Central America: fighting for fairer free trade

?Why we say no to the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the US? is the title of a statement prepared by the Social Apostolate Commission of the Central American Province and published in several newspapers in the region. Clearing the air of any misgivings that this is based on ideological rejection of free trade, the statement begins by explaining that the Commission is not against CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) per se; rather, it is against an unbalanced and too hastily concluded CAFTA. It is against a treaty that, in its present form, promotes the interest of the corporations rather than the public good; a treaty that protects foreign direct investments but not the rights of migrant workers; that appoints, through the World Bank and the WTO, international arbitration courts for the solution of controversies between the state and private enterprises, but does not refer labour disputes to the International Labour Office, or environmental decisions to the Kyoto Protocol. ?This is not the way?, argue the authors, before setting forth some clear and well-argued proposals. They recommend, for example, that Central American states look for more cohesion and unity so as to carry more weight in negotiations with the US giant. They ask for the inclusion of effective anti-dumping regulations to protect and reinforce food security and avoid unfair competition between small and large producers. They also highlight the need to include workers? rights, particularly those of migrant workers, together with the provision for technical cooperation initiatives. The Treaty, they conclude, can still be rejected and declared unconstitutional. For this reason, they say, ?we join with the many other sectors of Central America to make our NO sound louder and to strengthen the unity of those people who dream that another world is possible?. To read the full text of the statement (in Spanish), go to: http://www.jesuitascam.org [HL41201]