Pacts opposed

Published: Saturday 30 April 2005

Latin America's legendry us itch recently found fresh expression. Guatemala witnessed widespread protests against its government's move to ratify the Free Trade Agreement (fta) between the us and Central America and the Dominican Republic (dr). The country had signed the pact in May 2004, along with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua; dr signed it in August 2004. After its recent ratification of the pact, the Indigenous Campesino Popular Labor Movement (micsp) called a "national stoppage": road blockades, occupation of public buildings and protest marches. micsp was further infuriated by president scar Berger's decision to publicise the pact even as protest groups were preparing to discuss the matter with vice president Eduardo Stein. "It is a clear demonstration that president Berger does not listen to the vast majority of the country and only governs for businessmen's groups," alleged Edwin Ortega, micsp leader.

A few days before, six indigenous communities of Colombia's Cauca valley had rejected their country's fta with the us through a referendum. They said it will compromise their land rights and culture and legalise mega projects and armed forces' presence in their areas.

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