Dec 102007

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The U.S. Senate and House (Democrats and Republicans) have now passed the Peru Free Trade Agreement as George Bush tries to complete as many trade agreements as possible before his term is up. The Democrats, like the Republicans, will continue to roll over for corporate America on trade agreements as well as continental integration if they win the White House.

“Although not one U.S. labor, environmental, Latino, consumer, faith or family group supported the Peru free trade agreement (FTA), a majority of Senate Democrats today broke with their base, DISMISSED WIDESPREAD PUBLIC OPPOSITION to more-of-the-same trade policy and joined Republicans to deliver another Bush NAFTA expansion to the large corporations pushing this deal.”

“In contrast to most of the Democratic presidential candidates who oppose the Peru NAFTA expansion, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois support it.” (Photo: Barack Obama)

Senator Clinton, from her website:

“I support the trade agreement with Peru. It has very strong labor and environmental protections. This agreement makes meaningful progress on advancing workers’ rights, and also levels the playing field for American workers.”

But other Democrats disagree. Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich) asked:

“Who will enforce these labor standards? Who will enforce the environmental standards? The Bush administration? I don’t think so.”

Representative Linda Sanchez, Democrat:

“I feel like I’m at a used-car lot, and the dealer is trying to sell the American people a beat-up old NAFTA lemon with a new paint job.”

According to

“The Peru expansion replicates many of the CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement) provisions that led most Democratic senators to oppose that pact. This includes: foreign investor privileges that create incentives for U.S. firms to move offshore and expose basic environmental, health, zoning and other laws to attack in FOREIGN TRIBUNALS; bans on ‘buy America’ and anti-offshoring policies; limits on FOOD IMPORT SAFETY STANDARDS AND INSPECTION RATES.; and NAFTA-style agriculture rules that are projected to DISPLACE TENS OF THOUSANDS of PERU’S ANDEAN FARMERS (like NAFTA did to Mexican farmers) and thus increase coca production and immigration. The pact also contains terms that could subject Peru to compensation claims for reversing its unpopular Social Security PRIVATIZATION, the same system Democrats fought against at home.” (Remember Bush’s attempt at our Social Security “partial” privatization?)

Trade agreements signed by George Bush and Bill Clinton (NAFTA) insure that labor and the environment side accord language will not hurt the transnational corporations’ quest for profits since there are no enforcement mechanisms in these areas. That includes the Peru Trade Agreement as well as the pending trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. The Peru agreement, negotiated behind closed doors between the Democrats (Charles Rangel and Max Baucus) and the Bush administration, contains no enforcement mechanisms. At least big business thinks so. (Photo: Charles Rangel)

That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers support it. Tom Donohue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said “…that the labor provisions (Peru agreement) cannot be read to require compliance with ILO (International Labor Organization) Conventions.” This agreement, like NAFTA and CAFTA, make no provisions to protect workers or the environment. Rangel and the Democrats, in making a deal with Bush, DISCARDED their base like Bill Clinton did with NAFTA.

Rick MacArthur, author of ‘The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy,’ describes why the Democrats changed their position and approved the Peru Trade Agreement:

“Charles Rangel is not talking about China. He’s talking about these little countries (Peru) that are going to have very little impact, but which we will then be able to exploit more efficiently, because trade agreements…are contracts…investment agreements. Their main purpose is to protect American investment or foreign investment in these countries against expropriation, against seizure of assets, so they can operate safely, in terms of an investment platform, but also lock in the CHEAP LABOR.

“This is the legacy of the Clinton administration, that the Clintons persuaded enough members of the Democratic Party that LABOR UNIONS WERE FINISHED. And they were, I think, largely right. Labor unions were finished as an important source of votes and power… They were going to vote for the Democats anyway, because they had no choice, and the place to RAISE MONEY and to EXPAND INFLUENCE with the party was in CORPORATE AMERICA.” (Photo: Hillary Clinton)

MacArthur said that unions should not “…give in to these FAKE SYMBOLIC GESTURES toward labor rights…They’re just fig leaves to cover up what the real agenda is, which is…to give corporations more choices of CHEAP LABOR COUNTRIES to operate in, which kills unions in the United States, because you can’t organize a union in this country anymore, because they’ll shut your plant down, or they’ll threaten to shut your plant down.”

It’s clear that the Democrats are open for business from corporations and are willing to turn on their constituents and deliver these trade agreements and more for some considerations. In fact, whoever is elected President will be working with their corporate partners on acquiring more trade agreements and completing the SPP, an economic union of North America which will bring to an end the American middle class. (The leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States signed an agreement on March 23, 2005 and agreed to meet in a yearly summit in order to complete this merger.)

So where does this leave America and its citizens? Finished.

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