Dominican Today | November 24 2007
Costa Rica signs DR-CAFTA agreement
San José (Costa Rica).— The DR-CAFTA free trade pact between the Central American countries, the Dominican Republic and the United States was signed into law in Costa Rica on Wednesday amid protests and a large military deployment.
President Oscar Arias signed DR-CAFTA into law at the presidency while hundreds of demonstrators surrounded the building in protest, reported La Nacion newspaper. The issue is still mired in controversy after a narrow victory for the free trade agreement in an October 7 referendum.
Troops were deployed in 100m perimeter surrounding the presidential headquarters to contain protesters and for fear of a repeat of the huge protests that preceded the DR-CAFTA referendum.
The free trade agreement is scheduled to start in March 2008, but the legislature needs to pass 12 complementary laws in order for it to enter into effect.
Costa Rica is the last of the DR-CAFTA nations to sign the agreement, which has already taken effect in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
The White House pressed hard for the U.S. Congress to ratify the deal in 2005, when it passed the House of Representatives by just two votes.