September 21, 2005


Opposition to CAFTA wanes in Nicaragua: Despite the country's leftist past, backers of the trade pact have gained ground. (Danna Harman, 9/22/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Marching down Universidad Avenue toward congress came thousands of protesters, throwing their fists into the heavy, humid air, waving anti-American placards. The demonstration against the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) earlier this month was expected to be about 20,000 people strong.

In fact, more like 4,000 people showed up.

In a country that spent a good number of the last 25 years battling US interests here, the predictable opposition to CAFTA has, in fact, been a little weaker - and the support for the trade pact broader and deeper - than expected. [...]

People like Juan Carlos Pereira, a Harvard Business School-educated Nicaraguan, says CAFTA can bring much-needed jobs to the country, which is way behind other Central American nations when it comes to investment. Honduras and El Salvador each export some $2 billion worth of apparel a year for example. Nicaragua is closer to $600 million. "We lost a decade in the '80s because of the war," says Mr. Pereira. "We are only now starting to catch up and we need CAFTA more than anyone else."

Pereira, who runs Pro-Nicaragua, a government-backed organization that seeks to attract investment says about $400 million worth of projects have come through his office. "That represents about 7,500 jobs that are coming to Central America. I don't know how many will come to Nicaragua, but I will tell you - if we don't have CAFTA, not a single one will come here," he says.

CAFTA's cheerleaders here also point out that Asian countries - which are increasingly inking trade deals in the region - will be more inclined to invest in a country with easy access to the US market and a binding commitment to intra-regional trade.

Those poor Democrats like Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy who backed the Sandanistas and oppose free trade just can't catch a break, huh? Ah, well, they've still got Fidel....

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2005 9:12 PM

Too many Cubans have lost fidelity to Castro as he fiddles away while Cuba sinks further into poverty.

Posted by: obc at September 21, 2005 9:22 PM