Economic and Human Rights Nightmare
By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) required the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to adopt numerous policies giving corporations new rights that were used to export good jobs, jack up drug prices, attack food safety and environmental laws, and squeeze farmers and consumers alike. Seventeen years later, we’re living the damage caused under the NAFTA model: wages stagnating as prices rise, 5.2 million U.S. manufacturing jobs killed, and a $776 billion trade deficit that threatens global economic stability. Mexico also lost factory jobs, as corporations traded Mexico’s $1/hour wages for China’s $0.40/hour wages. Some 1.3 million Mexican campesinos lost their livelihoods, and desperate migration to the United States has increased.
In 2007, then-President Bush signed a trade deal with Colombia that replicated NAFTA and his previous NAFTA expansion, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA.) Doing so was a double outrage. Congress and the public have insisted on an end to the NAFTA model. And, the Mexican experience has shown Colombian labor and civil society groups what damage a NAFTA-style pact will cause to their country, and they also have held major protests against the deal.
Plus, Colombia has one of the world’s worst human-rights records. More labor unionists are assassinated here each year than in the rest of the world combined. There is systematic violence against Afro-Colombians, indigenous people and campesino farmers. The perpetrators, who have often included the country’s military, remain free and unprosecuted. Activists here and there have demanded that this behavior END before ANY trade agreement is considered.