Trade News — February 2006


Dangerous CAFTA Liaisons: New GTW Report

Dear Fair Trade Activist,

The handful of representatives whose votes led to the narrow passage of the controversial Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) last year have since received a total of $2.8 million in corporate campaign cash, according to a new report released yesterday by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, Dangerous CAFTA Liaisons.

Lawmakers are now facing backlash from voters angry about lawmakers' pro-CAFTA votes. Read our full press release or download the report as a PDF.

"Forget the Valentine's Day chocolates and roses, the handful of congressional lawmakers whose startling votes for CAFTA pushed this slimy deal through Congress appear to have received campaign cash as a reward for the dangerous corporate liaisons, and many of the voters whose hearts they broke are considering permanent separations from these congressional betrayers of their interests," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

To highlight the report's findings, local protests were held on Monday and Tuesday outside the district offices of pro-CAFTA Reps. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.); as well as that of Charlie Taylor (R-N.C.), who did not vote on CAFTA.

In addition to documenting corporate and Republican Party and leadership contributions to the "CAFTA 30" - the group of representatives from both political parties who Public Citizen deemed the most improbable, unacceptable and inexplicable votes for the agreement - the report tracks the political consequences now being felt by these representatives back home, including the announcement Monday of a new challenger for 12-term incumbent Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.). Others have lost the allegiance of past important political supporters. The report is available as a downloadable PDF.

Among the key findings of the report are:

  • Pro-CAFTA industry political action committees (PACs) donated nearly $2.8 million to the "CAFTA 30" from January to September 2005 - or nearly what each CAFTA country is slated to receive in labor trade capacity-building money;
  • Many of the CAFTA 30 were among the top recipients of contributions from the PAC headed by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay; and
  • CAFTA 30 representatives have also received funds from sources connected to the GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"This report not only provides a tawdry, if not unexpected, explanation for some of the most improbable votes that provided the margin to pass CAFTA, but also how desperate pro-CAFTA corporations were able to pass an expansion of NAFTA over the objections of the public," said Wallach.

See the full press release on our website, and tell a friend about the report.

The Global Trade Watch Team

Activist Spotlight

Viola Casares is a former Levi's worker from San Antonio, Texas who founded an organization, Fuerza Unida, to organize workers to fight for fair trade. Now she's holding her local Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) accountable for his bad CAFTA vote. Read Viola's story here.


Your Call Needed — Today!

  • NAFTA Expansion to South America: Despite the news last week that the U.S. trade deficit ballooned to an all-time high in 2005, the Bush administration has announced its intention to sign a new NAFTA-style trade agreement with Peru. The Bush administration used strong-arm tactics to crush a proposal by Peru to include workers' rights in the deal. Read more, call today, and spread the word.


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