Guatemala's Pres Resigns for Corruption: Wasn't CAFTA supposed to enhance rule of law?

September 04, 2015


by Michael Stumo

One of the biggest fibs told by trade deal supporters has been that the deals enhance good governance and the rule of law.

There is zero support for that proposition.

There is rampant corruption, collusion with drug lords, human rights abuses and other egregious violations in many countries we have bilateral trade agreements with.  The trade deals do not have specific terms saying "signatory parties will not collude with drug lords" or "signatories will oust corrupt government officials." So, of course, how could they make a difference.

Witness the resignation of Guatemala's president Otto Perez Molina yesterday.  He is one of a long line of presidents in Guatemala who ruled through repression. He is accused of, and will stand trial for, a scheme to profit from a customs fraud ring. CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement of 2005) did nothing to prevent this or past abuses in the last 10 years since the 2005 enactment. Guatemala had slow growth throughout those 10 years.  It was Arab Spring-like protests that brought him down.

In 2005, the Heritage Foundation was one of many CAFTA cheerleaders that promoted the view that "It will enhance... the rule of law... it will enhance institutional reform; it will enhance the rights of consumers; it will enhance the rights of people in general."  Heritage and others also said CAFTA will "reduce the flow of immigrants".

What a joke.

And Congress continues to believe it.

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