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There is at least one group in India willing to confront the issue of women’s relationship with their spiritual traditions, SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association). Mirai Chatterjee, a member of SEWA, points out in her essay, “Religion, secularism, and organising women workers,” that the need for attention paid to women’s relationship to their spirituality is imperative. She says SEWA recognizes the importance that religion plays in shaping world views and facilitating or debilitating relationships between communities of women. With the rise of communalism (defined as loyalty and commitment to the interests of your own minority or ethnic group rather than to society as a whole) throughout India, it has become increasingly important to understand how and to what extent religion/spirituality informs women in their everyday lives. SEWA has become aware of the use of religion by sadhus, mullahs and other religious leaders to forward their own communal agendas and the resulting devastation it has wreaked on individual women’s lives and the chances for alliances between women of differing religious communities.[i]

Amidst all of the communal devastation, SEWA has remained vigilant in encouraging open communication between its members from different religious traditions in order that “From this exchange [of both positive and negative religious experiences] ideas for action and further organizing could develop, together with a strengthening of our own bonds.”[ii]

SEWA’s efforts at encouraging dialogue between members include touching on issues such as:

  • communalism as a virus that, due to prolonged socialization, affects everyone and this internalization should be confronted;
  • recognition and emphasis on the positive, humanistic aspects of religion;
  • challenging the patriarchal, oppressive and divisive aspects of religion through a feminist lens is vital to creating alternatives, which are possible through introspection and collaboration;
  • women’s roles in religion and religious women’s contributions to society should be highlighted and understood- and not just leaders, but average’s women’s contributions through ritual, folklore and songs;
  • secularism needs to be addressed and an understanding of its role in dividing communities; disassociation from the definition of ‘religion’ used by communalists that only further divides communities and would-be allies;
  • encourage minority women to take up leadership roles;
  • encourage a ‘common civil code’ that respects everyone and is not co-opted by communalists and used to oppress women, dalits, the poor or religious groups.[iii]

(C) 2010 By Shannon Laliberte Parks. All Rights Reserved. Please Obtain Permission to Copy.


[i] Chatterjee, Mirai. “Religion, secularism, and organising women workers,” in Against All Odds: Essays on Women, Religion and Development from India and Pakistan. Kamla Bhasin, Ritu Menon and Nighat Said Khan, eds. Kali for Women: New Delhi. 1994. pp. 107-16.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Chatterjee, Mirai. “Religion, secularism, and organising women workers,” in Against All Odds: Essays on Women, Religion and Development from India and Pakistan. Kamla Bhasin, Ritu Menon and Nighat Said Khan, eds. Kali for Women: New Delhi. 1994. pp. 114-5.

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NATIVE LANDS CONSIDERED NATIONAL SACRIFICE AREAS: “A closer look at the western religious origins of the term [sacrifice] is even more disturbing. The ‘sacrificial lamb’ or ‘scapegoat’ is symbolically understood to take on the weight of the community’s sins, and is then either exiled from the community or killed as an act of atonement.

In that sense, the designation of many Indian lands as National Sacrifice Areas is a disturbingly accurate recognition of present reality. Native communities are the scapegoats for Western consumer culture, bearing the burdens of the sins of the community. Indian communities have hosted toxic waste, a by-product of white middle class consumer lifestyles, without ever having benefited from those lifestyles.” – Jonna Higgins-Freese and Jeff Tomhave, in their article Race, Sacrifice, and Native Lands

As an ally to Native women environmental leaders throughout the Southwest, I have witnessed, first hand, that Native American grassroots and community groups are facing a multi-faceted fight when it comes to protecting their lands from continued environmental destruction and cultural genocide.

  • Increasingly the federal government and private industry is looking toward Tribal lands for new and existing sources of domestic energy, as well as ground zero for launching domestic “green” alternative energy initiatives. For centuries, corporations and the federal government have exploited Native communities for their own gain, therefore those entities pushing for this renewed effort to source alternatives in Indian Country must be held accountable to those communities who will ultimately bear the brunt of the expansion and development.
  • This effort to keep parties accountable is much harder than one might think. Tribal power over its own lands is a complicated matter, involving a “checkerboard” of intersecting, interwoven, complex relationships between federal, state and tribal policies.
    • Overall, it should be noted that more often than not, tribal governments answer to federal and state regulations, as opposed to the other way around.
    • Historically, the federal government has perceived Indigenous people of this land, first, as uncivilized “savages,” then when human rights were called into question, the perception shifted to recognizing their humanity, but deeming them infantile, so as to continue to exert power over them and their lands.
  • Unfortunately, the department of the federal government that most directly affects tribal sovereignty when it comes to environmental considerations is the EPA. The reason this is unfortunate is because research shows that the EPA “ …more often than not, opposes congressional attempts to pass tough environmental laws… spends more time and money figuring out how to exempt corporations from regulations than it does enforcing them and …. the EPA’s will to regulate is so weak that a proposed regulation must be under a court-ordered deadline (brought by an environmental group) before it will even be considered for the EPA administrator’s signature.[1
  • Investigation into the relationships between decision makers and industry has cast a negative light on many projects brought to Indian Country. For its part, the EPA has a long record of administrators leaving the department and entering into highly lucrative positions with hazardous waste management corporations and other industry players. Therefore, it is critical to provide support, when called for, to Native American partners in seeking to untangle the web of intricate policies so that the voice of the grassroots is heard as new decisions are made regarding Native land use.
  • With the onslaught of the recent economic downturn, both global and domestic, budget cuts to critical services that provide for some of the most impacted communities in this country are being enacted. The result is that impoverished communities are left disproportionately under-served by both governmental services and pro bono advocacy.
  • And lastly, as our government seeks to assuage Americans’ economic and national security fears, solutions are being sought in the heart of Native country – federal and private interests are looking to the vast amounts of untapped petroleum-based resources that lie beneath the lands of this country’s Indigenous peoples, as well as those purported to be sustainable, “green” alternatives.

Each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet… we will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” – President Barack Obama

Nuclear power is going to be an important part of our energy mix.. We will be building some [clean] coal plants… while we search for alternatives.” – Steven Chu, Nobel Prize winning physicist and Secretary of Energy. Read the rest of this entry »

“History is important. If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.” –Howard Zinn

INTRODUCTION

As a former colony of the British Empire, the United States is directly influenced by the history of European women’s plight prior to the “founding” of this country. Therefore, it is imperative to understand that history so that the near past and current state of affairs related to women’s health rights in this country can be understood in complete context.  The implications of a history that includes a legal system that stems from the struggles of women throughout Europe to defend their reproductive rights against some of the most repressive, genocidal, social and legal structures in history is critical in understanding how the rights of some of the most vulnerable groups of women in this country are infringed upon by existing legislation. It is also critical in grasping the gravity of the current legislative reform related to healthcare that is happening in this country.

This brief is not meant to be complete history of women’s rights in Europe nor the United States, rather a condensed listing of some of the most relevant issues that have lead to the current state of women’s rights in this country. The paper’s perspective is decidedly Western mainstream and certainly an overwhelming amount of information could be contributed if written from the perspective of the myriad cultures that exist in this country. But the for the purposes of this paper, this perspective is a first step in understanding the complete picture of the history of women’s rights in this country.

AN ANCESTRY OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION & DISAPPEARANCE OF PRIVACY

By the end of the 14th century, European states began the subtle and slow transition from a nature-based society to mercantilism, which eventually evolved into capitalism. The effect this had on women and their reproductive, economic and class circumstances is a steady decline toward subjugation. Women went from positions of equity with men to being perceived as servile, infantile, commodities and reproductive machines. Increasingly, women were seen as reproductive beings, their most important contributions to society being the ability to increase the citizenry. This perspective lead to widespread social and legal restrictions on women’s access to traditional forms of birth control, abortion and holistic healthcare. Their autonomy in these decisions were completely stripped away and became affairs of the State.

There are many historical “moments” that have contributed to the current US social perception of women and legal barriers to their autonomy in controlling their reproductive choices. Some of which include:

  • In the 16th century Europe experienced a decline in population growth, which some historians attribute to “low natality rates and the unwillingness of the poor to reproduce themselves.” Sylvia Federici argues that this population crisis was the beginning of state intrusion into once-private reproduction issues. [i]
  • By the mid 16th century, the prevailing thought of the State was that a larger citizenry determined its stature on the world stage. French political thinker Jean Bodin wrote, “In my view, one should never be afraid of having too many subjects or too many citizens, for the strength of the commonwealth consists in men.” Additionally, Henry IV was known to say “the strength and wealth of a king lie in the number and opulence of his citizens.” This new widespread belief system signaled the beginning of laws punishing any behavior obstructing population growth.[ii]
  • The Great Witch Hunt of the 16th and 17th centuries were a full on assault on women the world over. The primary focus of the witch hunts, says Federici, was to co-opt control over women’s bodies, seizing power of contraception and non-procreative sexuality from them. During this time, European governments enacted severe penalties against reproductive crimes, including contraception, midwifery and infanticide.[iii]
  • There were also very strong social norms that developed indicating that women were incapable of controlling themselves and needed to be hidden away for their own and society’s benefit; women were popularly conveyed publically as unreasonable, vain, wild, wasteful, mouthy, gossipy, scolds, witches, etc. [iv] Read the rest of this entry »

The massive efforts to develop the Third World in the years since World War II were not motivated by purely philanthropic considerations but by the need to bring the Third World into the orbit of the Western trading system in order to create an ever-expanding market for our goods and services and a source of cheap labor and raw materials for our industries. This has also been the goal of colonialism especially during its last phase, which started in the 1870’s. For that reason, there is a striking continuity between the colonial era and the era of development, both in the methods used to achieve their common goal and in the social and ecological consequences of applying them.[1]

Following the Second World War in 1944, President Roosevelt convened a United Nations-sponsored (the UN at this time not officially formed yet) monetary and financial conference at Bretton Woods to discuss redevelopment of devastated areas due to the destruction of the wars. Ultimately it was in the conferences’ plans to create a Bank of Reconstruction and Development. This “bank” is today known as the World Bank and the addition of the word “development” was a controversial move according to some of the conference members, specifically those from Latin American countries; for the concept of “development” was to indicate assistance given to economically disadvantaged countries that had long suffered under colonial occupation. The overall result of the end of World War II and the Bretton Woods conference was a general split of the world into two camps: the US-led capitalist ideological, political and economic bloc and the Soviet-led socialist ideological, political and economic bloc- and the two camps proceeded to battle for world allegiance through development aid and military programs.[2]

Starting in Europe, the United States made an agreement, the Marshall Plan, which instituted a new aid design, ultimately benefiting the supplier of aid, not the receiver. Marianne Gronemeyer says of the new deal, In reality, the package of measures was the prototype of all future self-help, though it nevertheless remained a public gesture of giving. World politics had never before been so elegant. The boundaries between giving and taking were blurred to the point of unrecognizability.”[3]

In 1948, UN Resolution 200 aimed to recognize the “technical backwardness” of the “underdeveloped” nations of the world and the commitment of “developed” nations to assist them in modernizing. President Truman said of this new effort,

“More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas… We invite other countries to pool their technological resources in this undertaking. Their contributions will be warmly welcomed. This should be a cooperative enterprise in which all nations work together through the United Nations and its specialized agencies whenever practicable… The old imperialism – exploitation for foreign profit – has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair dealing.”[4]

This became the basis for the hegemonic assault of the industrialized nations upon the rest of the world, not to mention the absolute refusal of these nations to recognize their part in creating the abject poverty experienced throughout the Global South.

The shift in focus from promoting individual and community subsistence that values diversity and local control, to a global-led marketplace that devalues such ideas and has allowed for the promotion and prioritization of development / aid projects that displace millions in the name of modernization; promote profits for corporations not people; undermine the autonomy of countries, subjecting them to the influence of richer and more politically and militarily powerful countries; culturally appropriate family planning and control by women over their own bodies and reproductive choices; an increased number of people unable to provide for their most basic needs with their own land and labor; destruction of  environments that for centuries have provided communities with all of their needs—these realities are the real foundation of modern aid programs. Enclosure of the commons throughout the world has also included the sale of communal lands to pay off national debt and the privatization of public services, all of which take communal control away from citizens and give it over to governments and corporations. Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s social security has proven to be enormously effective in greatly reducing poverty among the elderly, protecting relatives of deceased workers and the disabled, and providing a reliable and predictable source of retirement income.
–Libby Perl, Century Foundation[1]

Social Security is more than a retirement program—it is an insurance program that takes care of vulnerable families at all stages of life. Funding private retirement accounts by diverting money away from the current system would increase retirement insecurity and undermine the viability of the survivor and disability components of the social Security system—the very programs upon which African-Americans [as well as numerous other minority groups] and their children heavily rely.
-Urban League’s Maya Rockeymoor, Senior Resident Scholar

The Bush administration announced on Thursday, November 4, 2004, his intention to reform the ailing social security system. But is it really in need of reform? For six decades, the Social Security Administration has helped Americans avoid abject poverty in their retirement years, as well as during times of the death of a working family member or in the case of disability. According to the numbers popularly crunched, even by Bush’s commission, Social Security is adequate enough to cover benefits for everyone for the next 38 years with no changes. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates social security’s adequacy to extend into the next 48 years. “Yet social security ‘reformers’ have spent the last decade and a half convincing most of the public that social security is in dire straits.”[2]

The Bush administration is jumping the gun and creating a system that would benefit the wealthy in the long run and leave the young workers of today struggling just the same as they would if social security was left to its original design. The Bush administration is not creating a solution to the possible crisis of Social Security, instead their plans are only creating divergent ways of reaching the same critical point in the future. What are not being talked about are the critical issues that are the source of the problem. The fact that the amount of contemporary workers is out numbered by the amount of today’s beneficiaries may have something to do with outsourcing and other such policies that favor sending jobs overseas while Americans are left to struggle to make ends meet while searching for jobs. The Healthcare crisis in this country could be reformed so that when workers hit retirement age not quite so many of them would have to rely on social security medical benefits as do today. Read the rest of this entry »

Oral History of Jean D.*

“We seek beyond history for a new and more possible meeting.” –Audre Lorde

This is a retelling of  Jean D.’s story in an adaptive form. In the way that the Indian Shakta tradition has reclaimed their history by adapting the Bhagavad Gita to a form more comprehensive and pertinent to their particular experience in the form of the Devi Mahatmya and the Devi Gita. I have decided not to include certain factors in this retelling, such as race, for Jean’s ancestry is European American and this is just her story. Other factors have also been left out due to length of this project and the complexity of the interconnectedness of all of them, this project would become infinite (issues such as occupation by invasion and immigration). Mary McGee described stories such as this as “women-centered” stories in her essay, “The Virtuous Hindu Woman as Icon and Agent.” She also agrees with A.K. Ramanujan, who asserts, “that women’s tales ‘present an alternative way of looking at things. Genders are genres. The world of women is not the world of men’”. In this way, women become significant agents in defining morals and consequently bringing about change. The deviant behavior that results (according to the contemporary social norms) is backed up with moral justifications- the benefit of their families, friends, etc. The adaptive history can be very useful in empowering women to change their own perceptions of the “ideal woman” and in turn change similarly held perceptions of women by men. In essence, “the icon (ideal woman as represented in the story) becomes agent” (McGee 1994: 4).Although the women in Jean’s family are strong within the context of contemporary social ideology, I did not wish to create conflict between their adaptive and historical stories. Instead I wanted to impart on them even more strength in the form of divine power as expressed in their roles as the centerpieces of their families, as mothers, daughters and wives.

“…it is undeniable that the male symbolism of deity has been a major contributor to the exclusion of women from positions of respect and authority in Western society and religion.” –Rita Gross Read the rest of this entry »

Female Sacred Sources of Empowerment: Indian Hindu Women Full of Strength and Power Since Time Immemorial

Women, Religion and Social Change; New College of California; Fall 2004 Research Paper

What is feminism? What is the women’s movement? Is it a frill? Another aspect of individualism? An imperialistic western product? It is none of these things…The woman’s movement is a major, global and most profound shift in both human relations and thinking in modern times. Who is thinking and acting? It is the women who are at the bottom of the social structure. Margaret Mead, the eminent anthropologist, when asked about the most important periods of human development in all history, identified four such periods: …evolution; …ice age; …industrialization; …and —the period of the Woman’s Movement. After these periods nothing was the same again, she said. What is changing? Everything! When women begin to move, the whole social structure begins to shift!…Going to the great religions of the world, she [woman] finds her experience there largely encapsulated in man’s language and patriarchal structures…What, then, do women really want?  They seek to reclaim their lived experiences in past history in all fields of knowledge. They want their experience to be part of the present. Finally, they want to ensure that their lives and experiences will be included and counted significantly in a vision of a better world for the future…to see their experiences and contributions become an integral part of the world knowledge and a dynamic for structural change in human relations and social justice. -Frances Maria Yasas, “Woman Reclaiming Her Experience”

The Goddess, in Hindu religious tradition, encompasses both creative and destructive capacities, and as a myth model for women this duality serves as both a divine role model and an immanence to be experienced here on Earth.[1] The Goddess’ presence plays such a vital and essential role in women’s lives in India, I believe, because of some of the cultural obstacles they face on a daily basis. Vedantic law in general, the Laws of Manu, the Stridharmapaddhati and the Yatidharmaprakasa are just a few of the texts that place restrictive measures on all aspects of women’s lives. For example, in these texts, women are not to do things independently of their fathers or husbands; spiritual independence cannot be achieved even when a woman has devoted herself to a ‘proper’ life as a wife; there are six conditions that assist in a woman’s descent into hell: recitation of sacred texts (japa), performance of austerities (tapas), going on pilgrimage, renunciation, mantra chanting and deity worship (temple worship is included in this) and the only auspicious way to perform these things is to meditate on her husband as God, meditate on his deity of choice, assist with any of his ritual duties, and so on.[2] Although the West assumes that these laws are strictly adhered to, there is evidence of popular alternative stories, myths, scripture and female leaders in Hindu culture that show that women are not always willing to emulate the static icons of traditional womanhood. Read the rest of this entry »

Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo was created in Argentina as a direct result of the Proceso’s (as the military regime was known to the populace) repressive environment and subsequent mass disappearances of the population. Las Madres started informally on April 30, 1977 with the first group of women gathering in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. These women were gathering because of their inability to find satisfactory answers to their questions about the disappearances of their children. They were politically inactive housewives that felt they had no other recourse but to publicly gather to demand that the government and the world pay attention to the disappearances of so many Argentinians. Many were Catholic and requested the help of the Church in addition to their pleas to the government, but found the Church to be an unwilling advocate. It remained, for much of the regime’s rule, to be an ambiguous player in the fate of the disappeared; they spoke on behalf of the families to the military but seemed unwilling to take further action. Many people turned to the humanitarian groups throughout Argentina to fill the gap.

Azucena Villaflor de De Vicenti was one of the women that became more and more enraged with the endless dead ends she was directed down by the military and the Church and the limited successes of the human rights groups. One day it occurred to her that she could take matters into her own hands and told a friend, “We are wasting our time. This is not where we must look for out children. We have to go to the Plaza de Mayo and then speak with Videla (the junta’s army commander-in-chief), because he does not know what is happening” (Eckstein 2001: 250). Villaflor knew that the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires was a significant spot because it was at the heart of the government buildings and was a very visible place because it was a favorite tourist spot. Her natural leadership continued to successfully guide and inspire women all over Argentina during the Proceso and afterward. In fact in 1979 the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo) formed as a splinter group as did many other mobilization groups in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

WHO IS HUNGRY IN AMERICA?

There is a hidden epidemic in the United States. All over this country it is striking Americans of every age group and ethnicity, whether they live in cities or rural areas. And so, despite the diversity of targets, those suffering in this silent epidemic have two things in common: they are poor or low-income, and they are increasingly going without enough food. Although politicians talk about “poverty in America,” decision-makers avoid specifically mentioning the growing, and often deadly problem of hunger. George McGovern said in 1972, “To admit the existence of hunger in America is to confess that we have failed in meeting the most sensitive and painful of human needs. To admit the existence of widespread hunger is to cast doubt on the efficacy of our whole system.” Three decades later, evidence indicates that the existing system is failing a vast number of Americans. This Fact Sheet documents the epidemic.

Basic Hunger Facts Food insecurity has been described as: “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the acquisition of acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”1 Given this definition, it is estimated that 1 in 10 households in America goes hungry or is threatened by the possibility of hunger.2

  • Acccording to a Cornell University sociologist, the need to use food stamps is a common American experience that at least half of all Americans between the ages of 20 and 65 (four out of ten Americans in their adulthood) will face. 3 Of this group, 85% of African Americans will need to use food stamps.4 Of those that are eligible to use food stamps/program services, only 30% are successful in qualifying5 while of that group, only 15% of recipients report that their food stamp allotment lasts through the end of the month.6 Meanwhile, this already burdened food safety-net program which was designed to alleviate hunger and food insecurity, is under attack by threat of reduction of funding and ease of enrollment by policy makers.7
  • In 2002, 34.9 million people were food insecure, up 1.26 million from 2001. African American and Hispanic American households suffered the worst rates of hunger and food insecurity with 22% and 21.7%, respectively. Among the hungry, 39.1% are male, while 60% are female.8
  • 11.5% of rural families suffer from food insecurity; this is slightly lower than inner city areas, but significantly higher than suburban areas.9
  • Studies show that money which is devoted to food is the most elastic part of a family’s budget,10 as limited funds usually get allocated to fixed payments first, such as rent and utilities. Because of an increase in the nation’s poverty rate, this means food purchasing is the most compromised portion of the average family’s budget. So far in 2004, 35% of Americans have had to choose between food and rent, while 28% had to choose between medical care and food.11
  • Requests for emergency food aid increased by 19% in 2002; of this newly emerging rise in hungry and food insecure Americans, 48% of the recipients were families with children and 38% were adults with jobs. Due to the rise, shelters and other emergency food providers are reporting a reduction in supplies and therefore a forced reduction of number of times recipients can receive food.12
  • 63% of emergency food aid recipients hold a high school degree, as compared to the 84% overall US rate.13 Read the rest of this entry »

Compiled by Shannon Laliberte with Ambika Chawla in 2005 for Oakland Institute*

Under current law, legislators can only vote yes or no on the pact — they cannot amend it… [CAFTA] has become a referendum on broader trade policy that many House Democrats, organized labor and some Republicans believe is fueling a growing trade deficit and harming U.S. workers. The opposition, so far, has been too much for the administration to overcome. ‘I can’t see the president taking it to Congress until he has the votes. If he had the votes, he would have sent it already,… 1

CAFTA-DR (Central America- Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement) grew out of the Bush administration’s failure to advance negotiations in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), designed to extend North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras (all three have officially ratified CAFTA to date), Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On August 5, 2004, the Dominican Republic signed onto the agreement, thereby making it the Central America- Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).

CAFTA-DR promises improved worker well-being, respect for workers’ rights, as well as abundance to farmers, consumers and corporate America; additionally, proponents promise that ratification of CAFTA-DR would result in “level[ing] the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses and strengthens democracies in our neighborhood.”2 Unfortunately that has not been the case for CAFTA-DR’s predecessor, NAFTA, whose policies have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, Americans and Canadians losing their jobs, thousands of family farms facing foreclosure and public interest laws taking a back seat to secret NAFTA court negotiations and rulings.

The FTAA was the initial effort to expand NAFTA throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean (excluding Cuba); negotiations started directly after NAFTA was ratified in 1994 and were supposed to be finished by January 2005.3 CAFTA-DR was designed to ease the rest of the Western hemisphere into the integrated market and the Bush administration is putting increasing pressure on the countries of Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina to either amend the agreements now or be left out all together. FTAA negotiations have not been successful due to strong resistance from social movements as well as opposition from national governments throughout the continent. CAFTA-DR faces the same opposition.

Corporate America, the real beneficiary of any of the free trade agreements with the Central American countries, is anxious for Congress to approve CAFTA-DR by May of 2005; additionally, numerous ambassadors from the CAFTA countries are courting U.S. corporate interests and Congress in support of the agreement. Labor rights, human rights and environmental rights groups are just some of the organizations at the forefront of the resistance movement against the ratification of CAFTA-DR. Additional groups fighting CAFTA-DR’s ratification are the textile and sugar industries, thereby ensuring some normally pro-trade Republicans will also not support CAFTA-DR. Read the rest of this entry »