babble home - news for the rest of us
today's active topics

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » current events   » international news and politics   » Costa Rica vote on CAFTA

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Costa Rica vote on CAFTA
Babbler # 2938

posted 06 October 2007 04:05 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Tomorrow (Oct. 7) Costa Rica will vote on ratificating CAFTA. Depsite being outspent heavily, and subject to dirty tricks, polls who an edge to the No side.


Business groups are solidly behind the deal, saying it's the best way to bullet-proof trading relations with the United States, the destination for about half of Costa Rican exports of coffee, fruit, apparel and high-tech products, and its biggest source of direct foreign investment.

Volio said the trade deal would mean lower prices, faster growth, continued U.S. investment and jobs. Costa Rica is experiencing sluggish economic growth and has high unemployment.

''Costa Rica is at a crossroads,'' Volio said. ``This is about our future.''

Opponents are wary of the U.S.-prescribed recipe of unfettered trade and privatization for the region. Some portray CAFTA as an attack on their nation's unique social model. Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949, choosing instead to invest in education, universal healthcare and social programs that have made it a prototype of human development for the region.

Foes say the benefits of CAFTA will flow mainly to Costa Rica's elite, making the country more like its impoverished neighbors.

However, the pro-corporate elite has suffered a backlash from their planned dirty tricks:


But that was before a memo written by CAFTA advocates was leaked to the public this month, fueling outrage here. The document, dated July 29 and written by two high-level government officials with close ties to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, outlined a campaign of dirty tricks intended to sway voters.

The authors proposed smearing CAFTA opponents by linking them to leftist firebrands such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Cuban President Fidel Castro. They called for a public relations campaign to ''stimulate fear'' among citizens about the alleged dangers of snubbing the deal. They also advocated punishing local officials -- by withholding funds -- if their constituents repudiated CAFTA.

As a result,


The polling company Unimer found that 55 percent of those polled said they opposed the agreement, while 43 percent supported it, the newspaper La Nacion reported. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5 percent, and questioned 1,202 people between Sept. 27 and Oct. 2.

. . . .

A minimum of 40 percent of Costa Rica's 2.6 million voters must participate for the poll to be valid.

And, of course, the U.S. administration is making its usual threats:


Costa Rica could lose valuable access to the U.S. market if the country rejects a free-trade agreement with the United States when voters go to the polls on Sunday, a top U.S. official said.

The United States respects Costa Rica's sovereign right to decide whether to join the pact, "but, I hope whatever decision is made is based on the facts," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement on Thursday.

"It is difficult to imagine any U.S. administration renegotiating the current agreement or negotiating a new trade agreement with Costa Rica if this agreement is rejected. The opportunity for Costa Rica to enjoy the benefits of regional free trade is now," Schwab said.

From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
Babbler # 8273

posted 06 October 2007 08:52 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In fact, the threats from the US government, and repeated by the Costa Rican proponents of CAFTA, are empty. There is only a small portion of Costa Rica’s trade preferences that Congress would have to renew next year. It is politically inconceivable that the Democratic majority in Congress - which voted against CAFTA when it was approved here - would move to punish Costa Rica for its voters having rejected the same agreement.

Despite the intimidation, Costa Ricans brought a record 100,000 people (equivalent to seven million in the US) into the streets last weekend for a “No” vote. They have good reasons to reject CAFTA: they do not want their farmers wiped out by subsidized grains and other agricultural products from the U.S. They also have a strong environmental movement that vehemently objects to provisions in CAFTA - like NAFTA - that would give corporations new legal rights to challenge environmental laws. And Mexico’s post-NAFTA economic performance - about a third of its pre-1980 growth - is less than inspiring.

Of course “free trade” is a marketing slogan rather than a description of the actual policy that is up for a vote. These agreements - including CAFTA — increase some of the most costly barriers to international trade (such as in pharmaceuticals) while lowering others (e.g. for subsidized US agricultural exports). Source

One of the things that Costa Ricans in particular are afraid of is they have free, universal health care. And one of the ways they're able to pay for that is with cheap generic drugs. But the U.S. has forced some intellectual propterty provisions into CAFTA that would force Costa Rica to go with more expensive name-brand drugs, produced by U.S. pharmaceuticals....

Free trade in general has winners and losers. And some of the main losers are poor people -- people who are farmers, who have relied on a certain amount of protectionism to make their goods competitive within Costa Rica. In its first year so far, the big winner has been the U.S. Eports to the five CAFTA countries have grown by more than 16 percent in CAFTA's first year. Source

From our Christian faith, we say that God’s love is for everyone, but with a priority for the poor, people with disabilities, women, indigenous, small farmers, street children and workers. Therefore, loyally exercising our church mission and being faithful to Jesus and our Christian and Protestant faith, we join our voice to the movement for a NO vote on CAFTA-DR. We cannot support a law that is unjust and centered around greed. - Costa Rican Lutheran Church

[ 06 October 2007: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ken Burch
Babbler # 8346

posted 07 October 2007 03:18 PM      Profile for Ken Burch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

Given the tactics the leaders of my country have traditionally used in Central America,
did the "business groups" really HAVE to say the deal was "the best way to bullet-proof" trade relations with El Norte?

[ 07 October 2007: Message edited by: Ken Burch ]

From: A seedy truckstop on the Information Superhighway | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2938

posted 08 October 2007 03:37 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Despite the final pre-election polls cited above, Arias and the media claim it passed. Ahead 52-48 with 90% of the vote in.

From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 560

posted 08 October 2007 05:21 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wow. I didn't know this was happening. I didn't even know what CAFTA was before this thread.

Thanks for posting it.

From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 7851

posted 08 October 2007 07:32 AM      Profile for ceti     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
People have been fighting CAFTA for years, ever since FTAA seemed doomed, as early as 2003.

It'll be interesting to see how the yes vote managed to pull it off (big question there)... Too close once again after the usual fear campaign, but something is fishy.

From: various musings before the revolution | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2938

posted 08 October 2007 07:55 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Money, fear and fraud.
From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 14593

posted 08 October 2007 04:37 PM      Profile for I AM WOMAN     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is very disheartening. I was really hoping this wouldn't pass.
From: tall building | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2938

posted 09 October 2007 04:25 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

On Monday, organizations against DR-CAFTA contested the referendum results, claiming that President Arias, with the media's complicity, violated the Costa Rican Electoral Code, which prohibits distributing any type of campaign materials for the two days preceding a referendum. A statement issued by the "No" campaign Monday said, "The national media became channels for the [President] Arias administration and treaty promoters." The statement also denounced a widely publicized threat made by U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab on Saturday, warning that the country would lose the benefits of the Caribbean Basin Initiative if the population rejected the accord.

However, as we saw with the Mexican election, this violation of election rules by the entrenched corporate and political powers that be is unlikely to change the desired outcome. And the real sweetner in the deal was noted by this fawning editorial:


The biggest sweetener for the United States is an end to the existing state monopoly on insurance and telecommunications

From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008