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U.S. NEWSWIRE: Grassroots CAFTA opponents mobilize for final vote

July 27th, 2005

By Tom Ricker and Burke Stansbury

Citing the possibility of a vote on the US-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in the House of Representatives, opponents played up the widespread rejection of CAFTA throughout the Americas, and criticized attempts by Republicans to demonize CAFTA opponents. 

"For more then three years the Stop CAFTA Coalition has been waging a battle against this so-called "free" trade agreement, along with our partners in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica Honduras, and the Dominican Republic," said Tom Ricker of the Quixote Center. "The House leadership has called for a vote this week, but we believe that the overwhelming grassroots opposition to CAFTA will be enough to stop it."

"From calling Representatives, to phone banking in swing districts to holding rallies and sit-ins and educational events, we are resolved as ever to fight to the last minute before the vote," said Burke Stansbury of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). 

The Stop CAFTA Coalition and other national networks have been targeting undecided members of the U.S. Congress all week. On Tuesday, activists in New York held a rally demanding that Rep. Gregory Meeks vote against CAFTA, while in Washington DC the Coalition joined members of Congress to speak out against CAFTA on the West Lawn of the Capital. Local coalitions are also mobilizing for direct actions, rallies, and lobbying in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Minneapolis. 

The Coalition also denounced attempts by Republicans to portray CAFTA opponents as violent, Marxist demagogues, specifically attempts to scare members by constantly referring to political leaders such as Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez. "The people of Central America reject CAFTA," said Ricker, "and the attempts by Republicans to characterize the opposition as fringe ideologues is downright ridiculous." 

Social movements in Central America have also issued a region- wide call-to-action in preparation for the possible House vote. In El Salvador, the Popular Social Bloc (BPS) is targeting the U.S. Embassy, while other actions are also scheduled in Costa Rica and Honduras.

"Contrary to the assertions of the Bush administration, CAFTA is not a popular idea in Central America," said Holly Miller of Witness for Peace. "There have been dozens of demonstrations against CAFTA over the past few years, and many have been met with violence by the police and armed forces." 

The Stop CAFTA Coalition is a diverse coalition of faith, environmental, trade justice, economic justice and solidarity groups who have come together too collectively work to stop CAFTA and to promote fair, equitable trade that enriches the environment rather then exploits it. Web: http://www.stopcafta.org

© 2005 U.S. Newswire

Source: http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=50944


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