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Friday, October 24, 2003

Kucinich opposes FTAA
He was in Miami yesterday, and released a statement opposing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Excerpts:

NAFTA has been a preview of the damage that the FTAA could do to jobs, workers' rights, and the environment. NAFTA has spurred a $418 billion trade deficit, costing 525,000 U.S. jobs, most of them in manufacturing. This is called free trade. But where is freedom when jobs are lost, wages are cut, and the right to bargain collectively is crushed? NAFTA has attacked federal laws meant to protect workers' rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles.

Since NAFTA was enacted 10 years ago, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has ballooned. Companies have used the threat of moving jobs to Mexico to place downward pressure on wages and benefits for American workers. Meanwhile, the labor side agreement to NAFTA has proven to be totally ineffective. The real value of wages for Mexican workers has declined since NAFTA was enacted, and not a single company has been cited for violations of worker rights or labor standards.
The FTAA would export the destructive effects of NAFTA throughout our hemisphere by expanding it to include all countries in the Americas. And it would accelerate the privatization of municipal services, including water. Water must be a human right, not a privilege for those who can pay the going rate. This is a matter of life and death. I support South Floridians for Fair Trade and Global Justice in their effort to prevent the damage that would be done to this nation and this hemisphere by the establishment of the FTAA.

As president, I will oppose the FTAA, and I will make my first act in office the repeal of NAFTA and withdrawal from the WTO. I will replace these corporate trade agreements with fair bilateral trade agreements conditioned on workers' rights, human rights, and environmental protections.

When I was in Chiapas this past spring, one of the workers at CIEPAC, an NGO, gave us pretty detailed overview of the various agreements which have made it difficult or in some cases impossible for indigenous communities to survive. NAFTA was one, and the proposed FTAA was another. I'm hoping to join the protesters in Miami next month; the FTAA must be stopped!

(ALCA is the Spanish acronym for FTAA)