CAFTA Report Suppressed

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Hm, I’m not sure this AP report is news exactly: “The Labor Department worked for more than a year to maintain secrecy for studies that were critical of working conditions in Central America, the region the Bush administration wants in a new trade pact.” Didn’t we have this story around these parts months ago? Oh well. The key to note here is that, not only would DR-CAFTA give Central American countries free reign to keep their atrocious labor standards in place, but those countries would be allowed to weaken those standards if they felt like it.

Anyway, also thought I’d link to this article by Richard Rothstein, disputing the argument that developing countries “need” dismal labor standards in order to be competitive on the global market. Besides, it’s not like the “standards” crowd is calling for $10 an hour wages and health benefits for all Central American laborers. The bare minimum, though, should be the right to organize and the right to speak out in the workplace. If higher standards or wages means a country will be uncompetitive, well, that should be the decision of the workers in the country, a decision negotiated with business. This isn’t unreasonable. I’m also not sure I’d oppose CAFTA on labor-rights grounds if the deal simply kept in place the current provisions under the Generalized System of Preferences, which pressures Central American governments to “afford internationally recognized labor rights.” That system isn’t perfect, obviously, but it was still something, and was actually useful for pressuring several countries to reform their labor laws. CAFTA, however, would junk the Generalized System of Preferences, which has the misfortune of being both unnecessary and unconscionable.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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