Latin American Dopers: Are you for or against FTAA?

Ever since the Summit of the Americas in 1994, negotiations have been under way to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas, which would in essence be an expansion of NAFTA to cover the whole Western Hemisphere (minus a few holdouts such as Cuba, I’m sure.) Backers hope negotiations will be completed by 2005. The next FTAA summit will take place in Miami this month (November 2003).

What do you Latin Americans think of this? Should your country join FTAA? Do you want to be part of a customs union that includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico? Or would you rather see Latin America form its own trade association independent of NAFTA and conceivably hostile to the U.S.? What about Mercosur, which at present includes only Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay? Do you think Mercosur could that evolve into a real Latin American trade union? Or even an international quasi-government like the European Union?

Relevant links: – FTAA official website – “Global Exchange” – anti-FTAA website with lots of links to other anti-FTAA sites – Mercopress web page about Mercosur (in English) – page about Mercosur (in Spanish)

Well, I’m a national of both Paraguay and the USSA, and I certainly am in favor of expanding Mercosur and Nafta throughout the Americas, including Cuba.

The steel and agricultural price-support policies of the USSA are an affront to common sense and human dignity, of course, and Latins would love to react to them by snubbing the Amerikans. I think such action, however, to be short-sighted and foolish. In my personal life, I do limit my trade with Fedex and Sears because of their snubbing Bill Maher, and with Walmart for censoring pornography, and with Home Depot because of their drug-screening of employees, for example. My boycotting of such concerns is effective mostly as a statement, however, but it does make me feel righteous!

But I realize that a person can’t avoid dealing with ethical cripples, particularly when any branch of the gummint is concerned. But with gummint, I take great pride in concentrating on gaming the systems, such as medicare, medicaid, insurance, affirmative action, social security, unemployment, law enforcement and taxes that they have set up to steal my wealth and limit my freedoms.

This should be the enlightened policy of the Latin states in dealings with the USSA. It would be best for Latins to knock down all their own trade barriers, realizing that USSA trade perversions primarily hurt Amerikans. On the other hand, the Latins should go out of their way to frustrate all Amerikan attempts to increase the hegemony of the USSA. There should be no participation in the drug war, except, perhaps, to encourage wealth building by producing and selling drugs to the crippled Amerikans. Likewise, anti-terrorism and nuclear prolifieration policies of the Amerikans should be frustrated at every opportunity. Latins should withhold cooperation with the USSA in global-warming, interpol, United Nations, OAS and other international concerns, except where free trade is concerned.

I would like to see Latin countries expand their common market accords to include the free migration across borders, as is more or less the case in the EU and of course among the Amerikan states. The case of Cuba is not difficult. Latins should clearly relieve themselves of any obligation they have felt to promote the agenda of Miami’s Cuban community and open themselves up to free trade with Cuba. And if the USSA seeks to retaliate, Latins should gain the burro’s attention by using their demonstrated aerospace technology to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, as North Korea has.

I can’t speak for all my fellow Latins, but I was with friends in Rio as the Twin Towers fell. Professionals all – architect, history professors, government bureaucrats – the Brazilians cheered along with me, not because of the carnage, but because the carnage had finally been visited upon the Great Satan, who had conspired with Paraguay’s Stroessner and numerous other Latin dictators and had contributed to so much repression and death throughout Latin America since Eisenhower. Regardless of what Brussels says, Henry Kissinger is still considered a war criminal and subject to arrest or worse if he sets foot anywhere in the Southern Cone.

The pervasiveness of this attitude is a fact not appreciated by most Amerikans. I would like to encourage my fellow Latins to comment on the anti-american sentiments they have witnessed throughout Latin America. This might serve as a useful wakeup call to those Amerikans who think they are hated only by the Muslims and Arabs of the world.

One of the results from NAFTA was good for business in Mexico and the US, at least that is what many economist are saying, not so good for workers, it should be about time IMO that the jobs in Mexico would have stopped the influx of immigrants and illegals to the US, what I still see are workers that have very little rights and bad pay and I see now that big business wants to export the model to the whole of Latin America.

But I am not against free trade, I am against this idea that humanity has no value when economical systems are rammed through, because one of the points of the opposition groups against FTAA is valid: This was made and “negotiated behind closed doors, with little citizen input but plenty of suggestions from corporations”

That, however, is only one aspect that needs to be dealt with so as to prevent disasters like Ecuador and Bolivia, disasters that had a lot to do with leaders that were too gun ho for the big corporation plans, in other words, I do hope the planners do take into account that quick change can also mean quick political change, and a bigger delay for needed reform. For example: I saw that privatizing the Telco industry was a successful history in El Salvador, not so the heath care, in essence this FTAA could ruin nations if there is no acknowledgment that the same solution can not be applied to all nations, or to all industries.

IMO one big block is not only economical but also symbolic: the finalization of the Pan-American road:
Wouldn’t you know that this has to do with the USA braking Colombia apart to create Panama and then the Canal?

Leaving aside environmental concerns:

All those items are just pieces of the a big picture that include remnants of US intervention, corruption in many Latin American governments, and the War on drugs. Items that big corporations want to deny affect all this, and particularly the second point: an attitude of not really helping the area to develop internally, because if you have not noticed, the future development mostly looks like “how the powerful nations will have more modern and efficient ways to take product out of Latin America” with very little left to show the Latin American people.

And jimbino, yes, you don’t speak for all Latinos, while I understand your attitude, I did not cheer when the twin towers fell, many Latinos also died there.

“USSA”? “Amerikans”? “Great Satan”? “And if the USSA seeks to retaliate, Latins should gain the burro’s attention by using their demonstrated aerospace technology to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, as North Korea has.” :eek: WHAA?

Jeez, just how deep do anti-US attitudes run in Latin America? And jimbino is obviously a businessman, not some campesino whose family might have been wiped out by the death squads of a U.S.-backed regime.

Apparently, there’s a lot about Latin American views of the U.S. that our media haven’t been telling us . . . when they discuss Latin America at all.

Brain Glutton, Latin America always felt a deep distrust of America. You can’t blame us, the country that represents democracy, human rights and free trade has been violating all those three in our region for decades.
But when those towers fell, we didn’t cheer (at least in Argentina), the sentiment was a mixture of regret for the human loss, shock and horror for the atrocity of the event and a sentiment that can be resumed in the phrase “they had it coming”. In fact I remember that I made my first enemy in these boards when I used that exact phrase in a reply to Monty.
And that distrust that we feel at america is extended to the “ALCA”, we simply know that it won’t benefit us.

Yeah, if only the US government had been as wise as its conuterpart in Argentina for the last 50 years… I won’t defend some of the questionable policies the US has had, but at least keep an open mind that it wasn’t blindingly obvious exaclty how to deal with a multitude of military dictatorships during the Cold War period.

And seriously-- what are the specific concerns you have about forging closer economic ties with the US? Given Argentina’s track record economically (from economic powerhouse to economic basket case in about a generation and a half), it would seem that breaking down trade barriers with other countries would be a good thing.

( Firstly I would like to add that most Brazilians saw the WTC as a disaster and a horror. Thankfully of course only 1 or 2 brazilians were killed. Still the idea of “they had it coming” was pretty pervasive… even among simpler people… but joy was not the reaction of most. Thou naturally a joke or two was made about it soon after in the traditional brazilian way of not taking anything too seriously.)

Back to FTAA. Well its very unbalanced as is… if we, Brazil at least, accept it the way its now we have more to lose than to gain. The US is notorious for protecting themselves when they want… and can pretty easily get their way in FTAA. The FTAA also deals with some aspects that the WTO doesnt get into… Government bidding… limitations on national industrial policies. Its deals with issues that might affect economic and political decisions… so that the complaint here is that we would lose some autonomy… and then eventually economic independence.

Poltically speaking the FTAA has become very unpopular to most brazilian citizens. With Iraq, Bush and the steel tarifs the consensus is that the US doesn't want a fair FTAA... but a FTAA for their needs and screw the poor southern americans. So even if the US does offer better options and conditions... supporting the FTAA is politically dangerous.... while criticizing the FTAA is almost a national sport now. (more level heads just want a better FTAA... not a economic colonization).

 Mercosul is in shambles now... all the four countries are going thru some tough economic times... and the institution is weakened. My opinion is that the Mercosul doesn't have much future... its good and useful now... but I doubt it will go to become a continent wide thing. We don't want to get rid of it naturally...

Posted by Estilicon:


ALCA = Area de Libre Comercio de las Americas

The FTAA for you

As to what this particular Uruguayan thinks, the FTAA should not be implemented until the matter of the USA subsides is settled once and for all; it´s totally unfair not only for an economic point of view but also for a moral standpoint… looks accusingly to the right and that goes to Europe too, just to show that I´m even handed.

I was in Mexico (I am not really a “Latin American” but I am what Americans would call “Hispanic”) around 9-11. Mexico, for all the history of invasion, incursion, and name calling on both sides - is still on the whole much more “pro-American” than commonly supposed by some on both sides. The majority of Mexicans like individual Americans, provided they are not in a uniform.

There was some very sporatic approval, extensive sympathy, shock, and above all, dread over what would happen next. Most Mexicans seem to understand that those who died in the WTC were just not symbols of some sort, but people.

The closest thing I directly heard of approval was a fellow who told me that if it had just been the Pentagon, it would have been legitimate (I suppose the passengers on the plane were collateral damage to him).

The “they had it coming” feeling sums it up well to a great degree. It wasn’t generally in the sense that it was deserved, certainly not by the people in those towers, but the United States had been sheltered from the sort of misery and warfare that pretty much every other corner of the globe has felt first hand in the last 100 years. I hope this doesn’t come of like a cheap stereotype, but most Latin Americans do believe in a thing called fate, and the United States of America couldn’t go untouched forever.

…anyway the original topic was trade. I am not as knoledgeable on trade as the others here, but one thing I have been following is the proposed entry of Chile into NAFTA (would it still be called NAFTA with Chile?). Chile is probably in the best shape, macroeconomically, of any Latin American nation. Yet it has been rebuffed so far by the U.S. Congress. If we cannot extend NAFTA to Chile, how are we going to embrace Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Bolivia?

As far as Cuba is concerned, I know most Latin Americans oppose current American policy toward Cuba, as I do. But I cannot see any way for Cuba as it is now to be economically integrated with even the loosest free-trade area!

Chile can do well enough even without the US… since a good part of their economy is directed towards Asia… but they are by far the most prepared for any kind of integration.

Did NAFTA help Mexico ? I think it created some wierd distortions and that Bush left Mexico aside (and Latin America for that matter too) in his Terrorist campaigning.

The joke was that a Brazilian called GWB after 11.9.01 and admitted planning the attack on the WTC, whereupon GWB nuked Buenos Aires.

Amerikans are so ignorant of world affairs that if GWB announced obliteration of King of Prussia they would probably re-elect him. I don’t find Brazilians as ignorant of the leadership of the USSA as Amerikans are of the leadership of Brazil (or France, Germany, Japan, etc.)

Any space invader would conclude that on Earth, ignorance is the sine qua non of world dominance.

In the way FTAA is being proposed by the US it is not interesting to Latin America. The Bush administration wants the extinction of barriers to US industrialized products, while maintaining barriers to the agricultural ones produced by Latin Americans as well as to brazilian steel wich is produced by plants much newer than the american ones and thus is much cheaper.
But in any negotiation the parts start by asking the impossible in order to arrive to the possible. I think we must negotiate for better terms in the deal and if we arrive to a mutually profitable agreement we should adhere to FTAA.

I’ve never been to King of Prussia, jimbino. Is that a place I should go see before I’m done with school and probably move back out of Pennsylvania?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s a good reason you’re more well versed on our leadership.

Ours matters.

Many Americans find it difficult to keep track of the revolving door through which one corrupt tinhorn general has overthrown another corrupt tinhorn general to form the “new and improved” junta mismanaging the country.

There. Is that the level of discourse you were looking for? At least, it’s the level you invite with the ignorant verbal diarrhea you’ve shared with us so far. “Cheering” the fall of the towers, indeed. That says a lot more about YOU than it does America, bub.

And, with that remark, you prove jimbino’s point on the well known ignorance of “many Americans” about other countries’ leadership (or other countries’ <insert-any-subject-here>, for that matter). FTR, the last general here in Brazil left 20 years ago. FTR too, the USA supported Brazilian’s military dictatorship A LOT (as it did with a lot of other dictatorships across South America). FTR again, Brazilian’s dictatorship lasted 20 years - before 1964 we had elected presidents, and after 1984 we continue to elect presidents.

Way to go ammo52… you just proved his point. We don’t have generals or juntas anymore… its a democracy down here. Been quite a while actually. Without electoral hiccups too. If you don’t even know we are a democracy… its no wonder you don’t know the name of our president. (Many of your US colleagues do know about our president and have made very relevant comments… showing that not all americans are looking at their own navel).

Plus he never said we cheered the WTC falling… so your pretty weak on the reading department too.

What jimbino forgot to mention is the common foreigner’s misconception that the capital of Brazil is Buenos Aires. So if Brazil admitted attacking the WTC… Bush would order Buenos Aires bombed. ( We Brazilians have a healthy rivalry with our smaller argentinian neighbors.)

Ummm, regarding my “weak reading skills”… have a crack at this quote and tell me which part you’re having difficulty with:

My intention was to respond, tit-for-tat, in a tone which had been set by jimbino’s unabashed hate speech to see how well it was received. I know Brazil’s government (currently, anyway) is democratically elected, professor, but thanks anyway.

I find it odd that it’s okay to cheer our dead in NYC, refer to “Amerika” (wow- yet more problems typing the word “America”) as the Great Satan, and offer little gems like “This might serve as a useful wakeup call to those Amerikans who think they are hated only by the Muslims and Arabs of the world”…and then get your panties all twisted when an ignorant slur comes back at you in return.

Are the Americans on this board expected to silently endure even the most extreme examples of overt hate speech? How can you honestly expect to be met with a reasoned response when you “poison the well” as thoroughly as has been done here?

I asked at the end of my “inflammatory” post: “There, is that the level of discourse you were looking for?” Ordinarily, I would hope not… but that tone had already been established.

I know better than to expect the more rabid America-haters posting here to accept this, but if you take enough cheap shots, eventually, one might come back the other way. Good for the goose, good for the gander and all that. Or does this come as a surprise to you?