AUGUST 4-8, 2008



WHEREAS the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), in recognition of the significant social and economic asymmetries between the U.S. and its neighbors in Latin America, opposes new trade agreements based on the Free Trade Agreement architecture as the model to advance regional integration, and instead works actively to generate support for alternative approaches to trade policy; and

WHEREAS with regards to immigration, the failed “free trade” policies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), binding into treaty form the policies enforced by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, referred to as the “Washington Consensus,” have resulted in serious economic stagnation in Mexico, and have decimated rural populations in Mexico, leading to the displacement of 1.3 million Mexican peasant farmers, tearing at the fabric of local communities and families, resulting in a vast increase in immigration from Mexico to the United States of workers in search of decent economic opportunities, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is projected to do the same to Central America; and

WHEREAS the Bush administration, rather than acknowledge the root of the current so-called “immigration crisis” in the failure of the economic polices of NAFTA and calling for its renegotiation, has instead turned towards militarization of the border and increased policing and other punitive measures towards undocumented immigrants, and has negotiated and signed bilateral “free trade” agreements (FTAs) with the governments of Peru, Colombia, and Panama, following the same failed trade policy model of the NAFTA and CAFTA, even including the devastating agricultural provisions, which will likely result in further hunger and displacement; and

WHEREAS with regards to the environment, even the “modified” FTAs with Peru, Panama, and Colombia will lead to dramatic increases in mining, oil and natural gas exploration and extraction projects, leading to extensive damage to the environment, especially the Andes mountains region and the Amazon basin, which is the largest virgin forest on the planet, along with negative impacts for the Indigenous people who live in these regions; and

WHEREAS with regards to economic development, the FTAs with Peru, Colombia and Panama, fail to ensure that foreign investment contributes to national development by restricting the governments’ ability to regulate foreign investment capital and giving foreign investors the right to sue sovereign Latin American countries in secret, closed tribunals over health, safety, and other pro-development regulations, as well as subjects Peru to compensatory claims for reversing its Social Security privatization; and

WHEREAS with regards to workers’ rights, the FTAs of Peru, Panama, and Colombia continue to pit workers in the United States against workers in Latin America while failing to address key workers’ rights issues, meanwhile of the 144 trade union murders worldwide in 2006, the single country of Colombia accounted for more than half the victims with 78 unionists killed last year, and two trade unionists were killed in Panama just this past August; and

WHEREAS protests against the FTAs in Panama, Colombia, and Peru since the onset of negotiations have been regular and increasing, such as the nationwide strike on July 12, 2007 in Peru led by led by teachers unions, peasant farm groups, Indigenous organizations and unions representing mining and manufacturing workers, demonstrating the depth and breadth of massive citizen rejection of the “free trade” agreements; and

WHEREAS Latinos have deep understanding of the damages that the NAFTA/CAFTA “free trade” model has wrought, both on our countries of origin and well as on us as Latinos in the United States, by pitting workers against each other and causing a “race to the bottom” in wages and working conditions, by damaging our shared environment, by undermining the provision of public services, by privileging investors’ rights over public interest regulation, by devastating rural communities and traditional family farms, and for many other reasons, and therefore have a particular legitimacy as well as responsibility to oppose the expansion of that failed model, and to advocate for a new vision of fair trade between the United States and our Latin American neighbors that will contribute to social and economic sustainable development in all participating countries;

WHEREAS, current trade policy has proved itself inherently inequitable and an alternative to 14 years of harmful trade pacts is crucial to induce domestic job creation and the economic growth desperately needed by this nation’s working families;

WHEREAS, economic development needs to be an essential component of our trade policy so that our brothers and sisters abroad may also benefit from the enactment of FAIR trade agreements;

WHEREAS, passage of the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act is critical for workers at home and in the developing countries as it provides a concrete framework to guide the formulation of fair trade policy, strengthens the role of Congress in trade policymaking, calls for the review of existing trade agreements and the renegotiation of existing trade agreements based on that review and establishes labor and environmental standards;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) will be strongly opposed to expanding the failed NAFTA and CAFTA model through the “free trade” agreements between the United States and Colombia, and Panama, and will mobilize our constituency throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, to work in vehement opposition to their passage, and call on the U.S. Congress directly to reject these agreements.

that the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) will mobilize its constituency and urge Congress to support the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act and similar trade policy initiatives that will empower workers and push for an economic agenda that allows them to share in the benefits of global trade while promoting widespread prosperity and democratic transparency.

Respectfully submitted by: 

LCLAA Executive Board

REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE:_________________________
CONCURRENCE: _______________________________________