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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bingaman Now Supports CAFTA After Securing Labor and Farm Commitments

FYI: The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) just passed the Senate Finance Committee on a voice vote. Senator Bingaman's office issued this release to explain why he now supports the agreement. CAFTA is expected to pass the Senate, but faces stronger opposition in the House.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 29, 2005


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today announced his support for a trade agreement with Central American countries, but only after securing commitments from the Bush administration related to worker protections and subsistence farmers who will be affected by the agreement.

Bingaman believes the agreement now will be an advantage to New Mexico, as it is geographically and economically positioned to benefit from an increase in two-way trade

However, two weeks ago, Bingaman voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) because it did not do enough to protect the rights of workers in Central American countries and because it did not provide enough assistance to subsistence farmers in the poorest of the countries covered by the agreement. 

For the past two weeks, Bingaman negotiated with Ambassador Rob Portman, the U.S. trade representative, to secure commitments from the Bush administration.  First, at Bingaman’s urging the administration agreed to set aside $40 million in each of the next four years for labor and environmental “capacity building.”  Capacity building refers to assistance given to countries designed to strengthen processes and institutions to implement commitments made in trade agreements, in this case monitoring and enforcing CAFTA country commitments to core labor standards, such as child labor, the right to organize, and the right to bargain collectively. 

Bingaman also got a commitment that $3 million would be set aside annually for legitimate, independent third party institution, the International Labor Organization, to monitor and report every six months on progress and problems with worker rights.

Second, Bingaman secured a commitment of $30 million per year for four years to help subsistence farmers in Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic, to transition to commercially-viable crops and mitigate the possibility of increased illegal immigration to the United States. 

“Even without improved labor protections and assistance to help subsistence farmers in CAFTA countries to transition to new crops, this bill had enough support in the Senate to pass without my vote.  I worked very hard with the Bush administration to address those serious concerns, and as a result we now have an unprecedented commitment to monitor worker protections and to provide assistance to farmers that should prevent an influx of illegal immigration to our country,” Bingaman said.

June 30, 2005 at 10:55 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


Since when are "commitments" from Bush to be taken as trustworthy? And what about the environmental impact of CAFTA? Read the letter against CAFTA by the League of Conservation Voters:


This is very bad legislation and I am shocked that it was supported by Sen. B.

Posted by: Eco-Voice | Jul 1, 2005 9:12:04 AM

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