularly from Coca-Cola, a worldwide Olympic sponsor. Then-Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, a onetime U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, gave the team a high profile among delegates before the vote by the International Olympic Committee’s worldwide membership.

Even with that endorsement, Atlanta scared some IOC power brokers. ACOG had absolutely no money in 1990-Payne had left his practice in 1987 and run the bid on a $2-million loan he took against some personal real estate holdings. Richard Pound, the Montreal lawyer and IOC board member, says that ACOG had to put off important matters such as starting construction of new sports facilities because it was so focused on the search for revenue. The IOC was also worried that, without some form of government support, Atlanta would have no safety net if its fund-raising efforts fell short. “I’m still a little concerned,” Pound says, “but as far as we can tell, it’ll be OK.”

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Payne was convinced that ACOG did not need public money, and he is close to being proved correct. Still, it was not an easy sell. Several big U.S. companies such as Eastman Kodak, Visa and Xerox had already spent millions to become worldwide sponsors of the Olympics. And ACOG started knocking on corporate America’s doors just as the recession began. But 10 companies, including Atlanta-based NationsBank, AT&T and Sara Lee Corp., each paid $54 million to be Games Partners, and 23 other firms paid smaller sponsorship fees for a lesser profile. With the approximately $750 million it gets as its 60-percent share of TV rights fees, and more than $270 million in ticket revenues, ACOG claims it has now secured all but $266 million of its projected costs. Organizers expect the rest will come from a second wave of ticket sales.

International officials, fearing a heavy emphasis on the home audience, have warned ACOG that choruses of “Hi y’all!” will not quite satisfy foreign visitors. France, for instance, has complained that there are too few French-speaking staffers at ACOG headquarters. Pound stated the IOC’s position in a 1994 speech at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. “It is important to remember that the Olympic Games are an international event being held in the United States,” he said bluntly, “not an American event to which a number of people with exotic accents are being invited.”

As they madly dash toward readiness, organizers face some unseen difficulties. Ministers of inner-city churches want reimbursement for lost tithes because, they say, downtown congestion will keep congregation members away during the Games. And a street vendors’ association is suing the city and ACOG for a whopping $1.2 billion for being denied vending licences during the Games. Organizers were also quick to proclaim their city safe after taking a broadside from Georgia’s attorney general, Michael Bowers, who recently suggested he would feel safer walking the streets of Sarajevo than those of Atlanta. Note to visitors: FBI statistics for 1994 did indicate that Atlanta was America’s most dangerous city in terms of violent crime-although the number of murders has actually declined since peaking in the late 1980s.

Residents, however, say they are looking forward to playing host to the world, even if it means traffic mayhem for the summer. “People will bitch about this little thing or that,” says Angelo Fuster, a former executive assistant in the mayor’s office who now runs a private consultancy. “But there is also a great pride in the city. People here want to show it off, to put on a good show.” They also stand to inherit a rich legacy from the Games. ACOG is handing over $700 million worth of facilities, from the athletes’ village (new dormitories for local universities) to the Olympic Stadium (a new ball park for the Atlanta Braves) at no charge. Downtown condominiums, built to house sponsors and IOC officials, will become low-income rental apartments.

More importantly, area voters strongly endorsed a $203-million infrastructure bill to overhaul roads, bridges and other services, particularly in the downtown core of highrise hotels and convention centres. Those improvements, and new developments spurred by the Olympics, have injected life back into a downtown that, since the postwar migration to the suburbs, had become desolate after work hours. That, more than anything else, is why Ed Taylor is an Olympics booster all the way. “The things that are being done to the city, they might have been done eventually,” says the printer. “But this has got things done sooner, and it sure helps.”

>>> View more: If It Were Not For … Recalling Wartime Experiences

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If It Were Not For … Recalling Wartime Experiences

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The oral narratives collection offers compelling recollections of the Latino war experience. Felicitas Flores tells of serving in a precursor to the modern-day Women’s Army Corps. Apolonia Abarca served on the home front as a nurse in Corpus Christi, Texas. She would go on to become something of a pioneer, helping to win the first federal grant in the United States for family planning–a health-care milestone in 1964. Abarca’s older brother was sent to Europe as a gunner in the Air Force.

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Pete Gallego tells of returning from the war feeling victorious, only to have his spirits dampened when he saw his town of El Paso, Texas, still entrenched in discriminatory practices. Undeterred, he set out to fight for desegregation in local schools.

In a moving tribute to her family, Evelyn Jasso-Garc’a chronicles her descendants’ personal histories for the project. She has detailed the wartime contributions of four uncles and her father, Joe R. Jasso. All five brothers went to war, only to have their father die while they were away. Joe, the only one of the five still living, talks about his time as a surgical technician treating the wounded from the Philippine battles and Corregidor.

The son of a laborer, Lupe Hernandez first heard of the war as a sixteen-year-old, walking back home to Lubbock, Texas, after picking cotton with his father. He begged his parents to let him go to war, finally securing their permission a year later.

A track-and-field standout at his high school, Jesse Nava would see his athletic dreams evaporate during service in the 24th Infantry Division. He returned in another capacity–that of coach–rejoining the sports culture he so enjoyed in boyhood.

Wyoming native Joseph Ram’rez remembers how he used to sing Spanish lullabies and ballads to his U.S. Navy crewmates to help them sleep. The first-generation Mexican-American became a policeman after the war and later a politician.

With fight still left in him nearly sixty years after World War II, Dominick Tripodi marched to the recruiting station after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and volunteered for service in Afghanistan. The U.S. Army applauded the Los Angeles resident’s valor but politely declined the offer, noting his age of seventy-six.

The son of Mexican immigrants, Jose Zaragosa tells of training in the then-emerging and secretive field of long-range navigation–a specialty known by its acronym LORAN–to determine the geographical position of ships or airplanes in the South Pacific theater.

Press color management – print production

A diminutive 5 feet 5 inches, Mexico-born Edward Albert Peniche of Kingwood, Texas, made giant contributions to the war effort even though he is not a U.S. citizen. In Longchamps, Belgium, Peniche would save fellow soldiers despite being wounded himself, earning him a pair of Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. A monument in Longchamps honoring those who fought in the decisive battle against German forces bears his name at its base.

Ruben Munguia would stay at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, throughout the war, running the printshop at headquarters command. That training enabled him to build a successful printing business, and he became something of a political kingmaker in local politics.

—-T.C.

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