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Neoliberalism Falters on CAFTA

Texans' fight against DR-CAFTA was a model for future struggles, and the outcome wasn't as bad as we are being told.

The "Dominican-Republic and Central American Free Trade Act" was actually signed by the American trade negotiator a year ago. It took the Bush reactionaries until now to bribe and blackmail enough congresspersons to vote for it. During that time, they were afraid to bring it to the House floor for fear of defeat. They finally counted enough (brown) noses to pass it, and brought it up on July 27, 2005. Reactionary "Fast Track" rules abetted by preventing any amendment and by limiting the time for debate. Even then, DR-CAFTA squeaked through by only 3 votes.

The transnational-funded reactionaries had all their usual heavy hitters, including the housebroken American news agencies. Tame religious leaders, said to include even the Archbishop of El Salvador, pitched in to do their part for reaction. On our side were the organized voices of the working class, environmentalists, and the truth. Special credit should go to Texas Fair Trade Watch, www.texasfairtrade.org, for providing most of the information and a lot of the energy to lead the fight. The marvelous communications network of the Texas Federation of Labor, and, of course, national organizations, deserve much credit as well.

Local people did a great job. The Dallas Interfaith Committee for Economic Justice has met regularly and made DR-CAFTA their main topic. Houstonians, led by labor, organized a picket outside Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee's office. Just before they gathered, she announced that she would vote, "no," so they turned it into a gratitude-fest.

I shudder to think how many letters, phone calls, public statements, and e-mails against DR-CAFTA were generated just in the Texas fight!

Texas congresspersons received special pressure because of our long border area and the economic interests there. Only three of the Democrats gave in, all in the border region, and one Texas Republican came over to our side. Far better than the vote on NAFTA when Clinton was President!

It isn't the battle that matters, it's the class war. The aggregate size of the economies concerned with DR-CAFTA were roughly equal to the economy of one city, (Sacramento, California) according to one news source. What really matters is how the razor-thin House vote will affect the transnational corporations' future drive for world domination.

The fact that it took them a year, that they barely won DR-CAFTA, and the growing fightback all over this hemisphere and particularly in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, argue that their grand plan, the "Free Trade Area of the Americas," will never receive approval.

Those of us who oppose the power of transnational corporations need to be thinking about the opportunity provided by the national march on Washington September 24. Their web page, www.unitedforpeace.org, says that two of the most power neoliberal organizations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, will be meeting on that day! Texans need to go!

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