Summit winding up, as arrests mount
QUEBEC CITY, Canada (CNN) -- Leaders from 34 nations in the Western Hemisphere will sign a final accord and begin heading home Sunday, after a three-day Summit of the Americas marred by violent protests from anti-globalization demonstrators that left more than 90 people injured.
As of Sunday morning, 403 protesters had been arrested since the summit began Friday, said Constable Elaine Lavergne of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Of those, 253 were arrested Saturday night and early Sunday morning, as demonstrators battled police until almost sunrise, setting fires and shattering windows outside the security perimeter encircling the summit site.
Lavergne said 46 police officers had been injured, two of them seriously. As of Saturday night, 45 protesters had been injured, she said.
Sunday morning, after an early ecumenical service, leaders began their final working session. At midday, they are scheduled to sign a political agreement, called the Quebec Declaration, that is likely to touch on a wide variety of intra-American issues, including trade, education, poverty and drug trafficking. They will also issue a plan of action to implement the accord.
Creation of a hemisphere-wide free trade zone by 2005, covering 800 million people, is the issue that has received the most attention at the summit -- both from attendees and critics in the streets, who believe free trade and globalization will harm the poor and the environment.
U.S. President George Bush, a strong proponent of the trade bloc, reassured other regional leaders that he would push the U.S. Congress to give him so-called "trade promotion authority" by the end of the year, which would give him broad power to negotiate trade agreements without amendments by legislators.
Some other leaders have expressed reservations about proceeding with negotiations on the free-trade zone unless they can be reassured that U.S. lawmakers won't try to attach their own conditions to agreements once they are reached.
On Saturday, the American leaders agreed on an accord requiring countries to be democracies in order to participate in the proposed free-trade zone and other regional programs.
"From this day forward, the benefits of any agreements we reach will flow only to nations that abide by our democratic clause," said the summit's host, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. "We have also invited the governors of the Inter-American Development Bank to apply the democratic clause to their activities."
The only country in the hemisphere not invited to the summit was Cuba, whose Communist regime is not seen as sufficiently democratic by the other participating countries.
The Canadian leader called Saturday's sessions an "intense and productive day."
"I was impressed with the quality of our discussions, which were frank and honest," he said. "We discussed the challenges that globalization poses to democratic countries."
Throughout the day Saturday, police used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to keep demonstrators outside of the 2.3-mile security perimeter, erected to keep demonstrators away from leaders attending the summit.
A two-hour march Saturday afternoon by an estimated 30,000 demonstrators went off without incident.
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