Costa Rica: Free Trade Agreement Ready For Implementation

The approval of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States passed through a long process, which included a nationwide Referendum in which the “Yes” vote emerged victorious. In order to put the agreement into action, the Costa Rican Legislature had to pass a series of 13 laws so that the FTA can be implemented. However, there were delays due to the fact that the Assembly was unable to come to consensus, and many point to the actions of those in the opposition, who supported the No position for blocking the process. However, the laws were passed last week and the Agreement takes effect January 1, 2009.

To fully understand why the agreement was complicated, especially since there have been so many opinions that have been expressed, some point to the information campaigns. Citizens often are not 100% sure whether it will be beneficial or not, which is something that Cristian Cambronero of Fusil de Chispas [es] said during the campaign season:

A estas alturas, el texto del TLC es como el de los Salmos, significa una cosa o la otra según el predicador que la anuncie

At this point, the FTA text can be read like the book of Psalms. It means one thing to one person, and another to the preacher.

Possibly that is why it is taking so long to approve the laws. However, for some, that is unacceptable since the people approved the FTA through a vote, and the Assembly should fulfill the will of the people. JP Zuniga thinks that those who do not want to recognize the vote should be punished.

Yo creo que hacer una petición para una renegociación del TLC con Estados Unidos en nombre de Costa Rica es sedición.

I think to make a petititon asking for the renegotiation of the FTA with the United States in Costa Rica's name is sedition.

The article mentioned by Zuniga involves several syndicate and political organizations, primarily from the left, who are asking for a renegotiation of the Agreement. As mentioned in the petition, they are asking the incoming government of president-elect Barack Obama to renegotiate some of the polemic topics, such as the ones dealing with the environment, labor, intellectual property, and food security.

Cristivilla's blog is critical [es] in his blog:

No seamos ilusos, a la potencia del norte nunca le hemos importado, ni Costa Rica ni Amèrica Latina, a no ser que esto convenga a sus intereses…

En el plano de Costa Rica, el TLC no es ni mas ni menos que una jugada polìtica para abrir las telecomunicaciones y los seguros, o sea, entregar a manos de las multinacionales, el patrimonio de todos los costarricenses.

Let's not be deceived, we have never mattered to the power from the North, not Costa Rica or Latin America, for not being something that is not in their interests…

In the plan of Costa Rica, the FTA is not more or less a political move to open up the telecommunications and insurance sectors, or in other words, to hand the national wealth of Costa Ricans.

La Suiza Centroamericana [es] writes:

El TLC SI es una herramienta que, junto con un proyecto más amplio de desarrollo económico impulsará, un crecimiento sostenido que redunde en beneficios para todos.

YES, the FTA is a vehicle, combined with the wider economic development plan will propel a sustained growth that will benefit everyone.

Finally, with that chapter behind them the Costa Ricans can think about the future and work together for a common good, in spite of the differences as demonstrated in the long process to approve the FTA, as The News Star [es] writes:

En fin, ahora a los costarricenses independientemente de la postura que tuvimos en el referendo, ya sea a favor del Si o del No, tenemos que mirar hacia una misma dirección, y luchar por una Costa Rica mejor.

In the end, now independent of the position that the Costa Ricans took in the Referendum, whether it was supporting the Yes or No, we must look towards the same direction and fight for a better Costa Rica.

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