Costa Rica and the Shout of the Excluded
Havana, Oct 23 2006 (Prensa Latina) — The Costa Rican people are in the streets and on a general strike Monday and Tuesday to challenge the free trade agreement with the United States, which President Oscar Arias has approved to accelerate.
Convened by the National Coordinator of Struggle against the project, the demonstration is composed of teachers, health workers, farmers, transport workers and students, as well as several grassroots and union organizations.
The agreement is not good for Costa Rica, said National Public Employees Association head Albino Vargas, who insisted on putting aside the accord as it is a swindle that severs independence.
The administration expects ratification in the first trimester of 2007, and arrogantly declared it is the Legislature and not the streets that will have the last word.
So as to have no doubt which side the government is on, it warned of sanctions against those supporting the strike.
Arias said on national television that he would not permit holding up traffic nor preventing the majority from working.
Demonstrators reaffirmed their right to protest however, an example of the great rejection of the agreement by the Costa Rican people.
In the last university surveys, 70 percent declared that if the pact is endorsed, the United States would be the winner.
However, the president seems to underestimate the increasing opposition to what analysts and union forces, supported by the social praxis of the experience of neighbor nations, term an annexation freak.
Since taking power, Oscar Arias has vehemently boosted the agreement among Central America, Dominican Republic and the United States, known as CAFTA-DR.
Unfortunately, the Central American region, as Noam Chomsky has said, remains as if it is an area under US control.
The outstanding US political scientist contrasts the situation with what happened in other Latin American zones more to the South, where the White House domination system "began to crack" in the last decade.
The continent began to be more independent which Washington does not tolerate," states the renowned linguist.
As a consolation, the Bush administration has the approval and alignment of the Central American power sectors.
But those who always remain excluded are not satisfied. In El Salvador, less than a year since application, economists of Antonio Saca s government warn that CAFTA only benefits a small group of people, in detriment to the majority.
This is the coup de grace for Salvadorian agriculture, even rice production can receive the mortal coup, and the nation will lose food sovereignty, experts say.
Amid promises to generate jobs, it is estimated that on average some 700 Salvadorans abandon the country each day to seek better employment opportunities, mainly in the United States.
Delegates to the First Border Social Forum in Mexico in mid October denounced that NAFTA has worsened inequalities in this country, the first nation to accede to the predatory proposal; thus, an unviable arrangement for nations with larger asymmetries.
A person with minimum intelligence must reject all "free trade" accords with the United States, stated sociologist James Petras, for whom such "free trade" accords mean impunity and pillage by US companies.