The Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) emerged in 1997 in reaction to the advance of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) neo-liberal agenda. As a transnational coalition integrated by trade union organisations, social movements and NGOs from all over the continent, the HSA denounced the detrimental social, economic and environmental consequences of the FTAA project on the most vulnerable sectors of the populations of the Americas. This thesis examines the role of the HSA in the construction of counter-hegemonic alternativest o the FTAA project. The analysis encompassesth e time period that starts with the formation of the HSA in 1997 until the halting of the FTAA process in 2005 and draws on the political process approach of social movement theory - particularly on its notion of political opportunity structures as factors conditioning the capacity of social movements to access and control political resources for the advancement of collectively defined political goals. It is argued that the actions pursued by the HSA to construct an alternative to the FTAA have led to moderate, albeit significant, results. Considerable progress was achieved in fostering a political climate of distrust and opposition to neoliberalism throughout the Americas, which contributed to the stalling of the FTAA process in 2005. In spite of this, the HSA continues to face the challenge of building political alternatives that reflect and expand a commitment to deeper forms of democracy and sustainable development in the region
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