Stop CAFTA Campaign
CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, like most free trade agreements, makes it illegal for governments to charge a higher tax to foreign companies than it does to domestic companies. While this may encourage more foreign investment, it also lowers the revenue of the national government, which in turn can lead to a decrease in social programs. The absence of taxes also means that prices on goods produced in the United States will no longer be higher than those produced in El Salvador. Therefore, farmers in El Salvador are competing on the same playing field with farmers from the United States. However, land ownership, access to credit, and subsidies give some large U.S. agricultural corporations major advantages over Salvadoran farmers. So although prices may be equal, the competition is very unequal. CAFTA also diminishes the role of the state to improve the lives of its citizens by making privatization of several goods and services, such as water, obligatory. This can have devastating effects on the poor because some basic services are left to unpredictable shifts in market prices, and can become financially unfeasible for the very poor. These among other aspects of CAFTA make it threatening to the poor of Central America.
In December of 2004, CAFTA was pushed through the Salvadoran Legislature in the middle of the night in order to avoid protests. Many other Central American countries and the Dominican Republic soon followed. SHARE participated in the movement to stop CAFTA by mobilizing the base in the States to lobby their Representatives to vote against it. Though the opposition from the American public was unprecedented, the US Congress passed CAFTA by just two votes on July 28, 2005. SHARE continues to educate about the negative affects of free trade in El Salvador and in the United States.