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Costa Rica may vote down US trade

Prensa Latina, Cuba

Costa Rica may Vote Down US Trade

14 April 2007

San Jose, Apr 14 (Prensa Latina) — Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Saturday announced that he will submit to the Legislative Assembly a proposal for a direct referendum over free trade agreement with the US.

The head of State presented the proposal a few hours after the Electoral Supreme Court approval to submit the text of the treaty to popular vote.

The ESC, on Friday, authorized the compilation of five percent of the signatures of the electoral roll (a little over 2.6 million people) to pass an agreement of that kind, as established by the Referendum Regulation Act.

In this nation, according to several interviews, more than half of the citizens oppose such a commercial agreement and several social, politic and religious sectors have expressed their rejection.

The National Association of Employees general secretary Albino Vargas has reiterated the struggle against the free trade agreement, mainly after observing Costa Rican people massive support of the protests in February and October.

National Front of Support to the Struggle against FTA President Eugenio Trejos Benavides pointed out on March that the referendum would be the intermediary point between opposition and the agreement supporters.

In that way, explained the participatory democracy will be implemented, where the population will have the possibility of making the final decision.

The governmental decree must be approved by 29 out of the 57 deputies, a requirement requested by the ESC to program popular consultation.