Monday, August 4, 2014

Blame CAFTA for the children at the border

The violence in Central America that is sending tens of thousands of children to the U.S. border is a direct result of CAFTA, a 9-year-old trade deal that is remarkably similar to the TPP and TAFTA, now being negotiated in secret. 

Public Citizen nails it: 
Nine years ago this week, the polemical Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was passed by the House of Representatives…in the dead of night…by a single vote.   
CAFTA proponents promised the deal would reduce gang and drug-related violence in Central America, boost economic development, and diminish the factors pushing Central Americans to migrate to the United States.  
Such promises already sounded hollow when they were voiced in 2005.  Today, as thousands of Central American children leave their homes and risk their lives to try to make it to the United States, CAFTA’s promises have proven tragically empty... 
67 members of Congress’ Progressive Caucus ... included CAFTA in their recent summary of the root causes of the refugee crisis occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border: “free trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) have led to the displacement of workers and subsequent migration from these countries.” 
CAFTA isn't the only trade deal that's resulting in violence, misery and death. There's no doubt NAFTA contributed to the violence in Mexico that killed 120,000 people (with 27,000 missing) since 2006. And the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in May 2012, has exacerbated violence in the worst country in the world to be a trade unionist.

The Rev. Richard E. Pates, bishop of Des Moines, just returned from a visit to El Salvador, Guatemala and Hondurans. He wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the poverty, brutality and oppression spawned by CAFTA:
...we continue to question key policies facilitated by our trade agreements and to examine the consequences of these policies in the Central American region. We frequently heard during our visit, from Church leaders as well as representatives of civil society, that the implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and similar trade policies, has in many cases devastated small agricultural producers and businesses in the region, while depressing labor conditions and wages. As an example, U.S. corporations, receiving significant subsidies and other protections from our government, have been able to export corn and other agricultural products to Central America, driving down local prices for these products and forcing rural families off their lands. 
"We must recognize that there are correlations between these harmful trade practices and the deplorable conditions that lead to poverty, increased unemployment (especially among the young), violence, trafficking and the resultant push for migration," concluded Bishop Pates.