CAFTA: Increasing poverty in Central America, one policy at a time

I am sick over the recent passage of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). Most galling to me — more the dirty, unprecedented fact that Congressional “leaders” kept the roll call open far into the night while the Administration bought off the additional votes it needed, more than the incredible self-interest pork that got rolled into that barrel, more than the fact that the agreement is a terrible, horrendous, gross piece of legislation prepared only to benefit big business and wealthy investors — the most galling aspect of the whole ordeal are the incredible lies the Administration told to pass it.

There were the usual (incorrect, false, and completely idiotic) statements: American farmers, businesses, and consumers will benefit from free trade; free trade will allow for an increase in environmental protection and workers’ rights; free trade will facilitate more open and transparent societies. And it supports the notion that democracy is somehow enhanced by free trade (also incorrect, false, and completely idiotic). All these things are gross mis-representations of the truth. Privatization of public services further impoverishes the poor, puts necessary services like clean water, electricity, and health care into private companies which exploit and monopolize. “Free” trade creates a race to the bottom, where small farmers are extinguished, workers’ rights deteriorated, and jobs lost. Still, these gross statements were predictable: we heard them with NAFTA and have empirically proved them to be false again and again. But as with so many other issues, this Administration cares little about science, reason, or fact, and only about self-interest and false ideology.

What was different here was that the Administration linked CAFTA to national security and argued for it’s passage as an anti-terrorism measure. Seriously. Somehow, they managed to argue that these policies, which will destabilize the developing Americas and further impoverish the millions already living a few steps from starvation, disease, and death, are in the interest of preventing terror. It is so absurd that I can hardly believe it. CAFTA is a one-way ticket to additional de-stabilization, increased terror, greater division between rich and poor, and more marginalization for the most vulnerable in our hemisphere.

The bottom line: our version of spreading “democracy” means forcing other nations to succumb to economic and social policies where rich investors stand to benefit on the backs of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Be nice to us, or we’ll bring “democracy” to you, too.

How can they get away with this over and over and over again? Doesn’t anyone think anymore?

Some good resources:
Understanding CAFTA
Understanding Globalization (the “alphabet soup” of globalization)
Quest for Peace (understanding the FTAA, WTO and related policies and organizations)