Three Strikes against CAFTA:

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Strike One: Increase Poverty in Third World Countries

photo: Laura Rusu/Oxfam America

``If DR-CAFTA passes, the poor people in my village will be pushed into extreme poverty.``
-Fabian Saavedra, a rice farmer from Nicaragua:


You Can Help!
``We are human. We have families. The wages that we make are just enough to live a really bad life.``

A worker from Puebla, Mexico recently explained that NAFTA has made life miserable for a million Mexicans, who`ve lost their family farms and have been forced into monotonous manual labor. You can help prevent this type of disaster from hitting all of Central America.

It has been a year since the US and Central American governments signed the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). But due to overwhelming public opposition throughout the Americas, the Bush Administration and Congressional leadership have been unable to bring it to a vote.

Until now.

The Bush Administration has stepped up its campaign to get CAFTA passed, and the latest word is that the US House and Senate will try to bring it to a vote before the July 4th recess. Take action before it is to late.

Increased trade has the potential to reduce poverty and encourage development. But CAFTA is the wrong approach. Here`s the problem: Free trade agreements like CAFTA assume a level playing field among countries. But in reality, huge subsidies to farmers in the US - annually totaling as much as $18 billion - allow US farmers to export their products to foreign markets at prices that are below the cost of production. How can small rural farmers in Central America compete?

We`ve seen the increase in poverty among small farmers in Mexico because of NAFTA. We can expect to see the same thing happen to the family farmers of other Central American countries should CAFTA pass. Analysis by Oxfam shows that CAFTA is likely to create even greater poverty than NAFTA, threatening to push already poor farmers into extreme poverty.

Please email your Representative and Senators today. Urge him or her to vote NO on CAFTA.

Discover the REAL purpose of increasing worldwide poverty.


Strike Two: Weaken Wildlife Protections

Should foreign investors dictate U.S. wildlife policies?


Jaguar

We need your help to stop an irresponsible and environmentally harmful trade agreement now winding its way through Congress.

The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) threatens Central America's already-fragile ecosystems with damaging development and would allow foreign investors to challenge laws that the U.S. and other nations have passed to protect wildlife and habitat. The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on whether to approve CAFTA as early as this week, so please take action right now!

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Send Congress a strong message that trade agreements should encourage, not undermine, environmental protection! Go go to the DEN Action Center at www.denaction.org or your congressional interface below this message and send a message to your Representative today to urge him or her to vote against CAFTA.

Here are other ways to help Our WildLife and the EcoSystem.


Strike Three: Control our Rights to Essential Nutrients

CAFTA will also interfere with our rights to buy nutritional supplements.

According to John Hammell of International Advocates For Health Freedom (IAHF), "The WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA and FTAA trade agreements all contain SPS (Sanitary Phytosanitary Measures) language. Article 3 of SPS states:

'To harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures on as wide a basis as possible, Members SHALL base their food safety measures on international standards, guidelines or recommendations.'

This makes the supposedly "voluntary" Codex Alimentarius standard for vitamins and minerals MANDATORY for all WTO member nations.

Passage of CAFTA and FTAA would broaden and deepen the scope of the SPS agreement, forcing harmonization of not only our dietary supplement laws to mindless international standards, but it would lead to the creation of a supranational body similar to the EU in our hemisphere, and we oppose this clear threat to U.S. sovereignty.

When the draft text of CAFTA was first made available on January 28th, 2004 the Governors of all 50 States discovered that they were bound by the 2,400 page agreement -being specifically listed in chapter 9. A third have since rescinded their support of CAFTA.

In light of CAFTA moving quickly ahead we need to be concerned about our health freedoms despite the double talk and outright lies being put out by pharmaceutically dominated industry trade associations like the Council For Responsible Nutrition (CRN), The National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), and The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) who are all telling supplement companies that Codex will not affect our domestic laws. In addition to this, they also are telling supplement companies that Codex Alimentarius is a good thing.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has released the results of its year-long investigation into lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry, which found that the industry has spent more than $800 million since 1998 on lobbyists and political campaigns. In the past year alone, the industry hired nearly 1,300 lobbyists, including hundred of former public officials. "It is astonishing to learn that no other interest has spent more money to sway public policy in this time period," said CPI executive director Roberta Baskin. In addition to lobbying for industry-favorable policies domestically, the drug industry's trade lobby has enlisted the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to pressure pressure foreign governments into removing price controls on pharmaceuticals and restricting sales of lower-priced generic drugs.

Learn More about CODEX Here. Learn how to Stop the Planned Control of Natural Nutrients Here.


CAFTA has Passed

July 28, 2005

In "The Manufacturer - Promoting best practices" of all places, we find the following: "Lessons of History ... David Blond sees lessons in ancient Roman times that American moneymen and manufacturers might do well to heed."

From the article it is not clear who David Blond is, but his statement is fairly eloquent. "By the end of the Roman Republic the political system-the Senate and the People's Assemblies-had been thoroughly corrupted by money. Like today, Roman businessmen enjoyed benefits from the globalization of trade and the spreading of culture throughout the known world. Wealth depended upon the ability of the empire to open up markets for products and trade. Roman merchants were lodged in all corners of the Empire. Wealth flowed from the ability of these men to influence laws and regulations in their favor."

Blond's statement comes to mind when contemplating the recent House passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Have we indeed witnessed the passage of a bill that will ensure the triumph of free-markets and the lessening of taxes throughout the hemisphere, or are we seeing yet another signpost on the road to a kind of Roman ruin - a situation such as the one Bond describes above. Reading the analyses of mainstream media, it's easy to believe the former. Here's how AP reported the news, as a "personal triumph for President Bush, who campaigned aggressively for the accord ... [and said it] would foster prosperity and democracy in the hemisphere. ... "

AP reports that the 217-215 vote occurred just after a midnight and that the vote had to be held open for an hour - a highly unusual situation. "It was an uphill effort to win a majority, with Mr. Bush traveling to Capitol Hill earlier in the day to appeal to wavering Republicans." The AP also calls the hard fight the result of "free trade fatigue, a growing sentiment that free trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada have contributed to a loss of well-paying American jobs and the soaring trade deficit."

FMNN commentator Ron Paul, one of the only congressman who makes a daily effort to keep his votes in line with what the Constitution actually says, has written extensively on CAFTA and from his point of view the bill is anything but free-trade oriented. Here's his take, "We don't need government agreements to have free trade. We merely need to lower or eliminate taxes on the American people, without regard to what other nations do. Remember, tariffs are simply taxes on consumers.

And he adds, "Americans have always bought goods from abroad; the only question is how much our government taxes us for doing so. As economist Henry Hazlitt explained, tariffs simply protect politically-favored special interests at the expense of consumers, while lowering wages across the economy as a whole. Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and countless other economists have demolished every fallacy concerning tariffs, proving conclusively that unilateral elimination of tariffs benefits the American people. We don't need CAFTA or any other international agreement to reap the economic benefits promised by CAFTA supporters, we only need to change our own harmful economic and tax policies. Let the rest of the world hurt their citizens with tariffs; if we simply reduce tariffs and taxes at home, we will attract capital and see our economy flourish."

Simple enough. Abolish tariffs and U.S. citizens will pay less for what they need - and buy and invest more. Putting complex agreements in place to abolish tariffs "on both sides" just complicates matters - and gives government an excuse to meddle.

Another reason Paul is negative about "trade agreements" about CAFTA is because of the side effects which almost always have to do with diminishment of sovereignty, as follows, "It is absurd to believe that CAFTA and other trade agreements do not diminish American sovereignty. When we grant quasi-governmental international bodies the power to make decisions about American trade rules, we lose sovereignty plain and simple. I can assure you firsthand that Congress has changed American tax laws for the sole reason that the World Trade Organization decided our rules unfairly impacted the European Union. Hundreds of tax bills languish in the House Ways and Means committee, while the one bill drafted strictly to satisfy the WTO was brought to the floor and passed with great urgency last year."

Why do we need 1,000 pages of small type to regulate trade between individuals and businesses in a free market? Something else is going on here, just as something else was going on with NAFTA and with the agreements we have signed with the World Trade Organizations and other international treaties we've concluded as well. That something is called "mercantilism" - the utilization of the state's regulatory power by powerful private business interests for their benefit but not for other's. It begins slowly and ends when the abuses become overwhelmingly evident to the body politic. What happens then? I'll let Blond have the last word. "The Roman Republic died, and the Republicans died with it - on the battlefields, in exile, or in poverty and disgrace. Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it, and if we're not careful, what happened in ancient Rome could happen here."

"If A Nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be"
Thomas Jefferson.

Addendum by Rep. Ron Paul, MD:

The Poison Sausage Factory

Congress passed a multinational trade bill known as CAFTAN last week, but not without a feverish late night vote marred by controversy and last-minute vote switching. Leaving aside the arguments for or against CAFTAN itself, the process by which the bill ultimately passed should sicken every American who believes in representative government.

Late-night arm-twisting by House leaders to get votes is of course nothing new. We witnessed far worse when Congress passed the ruinous Medicare prescription drug bill in the dead of night two years ago. Yet even after months of unprecedented wheeling and dealing by corporate lobbyists, congressional leaders, and the White House, the Washington establishment still failed to pass CAFTAN in the US House. That's right, when the 15-minute voting period expired last Wednesday evening, CAFTAN seemingly had been defeated.

Here's how. As the vote progressed, the tally was neck and neck. When the 15-minute period ended, CAFTAN had gone down in flames. But pro-CAFTAN forces were so determined to get what they wanted, they broke the rules.

House leadership ignored the time limit and kept twisting arms and making deals until they finally had the votes to pass CAFTAN nearly an hour later.

What kind of deals? Well, one member of House leadership told reluctant legislators, "We've got to have you; you tell us what you want." And tell they did. Lawmakers in textile producing states were bought off with promises of textile subsidies. Lawmakers in sugar-producing states were bought off with promises of special treatment in the 2007 farm bill. On and on it went, with promises of new bridges, parks, and whatever else it took to pass CAFTAN.

Rest assured that you will pay dearly for these bribes used to buy votes. Every favor granted and every pet project funded comes on top of the pork-laden appropriations bills already passed in the House this year. These new goodies will be added to the final House-Senate versions passed later this year. One of my colleagues estimated that the price tag for buying the CAFTAN vote will be at least $50 billion.
That's right, $50 billion to win a vote. Is this what you want from your representatives in office?

Perhaps the strangest vote buy off occurred two days before the CAFTAN vote. Lawmakers from hard-hit manufacturing districts steadfastly have opposed CAFTAN, arguing that it would accelerate the outsourcing of jobs to nations with cheap labor. So House leaders scrambled to craft last-minute legislation to "get tough" on China, which is the real source of concern for most American manufacturers. A bill was drawn up, and a hasty vote cast, so lawmakers could explain that they traded a yes vote on CAFTA for action against China. One small problem presented itself, however: the China bill failed on the House floor! So House leaders went back to the drawing board, struck some and held a second vote on the same bill the next day. This time it passed, but its chances of surviving the Senate or a White House veto are virtually nil. So members from manufacturing districts literally sold their votes for nothing. Their months of double-talking, coyness, and vote peddling resulted in nothing more than an empty promise.

The president's press secretary called the CAFTA vote "a real victory for the American people."
The problem is the vast majority of Americans have not even heard of CAFTA, and those who have overwhelmingly oppose it.
CAFTA was conceived and created by corporate interests, and to claim otherwise is preposterous. The CAFTA vote had nothing to do with the American public, or even trade policy per se. CAFTA was driven by politics and nothing more. Multinational corporations and political globalists share the same goals, namely the centralization of political power in international bodies and the diminution of national sovereignty. What we witnessed last week was not just the selling of votes, but also a sellout of American control over our own trade regulations.

August 2, 2005

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Ron Paul Archives

Find this article at: www.lewrockwell.com


See How Your Representatives and Senators Voted: Who to Thank and Who to Blacklist.

Read also CAFTAN SHAFT, NOW WHAT?

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