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Discussion Starter #1
they are sneaking through while you worried about security/terror stuff here and abroad. Makes NAFTA look mild. You might want to research and put this date in your memory. The corporatocracy gets their way again.
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Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
The Hidden Pages of CAFTA
by Liza Grandia

At 2,400 pages, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) isn't really about trade. Frankly, you don't need 2,400 pages to eliminate tariffs and regulations on exports and imports. But, you might need 2,400 pages to smuggle through a new set of transnational corporate rights disguised by complicated legalese. I wonder, how many of our Congressional representatives will have even attempted to read this trade to me before next week's vote?

I recall in 1994 that only one senator Republican; Hank Brown (R-CO), accepted Ralph Nader's challenge to win $10,000 for charity by taking a simple ten-question quiz on the content of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement. After studying the agreement, Brown announced to the press: "I am a Republican, pro business and a proponent of the free market economy and I am here to speak out against the WTO. For when you read this text - and I invite my colleague senators to do this - you will understand that the WTO is fundamentally undemocratic."

Any naïve Congressperson who thinks CAFTA is merely about free trade should look carefully at its provisions on government contracts and corporate lawsuits, among others.

Government contracts. For any purchases over $117,000 (eventually to be lowered to $58,000), CAFTA forces governments to open up bidding to transnational corporations. That means that states will not longer be able to give preference to home-based businesses, and so mom and pop stores in Central America and the U.S. will suddenly be competing with the Bechtels and the Halliburtons of the world.

Corporate lawsuits against governments. Perhaps CAFTA's most worrisome provision expands the rights that corporations got under NAFTA to sue national governments over any laws perceived as barriers to trade and foreign investment. For instance, when California banned a carcinogenic gasoline additive called MTBE because it was seeping into the state's drinking water, the chemical manufacturer, Methanex, sued California for infringing on its trade rights under NAFTA and demanded $970 million in compensation. Such suits are a direct threat to democracy because they prioritize the profits of foreign corporations over a country's own environmental, social, and labor laws.

Already corporations are planning more such lawsuits. If CAFTA passes, a subsidiary of Harken Energy (on whose board George W. Bush once served) has said it will demand $58 billion from Costa Rica (whose entire GDP is only $37 billion) in compensation for hypothetical future lost profits, if they are not allowed to drill offshore in Costa Rica's protected Talamanca region--one of the planet's richest marine ecosystems, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

CAFTA also encourages privatization, especially for government services in health, water, energy, and social security. In agriculture, it will allow transnational agribusiness cartels to dump food commodities at below-market prices. It will forbid the public health sector from buying life-saving generic drugs for diseases like AIDS.

Upon close examination, one realizes that CAFTA is not a "free trade" agreement, but a corporate trade agreement that transforms foreign investment from a privilege to an inalienable right.

CAFTA is like having a house guest who cleans out your refrigerator, claims your nicest bed, spends hours in the bathroom, takes exclusive control of the television remote control, and then-like Paris Hilton-demands that you pay for the pleasure of her company and then writes you off as a business expense.

There are alternatives. If the U.S. is serious about strengthening economic ties with our closest neighbors, we could take a Common Market approach like Mercosur or the European Union. Europe opened up not only trade, but also labor markets to the lesser-developed regions of Europe. And, to help poorer member countries like Ireland become equal trading partners, the E.U. gives back 3.5% of Ireland's GDP in grants.

In the meanwhile, the U.S. has a perfectly sound trade agreement with Central America called the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which already makes most of our trade with Central America duty free. Congress should defeat CAFTA and send the Bush administration back to negotiate a real trade agreement that every U.S. and Central American citizen can read in less time than the pages of King James version of the Bible and Gone With the Wind combined.

Liza Grandia is an anthropologist who has lived and worked in Guatemala for more than six years. Her dissertation concerns the impacts of trade and globalization on the agrarian situation of the Q'eqchi' Maya people. Email: [email protected].
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CAFTA: Ideology
vs. national interests

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Posted: July 27, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2005 Creators Syndicate Inc.


Using the Clinton playbook for enacting NAFTA in '93, the White House is twisting arms and buying votes to win passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

And the seductive song the White House is singing sounds familiar. It is the NAFTA theme song. CAFTA will ease the social pressures that have produced waves of illegal aliens. CAFTA will increase U.S. exports. CAFTA will not cost U.S. jobs. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

If Tom DeLay's caucus delivers 200 votes for CAFTA, economic patriots will begin to look outside the GOP for leadership.

In 1993, Republicans, by four to one, signed on to NAFTA. They believed the promises that our $5 billion trade surplus with Mexico would grow and illegal immigration would diminish. They were deceived. The NAFTA skeptics were proven right. The U.S. trade surplus with Mexico vanished overnight. Last year, we ran a $50 billion trade deficit. Since 1993, 15 million illegal aliens have been caught breaking into the United States. Five million made it, and their soaring demands for social services have driven California to bankruptcy. As for Mexico's major exports to us, they appear to be two: narcotics and Mexicans.


With Middle Easterners turning up on the Rio Grande, patriotic Minutemen are patrolling the border because President Bush will not enforce our immigration laws. Who can believe this White House is serious, then, about halting the invasion from the Caribbean and Central America?

It is time for Republicans who represent a Middle America that never wanted NAFTA to tell the White House the old talking points will no longer do. The open-borders, free-trade ideology of Clinton and Bush has run its course and begun to endanger our national existence.

Today, "free trade" is about something other than the simple exchange of goods. Henry Kissinger tipped the Trilateralists' hand in 1993 when he wrote that NAFTA was the "architecture of a new international system," a great "step forward toward the new world order."

Today's trade agreements are about reshaping the world to conform to the demands of transnational corporations that have shed their national identities and loyalties and want to shed their U.S. workers. Tired of contributing to Medicare and Social Security and having to deal with Americans who need health-care and pension benefits, they want to dump them all and hire Asians who will work for $2 an hour.

Trade treaties have become enabling acts by which global companies desert their home countries. CAFTA will enable U.S. firms to shut down factories here, lay off their labor force, and hire Dominicans and Costa Ricans, but retain free access to the U.S. market. They get to fire their American workers – and keep their American consumers. What a deal.

NAFTA and CAFTA are the shield laws of corporate absconders.

What these companies want ultimately is a world government that will protect their absolute freedom to go where they wish and do what they want – the country be damned.

Before Republicans go down to the well of the House and vote for CAFTA, they need to look at what has already happened to America.

Under Bush, 3 million manufacturing jobs have disappeared, one in every six. States like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois – which went for Reagan twice – are gone. A shift of 60,000 votes in the GOP bastion of Ohio, and Kerry would be president.

The U.S. trade deficit in 2005 will exceed $700 billion – 6 percent of our entire economy. We are awash in foreign debt.

With China, our trade deficit last year was $162 billion. Beijing is using its trade surplus to buy U.S. bonds, giving her a giant claim on U.S. interest payments – and to build and buy the ships, planes and missiles needed to fight a naval war off her coast. Wal-Mart is subsidizing China's strategic buildup.



The industries we are losing now are not only textiles, shoes, TVs and toys, but autos, airplanes and computers. We are no longer the self-sufficient nation of 1940 or 1960. Even American sovereignty is being eroded, as the World Trade Organization orders Congress to change U.S. tax and trade laws, and Congress meekly complies.

America can yet turn this around, but we are reaching a tipping point – where a sovereign, independent and self-sufficient American republic will cease to be.

Thirty House Republicans can stop this process cold by just saying no to CAFTA. The Business Roundtable will get over it. After all, they have no place else to go.





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Was their ever a time when the people we elected did what we want them to do? If it ever was like that I can't remember. We now have a King in office not a President
 

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Discussion Starter #3
lostone1413.......yep, makes you wonder who's really watching out for us,,,,and the answer is probably not Congress.


........................TM7
 

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Discussion Starter #4
BOHICA.......here it comes again. Who will guard the soverinty of America?.......fyi......TM7
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NEXT, THE FTAA


By Henry Lamb
August 7, 2005
NewsWithViews.com

It began in 1994. All the attention was focused on the new WTO, emerging from the Uruguay round of GATT negotiations. Little attention was paid to the Summit of the Americas meeting in Miami. The assembled ministers agreed to create a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and that it would be completed by January, 2005, and would enter into force by December, 2005.

For ten years, 34 governments have been conducting negotiating sessions throughout the Americas, fashioning a new trade agreement that will swallow up both NAFTA and CAFTA, and, quite literally, much of the U.S. Constitution.

The final draft agreement addresses every aspect of trade in the western hemisphere, and requires that every dimension of the agreement be "WTO compliant." Chapter II contains two provisions that should disqualify the document immediately from any serious consideration by the U.S. Congress.

Article 4.2 contains this language:

"4.2. The Parties shall ensure that their laws, regulations, and administrative procedures are consistent with the obligations of this Agreement. The rights and obligations under this Agreement are the same for all the Parties, whether Federal or unitary States, including the different levels and branches of government..."

This language requires that existing laws - at every level of government - be conformed to the requirements of this agreement. It requires that all future laws conform as well. The effect of this agreement takes away law-making power from duly elected representatives of the people, and gives it to unelected bureaucrats, most of whom represent foreign nations.

This language is consistent with the WTO, NAFTA, and CAFTA, all of which were approved by Congress. Both NAFTA and the WTO have required revisions of dozens of domestic laws. CAFTA will do the same, and the FTAA will continue to take away laws that the peoples' representatives have enacted.

This process is transforming the meaning of national sovereignty. Article 3(g) stipulates that the agreement is governed by the principles of "sovereign equality." This is a term that arises from the 1995 publication of Our Global Neighborhood, the report of the U.N.-funded Commission on Global Governance. In Chapter II, under the heading Democracy and Legitimacy(page 66), a lengthy discussion proclaims that the concept of national sovereignty must be revised. Ideas are introduced such as:

"...countries are having to accept that in certain fields, sovereignty has to be executed collectively..." (page 70)

"...there is a need to weigh a state's right to autonomy against its people's right to security."(page 71)

"It is time to think about self-determination in the emerging context of a global neighborhood rather than the traditional context of a world of separate states." (page 337)

Thus, the concept of "sovereign equality" emerges to replace the concept of national sovereignty.

National sovereignty embraces the belief that every nation has equal sovereignty - independent and supreme authority over its territory. "Sovereign equality," on the other hand, is the belief that every nation has equal sovereign authority - under a common, or collective, supreme authority. The FTAA represents this supreme authority in the Western hemisphere, in much the same way as the European Union seeks to become the supreme authority in Europe, both of which are subservient to the WTO, which functions within the United Nations' family of international organizations.

These two provisions alone, should be enough to scrap this agreement. The negotiators have accepted this language, as has the administration. Congress is the only hope Americans have, to reject this entangling agreement. Congressmen will not read this language, however. They will listen, instead, to the lobbyists, the arm-twisting messengers from the administration, and editorials from the major media.



They will be told that the agreement is an expansion of free trade, that failure to approve the agreement will label the U.S. as isolationist, a rebel in the global neighborhood. These arguments have been successful with NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO. Ordinary people know better.



Ordinary people still have time to be heard on this agreement. Ordinary people elect these representatives, and politicians are dependent upon them for reelection. Ordinary people are the only power on earth greater than the power of the U.S. government. If ordinary people fail to defend their freedom, no one will defend it for them.

The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is an extraordinary erosion of freedom, for this nation, and for every citizen.



© 2005 Henry Lamb - All Rights Reserved




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Henry Lamb is the founding Chairman of Sovereignty International (1996), and the founding ECO of the Environmental Conservation Organization (1988). He is publisher of eco-logic Powerhouse, a widely read on-line, and print magazine. His columns are frequently translated into Spanish and published throughout Central and South America, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. He has attended United Nations meetings around the world, is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops across the country, and is a regular guest on dozens of talk radio programs. He has provided testimony for the U.S. Congress, as well as State Legislatures, and has served as a consultant to FOX News on U.N. affairs.
For eight years, he was CEO of a national trade association for contractors, headquartered in Chicago, coming to that position from CEO of a private construction company specializing in erosion control and water management structures. His background includes teaching at the secondary school level, and serving four years as a legislative analyst for a county government in Florida. E-Mail: [email protected]



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