Opération SalAMI! is a network born in the context of a citizens' campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on Investments - the M.A.I. (In French "Salami" doesn't just stand for the famous sausage, it also means dirty friend...) It is particularly known for its non-violent blockade of the Montreal Conference on Economic Globalization in May 1998.

On this occasion, several hundred people surrounded the Sheraton Center for five hours, delaying the opening of the most important annual meeting of North America's commercial, financial, political and academic elite dealing with globalization. Operation SalAMI demanded that Canada withdraw from the negotiations on the M.A.I. The presence of one key M.A.I. player, Donald Johnston ( general secretary of the OECD, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) at the conference helped to focus the action, one of the three most important anti-M.A.I events in the world. These mobilizations on an international scale actually led to the shelving of the agreement.

In addition to the action at the Sheraton, Opération SalAMI has organized other activities jointly with Alternatives and the Groupe de Recherche sur l'intégration continentale, unions and various student, environmental and popular groups: conferences and teach-ins, two festive May 1st vigils in front of the Montreal Stock Exchange, and - not the least - the striking trial of the almost one hundred activists arrested in the Montreal blockade. All in all, Operation SalAMI's numerous activites have certainly contributed to raising awareness around the pernicious impacts of globalization.

Historically, Operation SalAMI is part of a broader movement involving hundreds of people in Quebec who have carried out important mass actions against globalization, some of them using civil disobedience tactics. The organisation's core group is made up of a network of a dozen activists, most of whom are themselves associated with organisations well established in different areas.

A prelude to the creation of Operation SalAMI called Plan G forced the day-long closing of Complexe G, a key governmental building in Quebec City, the capital of the province of Québec. The demands put forth during this action included a decent income for all, a raise in minimum wage, the reduction of the work week, free and universal social services, democratic community control of society's resources, as well as a world economy founded on fair trade and solidarity.

Initially conceived as a one-time action, Operation SalAMI has rapidly become a movement in search of a more permanent structure. Its core group is hard at work attempting to elaborate an original platform and an innovative structure.

The SalAMI network is presently studying the possibilty of organizing a blockade of the Montreal stock exchange as a nerve center of the globalization marked by speculation which is threatening the survival of our species and the whole planet. One of its aims is to contribute to the emergence of a world-wide resistance movement targeting stock exchanges in several countries. Another medium-term action under consideration is to organize a vast movement against the Summit of the Americas planned for Quebec City in the year 2001.

At the heart of the SalAMI mission for the long term is the desire to create a new form of social power with the potential to counter and even reverse the dynamics of impoverishment and destruction caused by the sway which a small elite holds over the resources and the peoples of the world. The efforts of this network are grounded in three key principles which have allowed it to carry out its campaigns with success: non-violence, training and transparency. All the activities of Operation SalAMI are permeated by a spirit of participatory democracy based in communities and groups with common objectives. These groups should become the laboratories allowing the emergence of a new ethics for humanity based on the vision of a non-violent, open and responsible world.

Philippe Duhamel

Check out the Operation SalAMI website: www.alternatives-action.org/salami