Policy Page: Free Trade Agreements

For almost 20 years Witness for Peace has documented how free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA have exacerbated poverty and displacement in Latin America while U.S.-based corporations profit.  

Free trade agreements, a cornerstone of U.S. economic policy with Latin America, have devastating consequences for the environment, indigenous sovereignty, workers rights and the rural poor.  For example, the influx of subsidized grains from the U.S. to Mexico under NAFTA decimated at least two million farming jobs.  Now, every hour Mexico imports $1.5 million worth of food.  In that same hour, 30 Mexican farmers migrate to the U.S. looking for work.  

Free trade also hurts working people in the United States.  Agreements like CAFTA and NAFTA force U.S. workers to accept cuts to pay and benefits so that their employers can compete with low-wage factory producers south of the border.  Millions of other workers have lost their jobs altogether as corporations moved overseas to build the same products with cheap foreign labor. Despite this dismal record, the U.S. continues to use NAFTA as its model for trade agreements throughout the Americas. 

Witness for Peace builds grassroots opposition to U.S.-initiated free trade agreement by bringing delegations of U.S. citizens to the front-lines of U.S. economic policy in Mexico and Nicaragua.  Stateside, Witness for Peace supporters lobby Congress to block new free trade agreements and renegotiate existing agreements.  

In 2005, Witness for Peace supporters and allies throughout Latin America contributed to a major victory:  stopping the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, which would have extended NAFTA to the entire hemisphere. Currently Witness for Peace is dedicated to blocking proposed free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama

In addition to exploring economic alternatives through a unique delegations program, Witness for Peace advocates on behalf of the TRADE act, which would renegotiate existing trade agreements to ensure labor rights, public health and environmental protection.