WILL NAFTA FRIENDS BE CAFTA FRIENDS – OR FOES?
By Phyllis Spivey
While President George Bush has begun promoting a "new North American partnership" with Mexican Presidente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Latin American countries have been busy ratifying the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Signed by the United States in May 2004, CAFTA awaits action by the U.S. Congress.
Will it get the same kind of bipartisan blessing that gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the first border-opening, sovereignty-killing trade pact in the Western Hemisphere?
Negotiated under George Bush, amended and implemented by Bill Clinton, NAFTA was championed as an instrument for lifting trade barriers between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. But from the beginning, NAFTA was meant to comprise the entire Western Hemisphere – 900 million people – by 2005. Henry Kissinger described it as "the most creative step toward a new world order taken by any group of countries since the end of the Cold War . . . the hopeful architecture of a new international system."
The goals were clear to anyone who bothered to read the agreement, but few did, largely because the national debate was one of concept over contract. "I support free trade, therefore I support NAFTA," became the mantra. That the only opposition recognized by the media was big labor, Ross Perot, and insatiable environmental extremists tended to reinforce the idea that NAFTA would be good for business. The support of pro-business politicians, especially Republicans, confirmed it.
A sort of NAFTA frenzy took over. In the (then) most conservative county in the country – Orange County, California – Congressmen Cox, Dornan, Packard and Rohrabacher joined tax-and-spend, anti-business diehards such as Leon Panetta, Al Gore and Robert Reich to hand liberal Bill Clinton one of the greatest triumphs of his presidency. Never mind that NAFTA made Clinton a virtual dictator over entire industries or that his implementing legislation and an army of bureaucratic appointments insured NAFTA would wear the Clinton stamp for generations.
Clinton’s add-ons hadn’t yet been written when Rep. Rohrabacher began championing NAFTA. Admitting to constituents he hadn’t read even the basic agreement – his staff read it, he said -- Rohrabacher dismissed border concerns. He said he had never maintained that illegal immigration could be stopped at the border; instead, we needed to remove incentives, i.e., free services and subsidies and: "We need a tamper-proof, national I.D. card.".
A few months later, Rohrabacher’s impassioned plea at a California Republican Convention in the fall of 1993 resulted in passage of a remarkable pro-NAFTA resolution. It put the state party on record urging the support of (then) unwritten, unseen legislation to be tendered by leaders of the opposition party.
As for colleague Chris Cox, the day before he voted to ratify NAFTA, his Washington office was still faxing out letters meant to dispel concerns about threats to U.S. sovereignty under the accord. But whether from appalling ignorance or from a deliberate attempt to deceive voters, his statements about Clinton’s supplemental agreements, infringements on U.S. laws, and dispute resolution panels, contradicted the actual contract and misrepresented the scope of its authority.
Jack Kemp, the man who wanted to "empower America" openly touted NAFTA as "the first step to a hemispheric free trade zone." Then a vocal proponent of taxpayer subsidies for illegal aliens, Kemp predicted that without NAFTA "economic growth would be lower, illegal immigration will be higher, jobs will be lost . . .."
Even the ostensibly-libertarian Orange County Register gushed that NAFTA "restores the sovereign freedom of individuals" to conduct business without government barriers, claiming that NAFTA would help establish an "interconnected, virtually borderless world."
This was a strange position for the Register, since its editorials in the summer of 1992 had lambasted the eco-socialistic schemes hatched at the Rio Earth Summit. NAFTA embraced them. The agreement not only preempted U.S. law by superposing the edicts of international environmental treaties over governments, businesses and citizenries; it repeatedly pledged to promote sustainable development, a redistributionist, de-industrializing concept launched at the Rio Earth Summit and now tragically pervasive in U.S. policies.
Totaling more than 2500 pages, the contract consisted of three major components: the August 1992 basic agreement of five telephone-book-size volumes; the September 1993 environmental, labor, and border infrastructure amendments; and the NAFTA Implementation Act, available to the public just two weeks before the House of Representatives bought the entire package on November 17, 1993. The Senate approved it three days later and on January 1, 1994, the binding, tri-national treaty became the law of the land.
NAFTA was established to regulate trade, not free it; to create a trade bloc, not a free trade zone. With its grotesque expansion of government power and oppressive, far-reaching mandates, NAFTA violates every principle of free enterprise, national autonomy, and even individual freedom. It encourages foreign governments to meddle in U.S. affairs, promotes invasion of the U.S. by aliens and elevates them to a privileged status, while sending American jobs and dollars south.
Political proponents of both parties should be reminded – they promised the direct opposite of what NAFTA has actually delivered. Instead of considering yet another insult to American sovereignty, the U.S. Congress should be working to rescind NAFTA. The contract provides for it with just six months notice.
But now comes CAFTA which, when fully ratified, will extend tri-lateral NAFTA to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua , Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. CAFTA represents the next step toward a European-style hemispheric union – a single currency, a common defense, openly-open borders, the continued transfer of U.S. wealth to Third World countries and the demise of our American Republic..
Will the NAFTA-crats of ten years ago launch another national campaign to sell the merits of CAFTA, or will the political leadership of both major parties attempt to finalize CAFTA without public discussion? It may be up to you. Call your congressman at (877)762-8762 (toll free). Don’t delay!