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Why We Oppose CAFTA-DR

May 1, 2005

Action Alert on CAFTA -DR

Compiled by Shannon Laliberte with Ambika Chawla*

Under current law, legislators can only vote yes or no on the pact — they cannot amend it… [CAFTA] has become a referendum on broader trade policy that many House Democrats, organized labor and some Republicans believe is fueling a growing trade deficit and harming U.S. workers. The opposition, so far, has been too much for the administration to overcome. ‘I can't see the president taking it to Congress until he has the votes. If he had the votes, he would have sent it already,… 1

CAFTA-DR (Central America- Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement) grew out of the Bush administration’s failure to advance negotiations in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), designed to extend North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras (all three have officially ratified CAFTA to date), Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On August 5, 2004, the Dominican Republic signed onto the agreement, thereby making it the Central America- Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).

CAFTA-DR promises improved worker well-being, respect for workers’ rights, as well as abundance to farmers, consumers and corporate America; additionally, proponents promise that ratification of CAFTA-DR would result in “level[ing] the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses and strengthens democracies in our neighborhood.”2 Unfortunately that has not been the case for CAFTA-DR’s predecessor, NAFTA, whose policies have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, Americans and Canadians losing their jobs, thousands of family farms facing foreclosure and public interest laws taking a back seat to secret NAFTA court negotiations and rulings.

The FTAA was the initial effort to expand NAFTA throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean (excluding Cuba); negotiations started directly after NAFTA was ratified in 1994 and were supposed to be finished by January 2005.3 CAFTA-DR was designed to ease the rest of the Western hemisphere into the integrated market and the Bush administration is putting increasing pressure on the countries of Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina to either amend the agreements now or be left out all together. FTAA negotiations have not been successful due to strong resistance from social movements as well as opposition from national governments throughout the continent. CAFTA-DR faces the same opposition.

Corporate America, the real beneficiary of any of the free trade agreements with the Central American countries, is anxious for Congress to approve CAFTA-DR by May of 2005; additionally, numerous ambassadors from the CAFTA countries are courting U.S. corporate interests and Congress in support of the agreement. Labor rights, human rights and environmental rights groups are just some of the organizations at the forefront of the resistance movement against the ratification of CAFTA-DR. Additional groups fighting CAFTA-DR’s ratification are the textile and sugar industries, thereby ensuring some normally pro-trade Republicans will also not support CAFTA-DR.

Central America Is Not For Sale!

A Central American-wide coalition of trade unions, peasant and indigenous organizations, women’s and environmental groups, and non-governmental organizations have joined forces against CAFTA-DR to declare that Central America Is Not For Sale. They are demanding their right to defend alternative models of social and economic development benefiting the majority of people in their countries and not multinational corporations.4

• In El Salvador, recent national elections saw the resistance against the politicians most closely tied up with big business challenged by a close race; although they lost, the people were not discouraged. The resistance movement is strong, with 500,000 people (led by doctors intent on maintaining equitable healthcare access for all), filling the streets of El Salvador determined to demand that their government heal their communities from the devastations of war with jobs and prosperity. According to Dr. Ricardo Navarro, Director of CESTA: Friends of the Earth El Salvador, “That has not turned out to be the case. So now people are getting organized again and I see the flames coming. It's like there was a big fire 20 years ago. Now the fire is just starting again, but you know, flames spread quickly in the right conditions. This is what is happening in El Salvador .” 5

• El Salvador’s public sector unions have been working to prevent the privatization of public services such as electricity and health care. These workers are not giving up despite being attacked by the riot police and the pressure of their constitutional rights stripped in order to coerce them to desert their unions.6

• On March 15, 2005 two protestors in Guatemala (Colotenango, Huehuetenango) were killed and at least 25 injured when the Guatemalan military fired into a crowd of workers, teachers and farmers demonstrating for human rights.7 What spurred the protests was the March 10th ratification of CAFTA-DR by the Guatemalan Congress. Rowdy protestors took to the streets on March 14, 2005 demanding that CAFTA-DR not be given final approval by the Guatemalan president. The government responded by guaranteeing that a dialogue process would be initiated but by March 15 2005, President Oscar Berger went back on the agreement and finalized his approval of CAFTA-DR. 8

• Opposition in the United States is growing as well: protestors disrupted CAFTA-DR talks in Cincinnati, New Orleans, Houston and Washington, D.C. Opposition efforts have already succeeded in upsetting recent FTAA negotiations and it is hoped that these small successes will lead to the defeat of CAFTA-DR.9

• Early May 2005, the Bush administration suffered a setback in its efforts to win Congressional approval for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, after an influential group of pro-free trade Democratic lawmakers came out against the deal. The House New Democrat Coalition, which has traditionally supported trade deals, said the deal provided inadequate guarantees of workers' rights in Central America and condemned the administration for cutting support for U.S. workers displaced by trade. “Free trade cannot simply mean reducing barriers,” said Ellen Tauscher of California, chair of the New Democrat Coalition. “We are ardent supporters of free trade but this deal reduces our ability to enforce labor standards.”

This Opposition Is Not New.

• In July 2002, the third of three regional Mesoamerican Forums (this time held in Managua, Nicaragua) brought together 1,200 delegates and observers of more than 350 organizations of civil society throughout Central America in an effort to discuss alternatives to the proposed detrimental development schemes of CAFTA-DR and the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP). It was agreed that mass coordinated direct actions would be carried out throughout five Central American countries and parts of the United States on October 21, 2002.10 Nearly 40,000 protestors were part of the coordinated disruptions throughout the Central American region.11 23,000 people from Mexico City to San Jose, Costa Rica were in the streets protesting under the banner "The Call of the Excluded." 11 different actions were carried out and succeeded in closing down four of El Salvador’s major border highways and bridges essential to commerce in El Salvador.12

• In addition to organizing the coordinated October 12th protests, the meeting in Managua resulted in a very clear declaration of resistance by opposition groups, asserting:

“We have agreed to a total rejection of the Plan Puebla Panama, the FTAA and the free trade agreements, because we are convinced that they are contrary to the sustainable development of our people, ruin biodiversity, deepen poverty and increase the debt. Likewise [these plans and agreements] are an expression of the interests of the US government, which is intent on building a free trade zone at its service and that of the multinational corporations, to the detriment of our most fundamental rights.13 (emphasis in original)

• It is estimated that over at least 100,000 small farmers demonstrated in Mexico City on January 31, 2003 to demand that NAFTA’s agricultural provisions be renegotiated.14 This resistance does not bode well for CAFTA-DR!

General Facts About CAFTA – DR

10 years of NAFTA have shown just how devastating these agreements can be for working families and the environment. In the maquilladora zones along the US-Mexico border, wages are low, union organizing is suppressed, and industrial pollution has dramatically increased cases of hepatitis and birth defects among workers. NAFTA should be repealed, not expanded.15

• According to Kevin Gallagher, research associate at the Global Development and Environment Institute at the Tufts University “The U.S. Congress should also think twice before ratifying CAFTA. According to the U.S. government, CAFTA will only benefit the U.S. economy by one hundredth of one percent after it is fully implemented… A more recent study conducted by two researchers at Yale University examined the relationship between investment agreements and investment flows in the world economy… What they found was a negative relationship. The countries that had signed investment agreements with the U.S. government received less investment. The best way for CAFTA to help the U.S. economy is to ensure that Central American countries develop their economies so they can import more U.S. products in the future. Without the type of investment that boosts the growth of the domestic market, that development won’t occur.” 16

• The U.S. proponents of CAFTA-DR have focused on the benefits that America will experience economically with open trade with these countries. History however makes it clear that CAFTA-DR will only further the trade deficit that the U.S. has experienced since 1997 due to trade with these countries—NAFTA increased the deficit and so will CAFTA-DR!

• Turnaround exports to the Central American countries during the period of 1997 to 2004 rose nearly 60%; that’s much lower than the 234% increase in the U.S. global trade deficit.17 Despite all of the accolades of CAFTA-DR, the evidence is not there to substantiate proponents’ claims of economic benefit.

• Central American domestic industries are in cahoots with foreign industry and are just as adamant about getting CAFTA-DR passed as is the Bush administration and the corporate interests here in the U.S. Central American governments are pushing three issues for support of CAFTA-DR, claiming that the agreement will not provide charity, rather it will provide opportunity to the Central American countries and its citizens:

1. CAFTA-DR will bring more jobs to Central American countries, which suffers from high unemployment rates.

2. CAFTA-DR will ensure competition which will result in increased efficiency and productivity.

3. CAFTA-DR will ensure that goods and services will be cheaper.18

The truth behind claims that CAFTA-DR will increase export revenues for Central American countries is that it will probably only increase exports from enterprises that specialize in low wage labor (i.e., maquilladoras). Local small agricultural enterprises are very concerned because CAFTA-DR will more than likely result in their destruction, due to the competition with foreign agribusiness that is better funded through subsidies.19

• CAFTA-DR proponents talk of increased foreign investment in Central American countries if the agreement is accepted, but experience with NAFTA proves that the increased economic efficiency of a country does not illicit increased capital flows to the countries. Rather the only real source of capital flowing into the countries out of foreign markets are the monies sent home by those who have migrated out of their communities looking for the promised jobs.

•Passing of CAFTA-DR will lead to the expansion of the stalled free trade agreement throughout all of Latin America and the Caribbean countries (excluding Cuba) called the Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA. Currently, Venezuela, Brazil and other South American and Caribbean countries have stood in strong opposition to the FTAA and have succeed in disrupting recent FTAA talks20

• The CAFTA-DR is being pushed through in the region through cooercion! In response to a senior trade official’s statement (as reported by La Nacion on March 18, 2005) who claimed, “Allow me to be absolutely clear on this point: in order to benefit from duty-free access to the U.S., the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic will have to ratify CAFTA,” Representative Rangel, a leading House Democrat said, “It seems to me that if this trade agreement is as good for the region as the Administration claims, why has the Bush Administration resorted to threats to get other countries to accept it? If the Administration persists in trying to build a so-called coalition of the willing through threats then it diminishes further America's standing in the world.21

• Central American countries are not equally represented in CAFTA-DR negotiations: the combined GDP of the Central American countries is only 0.5% of the entire U.S. GDP and requires that market liberalization of the majority of sectors be guaranteed.22 The U.S. has tried to sweeten the deal for the obviously uneven trade agreement by guaranteeing that certain Central American sectors will be given increased market access (with regard to international trade, market access indicates the conditions under which a good or service can compete with locally-made goods; for the WTO, market access indicates that imports not be subject to discriminatory conditions) such as textiles and sugar. The Washington Office on Latin America says of the obvious discrepancies in the deal, “Analysts expect that--as occurred in Mexico--CAFTA will attract foreign direct investment and boost Central American exports in certain sectors, but will provide little benefit to the rural and urban poor of the region.” 23

Corporate Domination and Secrecy Replaces Democracy With Any NAFTA, CAFTA-DR or FTAA Negotiations!

Free trade agreements like CAFTA-DR would weaken regulatory measures and open the way for increased corporate exploitation in Central America and the U.S. The examples of Enron and WorldCom show how corporations in the United States use the deregulated "free" market to destroy lives in the name of profit. CAFTA-DR would give companies free reign in Central America, obliterating the democratic process by robbing citizens of the power to shape their own destinies.24

• CAFTA-DR’s Chapter 10 includes provisions similar to NAFTA’s Chapter 11 investor rights, allowing foreign corporations to sue national governments for instituting laws that cause or prevent loss of profit to corporations.25

• Such provisions are further complicated by the fact that secret tribunals, whose members are unknown by the public, would hear these cases and mete out rulings that cannot be appealed and that can overturn local, state, national and international laws that protect human, labor and environmental rights. The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala says, “Such elements of CAFTA would erode democracy and allow for decisions to be made behind closed doors that would affect the lives and well being of millions people.”26

• CAFTA-DR’s Chapter 10 provisions are particularly problematic because of the following three reasons:

1. Chapter 10 does not allow governments to differentiate between foreign and local industries; and if it is found that a country has discriminated against a foreign corporation or investors to privilege local industry, that country can be sued.

2. Chapter 10 eliminates a country’s ability to control foreign investor and corporations’ practices; disallowing the government to regulate the use of raw and secondary materials within its borders, thereby tolerating foreign industry’s import of all necessary materials, providing only low paying jobs for locals and exporting all profits.

3. Chapter 10, modeled after NAFTA’s Chapter 11, gives priority to investors over local communities and governments, particularly threatening to labor and environmental laws. Local and national governments are allowed to draft protective laws, but by doing so are subject to discriminatory law suits from foreign governments and corporations.27

• CAFTA-DR furthers the corporate takeover of democratic processes and allows for continued increase in “corporate citizen” rights demanded by foreign corporations, which will ultimately supersede the rights of the people of any CAFTA-DR country. For example, the U.S. based Harken Oil Company is claiming that Costa Rican environmental regulations not only halted the company’s oil exploration plan, but inhibited investor profits and is demanding payment of $57 billion to be paid to the company for compensation. This and another 24 cases pending under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 provisions have strengthened foreign investor protections under CAFTA-DR.28

Public Services Thrown Out With The Garbage!

Central American social movements have fought long and hard to ensure that privatization of public services does not happen, better ensuring equal access for all. CAFTA- DR threatens these protections as it will ensure that these public services are open to liberalization and privatization. This is especially worrisome for women and service workers’ job security.29 According to Ambika Chawla, Coordinator of Friends fo the Earth and Via Campesina’s Central American is Not for Sale campaign, “The Ratification of CAFTA-DR would lead to the liberalization and subsequent privatization of the services sector in Central America. As a result, basic, public services which were once available to the general population will become increasingly inaccessible and unaffordable to the them: Women and children will be especially affected by these trade policies, as they comprise approximately 2/3rds of the region's economically poor.”

Humanitarian international health organizations are concerned about the general effect of CAFTA-DR and resulting attached decrees on the accessibility of communities to much needed life-saving treatments and medicines. Intellectual property provisions in CAFTA-DR (and the attached decrees) could make newer medicines unaffordable and give preferential treatment to brand name drugs, making the overall number of people unable to afford, for example HIV/AIDS anti-retro-viral medicines.30 It is estimated that there will be an 800% increase in the cost of medicines under CAFTA-DR’s intellectual property provisions.31

Guatemala’s Decree 31-88 requires that drug testing results be kept secret for a minimum of five years and so allows only the use of originator “brand name” drugs, delaying the possibility of generic, more affordable versions of the same drugs. According to Ellen ‘t Hoen, director of policy advocacy for Doctors Without Borders’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, “There is no reason that Guatemala should not be able to ensure universal access to ARV treatment, particularly because of a $41 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria... But with Decree 31-88 and intellectual property provisions in DR-CAFTA, only a fraction of those in need may be treated. Instead of ensuring access to affordable medicines for all Guatemalans, the Congress has apparently chosen to protect the interests of large multinational pharmaceutical companies. This is simply unacceptable.”32

CAFTA-DR Hurts Women!

Women in Latin America, particularly indigenous and rural women, are the poorest of the poor, and are among the first to feel the impact of trade liberalization policies. 33

• CAFTA-DR requires that ratified countries implement existing labor laws, excluding those that address termination of employment and workplace discrimination. Human Rights Watch points out that under CAFTA-DR, states are not required to ensure that their domestic anti-discrimination laws comport with international standards, nor even to enforce their existing laws. So, for example, Guatemala could continue to allow the widespread practice of illegal pregnancy-based discrimination in its export processing zones and still be in compliance with CAFTA-DR. 34

• According to the 2002 World Food Program Report 1 in 4 Central Americans continue to suffer from hunger or food security. With women as the primary providers of proper nutrition and health for children, the sick and the elderly, liberalization of agriculture will only further complicate the lives of women.35

• CAFTA-DR could lead to the migration of workers from rural areas to urban centers due to loss of agricultural jobs. As a result, an increasing number of young women will be forced to work in maquilladora factories, known for sweatshop-like working conditions and prevalence of sexual harassment and discrimination of women workers. 36

• Migration affects men as well as women: with the increase in job loss, Central Americans will be forced to migrate to the United States in search of jobs that can provide for their families needs—interrupting family and community life. Already 200,000-300,000 Central Americans desperately make their way to the United States each year, only to find themselves amidst an anti-immigrant climate as well as faced with poor working conditions. 37

Labor Rights Will Be Severely Limited, Or Completely Eradicated

Claims by the U.S. and Central American governments that workers rights will be respected and protected under CAFTA-DR seem farcical given the current repression now occurring in the region. In Guatemala, union members, peasant organizers, and human rights activists face an increasing climate of government repression, including murder and kidnapping. Social movements and unions are also under attack in Honduras and Nicaragua. 38

• Although the drafters of CAFTA-DR paid particular attention to the recently enacted Bipartisan Promotion Trade Authority (better known as the “Fast Track Authority) tenets of ensuring that trade agreements include respect for workers’ right, Human Rights Watch has said that CAFTA-DR has fundamental flaws in its attention to workers’ rights. According to the HRW, CAFTA-DR fails to comply with even the most basic, internationally recognized labor protections. “In particular, CAFTA establishes that parties shall ensure ‘appropriate access’ and ‘fair, equitable and transparent tribunals’ to redress labor law violations. These provisions are not enforceable, however, and if a country fails to uphold them, it does not face meaningful penalties under CAFTA.”39

•Labor laws in many of the Central American countries do not meet international labor rights protection standards and there is no mechanism that adequately addresses this issue in CAFTA-DR. Additionally, funding for the few protective mechanisms required by CAFTA-DR is not addressed at all by the agreement.40

• Legislative agendas of many U.S. labor groups are focused on defeating the ratification of CAFTA-DR. According to the AFL-CIO “… CAFTA, like NAFTA, is a job loser with no labor rights and protections41

• Since the beginning of NAFTA, 900,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to Mexico alone and CAFTA-DR will only create more of the same. 42

• According to Alan Tonelson, of American Economic Alert, “Outsourcing is the real result of CAFTA-DR; this current agreement is just the latest in a series of pacts that result in exporting manufacturing to low labor-cost countries and selling the output to the United States.” 43Despite the numbers reported by the U.S. government as to the importance that CAFTA-DR countries provide to the U.S. export economy, Tonelson says that they actually represent a figure that is relative to the economy of the state of Connecticut—not as hefty a deal as the supporters of CAFTA-DR would lead us to believe. Although the amount is still nothing to scoff at, the export commodities are termed “turnaround exports,” or rather they are not final products that are consumed abroad but instead are assembled and shipped back to the United States for consumption. Tonelson’s main argument is that the assembling of these “piece products” used to be done in America but have since been outsourced to other countries, some of them being the Central American countries. This has resulted in the loss of American jobs and has lowered wages. CAFTA-DR would only serve to perpetuate and inflame this process.44

The U.S. Textile Industry is Hesitant to Back CAFTA-DR


If the Bush administration had developed a trade policy with any sense of priorities, NAFTA or CAFTA-DR or any of the individual outsourcing agreements might have made sense on its own terms. Instead, Bush, like his predecessor, has simply opened the U.S. market to imports indiscriminately. The results are an America strapped with dangerous debt levels and increasingly unable to produce and export itself back to long-term financial health. It’s certainly not a record that Congress should reward by ratifying CAFTA-DR.

• The American Textile Manufacturers Institute claims that between 10 and 15 U.S. textile mills will close immediately upon ratification of CAFTA-DR, meaning that thousands of U.S. jobs would be lost.46 ß The textile industry is the leading export commodity for the U.S. with regard to the Central American countries. Exports to the region reached $2.6 billion last year.47This industry is wary of CAFTA-DR because of the failures and unfulfilled promises of NAFTA. Thousands of textile and apparel jobs shifted to Mexico with the ratification of NAFTA and created a 36% loss of jobs in the last four years and now only employs about 673,400 people.48

• According to Roger Chastain, president of Mount Vernon Mills Inc., a Mauldin, South Carolina company which manufactures and exports denims, twills and fabrics used to make pockets and other garment linings, “CAFTA is just another way to give away U.S. jobs.” Mr. Chastain is concerned that the current preference for use of U.S.-manufactured goods will be usurped by the CAFTA-DR provisions and consequently lead to foreign-import priority.49

Small Farmers Will Be Replaced by Big Agribusiness!

"Who's the winner here? . . . They are America's producers.”50CAFTA-DR would remove all tariff barriers which Central American countries now have on imported agricultural products. This would allow cheaply grown and heavily subsidized U.S. corn and other basic grains to flood local markets. Small farmers in Central America, already devastated by the importation of cheaply grown U.S. basic grains, years of drought, and the massive fall of coffee prices on the world market, would face the extinction of their livelihoods .51

• CAFTA-DR will hurt family farmers in Central America. The fact is that the majority of the duties that are currently in place are protective of the countries’ internal interests and economies. With the ratification of CAFTA-DR those duties would be removed and the smaller countries would be forced to give preference to import crops, thereby putting local small farmers and agri-businesses (that produce the same crops) at the bottom of the priority list and ultimately out of business. For example, Guatemala’s corn agri-business has been devastated by the influx of U.S. corn into the local economy and has resulted in the destruction of many local farmers’ only source of income. These policies have resulted in severe malnutrition and hunger in 102 of the 331 municipalities in that region.52

• According to George Naylor, President of the National Family Farm Coalition “since the inception of NAFTA, over a million Mexican producers have been forced out of agriculture and it is estimated that up to 600 poverty stricken peasants leave their communities every day, heading to the United States to look for work.53

• U.S. State agricultural directors have officially denied support of CAFTA-DR, despite the Bush administration’s persuasions to support it. During the recent February 21st Marketing and International Trade Committee meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), the group voted unanimously to oppose CAFTA-DR.54The normally pro-trade NASDA has a good reason for opposing CAFTA-DR: in the words of Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Scuse, “… we're more concerned about how CAFTA affects farmers than how it affects trade…The point was to send a message… That message is, ‘I work for farmers who risk everything every day ... and I don't believe they're getting a fair deal in deals like this.’55

The Environmental Impact Will Be Devastating!

Solid waste issues are another main point of contention of environmental rights groups; for example, maquilladora factories produce much waste and contribute excess loads of garbage to the local communities. In Central American countries where the ability to deal with excessive amounts of waste is lacking, refusal to address these issues by the CAFTA-DR’s proponents, will have a devastating effect on the local communities.56

• Under NAFTA the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi was forced to allow the U.S. to build a toxic waste site, run by the U.S. Metalclad Corporation. According to NAFTA Chapter 11 regulations, the Mexican government was found to be guilty of seizing Metalclad’s property illegally, even though it had secured all appropriate permits to build the site. Under Chapter 11, the Mexican federal government was required to pay the corporation $16 million in damages (plus interest). We can expect more of the same from CAFTA-DR pro-foreign industry provisions. 57

• When small farmers are pushed off the land and forced to move into the urban centers, it leaves the precious rural areas vulnerable to development of roads and other destructive projects. Additionally, this development and deforestation ecologically undermines the water supplies, which are already under threat of privatization. 58

• Local fishing industries are also being threatened. As commercial zones are increasing and regulatory controls are undermined, allowing for larger enterprises to move into areas previously zoned solely for small fisherman and their use of larger nets. This destructive practice not only catches more of the fish, it also sweeps up other species that have been left alone by small fisherman, like sea turtles. This is just one example of the ways in which plant and marine biodiversity is gravely threatened by CAFTA-DR.59

• CAFTA-DR provisions on investment assure foreign industries the same protections as domestic industries. This is a huge problem since in many of the Central American countries there are no regulations preventing industries from destroying the environment in an effort to produce the goods they manufacture. As a result, foreign investors and industries will not be encouraged to manage natural resources nor analyze their impact on the local environment.60

• Through CAFTA-DR, biotech companies are able to circumvent the very weak rules that currently exist in many of the Central American countries; labeling is fought against as well, as it purportedly goes against trade treaties. Drift contamination is a big concern for many environmentalists and farmers, but with the weak resistance from the governments the negative consequences of genetically modified crops will have to be suffered by these countries. 61

• The Multinational Monitor points out that the overwhelming prospects for profit lies in the hands of the corporations and one such means of doing so includes the opportunity to take money out of the region through harvesting of Central America’s rich biodiversity. This is facilitated by the process of under-regulated intellectual property rights.62


What You Can Do To Stop CAFTA-DR

• Call your representatives today and urge them to uphold a public position against free trade negotiations that do not respect human rights, such as NAFTA, CAFTA-DR and FTAA.

• You can visit the United States House of Representatives website at to contact your representative by email. Or you can call the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-839-5276 and ask the operator to transfer you to your representative’s office.

• You can also visit the official Stop CAFTA coalition website,, to keep updated on the status of CAFTA-DR negotiations, as well as for accessing activist tips for stopping CAFTA-DR and for notification of direct actions in your community and abroad.

End Notes

1. Sparshott, Jeffrey, “A Tough Sell,” the Washington Times,

2. “Three CAFTA countries ratify FTA,” National Association of Wheat Growers Newsletter, 3/12/05,

3. “Free Trade Area of the Americas,” Global Exchange online, 4/15/05,

4. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

5. “An Invitation to Disaster Corporate Power and Central America’s Environmental Future Under CAFTA,” Multinational Monitor (Vol. 25, Number 4), April 2004,

6. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

7. Sweeney, John J., “A bad deal on free trade,” Boston Globe online, 3/21/05,

8. “Demonstrators shot and killed by Guatemalan Army,” Global Exchange online, 3/16/05,

9. “Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement,” Global Exchange,

10. Pickard, Miguel, “PPP: Plan Puebla Panama, or Private Plans for Profit?” CorpWatch, 9/19/02,

11. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

12. Conrad, Erlinda, “23,000 mobilised in El Salvador on Oct. 12,” Indy Media website, 10/14/02,

13. “October 12: World wide Protests,” Independent Media Center Chiapas, 10/14/05,

14. Pickard, Miguel, “PPP: Plan Puebla Panama, or Private Plans for Profit?” CorpWatch, 9/19/02,

15. “CAFTA by the Numbers: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Public Citizen online,

16. “Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement,” Global Exchange,

17. Gallagher, Kevin P., CAFTA is False Promise,” International Relations Center, 3/21/05,

18. Tonelson, Alan, “CAFTA: The Classic Outsourcing Agreement,” American Economic Alert, 3/7/05,

19. “An Invitation to Disaster Corporate Power and Central America’s Environmental Future Under CAFTA,” Multinational Monitor (Vol. 25, Number 4), April 2004,

20. Ibid.

21. “Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement,” Global Exchange,

22. Pickard, Miguel, “PPP: Plan Puebla Panama, or Private Plans for Profit?” CorpWatch, 9/19/02,

23. “Rep. Rangel Reacts to Reported “Threat” from Administration Official to CAFTA Countries,” House of Representatives official Press Release website, 3/22/05,

24. “US-Central American Free Trade Agreement,” Washington Office on Latin America online, 2/16/05,

25. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. “CAFTA’s Chapter 10: ‘A Threat to Local Autonomy,’” SHARE Foundation online, 5/18/04,

29. “CAFTA by the Numbers: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Public Citizen online,

30. International Gender and Trade Network & the Center of Concern, “Gender Impacts of CAFTA,”

31. “New Guatemalan Law and Intellectual Property Provisions in DR-CAFTA Threaten Access to Affordable Medicines,” Reuters AlertNet Foundation, 3/11/05,

32. Ibid.

33. “CAFTA by the Numbers: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Public Citizen online,

34. Pickard, Miguel, “PPP: Plan Puebla Panama, or Private Plans for Profit?” CorpWatch, 9/19/02,

35. “Free Trade Agreements: A Human Rights Perspective,” Washington Office on Latin America, 2/16/05,

36. “Pregnancy-Based Sex Discrimination in the Dominican Republic’s Free Trade Zones: Implications for the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA): A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper,” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, 4/04,

37. International Gender and Trade Network & the Center of Concern, “Gender Impacts of CAFTA,”

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

41. Human Rights Watch, “CAFTA’s Weak Labor Rights Protections: Why the Present Accord Should be Opposed,” March 2004, A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, a copy of which can be found on the HRW website:

42. Ibid.

43. Gruenberg, Mark, “Retirement Security, CAFTA to Top Labor’s Legislative Agenda,” International Labor Communications Association, 3/4/05,

44. Ibid.

45. Tonelson, Alan, “CAFTA: The Classic Outsourcing Agreement,” American Economic Alert, 3/7/05,

46. Ibid.

47. Ibid.

48. “CAFTA by the Numbers: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Public Citizen online,

49. Sparshott, Jeffrey, “A Tough Sell,” the Washington Times,

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. International Gender and Trade Network & the Center of Concern, “Gender Impacts of CAFTA,”

53. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

54. International Gender and Trade Network & the Center of Concern, “Gender Impacts of CAFTA,”

55. Naylor, George, “CAFTA No Benefit for North American and Central American Family Farmers,” Our World Is Not for Sale Network, 2/17/05,

56. “State Ag Directors Oppose CAFTA,” Illinois Farm Bureau, 3/8/05,

57. Guebert, Alan, “Whacking CAFTA,” The Globe Gazette, 3/6/05,

58. “An Invitation to Disaster Corporate Power and Central America’s Environmental Future Under CAFTA,” Multinational Monitor (Vol. 25, Number 4), April 2004,

59. “CAFTA Negotiations Have Begun!” Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,

60. “An Invitation to Disaster Corporate Power and Central America’s Environmental Future Under CAFTA,” Multinational Monitor (Vol. 25, Number 4), April 2004,

61. Ibid.

62. Ibid.

63. Ibid.

64. Ibid.

Action Alert on CAFTA -DR

*Shannon Laliberte is the Research Associate at the Oakland Institute. Ambika Chawla, a Fellow at the Oakland Institute, is the Coordinator of Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina's "Central America is Not for Sale" campaign.