|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MARCH 3, 2005
|CONTACT: Quixote Center
Burke Stansbury, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El
Salvador, 212-465-8115, ext. 205; or 718-832-9399, email@example.com
Tom Ricker, Quixote Center, 301-922-1821 (cell); 301-699-0042;
WASHINGTON -- March 3 -- Members of the U.S. based STOP CAFTA coalition join the Honduran social sector in denouncing the vote in Honduras today. The country became the second, after El Salvador, to ratify the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) with a 100 to 28 vote by members of the National Assembly.
A statement issued by COPINH (The Council of Civic, Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), says, "The ratification of [CAFTA] was done in a traitorous fashion, given that the President of the National Congress Porfirio Lobo Sosa had promised the different social organizations that before sending the treaty to Congress for a vote, they would have a meeting next Tuesday March 8th so that the people of Honduras could present their reservations to Congress."
'The process of ratifying this agreement in Central America has completely marginalized the popular sector. First, the ruling party in El Salvador introduces the agreement for a vote at 3:00 in the morning the Friday before Christmas, with the assembly surrounded by riot police. Then Guatemala's Assembly, which is also considering CAFTA this week, talked of moving to a hotel to hold the vote because of opposition to the agreement. They have since delayed that vote until next week. Now Honduras' Assembly members are slinking off to some secret location so as not to face the people of their country. Clearly this is not a popular accord and can only pass by the most devious and secretive means," said Tom Ricker of the Quixote Center.
Opposition in Honduras has been consistent since CAFTA was first announced in 2002. According to a report recently issued by the Alliance for Responsible Trade, there have been 12 significant demonstrations against CAFTA since July 2002 in Honduras. As recently as February 11, 2005 leaders of the social movement held a "People's Congress" to take testimony on the agreement in an effort to convince members of the assembly that CAFTA should be rejected. In December of 2004 members of the Bloque Popular occupied the Assembly building to ensure that a mid-night vote, such as had occurred in El Salvador, would not be repeated.
The STOP CAFTA Coalition is loose network of organizations that work in solidarity with the people of Central America, including, the Nicaragua Network, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, Witness for Peace, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the Quixote Center, Campaign for Labor Rights, the SHARE Foundation and others. www.stopcafta.org