Costa Rica Gives In to Bush Intimidation Over CAFTA

Loyal Bushie Fred Hiatt, WaPo editorial editor/writer, is having multiple orgasms over Costa Rican voters’ acceptance of a Very Bad deal. He actually has the gall to call this surrender to naked threats and blackmail by GOP hack Mark Langdale, a Texas telecommunications and real estate exec who bought his position as CR’s US Ambassador with $tens of thousands$ in campaign contributions to Bush, a “victory” and even characterizes the squeak of a vote (51.5%) as a sign of their “common sense” despite acknowledging two grafs later that it was the result of White House intimidation.

IN A REGION where politics has too often been characterized by demagoguery, corruption and violence, Costa Rica has long stood out as a shining exception to the rule. Having abolished its army in 1948, the Central American country is set to complete six decades of uninterrupted civilian democratic rule. The latest demonstration of the Costa Rican people’s common sense came on Sunday, when the electorate ratified the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), a tariff-slashing accord between the United States and six small countries to its south.

***

That prompted the White House to issue a reminder on Saturday that there would be no renegotiation of the deal if it were rejected; U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab added pointedly that there was also no guarantee that Caribbean Basin Initiative benefits would be extended.

(emphasis added)

IOW, play along or kiss US aid good-bye. David Sirota reminds us what this is really about: corporate profits.

CAFTA, you may remember, was lobbyists’ biggest trophy in the last Congress. Its language gives corporations the right to challenge American environmental and consumer protection laws in international courts; compels Central American countries to privatize public services; forces American and foreign workers into a wage-cutting race to the bottom; and extends medicine patents allowing pharmaceutical companies to keep drug prices artificially inflated in the developing world.

This was a deal so inherently corrupt that when Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., offered a modest amendment to make CAFTA’s worker and human rights protections as strong as its protections for pharmaceutical patents, he was voted down.

(emphasis added)

The outcry in CR against this corporate boondoggle and travesty against the Costa Rican economy was immense and immediate, though Freddy ignores it completely, being so busy crowing about how successful the WH’s threats were.

Opposition to CAFTA exploded from every part of Costa Rican civil society ? labor unions, human rights groups, religious organizations, you name it. The outcry was so intense that pro-CAFTA President Oscar Arias felt compelled to submit CAFTA to a national referendum….

At which point Bush sent Langdale on a country-wide tour threatening US reprisals if CR turned CAFTA down. That’s what Fred considers a “victory” for “common sense” – a slim majority gave in to threats from a blackmailer. Yes, sir, Freddy. Truly something to be proud of: protecting corporate theft of the national resources of a country that has historically been less than friendly to corporate raiders by intimidation and blackmail. What integrity! What honesty! I’m speechless with disgust admiration.

And of course Freddy couldn’t restrain his glee at what he decided was a “defeat” for his least favorite legislators.

It was also a defeat for certain members of Congress, mostly Democrats, who had publicly leaned against DR-CAFTA ratification — and now find themselves on the opposite side of the issue from a majority of Costa Ricans. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-Maine) paid a supportive visit last month to opponents of DR-CAFTA in San Jose. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote Costa Rica’s ambassador in Washington to say that Costa Rica would not necessarily lose current U.S. trade benefits under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which expires in September, if the pact were rejected.

Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership’s history of breaking such promises whenever corporate lobbyists look at them crosswise meant their reassurances weren’t exactly convincing, and the weasel was already gamboling in the language: “would not necessarily lose” is a long way from a guarantee.

So the corporatocracy wins again and the economy, workers, and environment of Costa Rica lose by a nose as the Bush Admin once again covers itself in glory through tactics worthy of the Mafia. No wonder Fred’s so bursting with pride. Who wouldn’t be?

4 Responses to “Costa Rica Gives In to Bush Intimidation Over CAFTA”

  1. Laura says:

    I was keeping my fingers crossed for this one; kind of like when I was hoping Mexico could change direction in its last election…. Thanks for the update (plus details). Crap.

  2. Blammo says:

    Don’t fret.
    Before long P-resident Moron will pizz of Putin and noone will have to worry about The Empyre any more.
    If those idiots attack Iran you’re gonna need more than duct tape and visqueen.

  3. eRobin says:

    Oh, fuck. I was so hoping this wouldn’t happen.

  4. lucy says:

    devastating. we really thought we were going to win this one too. =(

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