Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made remarks at the C.F.R. hosted Organization of American States event on October 9 that the "concluded" trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and Panama are a significant step towards the broader 'vision' of a Pan-American Community.
The agreements would break down more than 80% of tariffs in respect to each of the three countries for both exports and imports and would include more than $17 billion in debt relief-- extending action already taken under the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2004-2005.
Since the executive branch lost fast-track renewal in June, the trade agreements must be passed by Congress, but Rice indicated that bipartisan support has already been arranged by way of "43 prominent Democrats-- former ambassadors, cabinet officials, policy experts and members of Congress."
President Bush mirrored Rice's optimism about bipartisan support for the agreements, which also include South Korea, citing former Secretary Shalala (and dozens of her Democratic colleagues): "Latin America is up for grabs. We fully recognize that asking the United States Congress to vote on these trade agreements is politically charged. Nonetheless, rejecting these agreements would set back regional U.S. interests for a generation. We must not walk away now."
However, a recent poll shows that 6-in-10 Republican voters now "believe free trade is bad for the U.S. economy" -- which brings Republicans in-line with the standing views of Democrats.
Condoleezza Rice warned against the message it would send internationally if the trade agreements didn't go through, and asked that U.S. workers facing "dislocation" and "insecurity" 'update their skills' and pursue "retraining," suggesting the role of 'community college' in "giving people a second or even a third or sometimes a fourth start on a different kind of career."
The frightening suggestion of American job degradation was also echoed by Bush's remarks on the new trade agreements.
Secretary Rice added, "if we don't, then we're going to remain fearful and closed"-- clearly valuing 'free trade' above any semblance of protection for middle-America jobs, despite her claim it will actually benefit workers:
"These trade agreements will benefit U.S. workers and businesses, enabling them to compete on a level playing field in new markets, to create jobs and opportunity in our nation, and to address the wealth of all in our economy."
The meaning of 'a level playing field' was not clarified, but perhaps it relates to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan's recent call for lowering U.S. wages and opening the borders on David Letterman's Late Show:
Secretary Rice focused on the "democratic" unity amongst the countries in trade agreement and warned against sending a "signal" of "retreat" by rejecting the agreements.
"Building on the foundation that Presidents Bush and Clinton laid with NAFTA, we have concluded trade agreements with ten additional countries... a community that now includes Costa Rica, whose people voted just two days ago to approve CAFTA."
Costa Rica narrowly passed CAFTA in a referendum that has already been contested, sealing the trade pact with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and the United States. More than 150,000 Costa Ricans protested the agreement and the Los Angeles Times and AlterNet reported that voting was under 'duress,' including a campaign of threats and pressure, according to a leaked memo:
Rice and Bush brushed aside worries about the three Latin American nations, particularly the narco-state Colombia, citing the strength of their democratic values-- and hanging it in the balance with Cuba and unnamed "authoritarian" states with "state-run economies" (i.e. Venezuela).
Rice argues for Colombia's "trajectory of positive change," calling its '76% reduction in kidnappings,' '40% drop in murder rate' and '61% fewer terrorist attacks' one of the "greatest victories for the cause of human rights in our world today.
President Bush was just as willing to forgive Colombia's dark record. "Some in Congress have expressed concern over violence in Colombia ...Colombia's record is not perfect, but the country is clearly headed in the right direction -- and is asking for our help."
Bush even cited Canada's leader as a selling point.
Similar broad strokes were made for the sins of Peru and Panama, hoping to keep such issues off the radar of most Americans.
Yet, former Mexican President Vicente Fox-- who also signed the Security & Prosperity Partnership for North America (SPP)-- has been recently parading calls for a North American Union and a unified NAFTA currency.
Drastic measures towards large-scale regional government are happening overnight and yet there is almost no discussion whatsoever. Beyond the elites and their controlled media, there is little outcry and scarcely more than a whisper of announcement.
CLICK ON THE BANNER TO
BUY TERRORSTORM IN