The Central American Free Trade Agreement had been passed by the US house by a two-vote margin
US President George W. Bush signed on Tuesday the Central American Free Trade Agreement, saying it will "advance peace and prosperity throughout the region." The agreement, with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, removes trade barriers and opens up the region to US goods and services and has been harshly criticised.
Democrat representatives that voted against the agreement called the accord a “job killer.” Trade unions in the United States and across Central America also warned about its bad consequences for the working class.
The Communist Party of the United States of America dennounced the agreement in a statement on Tuesday, saying that it had been passsed thanks to “threats and bribery by the Republic Party.” “CAFTA is modeled on the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) that has destroyed communities, labor and environmental standards, and jobs for over a decade. CAFTA will bring more of the same.”
The US communists believe “the agreement will only benefit the large transnational corporations, particularly those based in the US; it will undermine local laws, protections and regulations in the name of “free trade;" it will devastate small farmers and indigenous communities; it is a blow against national independence, sustainable development and self-sufficiency.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lashed out against the CAFTA saying it would harm Latin America. Chavez called the agreement “perverse” and said it would only serve the interests of the United States. But analysts believe the ratification of the CAFTA was a victory for George W. Bush. At an East Room signing ceremony Tuesday, Bush said it would actually boost US jobs - since American companies have long faced trade barriers in Central America, while that region exported freely to America. Plus Bush said CAFTA is "more than a trade bill." He said it would strengthen fragile democracies in Latin America and show those countries the United States is standing with them.