[mgj-announce] Release: MGJ Activists Disrupt CAFTA Negotiations
rob at essential.org
Mon Dec 15 09:55:00 EST 2003
For Immediate Release
December 11, 2003
Chris Doran: cell (202) 255-3143
Herb Ettel: (202) 291-2258
MGJ Activists Disrupt CAFTA Negotiations Press Conference
Rename Treaty 'Corporate America Free Theft Agreement'
(Washington, DC)- Five activists with Mobilization for Global Justice
(MGJ) were forcibly expelled Thursday from a press conference during
negotiations to finalize the Central America Free Trade Agreement at the
Mayflower Hotel. The protesters carried banners renaming CAFTA the
"Corporate America Free Theft Agreement." They chanted "CAFTA means
hunger, CAFTA means violence, we know the truth and we won't be
silenced" and "EEUU fuera de CentroAmerica" (U.S. out of Central
America). Miguel Lacayo, Minister of Economics of El Salvador, was
forced to postpone his remarks until the activists were removed. He was
in the middle of comments on his meeting with Deputy US Trade
Representative Peter Allgeier when the chants and shouts against
US-enforced corporate globalization erupted from the back of the room.
"CAFTA would extend to Central America the same gross violations of
human and labor rights resulting from NAFTA, as FTAA would to all of
South America," said Rachael Moshman, one of those expelled. "These
so-called 'free trade' treaties constitute a hemispheric race to the
bottom, with corporate lobbyists writing the rules and civil society
completely cut out."
MGJ identifies these problems as:
*Secrecy Instead of Transparency: No formal public input or oversight in
the negotiations. No draft text of the CAFTA has been made available.
* Corporate Domination Over Democracy: At the expense of democracy and
people's right to self-rule, CAFTA would give corporations power to
object to barriers to free trade, including laws people enact for their
own protection. For example, NAFTA established the right for companies
to sue governments over public-interest laws that may limit their
profits. This right has been employed 27 times by companies since 1994.
* Increased Inequality: A minority of rich companies and wealthy
stockholders will benefit from reduced costs. The poor will get poorer
and more people will move into poverty: workers will get lower pay and
lose their jobs while shouldering higher costs of living as more
services are privatized.
* Disappearing Public Services: Resources such as education, health
care, energy, and water utilities owned by everyone in a community will
more likely be taken over by corporations. This would prevent many
people from receiving these vital public services. For example, when
Cochabamba, Bolivia privatized its water utility, water rates increased
200 percent, leading to riots that resulted in six deaths and forced the
withdrawal of US-based Bechtel.
* Reduced Labor Rights: Labor laws such as those that protect worker's
safety can also be challenged and the "race to the bottom" for pay will
hurt workers in all countries involved in CAFTA.
* Devastation in the Agricultural Sector: Increased corporate domination
of farms and mass desertion of family farms in the US and Central
America, as NAFTA has devastated family farms in Mexico.
* Environmental Destruction: CAFTA, like NAFTA, would gut environmental
laws and decrease costs to companies but increase costs to local
communities which suffer more health problems as a result of pollution.
"Since the signing ten years ago of NAFTA, over 1 million U.S. jobs have
relocated to Mexico and 8 million Mexicans have fallen out of the middle
class into poverty, with one million more Mexicans now earning less than
the minimum wage of $3.40 per day," said Chris Doran, who was also
expelled. "The U.S. alone has suffered a net loss of nearly 800,000 jobs
due to NAFTA. As a result, 44 tons of hazardous waste are dumped every
day along the US-Mexico border."
CAFTA is a trade agreement being negotiated by government
representatives from the United States, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El
Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. President Bush supports CAFTA and
hopes to have an agreement sealed as quickly as possible, and to move
the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations forward faster.
The Mobilization for Global Justice is a Washington, D.C.-based
organization of groups and individuals focused on the growing problem of
corporate globalization in today's world. It sponsors educational
events, rallies and demonstrations that serve to highlight the harmful
neo-liberal economic policies carried out by unaccountable, undemocratic
international financial institutions. Visit our web site at <www.globalizethis.org>.
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