- October 23 - Democratic Presidential Candidate Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich will be campaigning in Miami, Fla., today, the site of planned talks next month on the possible creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). For details on today's campaign stops, see http://kucinich.us/schedule.htm
Kucinich today released this statement: "This coming November is not just the date of a meeting in Miami on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). It is also the 10-year anniversary of the votes that passed NAFTA through Congress. NAFTA has been a preview of the damage that the FTAA could do to jobs, workers' rights, and the environment. NAFTA has spurred a $418 billion trade deficit, costing 525,000 U.S. jobs, most of them in manufacturing. This is called free trade. But where is freedom when jobs are lost, wages are cut, and the right to bargain collectively is crushed? NAFTA has attacked federal laws meant to protect workers' rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles.
"Since NAFTA was enacted 10 years ago, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has ballooned. Companies have used the threat of moving jobs to Mexico to place downward pressure on wages and benefits for American workers. Meanwhile, the labor side agreement to NAFTA has proven to be totally ineffective. The real value of wages for Mexican workers has declined since NAFTA was enacted, and not a single company has been cited for violations of worker rights or labor standards.
"In addition, serious concerns have been raised about environmental problems and food and truck safety under NAFTA. The degradation of the environment has escalated along our border with Mexico, and the environmental side agreement has proven to be a complete failure. At the same time, it is abundantly clear that the U.S. government is not adequately inspecting trucks and agricultural products that enter this country, thereby threatening the health and safety of the general public. Furthermore, the sovereignty of local, state and federal authorities to protect their constituents from environmental and other dangers is severely undermined by the investor rights section (Chapter 11) of NAFTA. A NAFTA case brought by a foreign owned steel fabrication company is trying to overturn 'Buy America' laws that require using American steel in highway projects. NAFTA allows foreign owned companies to challenge our Constitution, our Congress, and our rights to enact American laws.
"The FTAA would export the destructive effects of NAFTA throughout our hemisphere by expanding it to include all countries in the Americas. And it would accelerate the privatization of municipal services, including water. Water must be a human right, not a privilege for those who can pay the going rate. This is a matter of life and death. I support South Floridians for Fair Trade and Global Justice in their effort to prevent the damage that would be done to this nation and this hemisphere by the establishment of the FTAA.
"As president, I will oppose the FTAA, and I will make my first act in office the repeal of NAFTA and withdrawal from the WTO. I will replace these corporate trade agreements with fair bilateral trade agreements conditioned on workers' rights, human rights, and environmental protections."