WASHINGTON -- March 10 -- U.S. based solidarity organizations that make up the Stop CAFTA coalition expressed support for protests in Guatemala calling for a popular referendum on the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). They also demanded that the government of Guatemala stop attacks against demonstrators.
"We support the call from the Mesa Global, and other popular sector groups in Guatemala for a popular referendum on CAFTA. This agreement will have a dramatic impact on the country -- from the rural small farmer economy to access to medicines, and provision of public services. The people should be able to vote directly," said Matthew Kennis of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.
This week demonstrations have delayed efforts to ratify the treaty in Guatemala's congress. Yesterday, 500 soldiers were sent in to the Historic Center of Guatemala City to help the municipal police disrupt union, farmer, indigenous and other groups protesting the vote. Police fired tear gas and beat demonstrators Wednesday evening.
"The people in Central America are speaking out on CAFTA, and the message is clear: They do not want this agreement!" said Tom Ricker of the Quixote Center.
"The ruling parties in Guatemala and the Bush administration pretend this agreement is great for Central America. But as in El Salvador and Honduras, the only way they can CAFTA is through force and repression," added Burke Stansbury of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador
There is a demonstration in front of the Guatemalan Embassy (2220 R. St., N.W.) in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, March 11 at noon to voice support for the popular movement in Guatemala. Sponsored by NISGUA and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission.
The STOP CAFTA Coalition works in solidarity with the people of Central America. Organizations include, the Nicaragua Network, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the Quixote Center, the SHARE Foundation and others.