Countries in the Global South forged alliances against U.S. and European bullying during last falls WTO meeting in Cancun. Two months later, in negotiations for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, U.S. negotiators were forced to back off again from some of their most draconian demands.
The U.S. response? The Central American Free Trade Agreement, a pact hastily negotiated with easily intimidated neighbors and slated for a vote in the U.S. Congress as early as June. The intended message of the agreement with Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and possibly the Dominican Republic is that the rest of Latin America had better toe the line or risk being left in the cold. But the fight against CAFTA in Congressa fight that, in this election year, can be wonoffers the perfect opportunity to send a far different message: that trade pacts must consider the welfare of citizens, not just of big business.
According to Angel Rivera of the Latin American Council of Churches, "churches are worried about the increase of poverty NAFTA has created in their fellow Mexican churches and how CAFTA is reproducing the same institutions on this treaty." Theyand wehave good reason to worry.