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Rep. Blumenauer Finally Sees the Light, Announces Oppostiton to CAFTA

Congressman Earl Blumenauer announced today that he will oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) if it comes up for a vote in Congress!
An action outside Blumenaur's office last September
An action outside Blumenaur's office last September
A spokesperson from the ILWU at the rally last week
A spokesperson from the ILWU at the rally last week
Congressman Earl Blumenauer announced today that he will oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) if it comes up for a vote in Congress!

Let's take time to celebrate the victory and to acknowledge the many people who took the time to understand this important issue and take action on it. Many Jobs with Justice pledgers, CBLOC members, the Oregon AFL-CIO, union members, students and others held informational pickets, phone banks, wrote post cards, and emails, all urging Representative Blumenauer to vote "NO" on CAFTA. We told him that CAFTA was even more destructive than NAFTA because CAFTA's labor protections were weaker than NAFTA's protections, which themselves never judged in favor of a worker. We also pointed out that CAFTA included "Trade in Services" which would hasten the rush to privatization on both sides of the border. Another issue we emphasized was the harm done to small corn farmers in Mexico due to the unfair advantage US. agribusiness has because of subsidies. All of this would be intensified under CAFTA.

Special "thanks" should go to the 250 people who came out last Monday, May 2nd to the Rally and Forum on Trade at the University of Portland. Although the forum was at 9:00 AM, a very difficult time for workers, people made sure to be there! Representative Blumenauer and Senator Smith hosted a panel that was very much tilted towards corporate free trade agreements, yet the pre-forum rally and the audience of workers and community members spoke of workers' rights in a clear voice. At the pre-forum rally, it was particularly moving to hear a reading of the communities in Oregon that have lost jobs due to NAFTA and the numbers of jobs lost. We also heard from a Diego Castellanos, who lost his job processing sugar beets in Nyssa, Oregon. In the forum, Thea Lee, AFL-CIO trade specialist, received a loud standing ovation for her magnificent analysis of the destructive effects of corporate trade on both sides of the border.

Our presence at the University of Portland on May 2nd certainly appears to have played an important role in role in Representative Blumenauer's decision to oppose CAFTA. In his press release, added on below, he mentions that at the trade forum, the negatives outweighed the positives on CAFTA. Last week, it was also critical that pro (free) trade Democrats from Washington State came out against CAFTA and Democratic Party leaders announced that they did not believe that CAFTA had enough votes to pass.

Please stay tuned for next steps. Of course, the more Representatives and Senators who come out against CAFTA, the less likely there will ever be a vote on it. We need to encourage our Oregon Senators to vote "No" on CAFTA. They have both made comments critical of this trade deal recently, so we have a good opportunity to move ahead.

Press Release from Blumenauer's Office:
Blumenauer Announces Opposition to CAFTA

Washington, DC - Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced today that he will oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) when it comes up for a vote in Congress. This trade agreement, if approved by Congress, would create a "free trade" zone between the United States and other Central American countries similar to that of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement could be considered and voted on by Congress as early as the coming weeks. Blumenauer issued the following statement to describe his opposition to the proposal:

"Oregon is a key part of the global economy. I, along with most Oregonians, support trade. Done right, trade has the potential to create jobs, lower consumer prices, and help developing countries. We all want stronger economies and better consumer choices.

"I have supported all four bilateral trade agreements that have come before Congress since TPA, since they dealt with developed economies such as Australia and Singapore or countries that have made great strides and are leaders in their regions - Morocco and Chile.

"CAFTA , however, is the failed product of the partisan and poorly constructed trade negotiating framework of Fast Track. It is not Honest Trade.

"Last week, I held a trade forum that considered our general trade policies and CAFTA in particular. I heard a number of points of view, and it's very clear that CAFTA will be good for some Oregon businesses but for me, the negatives outweigh the positives.

"For me, it is clear that CAFTA:

* Does not include meaningful environmental and labor standards.

* Would seriously under fund promises to help those negatively affected by trade.

* Seriously harms countries that rely heavily on an agricultural economy. This is unfathomable.

"Our egregious Farm Bill has locked us into subsidies that do not promote free trade and have already caused much harm to other countries' farmers .We need to pay attention to the hard lessons NAFTA imposed on struggling Mexican farmers.

"We can negotiate better and fairer trade agreements by focusing on Honest Trade. Honest trade includes regulations and enforcement mechanisms that can improve labor conditions and environmental quality. It can improve the financial markets by making processes more transparent and accountable. Honest trade can foster democratic processes.

"Done right, honest trade will open up markets for companies in my hometown such as Nike, Intel, Columbia Sportsware, Precision Castparts, and Freightliner that export around the world and create jobs for my constituents. Agricultural specialty crops in Oregon can thrive when U.S. policy finally helps family farmers protect the land and water rather than putting our money into outrageous subsidies for agricultural commodities.

"CAFTA is not honest trade, since it protects certain industries, such as sugar and rice, and minimizes the regulations that can improve standards for the countries involved. Indeed, there is ambivalence in Central America. Most recently, Costa Rica is possibly postponing deliberations until after the presidential election in February 2006.

"It is clear that the United States trade policy needs to be more sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable. Our trade policies should support our own labor and environmental laws. The U.S. is too timid in using the WTO to protect American business and workers from unfair practices.

Continued Republican partisanship and lack of communication means that we are not forging bipartisan trade policies. CAFTA's approval at this point will not be a step forward and I fear would be a step back. I won't vote for it in its current form."

homepage: homepage: http://www.jwjpdx.org
phone: phone: 503-236-5573

Oppostiton, Opposition--you know what I meant 09.May.2005 17:55

Jobs with Justice spell checker

Hey indy editors--feel free to correct my spelling, especially if you feature this one. Thanks!

spelling 09.May.2005 23:49

pdx indymedia workerbee #6082

it's been corrected in the headline of the feature. as you probably know, though, newswire articles are left unedited. thanks for pointing it out, though -- it was missed in the featurizing process when your headline was cut-n-pasted.