EMERGENCY PROTEST TODAY!!! Protest CAFTA Referendum Vote Fraud!!!

From: Sowmya
Sent on: Monday, October 8, 2007 12:55 PM
Another vote manipulated by Bush!!

PROTEST AND PRESS CONFERENCE!!!!

When:   TODAY, Monday, October 8, 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Where: Costa Rican Mission to the United Nations, 
211 East 43rd Street at 3rd Avenue

Sponsored by NYC People's Referendum on Free Trade.

Background Summary:

On the eve of the holiday devoted to one of 
history's most brutal colonizers, the Bush 
administration's neocolonial agenda for the 
Americas robbed Costa Rica of the opportunity to 
escape the socially and environmentally 
destructive impacts of the Dominican 
Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. 
The announced result of last night's referendum 
on DR-CAFTA has the trade deal passing by roughly 
51-48 percent, despite polls suggesting a ten 
point margin with opposition to CAFTA in the 
lead. CAFTA foes in Costa Rica are calling 
election fraud, and with a recent leaked memo 
detailing how Costa Rican local officials were 
encouraged to use dirty tricks to manipulate the 
election outcome and recent revelations that 
Costa Rican president Oscar Arias illegally took 
money from foreign powers to get elected 
president and support CAFTA, this should come as no surprise.

Costa Rica has seem protests of  100,000 opposed 
to this agreement-- vast numbers in a country of 
only  4.5 million people.  By rejecting 
neoliberal policies for decades, Costa Rica has 
maintained the highest standard of living in 
Central America. Costa Rica is home to vast 
stretches of fragile, biodiverse wilderness.  All 
of this is threatened by DR-CAFTA.

Detailed Background:

Why: According to early vote counts, a public 
referendum to ratify the Dominican 
Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement 
succeeded yesterday by a slim margin  (51.58% for 
and 48.42% against), despite polls in recent days 
suggesting the agreement would likely be defeated 
by a ten point margin.  DR-CAFTA foes in Costa 
Rica are charging election fraud, and DR-DR-CAFTA 
foes are also critical of the behavior of the 
Bush administration and corporate interests prior 
to the vote.  According to Wetlands Activism 
Collective's Adam Weissman, "It's fitting that on 
the holiday devoted to one of history's most 
brutal colonizers, we witness the Bush 
administration treating Costa Rica as a banana 
republic to be bullied and manipulated for the 
benefit of corporations.  In the final days 
leading up to the vote US corporations, the Bush 
administration and its crony, Costa Rican 
President Oscar Arias used lies, innuendo and 
intimidation, a campaign of economic 
terrorism,  to pass this agreement". According to 
Tom Loudon of the Alliance for Responsible Trade, 
a Costa Rican university newspaper on Friday 
exposed a meeting Oscar Arias, then a candidate 
for the Costa Rican presidency, attended in May 
2005 in Guatemala.   According to Loudon, "The 
article documents the names and amounts given of 
prominent financial players in the region, 
totaling over $180,000. to Arias? presidential 
campaign.  The apparent purpose of the? meeting 
was to coordinate a plan to ensure passage and 
ratification of DR-CAFTA in the region and in the 
U.S.  The article alleges that Arias was 
designated the head of a committee that was 
formed by this group, and in that role later 
attended a large fundraising event in Washington 
to collect money which would be used to promote 
ratification of DR-CAFTA.  The players, 
especially in the Guatemala meeting have business 
interest in telecommunications and internet 
services and the passage of DR-CAFTA would 
require Costa Rica to open their services to ?competition?."

On Saturday, White House press secretary, Dana 
Perino, said in a statement ?The United States 
has never before confronted the question of 
extending unilateral trade preferences to a 
country that has rejected a reciprocal trade 
agreement,? continuing a campaign of White House 
threats to pull the Caribbean Basin Initiative 
trade preferences that Costa Rica 
enjoys.  Periro's statement flew in the face of 
unequivocal statements by Congressional 
leadership that they have no intention of pulling 
CBI preferences from Costa Rica, a decision that 
would be made by Congress, not the White 
House.  Dole subsidiary Pindeco, which owns the 
majority of plantations in Costa Rica threatened 
to pull all jobs from Costa Rica and close its 
plantations if the referendum passed, a statement 
characterized by observers from the Alliance for 
Responsible Trade view as an empty threat 
designed to intimidate workers into voting for 
the trade agreement.  US Ambassador Mark Langdale 
has engaged in a campaign of illegal 
intimidation, visiting textile factories 
throughout the last month, and telling workers 
that the textile factories would close if the 
free trade agreement was not ratified, resulting 
in the loss of 14,000 jobs, a scare tactic with 
no basis in fact.  Within the last few days, 
President Bush and United States Trade 
Representative Susan Schwab have issued 
statements saying that there will be no chance to 
renegotiate the agreement if the Costa Rican 
people do not ratify it through the referendum.

According to Reuters, "the "No" camp received a 
boost last month with a scandal over a government 
memo leaked to a university newspaper that urged 
mayors to use dirty tricks to scare voters to 
support the DR-CAFTA. A top minister resigned." 
The LA Times suggests the memo's authors 
"proposed smearing DR-CAFTA opponents by linking 
them to leftist firebrands such as Venezuelan 
President Hugo Chavez and Cuban President Fidel 
Castro. They called for a public relations 
campaign to "stimulate fear" among citizens about 
the alleged dangers of snubbing the deal. They 
also advocated punishing local officials -- by withholding funds."

Two members of the NYC People's Referendum on 
Free Trade are currently in Costa Rica as 
election observers for the DR-DR-CAFTA 
Referendum.  The group also opposes the passage 
of free trade agreements with Peru, Panama, 
Colombia, and South Korea, which they believe 
will adversely impact workers, the environment, 
small farmers, public health, animal welfare, and 
social programs.   A vote on the trade agreement 
with Peru is expected in Congress this 
month.  Founded in 2002, the NYC People's 
Referendum on Free Trade is a coalition of Latino 
and Korean community organizations, labor, peace, 
human rights, environmental, health and AIDS 
advocacy, and animal rights organizations opposed 
to NAFTA-style free trade agreements



Wetlands Activism Collective, PO Box 344, New York, NY 10108
Phone: (347)[masked] Email: [address removed]

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