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Anti-CAFTA leaders launch offensive

Tico Times, Costa Rica

Anti-CAFTA Leaders Launch Offensive

By Peter Krupa, Tico Times Staff

12 June 2007

Leaders of the National Coordinator for the Fight Against CAFTA announced plans yesterday to hold demonstrations outside the Supreme Court, the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE), and the Legislative Assembly on Thursday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m., respectively.

The demonstrations were announced at a press conference held at the National Association of Educators (ANDE) building in San José.

The leaders said they are confident in their belief that the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) is unconstitutional, and that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), which is evaluating the constitutionality of the pact as the country prepares for a national referendum on the agreement, find it so. Failing that, however, Jesús Vásquez, president of the High-School Teachers’ Association (APSE), said that Costa Ricans are organized enough at the grassroots level to defeat the treaty in October’s referendum.

Even if the treaty is approved by popular vote, that won’t stop the movement, said ANDE President José Antonio Barquero.

“We don’t see (the referendum) as the end, but just one more means” to defeating privatization, he said.

“This solution doesn’t mean that at any moment (the administration of President Oscar Arias) is going to stop betting on privatization,” said Rica rdo Segura, director of the Internal Workers’ Front of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). “We are not going to permit any kind of privatization in our country.”

The official kick-off of the “No to CAFTA” campaign is scheduled for June 23 at 10 a.m. The location has yet to be announced.