In October, Costa Ricans vote in a national referendum on the Tratado de Libre Comercio with the United States (CAFTA). Their neighbors have been quick to ratify it, but as evidenced by the Monumento Nacional behind me, Central America has had its troubles with US influences in the past. (Nevermind the US backed Contra rebels, US facilitated assassinations of past Central American leaders, and other challenges to local sovereignty.)
I’ve looked over the treaty and there are provisions that I think are too broadly worded or vague and fail to protect the interests of the Central American signatories. Further discussion with friends here have uncovered other unsettling things, and frankly, I prefer not to trust US based multinational companies any more than I have to. They’ve proven too untrustworthy in the past. (Put quickly, if a corporation’s reason for existing is to make money for it’s stockholders, it’s in the corporation’s best interests to offload costs as much as possible to outside entities and exploit resources to the greatest degree possible. I wouldn’t trust a person whose entire purpose was to saddle others with their bills and take everything they can get, why should I trust a corporation with the same stated purpose?)
That’s what my heart says. My brain says many of the same kind of things, pointing to hardships in NAFTA signatory states that have resulted from that treaty (Jamaican agribusiness decimated by dumping of US products) and concerns about established institutions in Costa Rica that would be forced to change by secondary effects of CAFTA (the influence of pharmaceutical IP provisions on the use of generic drugs in Costa Rica’s social (medical) insurance).
With any treaty there are things to be gained by signing and things to be lost. My concern is that Costa Rica and other Central American nations don’t end up losing more than they gain. At this point I’m hoping to get more information about how the benefits and the costs finally balance out, and more importantly, that the Costa Rican populace will be sufficiently informed about the treaty to make an educated decision the day of the referendum.
Originally posted on xuhoch.vox.com