The United States spent two years in negotiations with Peru to settle terms of yet another free-trade agreement. These agreements have consistently been pro-corporation and pro-big business and anti-American worker. Yet our government – the President and the Congress – continue to ignore the needs of American workers in search of countries that may be exploited through the use of “Democracy-building” agreements based on our capitalistic economic system.
From the Heritage Foundation (a right-wing Think Tank):
Failure to complete the agreement would empower Latin America’s anti-democratic “21st Century Socialism” movement and strike a blow against pro-market, pro-democracy reformers in Peru and across Latin America. Approving the agreement would protect vital U.S. interests in the region and also send a strong message of hope to the people of Peru as they recover from a devastating mid-August earthquake that killed hundreds and caused millions of dollars in damage.
Peru (along with Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador) already has nearly complete access to the U.S. market under the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) legislation. Indeed, over 90 percent of Peru’s exports to the United States currently enter duty-free. With this entrée to the U.S. market, the Peruvian economy has diversified, leading to healthy economic growth and job creation and providing alternatives to coca production and guerrilla activities, which have ravaged Peru in the past.
And the conclusion of the Heritage Foundation article says it all as to their own, warped philosophical bent:
Should Congress fail to approve the agreement as originally negotiated with Peru, the door will be open to Chavez and other populist demagogues as they pursue their damaging and aggressive economic and political assault on the American values that have produced unprecedented prosperity around the world. Failure to approve the agreement would also undercut the courageous pro-free-market leaders in Peru who have made the politically difficult decision to stand with the United States while opposing alternative regional models. Their political weakening would impact other U.S. efforts, including anti-narcotics cooperation.
Twenty-First Century Socialism is the greatest challenge the U.S. has faced in Latin America since the end of the Cold War. Congress must act to protect both the American people and the peoples of the Andean region from this destructive force.
Although this comes from the Heritage Foundation, which we would think would have this viewpoint, apparently our Congressional representatives in the House and the Senate must be buying into this warped philosophy. In the Senate, both Indiana senators, Lugar and Bayh, voted to pass the bill. Twenty-nine senators had the courage to vote against the bill. This didn’t include either one of the two front-running Democratic presidential candidates – Clinton and Obama just didn’t vote.
In the House of Representatives, the Indiana breakdown was two opposing, five in favor, and two no votes. The two courageous Democrats not supporting the agreement were Joe Donnelly and Pete Visclosky. Souder, Burton, and Pence voted in favor, which could be expected. Carson and Buyer did not vote. Of course, this would have been during the final days of Julia Carson’s illness, so we can understand why she didn’t vote. But Ellsworth and Hill – two more newly elected Democrats? Both voted for the Agreement.
All four Democrats capable of voting should have voted against this free trade agreement, but they didn’t. And on December 14, 2007, the United States – Peru Free Trade Agreement was signed into law by the president.
So yet another free-trade agreement comes into existence. Aren’t our elected officials hearing the pain of the American worker? Or is their fear of losing campaign contributions so great that they will ignore their own constituencies in promoting democracy-building throughout the world.
Here is a statement from the Whitehouse in reference to how good this will be for the Peruvian people:
By removing barriers to U.S. services and investment, the agreement will also help create a secure, predictable legal framework that will help attract U.S. investors.
These agreements are bad for the American worker. I say back to protectionism, if that’s what it takes to protect our workers. But that would require giving up many cheaply-priced goods from all corners of the world. Americans, you have to ask yourself whether or not you would support that trade-off. If not, then we are doomed to continue on the road of free-trade agreement, whether in the name of democracy-building or in the pursuit of cheap products.