Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teamster: Trade deal caused refugee crises at border

The nine-year-old CAFTA trade deal caused thousands of desperate children to flock to the U.S. border seeking safety, Teamsters legislative representative Mike Dolan explained recently on the Thom Hartmann Show.  

He calls them the 'CAFTA Kids.'

They are actually the second generation of economic refugees to leave their land and their homes. The first wave came after NAFTA took effect on Jan. 1, 1994. NAFTA forced the Mexican government to change its constitution in order to dismantle Mexico's cooperative farming system, said Dolan. That allowed U.S.-based multinationals like Cargill and ConAgra to impose industrial agriculture on Mexico, undermine wages and drive farmers off the land into barrios, ghettoes and across the U.S. border.

Nearly a decade later, Congress passed CAFTA in the middle of the night by one vote. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa predicted CAFTA would screw workers in the U.S. and in Central America, just as NAFTA did in the U.S. and Mexico. He was right.

The Rev. Richard E. Pates, Roman Catholic bishop of Des Moines, just returned from a visit to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. He wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the poverty, brutality and oppression spawned by CAFTA. CAFTA, he wrote, 
...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. 
The TPP, should it pass, will engineer the next round of destruction. Hartmann called it SHAFTA: The Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement. And he predicted Congress will try to pass it in the lame-duck session this fall.

Said Dolan: The 1.4 million Teamsters have more in common with the workers in other countries than either of us do with the corporate elites in our own. It's going to have to be international solidarity that will frustrate negotiations over the TPP.

"Isn't the net net of all of these trade agreements is that they get sold to us as jobs, they get sold as prosperity, they get sold as lower prices at Walmart," said Hartmann. "The reality is the only winners are banksters and the multinational corporations."