Friday, December 10, 2004

Anti-CAFTA Position Statement

The Popular Resistance Movement of October 12 (MPR-12) is a coalition of activist and labor organizations in El Salvador. On Wedneday, December 8, 2004, MPR-12 issued the following statement opposing adoption of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States:

Last week, various cabinet members of the government submitted CAFTA to the Legislative Assembly for them to ratify and make into a law. CAFTA is being promoted by the government under the false notion that it will solve the problems of our nation. However, there are many real reasons for our people to reject it. Some of them are the following:

1. CAFTA will provoke mass importation of products from the United States, which will deepen our trade deficit (the difference between our exports and our imports,) and raise even higher our external debt. We must take into account that without this free trade agreement with the powerful North American economy, our trade deficit increased 1.2 billion dollars during the administration of President Francisco Flores. Moreover, the deficit with Chile, with whom we have a free trade agreement since May of 2002 grew from 14 to 44 million dollars. Our trade deficit with Mexico increased from 244 to 278 million dollars from 2000 to 2003.

2. CAFTA will affect our small agricultural production by permitting the rich and subsidized farm industry from the United States to send its overproduction to our country without paying taxes (tariffs.) This damage will ruin thousands of producers of basic grains, vegetables, cattle, pig and chicken farmers, as well as thousands of people who work in the agro industry of dairy products.

3. This damage to the small agricultural sector will make our country even more dependent on the United States to obtain the food that our population needs. A good quantity of essential provisions will come from the exterior, as long as there are dollars to buy them, if this currency begins to grow scarce due to the growing commercial deficit, there will be scarcity of food as well and more hunger.

4. The deterioration of the agricultural sector will increase the emigration to the urban centers and other countries, which will be translated into greater pressure on the urban municipalities, more environmental contamination, and more family disintegration.

5. CAFTA will provoke a re-concentration of agricultural lands, as people abandon the countryside they will sell their plots to big businesses that produce fruits to be frozen and sold in the United States.

6. CAFTA as well will ruin many small and medium-sized businesses that sell in the domestic market, producers of furniture, shoes, printed materials and clothing.

7. CAFTA will debilitate the State, which will not be able to decide how to invest many of its resources as the large North American companies will win the majority of bids away from the governmental institutions (ministries, municipalities and public companies), for sales and investments. Moreover, by taking away tariffs the government will lower its income and deepen its financial crisis. In the short term it would have to raise taxes or fire personnel from public offices.

8. CAFTA will have very negative impacts for the female population, who will go to work in the textile factories, where the working conditions are horrible, or will look for low quality jobs in commercial businesses and the service sector. As well, when their spouses emigrate away, many of them will have to take on alone the responsibilities of the family unit.

9. CAFTA will harm the majority of the population: producers in the rural areas, the small agricultural cooperatives, the working population who will suffer the race to the bottom for wages and workers rights, the small and medium-sized industries, the people who will lose their jobs and the consumer population, who will pay more taxes and buy at higher prices the medicines protected by U.S. patents.

10. For all of the above, we call upon the population to reject this agreement which will only benefit the big businesses of the United States and a small group of millionaires from our country, linked to the imports business, the banking sector, the textile factories and the exportation of sugar and fruits.

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