Monday, December 10, 2007

COHA's response to commentary on the FTAs piece

COHA would like to thank its readers for their contribution to the debate on Free Trade Agreements.

(See COHA press release Peru, Yes; Colombia? Free Trade Agreements: Lessons from Latin America’s Recent Past)


Regarding Hugo Fitch’s comments:

“LatAm is better educated than you think. It’s not just economists like Rafael Correa, but the Argentinian government, and the bitter experience of the poor of the whole continent that can demonstrate what these deals really mean - more inequality. Please don’t be so dismissive of those who oppose FTAs. If the US wants favourable deals it must concede rights to nations who cannot afford to subsidise their own markets on the US/EU models, namely the chance to protect them with specific tariffs. But such deals are never put on the table, because FTAs are not about fairness but profit and buying influence to stop LatAm working together for itself.”

Of course Mr. Fitch is correct.

COHA was not trying to be dismissive of those who oppose FTAs with the U.S. Actually, the piece describes the viewpoints of those who oppose U.S.-backed FTAs: the "TLC: Así No" movement in Peru, the opposition by Colombian leaders, the comments by an economist in Chile who opposes the current U.S.-Chile FTA, among others.

There are many well-prepared economists in the region who deserve credit. Unfortunately, those Latin American economists and leaders who disagree with the conditions of U.S.-backed FTAs usually do not get to sit at the negotiation table.


Regarding Richard Vizor’s comments:

“But to categorically state that there were massive human rights violations during Garcia’s first term is nonsense and totally incorrect. If they want to find massive, tell them to look up Fujimorii’s tenure and, the actions of Montesino. In fact, this is what Fujimori’s is most favorably known for in Peru … he stopped the Sendero. It certainly was not Garcia who had already vacated power BEFORE the most gruesome of the Sendero’s actions (and, the Government’s reactions to them). Get your facts straightened out, Messrs. COHA!!!”

Of course, he is right in saying that Fujimori was far more guilty than Garcia in sanctioning the murder of thousands of members of Sendero and those thought to be their sympathizers. But here are some facts that suggest that Garcia was guilty of rights violations during his first term in office and never had to answer them.

-According to the U.N., in 1987 there were 559 forced disappearances worldwide, of which 133 (nearly one fourth), occurred in Peru. During Garcia’s term, Peru had the highest number of forced disappearances in the world.

-Human Rights Watch says in a report: “García first served as president from 1985 to 1990, at the height of a bloody civil conflict in which an estimated 69,000 people lost their lives, many of them victims of atrocities committed by irregular armed groups and by government forces.”

-Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that the armed forces were responsible for 28 percent of the 69,280 who were killed or disappeared.

-Salomon Lerner, president of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said “We have reconstructed history and we have reached the conclusion that it would not have been so grave if it were not for the indifference, passivity, and simple ineptness of those who held the highest political office at the time.”

For all of his bluster, President Garcia’s record deserves close examination and not plaudits.


Regarding jb’s comments:

“This FTA request was initiated by the Toledo administration. Had Congress not played politics and delayed this approval (only to rub it in Bush’s nose) it would have been approved while Alejandro Toledo was still in office. Toledo was never a part of any dirty war.”

Toledo was never a part of any dirty war and he did initiate the FTA request. But Toledo introduced the FTA with the U.S. to the legislature during his final months in office. Peru’s push for the deal has taken place mostly during Garcia’s second term. Therefore, Garcia will be willing to interpret the approval of the trade deal as his own political success.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Regarding COHA's coverage of Haiti

Dear Larry Birns,

Greetings from South Africa, my name is Thabo Sanyane formerly [2003-2006] with the center for latin american at the university of south africa[ where Aristide currently works] as a research fellow in the faculty of religious studies.

It was during this time that i was introduced to COHA I have never missed any issue ever since , your coverage on Haiti does not need one to have decades of knowledge about the politics of this country to know what is going on and make informed analysis, I continue to discuss and interact with Aristide from time to time and my conclusion of the man is that he is a 'Nelson Mandela" to his people and hope that one day he will be treated as part of the solution in Haiti not as a problem. I was moved by your last sentence on the -Preval goes it alone, but what about Aristide, " Preval and the national assembly will be respectful as they try to repair the nation and its basic institutions, as well as honor Aristide for his undeniable contribution helping build a good society, as Haiti moves on to better days.

As a non Zulu speaking South African every time I meet Aristide I become proud of him in the manner he is mastered to learn to speak Zulu, he has recently finished his Doctoral studies comparing Haitian cultures and African cultures making a contribution towards knowledge production in my country. may the ancestors protect and guide him on his ways.


Thabo Sanyane