The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


CAFTA and El Salvador
June 3, 2008, 1:47 pm
Filed under: The Salvador

7/11/2005

Howdy folks,

So, I’d be a really bad volunteer if I didn’t send out at least one rallying cry to my friends, so bear with me, this is a hugely important issue here.

CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, is about to pass in the US. It is really, really, really bad.  The extremely poor people that I have befriended, lived and worked with are going to basically be muscled out of the market by the international corporations come in.  These people make about $3 a day as it is, and the huge majority of families’ income comes from small farms.  The people feed their families with the crops, and then sell any excesses in the markets for meager earnings.  But, with the passage of CAFTA, the huge companies will have enormous farms with the top technology and pesticides (the peasant farmers here are mostly using just organic techniques to help the environment) to create monstrous, McGwire-esque steroid crops that will be far larger than the organic crops.  Plus, the companies will easily be able to sell their crops at lower prices to muscle out their competition, the poor campesinos.  This will force the people to work for the corporations, at the same wages as they make now.  This will make a ton of money for the corporations, but make life worse for the poor, of which there are so amazingly many in El Salvador.

I met Chencho, an ex-Salvadoran priest who is the founder of the nonprofit I am working through, while he was here, and he believes that the only thing that could push the country back into civil war would be something like CAFTA, which once again hurts the poor at the expense of the rich.

These people have been through so much to have to once again be passed by for the sake of the rich.  Just yesterday, there was a riot in the University in San Salvador protesting the raising of bus costs by 25%, to help out the bus companies.  Almost everyone uses the buses here, so this is a huge financial impact on these people.  I read that 30% of their yearly income goes to bus transportation.  This riot involved burning a bus and fighting with armed riot police.  For a country of such kind, generous people, to see them pushed to acts of violence only shows me how fed up they actually are.  In my whole time here, I’ve seen nothing but cooperation and kindness to everyone.  But, with the passage of CAFTA and the neglect of the poor, there seems to be no other option for these people.

Unfortunately, no one in the US seems to know anything about this.  As long as Michael Jackson is still on the loose, there’s always going to be “more important” news to feed to the masses.

So, if anyone feels the need, this is a hugely important issue for, not only the Salvadoran people, but for Americans as well.  There are already 2 million illegal Salvadorans in the US, and with the passage of CAFTA, it is bound to be double that coming our way.  Not to mention the rest of Central America that will be affected equally.  So, email your
representatives and senators, and let them know that this is a really, really bad idea.

The poor no longer can be the stepping stone of “progress”.

Here’s the website: To learn more about CAFTA, and contact your Representative, click here: 

http://www.stopcafta.org/article.php?list=type&type=21

Now, I shall step off my soap box.  Tomorrow I’m going to Costa Rica for a week, and then I have about 10 days left here.  The last three months have gone by so fast, I can’t believe my time here is almost over.  This has been such a great experience; I can’t imagine how different everything will be when I get home.  But, I also can’t wait to stand on carpet, eat pizza, have running water, and not be eating alive by every fucking bug under the sun.  Also, I can’t wait to understand people all the time when they talk to me and not be chased down by stray dogs when I ride my bike.

Well, thanks for listening to my ranting, but its really important for my friends and neighbors here, not to mention all of Central America.

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