We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Impact of CAFTA: Drugs, Gangs, and Immigration

Click here to access article by Héctor Perla Jr. from TeleSur
On March 1, 2006 the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) went into effect between the United States and El Salvador, the first of six Central American nations and the Dominican Republic that would eventually become part of the deal. The agreement, modeled on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, was seen by the Bush Administration as the first step in a new way toward creating a hemispheric free trade zone after the defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Perla reviews the impacts that another neoliberal trade pact, CAFTA, has had on the Central American countries. It appears that this treaty has had largely the same effects on these countries as NAFTA did on Mexico: the wiping out of small farmers, increased imports of US subsidized bio-engineered grains and foodstuffs produced by large corporations from the US and a corresponding decrease in exports of like items to the US. This dramatic change has cause numerous secondary social effects like drug trafficking, gang violence, migration north to the US (see this), and US government political interference of behalf of corporations in the governance of Central American countries.
The trade agreement has given the U.S. government's opportunity to leverage development aid into political influence, and corporations the legal mechanisms to challenge environmental regulations. Recent examples of U.S. intervention in Salvadoran domestic affairs, like pushing for a Public Private Partnership Law, and the U.S. protest over the Salvadoran government’s awarding an important seed purchase program to local cooperatives instead of a Monsanto subsidiary, occurred within the framework laid out in CAFTA.

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