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Backarm Armstwisting CAFTA Passage in the USA

Most of us probably do not know that CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, would have been defeated in our 2005 Congress, had it not been for the threat to break arms “into one thousand pieces.”

CAFTA Passed By Strong Arm Threatenings Of Bush Administration

Most of you probably are aware that the
Central American Free Trade Agreement or CAFTA was passed by “our” Congress in 2005. But
new light is shining on this story.

The latest edition of Public Citizen News
Volume 25, Number 6, for November/December 2005 tells us that the opposition to CAFTA was going to defeat it, despite President Bush’s first presidential visit to Congress in two years, extensive corporate lobbying, and “GOP leadership threats and favors.”

What happened, according to the P.C. News was:

“At the end of the normal 15-minute voting period, CAFTA proponents had 214 votes
(three short of the 217 needed for passage). The GOP leadership held open the vote for an additional 47 minutes, because all of the remaining GOP votes, Charles
Boutany (Louisiana), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Jo Ann Davis (Va.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Steven LaTourette (Ohio), Robert Simmons (Conn.) and Charles Taylor (N. Carolina), were committed to opposing
CAFTA. The Republican leadership got the votes with a combination of threats, last-minute vote-switching and (as Republican Jim Kolbe of Arizona described it) the promised breaking of arms “into one thousand pieces.” “

This is an example of the system of checks and balances being compromised by our current ideological corporate-funded and twisted Bush administration.

Check this: the afore mentioned LaTourette of Ohio, “just days after reaffirming his commitment to vote against CAFTA, became a deciding “yes” vote on the agreement.
LaTourette has since justified his CAFTA flip-flop by saying that the head of a furniture company in his district that uses plywood had asked him to vote for CAFTA
because it would cut an 8 percent tariff on plywood imported from CAFTA countries, thus allowing the company to maintain furniture-making jobs in the district.

However, plywood has long been tariff-free when imported into the U.S. from Central America. LaTourette based his CAFTA vote on a tariff that did not exist,
leading many to believe that in changing his vote, he was either duped or being dishonest.” The truth is still to be discovered….

“Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois lost a “Person Of The Year” award after voting for CAFTA….Republican Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania is facing a challenger who has already made the incumbent’s support of CAFTA a theme in
his campaign….Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas has had two primary candidates file to run against him because of his pro-CAFTA vote.”

“Days before the CAFTA vote, Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama stated “I continue to strongly lean no on the CAFTA legislation.” On July 9, he argued that his “constituents fret that their jobs will get exported to low-cost,
low-wage CAFTA countries.” There was no change to the CAFTA that Aderholt described as a job-killer on July 9 and the CAFTA he voted for on July 27.”

Aderholt did get a letter, though, from the Bush administration stating they were “willing to seek a modification to CAFTA that would require a ten year phase-out of tariffs on CAFTA-qualifying sock imports from Central America.” But if the “six CAFTA nations oppose the change in negotiations, as expected, there is no legal recourse” for implementing the administration

Remember that with CAFTA, as with NAFTA, corporations
can directly sue countries if the environment or health restrictions get in their way. Recall also that sometimes the corporation is wealthier than the entire nation.

Also recall that 1.5 million campesinos lost their farming jobs and farms in Mexico since NAFTA was adopted by Mexico, the USA, and Canada. And that is why you might see them in your town, searching for work. And be aware that
with CAFTA, as the race to the bottom accelerates, now Mexicans are afraid that they will lose more jobs to the lower paying Central American economies.

See more on CAFTA and this story with more background on this very webside at


For more from Public Citizen on this, and how your representative might have voted on this issue, you can go to:

Also, be aware that Central Americans are not 100% behind
CAFTA. In fact, Costa Rica has an election coming up in one year that will have CAFTA as a major issue, perhaps even being pivotal to who wins or loses said election.


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